Today seems to be one of those days where postpartum depression is creeping back in. I’m not sure if it’s following my cycle or not, I haven’t gotten my period back yet but from what I understand it’s still going strong behind the scenes. It’s funny how quickly it hits – I’ll be in a great mood, things are awesome and the kids are being chill. Then bam. Downward spiral.
Its hard to parent on days like this. I get no joy from it, but I also don’t want my babies to see the scowl on my face that would be there if I wasn’t trying so hard to hide it. Back when the kids were first born, I was told by my obstetrician that research showed that babies of moms suffering from postpartum depression showed signs of mental health issues later in life. I don’t remember specifically but it was something about seeing their moms sad all the time and they mimicked the facial expressions, which created brain pathways or something. Basically when moms are sad, their babies get sad too. I have such happy babies – I work really hard to mask my shitty moods when I have them but sometimes I get frustrated. So less smiling at them on the change table, or snuggling them, or doing tummy time or playing or anything. Then it creates a cycle because they’re bored so they get cranky, and their crying makes me more stressed and unhappy, and so on.
I always seem to forget the stroller in the truck after the weekends at Grandma’s. Now would be an ideal time to go for a walk. If nothing else, it quiets the kids for a bit so I can think and calm down. Plus theres that whole ‘exercise makes your brain happy’ thing. And I’m vain so my weight has been bringing me down too. I should call a counselor or something but I just don’t know what to say, or moreso, what they would say. I was seeing one a while back that was a total cheerleader. Useless as an actual therapist but she was very validating. At times it helped but other times it was really patronizing. Like… Yeah, I know I have the right to be hormonal and sad and hungry. What can you help me do about it. She doesn’t work at that clinic anymore and I haven’t met the new lady, but I figure I’ll get more of the same ‘you’re doing amazing’ shit that I guess I already know but doesn’t help.
I’ve heard a bit a out how pregnant and breastfeeding moms lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients, and it’s hard to keep up with the loss. I take a daily, but I was recommended by a psychiatrist doing a postpartum assessment to take some omegas as well. I keep forgetting to buy some. I also remember a friend of mine’s sister was going to school to be a nutritionist several years back. She was talking about the link between proper nutrition and mental health. Niacin specifically is something that people can often be really low on and it means your brain isn’t doing its job properly. I also had a friend going to med school and we were talking about how potassium and sodium are what makes your cells actually function. So if you don’t have the right amount of those things, again – brain no worky. I know. I’m basically a doctor.
On a more experienced note, there were two main things I put into effect when I first lost a bunch of weight and got my mental shit together. One was hydration. It seems super obvious – our bodies are a mostly water. It’s like the fuel that keeps us running. It flushes out your toxins and keeps your brain floating in the jar that is your skull. I’m not gonna pretend I know the exact science behind it, but your body and brain work best when you’re really hydrated. I was drinking at least two litres of water a day. I’d have at least a half a litre as soon as I woke up in the morning, which helped get me started on hydration and helped wake me up. I’m awful for lazing around hitting a snooze button for an hour (or… Was, until I had babies…) even though I know the day goes way easier when you get up right away. I used to follow a thirty second rule, meaning I had 30 seconds to get out of bed after I opened my eyes. It didn’t last long but at least even if I was late it was only a few minutes. Not 30 or 40 minutes like it used to be.
The other thing I learned at a Workers Comp stress workshop when I hurt myself at work. Basically we use the top half of our lungs more than the bottom half, especially when we’re stressed out. You can feel your stress in your stomach and shoulders, right? Well when you’re breathing deeply and into your entire lungs, you stretch out your whole torso. I noticed when I was breathing deeper, my digestion was better. Almost like my lungs and diaphragm were massaging my intestines and helping me get everything back out more efficiently. It helped me with my weight loss. Another aspect of stress vs. weight loss was that when you stress out your body makes Cortisol. Cortisol makes your body store fat. So if you’re dealing with your stress, your cortisol levels go down and your body can process your food better. Or something like that. Over 2016 and 2017 I lost about 120 lbs. Mostly 2017 because I was walking around NYC for the first 4 months of it and then just kept roaming. My stress was non-existent so my cortisol levels were low, and I was broke so I was drinking a ton of water to reduce my hunger. I lost weight so fast I couldn’t keep up with my clothes. By the time I got back to Canada my clothes were hanging off of me, it was awesome. I’ve never looked so good in my life. More importantly, I’ve never felt so good in my life.
The problem is that even though you can know all of this, if you don’t have the motivation to change your habits it won’t happen. And I assume I’m not the only one who’s self sabotage mechanism kicks in when they’re depressed. It’s hard to care for yourself when you just don’t give a fuck. All of my fucks are being reserved for my kids and my fiance. It’s hard to find more motivation. The medication is doing its job but I’m not sure there’s anything that can completely wipe out bad moods. My doctor says it’s not worth adding more medication just to buffer the bad days because they are few and usually come every few weeks. Just have to bite the pillow and deal with it. Keep smiling at the kids and cooking dinner for my amazing man.
Dave is home now and we’re watching TV as I finish writing this (I started like 8 hours ago.) I feel a bit better. We had some dinner, went and had a quick bedroom session, and now we’re just chillin’ with the kids. Sex is important for both of our mental health. I know we’re not the only ones. We both miss the days when we could just be together and enjoy. Not even just sex, but the closeness. The intimacy. Now we exist to work and take care of kids. We even miss each other when we’re in the same bed. Our quickies are the only times that bring us a tiny bit of intimacy. Even though it only happens every week or two, it’s really held our relationship and individual self-esteem together. And most of the time I don’t feel like having sex until we’re doing it. It’s crazy how quickly I forget what it does for me. We’ll not have sex for a while and then once we’re done, all of a sudden I want it a few hours later. And the next day. And then for maybe another day before I’m back to existing without it, and forgetting what the hormones and exercise does for both of us. So… Don’t neglect your sexy time. Even if you’re depressed. It will make you happy. Science told me.
I’d like to mention that I have no medical research to quote for any of what I’ve said, it’s just a bunch of things I’ve learned or deduced over the years. I’d be happy to be corrected, or if I’m right have my logic explained in the comments. As you can imagine, I have no time for research lol. I just want people to know what I know so maybe it can help someone. At the very least, maybe it will help me just having recanted all of this. But like I said – it’s one thing to know it, quite another to do it. Tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully I can make it a good one.