We often associate depression with many brainy jobs, difficult targets, strive to achieve perfection, and maybe, highly paid professions around the world!
Depression is still a taboo for most of us to discuss, including me. But now I make my honest confession: my life revolved around this word in the two-three years after I had my second baby. It takes real courage to accept that yes, you were depressed and went through gloomy days which you never want back.
They say bright days always follow gloomy days, and every dark cloud has a silver lining. My experience helped me understand depression, and maybe my learning will help you, since I want no other woman to face what I had to.
My story started almost 9 years back when I was carrying my first baby. All planned and not unexpected. I had decided to quit my dream company to take care of my child. I never regretted quitting. At the time, many friends warned me that one day you will regret your decision to quit and I reacted with a big smile.
I enjoyed my break from work, chilling out and doing whatever I could not do earlier due to my hectic schedule. After my baby turned two, I wanted a second child to accompany her: maybe a little selfishly, I thought that I will be free of childrearing before I’m much older. My doctor gave me a go-ahead and my second one came exactly when my first one turned three. I was happy that my delivery work was over for a lifetime, though of course the duties and responsibilities of parenting can never be!
Being in a nuclear family, when your spouse is working odd shifts, makes it a rather difficult job for a woman to manage all single-handedly. I am quite independent: I can take my own decisions of life. I managed hospital visits all alone during my pregnancy or with a small baby, and I didn’t want to depend on anyone for petty things or even bigger tasks.
On the other hand, sometimes being so independent can overload you by the end of the day. My husband helped in all the ways he could, from bathing the baby to massaging her. But his working hours were from 12 p.m. to midnight, which was a big challenge. I hired all the help I could. But at the end of each day, I was so tired, both mentally and physically!
Depression does not single out high-profile people or successful ones. It can creep in with stress from small things that could later turn into bigger ones, and it can target anyone of any age and at any time.
Depression can also show itself at times:
This is what happened to me, and feeling lazy all the time was the first sign. Just to clear my doubts, I went for a complete health check up and everything was perfectly fine. The only advice the doctor gave me was that you need rest. He didn’t talk about postpartum depression (PPD): if he had, then I wouldn’t be writing about PPD at this moment.
Additionally, no one talked about this and I was unaware of the facts back then — six years ago. I also felt that I could not become depressed because of the healthy lifestyle I follow, which includes exercise, meditation, yoga, a big social circle, healthy food habits, and a positive attitude.
I thought maybe things would work out soon as my second child grew up. But I was completely wrong. One day in October 2012, I suddenly felt breathless and my hands and feet began to tremble. Luckily, my husband was at home and we immediately rushed to the hospital. As soon as we entered Emergency, they put me on oxygen and a drip. I had no idea what had happened to me.
They did a few tests and told us that it may be due to congestion or some allergic reaction. I was completely fine after two days. Then again after a gap of one and a half years, I had the same attack of breathlessness. I called my husband and we rushed to the emergency centre. It was a blessing that the hospital was just 500 meters away from our home. Again they put me on oxygen but my oxygen level was full. The visiting doctor asked me what happened. I explained I had breathlessness and anxiety or fear. She immediately diagnosed,“This is an anxiety attack.” Then they induced one SOS tablet through drip and I dozed off for the next many hours.
Do you know what an anxiety attack is? How it feels when you suddenly go out of breath without any obvious reason? I have sensed those moments closely when you feel like someone is taking away your last breaths. It felt almost like the last moment of my life when all flashbacks and memories of my children passed by me. There is no regular medicine for anxiety.
I had 3-4 anxiety attacks during those 3 years and finally, a doctor asked me, “Are you depressed?” I had no answers. Because I felt, “I was not depressed and cannot be.” I wasn’t stressed: I didn’t have any monthly targets to complete. I don’t run in the morning to reach office. I don’t expect big bungalows and servants. I am typically a social person who talks to everyone around with the same smile and zeal.
He said, you must be, otherwise you would not have landed here as an anxiety attack patient. He made me think of where I had gone wrong. I had always been a positive person: how could I be in such a situation? Soon I realised what had gone wrong. Postpartum depression and many other factors after my second baby where no one had guided me.
I wanted everything perfect: a routine for everything, a spick-and-span house, perfect cooking. I wanted to manage everything independently, without asking for help. A tag of superwoman that I never wanted to remove. And most importantly, I was not engaged mentally.
I know how it feels to be a homemaker who suffers from depression. I am lucky that I tried to look for the solution and worked on it. I am a little better now and can live my life. I realised that labels like perfection and superwoman make you more stressed, so I decided to drop them. And most importantly, I realised how important it is to have some ME time, to claim for yourself all those hobbies and the happiness which you leave for others!
Earlier published on Women’s Web