The thing they don't tell you about postpartum depression is that, while for most of us it's 100% survivable on a day-to-day basis, you wake up one morning and discover that it's over and that the last two years of your life are more or less as blur. (Yes, you read that right... we're almost 23 months in. Did you know that PPD could last as long as you're breastfeeding? Yeah, no one told me that. Huh.) The other thing they don't tell you is what an amazing motivator your family can be. Because while you're busy just surviving each day, you are also keenly aware that you are building a life for your partner and each of your children. And it's that knowledge that keeps you going, day in and day out, while you tread water as hard as you can. And so it is that I wake up on my 34th birthday, effectively free of PPD for the first time in two years, and look around and realize that the life I'm building with my partner and our kids is a creation worth thriving for. Guys, check it out: I am married to my best friend, the most loving and supportive human being I have ever known. I have a creative and talented daughter who keeps me on my toes with her incredible wit. I have a loving and compassionate daughter who reminds me of the good in everyone and everything. I have an energetic and spirited daughter who helps me delight in the wonder of our wide world. I have a curious and communicative son who shows me love in big and little ways. We all live in a quirky and chaotic home, where we are comfortable, warm, and well fed. We travel, we dance, we play, we learn, and we work hard on loving and living. I have paid off my student loans. I have paid off my credit card. I have (mostly) overcome Lyme disease, and I am in the best shape of my life. I am developing deep and significant mature relationships with the people closest to me. (You know who you are, and you are awesome.) I run a business that has allowed me to move from living paycheck to paycheck, to actually being able to pay off above debts and still have extra for "playtime." My partner and I have some amazing playtime. (Minds out of the gutter, folks. We're really geeky; playtime usually involves technology or movies. [Seriously... out of the gutter!!]) Self-reported statistics suggest that anywhere from 50-75% of women suffer from postpartum depression to one degree or another, but I work with a lot of women in the immediate and long-term postpartum period and I can tell you from experience that that number is actually closer to 90%. Many women like me never bother reporting it because it just doesn't seem worth it; we're too busy just getting through. All this goes to show how strong women are, picking up and carrying on in spite of daily struggles.
But the beautiful thing about postpartum depression is that eventually it passes. I've compared postpartum depression to living underwater, and looking up at everything happening on the surface above you but not being able to bring yourself to swim up to it. But the water subsides in time, and sooner or later you're standing on the shore again. I have to say -- now that I've made it to the surface, this is a pretty darn good life to surface to. Thirty-four is looking like it's going to be an amazing year!