*** Submitted by Jen
I had postpartum depression but at the time it didn’t occur to me.
I’d had twins, sure, it was hard. People carried on saying they didn’t know how I did it and those were great compliments but I had no choice. My two babies was your one baby, nothing amazing about that. I’d cry all the time. I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to bond, didn’t understand the feelings of protectiveness and love I was supposed to have.
I’d be alone too often and I’d yell and swear and cry and feel total remorse and failure. I shouldn’t be a mom, how did I think I could handle this? To top off an already horrible mental situation, Colin and I began having problems and I was able to add ‘woman’ to my failures. I managed to get through dark days knowing that by 4pm the girls would be napping and I could have a glass of wine. 4pm turned into 3pm then 2pm.
Soon days revolved around when I could drink, when I’d finally be able to feel normal, stop being angry, stop crying, start being a mom. With the veil of drink I could enjoy my girls, shower, tidy the house, make dinner, function. ~ I’m not sure when I stopped drinking like that, probably spring when the sun came out. Fresh air improve my state of mind. The girls thrived outdoors and I’d spend days following a routine. I loved walking while they napped, sun on my skin. I still drank but never during the day. I was a closet drinker, just like I was a closet smoker, never in public where one could be judged.
When fall came I went to work. My mom babysat. Early mornings and routine kept my seasonal ‘disorder’ at bay. It felt awesome being back in the city, my career, with adults. Awesome until the girls weren’t sad to see me go or excited at my arrival, and sobbed when my mom left.
Awesome until I began missing firsts.
I quit after 6 months. It was 2007 when I started my first blog. Drinking wasn’t an issue, still, once in awhile I questioned frequency and amounts. Looking back I believe I turned in an addiction (drinking) for an obsession (building a blog/readership). ~ 2008. Those days were consumed with bad choices and people (some literally bad, some bad for me). There was one drinking episode in the latter part of ’08 that should have been my rock bottom but became a jumping off point when everything collapsed at the start of ’09. ~ 2009.
I started using alcohol to self-medicate. This time I wasn’t dealing with PPD or feelings of failure, I was drinking to drown my fuck ups as a morally bankrupt human being. At times it would start as early as morning. I saw therapists this year and hated them. All I did was cry, sign a $150 cheque, book another. I should have been in AA. ~ Most of 2009 and 2010 is blurry. ~ Because of things I couldn’t handle anymore the girls and I left in 2010.
Over the years I’d threatened to leave but never did because I had no money, no place to go. With my brother travelling and room at my mom’s house I left. It didn’t last long but it was good. I think sometimes both partners need a glimpse of life apart to open their eyes. Especially when you have children. The life you’ve built, the togetherness, the friendship, the family. It makes the bullshit less significant. By the end of 2010 I realized the biggest contributor to my unhappiness was that I was an alcoholic and I found support.
That lasted three weeks before deciding moderation worked better. I found a Buddhism study, practiced meditation and felt a strong sense of being grounded, centered and clear going into 2011. ~ Things were amazing last year. Best ever. We moved into a beautiful new space with a backyard and pool and a sense of community – everything I dreamed for my family.
Then out of the blue I crumbled.
The girls went to school, I struggled to find my identity, my doctor ordered me to lose 20lbs, my friends felt far away, I struggled with comparing myself to the wealthy women who live in this neighbourhood. I tried to get back into my career so we could keep up with the Joneses and all I got were rejections.
For someone who’d had a meaningful career and salary it was a huge slap in the face.
This led to anxiety, insomnia, depression and heavier drinking. ~ I know drinking sucks life from me. It takes me away from mothering, home, relationships, health.
I have a choice and I’ve exercised it whenever my mind has skirted the edges. I’m aware. It is simple: do or don’t. I have a history of alcoholic drinking but I’m not powerless over it. I drink responsibly. I abstain. I drink socially. I do all of the above.
The complicated part is that from time to time I make the decision to float around the numb place at the bottom of a bottle. Lonely and alone in a pool of worthlessness and failure, sadness and hurt, hate and rejection. The fog, it’s strangely comforting like a sad song that takes you back, helps you remember, makes you cry.
I guess that’s why every so often I question what it all means. Having that place, it’s not normal.
I understand and appreciate what it means to be powerless, but I can’t say it. Nor can I say I have a hereditary disease thanks to alcoholic genes. It’s too easy to play a victim card, say circumstance happened and I’m the fucked up result.
Drinking is my choice and choice is power.
I make the decision of whether it will suck away my quality of life, health, happiness and future.
Me. I’m in control here.
Most of the time I forget that
A quick note from Ellie: I apologize for the longer and longer gaps between posts. I am currently fighting cancer (and my prognosis is really good - but this last home stretch of chemo and radiation are proving to be physically and mentally very challenging. I apologize if you have submitted something and it has fallen through the cracks - PLEASE re-submit it. I'm hoping that in a month or two I'll be back on track. Please keep sending submissions, too, because I WILL get them up - it may just take a little longer. Thank you.