Last week I resumed regular aerobic exercise for the first time since Leta’s birth four months ago. I have always used working out as a mechanism to fight depression which is one of the reasons the transition into motherhood has been so difficult for me. There was no way I could hop onto an elliptical trainer three times a week when I was so tired that I could barely pick my nose, and the logistics of scheduling the time for a workout plus someone to take care of the baby had me thinking that I would never workout again.
In those dark, first weeks of Leta’s life there were a lot of things I thought I would never do again. I remember thinking that I would never get my hair cut again, never see a movie or eat at a restaurant, never even go to the grocery store. One night about a week after her birth I honestly thought I would never leave the house again, the weight of this new responsibility was just so crippling. In those desperate first weeks the prospect of being able to tie on a pair of tennis shoes and drive to the gym seemed so eternally distant, so impossible, that I had visions of my flabby ass growing roots and attaching itself permanently to the sofa. My husband would make a living off selling tickets to see his wife, the freak, the sideshow, the fat woman with ass roots who had a baby and never saw the outside of her house again.
I went back on depression medication a little over six weeks ago. Not even a week after I began popping the pills the fatigue hit me like a tidal wave, and what had been a really bad bout of depression snowballed into a really, REALLY bad bout of depression as I struggled to get out of bed and tend to a screaming, disgruntled poop factory. Leta was sleeping relatively well at night, but my anxiety levels had reached an all time high and were keeping me awake, sabotaging all my energy reserves.
One of the most surprising things about having a baby is just how much energy it requires to keep that baby happy on an hour-to-hour basis. It’s surprising because I thought I had prepared myself for it, working out three times a week throughout my pregnancy. But I should have been training for a marathon, a daily multiple-mile uphill race of infant management that requires warehouses of energy. And I think this energy requirement is at the root of my depression.
So here’s what is working for me:
1) I am taking myself off the depression medication, slowly, ever slowly. It has done nothing to curb my anxiety; in fact, it has only made my anxiety worse because I worry about being tired all the time. And I can’t be tired. There’s no time for tired.
2) I’m working out three times a week, every other night when Jon can watch the baby. Working out isn’t fun, but it lets me sweat out frustration and I get to read People magazine for thirty minutes. Have you seen Lindsay Lohan’s boobs? OH MY GOD.
3) I’m taking a half a Unisom at night to help me sleep. Unisom is a perfectly safe and non-habit forming sleep-aid, and it doesn’t cause unwanted hair growth or premature ejaculation, or dry mouth or constipation or diarrhea or heart murmurs. It does, however, facilitate really insane dreams with wicked color schemes and plots involving David Hasselhoff and Anil Dash teaming up to fight Columbian warlords with clever use of RSS feeds and German love songs.
4) I get up in the morning and get dressed like I’m going to work. I approach my day as if it were a day at the office, and when I find that I’m too tired to take another walk or dangle any more rattles above the baby’s head, I think about all those people who are having to design PowerPoint templates for mean, Prada-wearing bosses. This is a job. I have to work.
It seems to be working. I feel worlds better than I did two months ago. This week has been better than last week, which was better than the week before.
It helps that Leta has abandoned the screaming fits, and her naps have gone from being 20 minutes long to 40 minutes long, PROGRESS! It helps that I have a loving husband who supports my decisions and who smells really good, especially after shaving, yummy yum yum.
It helps that I want to feel better, I want it to work.