Rebuilding Myself After Depression
You know how some folks are like, "that b*tch is crazy", but she's not a 'mental' sort of crazy. Yeah, well, after Jesse was born, I went full-blown insane. I dismissed it as an obsessive need to be the best mommy ever because of how long and rough the road had been to have a child.
The more stressed I became, the more ashamed I was of the thoughts trolling my mind. Hell, some days, I didn't even want to be a mommy. Not that I didn't love my daughter. I had moved figurative mountains to have her. Of course, I adored her. But some days were...tough. Some days she cried constantly. She never napped. I was on a gerbil wheel, running round and round but getting nowhere. Our tiny one-bedroom apartment was always a mess because there wasn't enough room to neatly store her toys. So, they were everywhere. Didn't help that every morning, without fail, she pulled out every. single. toy. in her toybox and dumped them on the floor. If I cleaned it up, she went right back and did it again. Bringing her anywhere was torture because she'd throw a tantrum to get out of the carriage. Even being in the car was a nightmare, because she'd cry at every red light.
I was the baby in my family, so I was never around infants or toddlers. The closest I got to baby experience was with my nieces, but I only saw them on Sundays, and when we did go to my mother-in-law's for dinner, they were the sweetest kids ever. My lack of experience under-prepared for the every day demands of motherhood. I had no idea that the simple act of peeing was a monumental fete. The in vitro fertilization and pregnancy hormones weren't helping matters. It took less than one month into being a mommy for me to get super overwhelmed.
Losing My Brother Destroyed Me
When my brother died and I snapped. I, legit, had a complete mental break.
As months turned to years, I missed myself so much, I could no longer remember who I was pre-Jesse. Where I ended, she began, and the inevitable happened. When I could not longer distinguish myself from her, I faded away. A monster version of myself emerged. Renee Rocco was gone, and in her place was a venous and bitter bitch who took it all out on Frankie.
During my descent into madness, Frankie was working two jobs. Two days out of the week, I didn't even see him. He'd come home, eat, shower, and rush right back out to his second job. Thinking back on that, I swear, I've no clue how he functioned. But he did. And he did it with grace. Me? I was coming apart at the seams.
Eventually, I went completely bonkers, and stayed a lunatic for about two years. I could have hurt myself. I could have hurt my baby. I could have destroyed my marriage. Thankfully, none of the worst case scenarios happened. But I was damn close to ruining everything Frankie and I had built together. Why? Because I was too afraid to admit I was a hot mess mom.
It took coming thisclose to driving my husband away for me to realize something was seriously wrong with me. So, I decided to go to a psychiatrist. I made the appointment. Got myself dressed. Drove myself to the office. Parked right in front of the place...
...and never got out of the car.
The Road to Recovery Was Brutal
Instead, I called Frankie and told him I couldn't do it. I couldn't go in there, tell a stranger the things I needed to tell my best friend (who also happened to be Frankie). I was terrified they'd put me on Prozac. I felt, for me, the worst thing that could happen was for a doctor to put me on drugs. I drove home, sat down with Frankie, and bared my soul to him for the first time since our daughter had been born.
Wiping baby ass was gross.
Jesse never taking naps during the day gave me no relief from the constant demands of motherhood.
Sometimes, motherhood was an total joy. But other times, it completely sucked.
I was tired all the time.
I also missed my husband so much, it actually hurt my heart, and I was selfishly resentful that he was never home.
I no longer felt like a woman. Instead, I was a thing. A mommy, who had lost herself. I stopped reading (I was an avid reader, able to devour a book in a single day).
I was pissed that my books had failed. (I had written a few books, which were published with a now-defunct small press.)
When my brother died, a piece of me died, too, and I wasn't healing from the loss.
I cried so hard, and so long, and it felt amazing. Cleansing. Frankie listened. He held me. He laughed at me, and with me. And when I was done spilling my guts to him, he looked me right in the eyes and said (and this is a direct quote because I'll never forget his words), "no shit."
That was it. I'd pushed him so far away, he was on the outside looking in, and he'd witnessed my breakdown, and had been powerless to do a damn thing to talk me off a ledge. He knew that until I saw for myself that I was crazy, there was nothing he could do to help me. But he'd stayed by my side the entire time, a silent friend and partner, waiting patiently for me to come back to him.
And then he admitted to missing me, too, and that our sweet and adorable toddler could also be one hell of an a**hole.
I Embraced My Hot Mess
He started working a little less. I started trying a little harder. Together, we became an amazing team again, one who loved being parents, but once we put Jesse to sleep, and it was just us...we laughed at how crappy parenthood could be, also. We embraced being hot messes, and suddenly, the stress was gone, and I was finally able to enjoy motherhood. I was a person again, reading, writing, and dressing in clothes that were other than pajamas.
I'm not going to lie and say healing was easy. I was unstable for a good while longer, but each day got a bit better, and next thing I knew, I was loving the fact that I'm never going to be a Pinterest mom. I'm not one of those Instagram moms videoing my yoga workouts, or posting perfectly filtered pictures of my latest baked creation. I'm not the wine sort of woman. I'd rather send the kids into their rooms early, do a few vodka shots with Frankie, and watch some cheesy horror on Netflix. My kids will never eat organic. Frankie and I are never going to like sitting through a recital. In fact, when Jesse was in dance for a single year, my husband and I were the parents laughing among ourselves in the back row. My house isn't tidy unless I know company is coming. And I'm always going to look like a homeless person when I drop my kids off at school.
I'm just me. Imperfect. At times a dumpster fire. And I'm okay with that. My family is happy and healthy, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.