I needed you, and you weren’t there for me. I need you…YOU!! I felt all alone. I felt abandoned; when I needed you most.
Have you ever felt this kind of alone before? Alone because, no matter if it’s true or not, you feel those closest to you have abandoned you; left you in your darkest hour. Left you reaching out into the darkness of depression and anxiety; only to find no comfort, no matter how hard you reach. No one to hold you; no one to comfort you. No one to reassure you and tell you things will be ok; that the claims depression make against you are lies. No one to tell you, you are loved…or that you’re even worthy of that love?
I know this feeling all too well…and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Have you ever…been the person that abandoned someone in need? Refusing to set yourself aside; if for nothing else than because you’re their person? Or the fact that YOU are the one person in this world that can actually make a difference; that can actually help in this situation, but instead, you’re too focused on you.
I know how that feels too…and I will have to live with that; hearing the words that started this post, in my head, for the rest of my life.
Six years ago, shortly after my son was born, my wife started showing signs of postpartum depression. I recognized them right away, as depression and I go way back.
Unfortunately, our marriage was not in the best place at the time, and this only added fuel to the fire. Even before the signs of PPD started, our marriage wasn’t anything to do back flips over.The pregnancy could not have gone any different than we had hoped. That’s in no way to say this was any fault of hers, because it I assure you it wasn’t. Let me make that very clear.
When we found out about the pregnancy, I wasn’t in a secure place with a job, and a distance has already started to creep in between us. This was mostly due to me having my own depression demons to sort out, and me not seeking out help. I can’t really tell you why I wouldn’t go get help, because I simply don’t know. Looking back it’s like I knew I needed it…but I just couldn’t.
But we pushed through. My wife did what she normally does in situations; she reads all the books, plans out everything to a T, and does more research than a government think tank. And I did, what I normally do…I worried…I obsessed over every negative thing…I complained if I wasn’t getting enough attention…I generally made her life harder. And things just got worse from there:
- Her grandmother, who happened to be her favorite person on the planet, passed away early on in the pregnancy
- We had a scare around 20 weeks when she started having bad contractions, and we thought we were going to lose the baby. Luckily the hospital stopped them.
- Not feeling supported by friends or family during the pregnancy…and definitely not after.
- Holidays spent with family that could NOT have gone worse.
- Another couple we knew had their baby 2 weeks before us, and named their son the same name as we were going with.
We realize the last one was really dumb, but you try having that kind of perspective after nine months of hormones and fuckery from the world.
By the end of the second trimester we weren’t even sleeping in the same room. This isn’t entirely odd – it happens all the time. I snored…bad…and she needed tons of pillows to sleep comfortable…so I offered to sleep on the couch of our tiny apartment. But, it’s been 6 years now. This is all to say, would could not have been less of a team than we were during that time.
One positive note…none of that seem to matter the night our son was born. The labor was relatively quick, but intense. But we worked together like a well-oiled machine. It just felt natural. She didn’t have to ask for anything…it’s like I knew what she needed before she said anything, and I was killing it as a partner. Sadly, that’s probably the only time during our marriage I can say that about myself.
I will be forever grateful the universe gave us that brief moment. A moment where we can say, we were a team. A moment of true love.
But, like most things in this world, it didn’t last long. The cherry on top of our shit-sundae was our son was a particularly difficult baby. Like for a lot of woman, breastfeeding was a nightmare for my wife. She felt sad…she felt upset…she felt frustrated…she felt alone. She did her normal routine; reading and researching, calling every resource she could find. She literally scoured every corner of the internet looking for help. I mean she was up most nights, because our son refused to sleep.
You notice I don’t mention much about my help here? What my contribution was in her finding what she needed? That because there was none. Sure, I could easily pass the buck and say she didn’t ask for my help, but the truth is…if I was her, I wouldn’t have asked for my help either. I wasn’t reliable. I was more of a burden than a partner.
I was amidst a massive depression at the same time my wife was slipping deeper and deeper into the abyss that is postpartum depression. But my depression could have been dealt with a long time before. I could have been on the medication I’m on now, and been the support person she needed….that she deserved.
But I wasn’t. I failed. Not only did I fail my wife, but I failed myself.
I missed out on a lot of joy in the first year of my son’s life, and I (at least had a hand in) denying that same opportunity from my wife. I was too busy focusing on myself, that I abandoned my wife to the evil that is depression. I left her to fend for herself…because my pride and fear got in the way…and it cost me a lot…it cost us a lot.
My wife lost faith in me. Lost faith in me as a support person, as a husband, and worst of all, as a friend. Our marriage started to die.
I’m not telling this story to garner any sympathy. I’m not looking for any pat on the back, and in no way do I want to be a martyr. Believe it or not (because I don’t care), I will be perfectly fine if I don’t hear from one person, or get one like, or retweet, or whatever false accolades social medias provides use. Because this isn’t about that…it’s about owning my story…all of it.
I’m telling this story because my wife has grown from that experience. She has made massive changes to her life, and has dedicated much of her time to work with women, and their families to battle the stigma around maternal mental health issues.
She’s told her story many times; like she did this week with TheBlueDotProject, promoting their #RealMotherhood campaign, but she has always omitted one part of the story…the part where her husband abandoned her.
Then I’ll say it…I failed my wife at a very dangerous time. Not only was I not there for her, but I knowingly abandoned her when she needed me. When needed my love and support. When she deserved my best. And I will regret that truth for the rest of my days.
This is Maternal Mental Health Week, and there are (sadly), many, many, many, more women out there who have, or are living this same scenario right now. Which means, there are partners out there not giving their best to the people that need it the most!
Men…dads…husbands…SOs…listen up…stand up…and STEP UP! The women in your life need you now more than ever. They, like my wife, are not crazy. They are not just bummed out or bitching at you too much! They are hurting, and asking for help. If you think you see signs of postpartum issues, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue; please help.
Don’t make the same mistake I did…