One of the sneaky things about depression (and this is mild depression, maybe it’s post-partum, I’m not sure) is that it doesn’t hit you like you think it will. Or at least for me. I’m totally functional. I’m kicking ass even. Yet, there’s these little things, signs that a lifetime of battling what my friend Alison Gresik wisely calls walking depression that show up and while it might take me a while, eventually I think, “uh oh”.
Okay let’s just say it: I’m a little depressed.
I realized it this week because I had a call with my editor and agent and thought, “oh god, I suck”. That’s called negative self-talk and it’s insane. Here are two people who are heavily invested in me, and yet I’m self-shaming and worrying about everything that comes out of my mouth. Why? Because depression is sneaky. It seems like it should be about laying around in bed and not taking showers, but sometimes it’s about just hating on yourself for no reason.
Another clue? I have been fantasizing about staying at a hotel. Alone. Big bed, crisp white sheets, and perfect silence. Okay I admit this may just be a new-to-being-a-mom-of-two-kids thing. I’m also really tired. And sad. And unhappy. But just a little. It’s weird. I used to live like this — I spent a decade under the mildly-depressed cloud (I called it overworked at the time) but now I can’t get away with that. I have two kids. I was sitting on the bed with them and Drew and I was just DONE. I said to Drew, “Everyone wants my attention and they want me to be happy all the time!”
Drew, wisely, just nodded. But that’s the thing. When you’re a mom, you’re the center of the family. If you’re unhappy, even a little, it unbalances everything. Your kids look to you for guidance on how to feel — and it’s not okay to self-medicate with alcohol or food like I would in my twenties — I have to own it, and fix it.
A lot of stuff is going on with my body that could be contributing. I had a baby two months ago! I also lost 20 pounds in the first weeks after Stella was born. I also gained 20 pounds the month after that, wee, look at me, amazing, I know, tip your waitress, I’m here all week. I’m breastfeeding. I am recovering from major surgery (aka c-section). Yet, still, the creeping little feeling around the edges, like I’m over-touched, like I want to hide, like I’m not happy with myself — it’s telling me something.
So I have to get back on the program. It’s been a long time, but it works. Here’s what it includes:
1. Admitting that no, not everyone hates you, and yes, the reason you have to admit that is because you’re suffering from mild depression.
2. Be out. Depression is sneaky but talking about it blows away the demons faster than anything.
3. Drink water. 8 glasses a day, plus more if you’re breastfeeding like me.
4. Eat well. I’m not going on a diet, but I did go to the store any fill up my cart with tons of fruits and veggies. I tried to pick a variety and stuff I thought I’d really eat.
I got: watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, red and orange bell peppers, green habaneros, zucchinis, apples, bananas, romain lettuce, white onions, sweet red onions, limes, plums, mangos, cantaloupe, green onions, tomatoes, jicama and so on…
Then Cole jumped up on the counter and dug out the strawberries.
Because, yum, strawberries!
5. Do a fun exercise routine. I’m going to start doing P90X with Cole because when Drew did it, Cole loved doing the workout with him. I figure it’s good for both of us.
6. Get sunshine. You know I haven’t been leaving the house as much lately (another sign) so I’m redoubling my efforts to get out everyday and go to the beach, since it’s RIGHT THERE.
7. Dance. You can not be sad while dancing.
8. Listen to upbeat music. Please send me recommendations, my iTunes looks like a Goa Beach Party at this point, I need some variety to my upbeat music!
9. Cut down on sugar, fat and carbs. I don’t have proof but I think those things give you a short term lift with a long term crash.
10. Do something for myself everyday. Right now that means a little teeny tiny break from the kids and work and everything else. Maybe I’ll just watch Rick Bayless on PBS talking about Mexico & Food. (Two of my favorite things).
11. Ask for help. For me that meant asking Drew to speak in Spanish with me everyday, because it was weighing on me that we hadn’t made as much progress in Spanish since moving here — understandable with everything that’s going on, but it would be amazing to take that guilt away. So starting this week we’re switching to a 100% Spanish-speaking family, something that really lifts a weight off my shoulders.
12. Spend uncluttered time with your kids. Because they make me smile. And it’s only the distractions that get in the way.
13. Write. I bought myself a new notebook and three new pens.
14. Read Vogue: Mexico. Okay this isn’t an official thing, but I did wonder if the cute wedge sandals I was seeing everyone wearing were on-trend.
Turns out they are.
15. Working on this, but: get husband to buy you new strappy wedge sandals by writing about it in a blog post.