When a Cyclothymic Girl Can’t Be Depressed

While I was pregnant with Peatuk, I secretly passed the hours researching postpartum depression and, even more secretly, postpartum psychosis. Deep down, a part of me was terrified that I would snap under the pressure of motherhood. After all, isn’t the women with a history of depression or bipolar that usually suffer from the more extreme cases of postpartum depression? Wasn’t I an ideal candidate?

Sometimes, it is still difficult to separate me from my 20 year old self. I forget all of the work I have done and I see myself as one day away from the hospital, doctors deciding how many rights I have the capability of exercising. I see myself spiraling in drugs and alcohol, ending up on another continent. It isn’t impossible. I have been there before.

During my mid-late twenties, I learned to control my depression, and with the controlled depression, the mania came less often. Diet. Exercise. Journals. Honest discussions with friends. Marathons. Meaningful work. All of that, combined with the natural calming of adult chemistry, allowed me to function in a way I didn’t imagine possible when I was 20.

But, my highs and lows never went away. I managed them. I controlled them. I made space for them in my life and worked through them. By accepting them, I was able to loosen their control over me and they became much less extreme. Unless I was drinking. At 29 I still had shameful bouts of bad decision making. Thrilling. I had no desire to control them. But once or twice a year, for a weekend. A girl can live with that…

The point is that I was not, ‘cured.’ I simply found a way to control the ebb and flow of emotion within me. I found a pressure valve. I found control.

I was afraid that once I lost that control, I would face a really sudden, deep snap that I might not recover from.

During the past year, my control has been taken to the limits. I have no time to be depressed. As a mother, I cannot simply, ‘take to bed’ for a weekend. There has been no time to write, no time to run, and my diet has been not, ‘bad’ (whatever that is) but a lot further from my control than it used to be.

I find that I cannot wallow in melancholy. Even if I had the time and space, I have this constantly joyful little being giving me raspberries, yammering away about how much he loves bananas, and learning how to wave. Oh, and giggling. Laughing so hard and completely that… it is impossible to stay in my depression.

I was afraid that without a valve- without indulging in bouts of regular depression, I would fly or I would fall. I haven’t though. Instead, it is as if my life is at a constant, even state. I find I am happy, or sad, but I do not have the time to question these emotions and so I do not have the time to fully feel them or fall into the high and low states that I recognize as joy and sadness.

It is strange. Am I ‘cured?’ Is this what it feels like to be normal? To allow yourself to get swept up in the mess of everyday, pointless life? Is this the goal? Is this mentally healthy? To allow my biggest dream to be a vacation to England and the day he potty trains and a cup of coffee? It all seems so… insignificant. Safe. Sanitary. 

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