Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Storm is Brewing

There are dark clouds on the horizon. I can see them coming my way. And although the sun is still shining overhead, the air smells like rain and I can sense the change in pressure. A storm is brewing. Having survived the almighty tempest once before, I am ever attuned to the subtle changes in my psyche that signal its impending reappearance. Triggered primarily by sleep deprivation but nourished by a rich broth of hormonal soup, pregnancy and birth-related depression is a frightening condition to which I am particularly susceptible. And the events of the past couple of weeks have put me on high alert.

In recent weeks the family has been struggling to deal with an abrupt shift in Bode’s sleeping patterns, and it’s been wreaking havoc on our sanity. For over two years my son has been a perfect little sleeper – going 11-12 hours at night and 1-2 hours in the afternoons – a blessing of fortune by any measure. Suddenly, and I mean literally overnight, Bode has been getting up at night and wandering the house at all hours. Often at midnight, sometimes at 3, and then getting up for good at 5 or six with the barest shred of light that designates the morning. Some nights he sleeps for eight hours - 10 if we’re lucky - but the nights are all broken and scattered now. So are we.

One afternoon Bode kept getting out of bed when it was time to nap and I decided not to force the issue. Perhaps if he dropped his nap he would go back to a solid night-time sleep which we all desperately needed him to do. That evening he was indeed fast asleep by 7:30pm, but from midnight until 4am he was in and out of his bed some ten times before finally falling asleep in Ian’s arms until 8:30. It was a total debacle.

As I enter my last trimester of pregnancy, I am starting to suffer with the typical sleep-related difficulties common in late pregnancy: muscular and ligamental discomfort; shortness of breath; congested nasal passages; active, kicking baby in the wee hours of the night; unexplained random insomnia; etc. But not until recently did I feel that sleep deprivation was starting to get the better of me. Not until recently did my ability to cope and feel normal during the days begin to unravel. And boy have the memories come flooding back.

Most painful memories fade over time, but depression is something that never really leaves you. It is impossible to forget the blackness of mood, the absolute despair of hopelessness that suffocates your heart and ravages your mind despite the glorious sunshine of the day or the idyllic, “perfect” life that you know you have. One cannot simply push aside the tormented, anguished nights lying awake with a haunted mind that is spinning… screaming… psychedelic.

I’ve peeked through the looking glass of my past and know very well that history tends to repeat itself. I am heartened by the fact that my previous case was not severe and was successfully treated by proactive management bolstered by a rock-solid support system. This time around I will have even greater support and will be hyper-vigilant to early warning signs. Still, a storm is brewing. I am safe and sound, but gazing nervously from the window.

1 comment:

  1. I too suffered with post-natal depression with our second boy (we have five boys!). Never forget the feeling of being lost at sea, and a dark cloud hanging over head. I looked out for it with our other children and it never came. I think that the secret is sleep...I made sure I had heaps of sleep with the other babies :)
    Take care- and lean on thst support team...look after yourself xx