Tuesday, August 5, 2008

:: :: and yet :: ::

Something really important was confirmed for me today. Evan was in the tub, the business of washing (scouring, in some areas, like knees) complete, and I was sitting on the (closed) toilet watching him enjoy his play. It was only his third or fourth time in the big tub and he was finally over the novelty of all the bath fixtures and was comfortable enough to just go balls out, as they say. He discovered that he could pour water over his own head using one of his bath cups, which resulted in a look so happy it almost looked painful. Then he discovered that he could use all parts of his body for splashing, and that his splashing needn’t be wimpy. By the end of the bath, that splashing was on par with the best splashing I’ve seen in my 29 years. Seriously. The best and last discovery was that he could flip over onto his belly, prop himself up on his hands, and kick his legs behind him. Part olympian, part frog, Evan kicked those legs like his life depended on it, and laughed as hard.

That laugh, you know, its infectious. I couldn’t help but share in it. And yet.

And yet.

Underneath it, I felt the familiar swell of panic. Unattributable, undefinable, unthinking panic. I couldn’t identify any source. I couldn’t remember what I’d been thinking about. I’d been laughing! I’d been happy! I hadn’t been worrying. And yet there it was.

My doctor, at our first meeting, reassured me when I admitted through tears that sometimes I dread being with Evan that I’d probably feel dread even if I were sitting in an empty train station someplace. It’s not Evan.

And that’s what was confirmed today. I’ve been telling myself since this started that it’s not about him. I want to be sure that he knows it’s not his fault or whatever. But I don’t think I believed deep down that it wasn’t about him until tonight. Believing it is good. And yet.

And yet.

It doesn’t really help. Today on the phone my mom asked how my day had gone and I said it was hard, but fine. She said, “See, it’s not so bad?” and I said something like, “Yeah. I guess.” And I guess I meant it. Taking care of Evan these last two days — our first days alone together in a month — wasn’t so bad. We took walks and went to playgrounds and read books and played with a bucket of water outside and splashed in the puddles. We had meals and snacks and we changed diapers and put on pajamas and even cut nine fingernails. (So close!)

After I got off the phone with mom I just sat there, watching Evan play with his baby crayons, and thought, “It’s not so bad. I’m so bad.” But of course saying that out loud sounds too melodramatic. To the people around me, it doesn’t really ring true. I’m able to laugh. Sometimes. I’m eating a bit better. I’m crying a little bit less and my panic attacks are milder.

The medication seems to have dialed down the bad physical feelings and manifestations of the postpartum depression, but it hasn’t (yet, I hope) dialed up the good mental feelings. My panic, something primal and ferocious a month ago, is now like a dark secret locked beneath my solar plexus. I know it’s there. And yet.

And yet.

I found myself today feeling a little bit frustrated. “I can’t even muster up a decent panic attack,” I thought. And then I gasped, actually gasped, at having the thought. It’s not that I want them back. It’s not that I want to wake in the night feeling plugged directly in to all the negative energy in the world, pulsing with fear and irrationality. Who would ask for that back? And yet.

And yet.

I can’t explain it. I just can’t. I guess I just feel sort of locked inside this still, and I’m frustrated that I feel it but don’t feel it. It feels intense to me even as I recognize that it’s not that outwardly intense anymore. It feels too easy being depressed now. Like I could just go on like this forever, panicking even at the same time I’m laughing.

And I guess I am also worried that people will expect more of me than I can handle, not being able to see it on me like they could a few weeks ago. I’m not better yet and I’m not ready to be better yet. During the early days of all this I found myself saying a lot of, “I’m not OK” and I feel like I’m not supposed to say that anymore even though I still feel it.

I’m not OK. And yet.

And yet.

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