Every month I think I'm pregnant.
There's no rational reason. The chances are pretty slim. At times it would practically be an immaculate conception if it did happen. It's really quite ridiculous to even consider it.
But every month, it happens.
Even if I'm not 100 percent convinced I'm pregnant, I'm still thinking that maybe, I could be.
And it rattles me to my core.
Why am I so afraid of having another kid? Why do I so deeply fear something that so many people long for?
Partly because my girls are not easy and Hubs and I have our hands full as it is.
Partly because Hubs and I are looking forward to the end of the sleepless nights and tantrum-filled days that dominate us right now.
Partly because I really like working, and if we had a third kid I'd have to give up my job.
But mostly? Mostly for a very real, very tough reason.
Mostly because I suffered from postpartum depression after my second daughter, Grace. And three years later, I really haven't quite bounced back.
And I worry if I had another kid, I wouldn't ever bounce back.
Depression isn't new to me. I had my first bout of it when I was a sophomore in college. Then another short bout when I got laid off for the fourth time in four years a while back.
So the postpartum depression with Grace wasn't a total shocker, though it did seem a bit odd I didn't have it the first time around with Anne.
But this time, what's so perplexing to me is this current depression just never seems to go away. It keeps ebbing and flowing into something else.
First the PPD, which seemed to get better after meds and therapy.
Then my dad died suddenly and it turned into grief-based depression.
Now I have what my therapist calls "situational depression." And you know what my "situation" is, what triggers my anxiety and anger and impatience and sadness?
My own kids! That's not exactly a "trigger" I can change.
So I am trying many different things to improve the situation. I don't want to be an irritable, impatient, anxiety-ridden mom, feeling under siege by a barrage of unwanted emotions anytime her kids are remotely difficult. (Which, as those of us with small children know, is basically an hourly occurrence.)
So, I am working less. Exercising more. Getting more me-time. Trying a new antidepressant. Going to therapy. Walking away when a situation with the kids gets to be too much. Taking deep breaths and trying to fight off the urge to scream at the little people in my house who are constantly talking at me, pulling at me, complaining at me. Reminding myself of all the lovely qualities that my kids have and trying to focus on those, instead of the downright annoying ones that will eventually fade away with age.
Fighting. Battling. Persisting. Resisting... against myself.
There are many days when I am drained by 4:00 p.m. from fighting off negative, unwanted emotions. It's truly exhausting in a way I can't completely describe.
Sometimes -- no, often -- I wonder: Is this it? Will it always be this hard? Will there ever be a day that I don't have to fight against myself? Will I ever just be... truly... happy?
I have faith that I will. It has been a hard three years and I do lose that faith at times. I can see why the phrase is "battling" depression. But I'll keep battling to get happy, regular me back. It's a fight I just have to believe I'll win.
And in the meantime? I guess I'll start buying stock in EPT pregnancy tests.
March 2013 note to new readers: This post was written one year ago. I am happy to report that I am doing much better today and I am feeling great. I still deal with depression and manage it in the ways I described above. I certainly have my ups and downs, and I never know when I'll dip back down. But right now? Things are great.
So take heart, fellow depression warriors. With the right treatment, it can get better. Don't give up.
This post originally appeared on Honest Mom.