I have a friend who used to live in Nairobi. It came up in a conversation about the weather. You know the one: Would you be bored to tears if the weather were beautiful, but the same, every day?
Nairobi is sunny and warm with a crisp breeze. Every. Day.
She said “You know, it’s impossible to be unhappy living in a climate like that!”
Mmmm… Maybe not “impossible.”
Here I am in Nairobi, visiting friends, meeting wonderful new people and eating delicious meals we relish even more because we can’t get anything like it in Kisumu. Here I am sunning myself in this happy-inducing climate, feeling utterly depressed.
And I’m hesitant to write anything since it can only come across as whiny and self-pitying given the much more serious problems other people in this part of the world face. In a better person that realization might be the kick-in-the-pants that would pull her out of her wallowing. And that awareness only inconveniently adds a bit of self-loathing to my sadness. But I can’t escape the emotions I feel.
I know all about postpartum depression and was lucky enough to avoid it with Caleb. But is there a pre-partum depression I can diagnose myself with? That’s got to be a “thing,” right?
You see, I’ve felt this way frequently since my third trimester: That there were tears piling up in my tear ducts just waiting for an excuse to let loose at the littlest inconvenience. That I would need to swallow hard to pull them back and avoid embarrassing myself with irrational sadness.
The other day I couldn’t get the water to be less than boiling hot in the shower. The painfully hot water forced me to leave half way through the shower and I proceeded, half naked with soap still in my hair, to not just cry, but to sob. A full body, shoulder-shaking, gasping-for-air, minutes-long sob.
Caleb walked in on me in another recent crying jag and tried to comfort me with: “Mama, you crying because you want a donut? You can have one later, OK? So, now you not sad, right?”
And that actually cheered me up. For a while.
I don’t think anyone, save my husband and son, has ANY clue what I’m going through (And yes. I know I say this on a BLOG, which means they could all know now, and that’s fine). This is partly because I’m actually cheered up by company. My depression is often sparked when I’m on my own too much, which doesn’t bode well for my indefinite maternity leave. (Really, my job contract just ends when my baby is due)
But, I’m not sure entirely how to disentangle what is hormone-provoked hyper-sensitivity with what might be real issues here. Sure, the shower being too hot would not normally send me over the edge, but might some of this other stuff?
Like feeling a loss of self watching my husband’s career take off and my own stagnate with this move to Kenya. Like feeling a bit too old to reinvent myself entirely. Like wondering if living here is worth not watching my nieces and nephews grow up.
Maybe I’d have answers or at least a better perspective on these things if I weren’t fighting back tears thinking about them. Maybe not. The thing is until depression clears it’s hard to think about any of this stuff with any objectivity.
And I suppose it’s risky writing things down when I’m in this state – much less sharing it. I’m sure it’s some kind of Murphy’s Law that when you write about this stuff, and perhaps even evoke some sympathy, that’s just about the time that your depression lifts and you not only don’t need the support but are embarrassed by everything you just wrote.
I’ll take that chance since writing about this, and even knowing it might be read and might even resonate with someone, is helping now.