Remember the Friends episode when Monica tries to convince Chandler she isn’t sick? When she can’t speak clearly because her nose is so clogged with snot? Telling everyone she’s “fineeeed” when she obviously just needs to lie down, maybe watch a little Friends on Netflix? (Or the 90s equivalent, so…Friends on TV?)
That was me over Spring Break. Nine months postpartum and still in denial that something wasn’t right.
Even after identifying so strongly with Chrissy Teigen’s article (see post), I still had doubts as to whether or not there was something legitimately wrong. When I say “legitimately”, I mean something else at play besides me just sucking at the whole motherhood thing. I googled the symptoms of PPD over and over again, poring over the lists of “possible signs.” I only had a few, and most could be reasoned away—maybe I was just being dramatic, maybe I just needed a little rest.
I was still putting on a convincing show, doing my hair/makeup and dressing myself in what I considered to be millennial mom clothes (black leggings, chambray top, etc.). It was my version of Monica putting on her lingerie to seduce Chandler—only it worked. No one seemed to suspect anything, besides the fact that I was a little tired.
Exhausted not just from teaching first graders, from caring for an infant, from maintaining our lives.
Exhausted from the efforts to maintain the “normal-mama” charade.
Days after I’d read, reread, and rereread Teigen’s article, my sister and I were lounging on the couch in my parents’ basement—being lazy together and pretending we weren’t adults. Which was a little difficult, given that Little Darcy was playing on the floor next to us. Nevertheless, we snacked on cookie dough, wore our matching Kardashian pajamas, and gossiped while watching shitty TV.
It should have been sister-heaven. But at that point, I was numb. Unable to laugh, I’d mutter, “That’s so funny” when I knew something was supposed to be funny. That was the best I could do. The “normal-mama” act was getting to be too much.
I finally said something to my sister.
I was ugly-honest, she was ugly-honest. I didn’t feel like myself—and I was struggling. I even told her the toughest bits, the lack of bonding and not feeling connected. She had noticed, but she had hoped it was better. It wasn’t. By the end of the conversation I agreed to call and make an appointment with a doctor, just to see. It was worth checking out, we decided.
This is the part of the episode when Monica admits she’s sick and asks Chandler to put the Vicks on her chest. Only she’s really just pretending in order to get him into bed. I wasn’t necessarily pretending during that conversation with my sister, but I still had many doubts that I was actually depressed. I think I was hoping she’d tell me I was being dramatic, that I was fine.
I was fine like Monica was fineeed.
Why is it so hard to admit that we’re sick? Even to ourselves? Are we just afraid? Of…what? Not being invincible? Honesty is hard. But living a lie, even a seemingly innocuous one, is harder.
Have you ever been fineeeed? What made you finally realize that you weren’t? Please share you thoughts below! Then you can click here to read my next post, “Thriving or Surviving?”, where I share more about what getting help looked like for me.