Trigger warning: This post deals with the loss of a pregnancy.
My partner recently had a miscarriage.
There. I said it. This is a taboo subject. This is a very stigmatized subject. This is not something you talk about openly. It makes people uncomfortable. But it’s true. She had a miscarriage. We should not have to suffer in silence. No one should, stigma be damned.
We have four children. This would have been our fifth. When I found out about the pregnancy there was a touch of panic. Five children is an awful lot to care for, to feed, and to house. We don’t have a large house and we are not wealthy by any measure. Often it feels like we’re just barely eeking by. These facts prevented my initial response from being one of overwhelming joy. It was more a tepid, tense, terrified joy. It was complicated.
A complicated response to a pregnancy is nothing new to us. My partner was 19 and I was 20 when she got pregnant with our oldest child. We were not married, and had a rather tumultuous relationship up to that point. Despite having gotten engaged months prior to the pregnancy, ours was still an on again off again romance. The wedding had already been called off once. We were both very passionate people (we still are), but those passions were not always compatible with each other.
In hindsight me being both very young and having undiagnosed, untreated bipolar probably had an awful lot to do with the volatility of our relationship. Having a baby together helped bring stability. We became more united. We were in it together.
Of course, being both young and completely broke made the idea of becoming parents terrifying. I was in no way elated. In fact, I didn’t come around on having a baby as being a positive, joyful thing until our son was born. After I saw him I was overwhelmed with joy. Every time I closed my eyes I could see his face. Every night when I went to sleep I felt elation at being the parent of such a precious child. I cannot describe this joy, but it is the best feeling that I have ever had. Not even the unnaturally intense elation found in the early stages of mania can compare.
I am experiencing the exact opposite of that feeling now. Before the miscarriage I had come fully around on this pregancy and the child that would be born being an unmitigatedly positive development in our lives. Sure, the logistics would be difficult. But we’ve been down that road before. Four times before. We have always made it work. This child would be no different.
But as soon as my attitude about the pregnancy changed we lost the baby. Every second of every day I hope to wake up from this horrible dream and return to the wonder and anticipation of a new baby. Every time I close my eyes I see a child that will never be here, a child that isn’t coming. Instead of being overwhelmed with joy when I lay down at night I am overwhelmed with sorrow. I cry myself to sleep. It has been a few weeks now and I still cry myself to sleep every night.
This sorrow is impossible to process. It is overwhelming. It is all encompassing. I can keep myself busy working during the day and distract myself from it; but if I slow down, if I stop going, it comes back and overwhelms me again.
No matter however horrible this feels, though, however negatively it impacts my mood (being bipolar keeping track of mood is essential), however much the sorrow overwhelms me, however much it consumes me, this is not depression.
I think often people have the wrong idea about depression. Depression is not sorrow that accompanies negative events. Depression is not the all consuming sadness that comes when losing a loved one. Depression is not mourning.
Depression is marked by sadness, of course. Depression feels like an all consuming sorrow. Depression robs you of joy and leaves you empty, just like grief and mourning does. But the difference is that when you mourn you experience this horrific sorrow for a reason. Depression isn’t a sadness, a sorrow, that has a reason. Depression is this same level of despair, but for no reason.
Depression is a crippling sadness that overwhelms you not because of something sad that has happened. Depression overwhelms you because it is Tuesday. Or because you have the audacity to exist. Depression swallows you in sadness for no damned reason at all. It just is.
I am bipolar. I experience depression regularly. And it is both crippling and incredibly difficult to treat. I am currently experiencing a very depressed mood. But I am not depressed. I am sad. I am devastated. I am overcome with grief.
I am mourning, not depressed.
And it just sucks.