My love story isn’t one that’s been filled with hearts and flowers the
past 18 months. There have been a lot of highs but just as many moments
of despair, doubt, and fear. He’s been there with me every step of the
way. I haven’t always appreciated it but I’m learning.
I met Matt in college and it was instant attraction. He worked at Walmart
and I shopped there-a lot. Small town and cute boy, what can I say? We got
married in 2008 and immediately set off on adventures together. I like to
think we’ve always been a little unconventional (we live in an RV now!)
even when we’re trying to do the responsible adult thing. We’ve had
hiccups in our marriage but nothing like what we were going to face in
18 months ago we welcomed the most perfect baby boy into the world.
Weighing 7’3” and 20 inches long, he was a complete angel. And we were in
love from the beginning. I’d say I had the normal “baby blues” after
birth, I cried a lot, felt a few new fears with the baby in the house, but
nothing too awful. When our little guy was almost 2 months, things began
to change. I couldn’t shake these new fears I was having and I began
forming new ones. I became irrationally afraid of things like shoes being
worn in the house. The thought of someone walking in with shoes gave me a
near (or actual) panic attack. I didn’t really want visitors coming over
because I was afraid they’d give something to the baby. I was terrified
for Matt to go to work because he might bring something home. Other things
began popping up and it seemed like there was no relief while I was home
day in and day out with the baby. All I had was time to think. I hoped
this was a temporary thing and I would improve once I went back to work. I
didn’t. I got worse.
I went to a therapist and was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and
depression. At first, Matt, though he didn’t understand, tried to just be
there and ride through it with me. As the months went on, it got harder
and harder for him to understand. My fears were completely irrational—why
can’t I just not think about them? I should just trust him because he
knows what he’s talking about and I’m not thinking straight. Sometimes
there would be ultimatums. My fears about something had to stop if he did
something to “fix” the problem. Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t work that
way. When you’ve never experienced it, it’s very hard to put yourself in
the other person’s shoes. I just wanted Matt to try but I know now that’s
not an easy thing to do. I didn’t even understand it myself 99.9% of the
time. I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling or thinking and
instead lashed out and blamed him. He would do the same in return. It made
for some very lonely times for me in what was supposed to be the happiest
time of my life. I’m starting to realize that it was lonely for him as
well though. Suddenly I wasn’t the same person I’d always been. I wasn’t
the wife he’d always known. His best friend that was up for facing any
challenge life threw at me. I was struggling with that feeling of losing
myself. He was dealing with that loss too.
I’d like to say that all this is behind us. I’ve come a very long way but
I still have days where I struggle. Sometimes we fall into the same
patterns of blaming each other and not listening to the other person’s
feelings. I think we’re getting there though. The one thing I wake up and
marvel at every day is that we’re still here. Doing this life thing
together. It’s thrown us a crazy turn or two but neither one of us is
going anywhere. I’m now sure that my husband is the kind that “sticks.”
And I am too. For that, I’m so grateful and blessed.
Dedicated to my forever Valentine, Matt.
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Beth’s story is heartfelt! I am so happy that you got the help that you needed after your son was born. You are right, it is hard to explain anxiety and depression unless you have lived it. Both you and Matt are so strong for sticking together and living life everyday together. I hope you and your family grow and learn together. I have always thought about living in an RV!