iPhone Apps, NYTimes, and Emerging from PPD

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*Those who got an email delivery of a six-letter post from me this morning, sorry about that! Apparently the WordPress phone app has a mind of its own because suddenly it was publishing without my consent.*

Last Saturday we spent a ridiculously large chunk of the day at Best Buy, switching me to a new cell phone. I’d had a pay-as-you-go, zero-frills one for three years, Hubby had just made the leap to the iPhone and been singing its praises all week, so it was my turn.

I should have been thrilled, but I felt mired down: the baby had just leaked out of his diaper and would need to eat soon, with no convenient place to nurse him, the older kids were running in circles at the front of the store or else yanking on every sample mobile phone to test the length and strength of those cords they’re attached with, and I kept overhearing snippets of what Hubby and Best Buy dudes were saying that made it sound like dollar signs were racking up way too fast (we were supposed to be getting the older model and the cheapest plan, but I kept hearing, “For only another five/ten/fifteen/twenty bucks a month . . .”).

Grumpy but determined not to have a breakdown — the way I’ve had breakdowns nearly weekly since the baby was born four-and-a-half months ago — I suggested that I take the kids and the car and do some other errands while Hubby finished the two-hour process of transferring my phone number and contacts.

That’s the way it’s been the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed. I’ll encounter scenarios that I expect to make me burst into tears, because that’s been my norm for so long, but lately I find I can handle them again. I may be grumpy about them, still not quite able to push myself up to letting things “roll off my back” or “looking on the bright side,” but from where I sit Grumpy is such a huge step up from Depressed that I feel ecstatic about the progress!

Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times (one of my absolute favorite things about having an iPhone, since I never have enough time on my laptop to read the news) about the value of insight when it comes to depression. Basically the article questioned whether or not “self-knowledge” makes much difference, because knowing why you’re depressed often just gives you more to be depressed about.

I’ve been reflecting on my journey through post-partum depression anyway, but the article gave me a few more things to think about.

I began in denial, which I’m guessing is pretty common. The word, the label, “depression” was totally off my radar. My first cry was when my mom went back to Arizona, and that seemed like a normal kind of cry after a baby. And when I continued to have breakdowns, even in front of other moms in my neighborhood one time, I dismissed them until finally one neighbor called and said, “I’ve been worried about you.”

This is a neighbor, by the way, who had just had TWINS four weeks after I had ONE baby, both of us with two older kids to take care of as well. I laughed at her even while a lump rose in my throat. “You’re the one who has two babies. I should be doing more to help you.”

“I heard that post-partum depression is most common with your third baby,” she went on, “so I’m relieved to be doing okay. But I’ve  been worried about you.”

I gave her all the reasons I was or would be fine and the conversation didn’t go any further than that. But the D-word stuck in my head. I finally recognized that she was probably right.

The trick was what to do about it. I refused to consider medication — for multiple reasons, not the least of which was that I’m breastfeeding. And I’d grown up with parents in therapy and knew I didn’t need to “talk through my issues” or anything like that, since usually I’m very self-aware. Even all through pregnancy I hadn’t had major tears. It was like this post-partum thing had hit me out of nowhere.

At the end of the New York Times article, it mentions that a chronically depressed patient cured himself by quitting the job he hated and pursuing the career he’d always wanted. But what do you do when it’s your BABY causing your depression?

Get an iPhone?

Strangely, that seems to be one of the pieces that’s helped. This week has been so smooth. I can respond to emails and get other things done, even things like looking up recipes for dinner, while nursing or putting the baby to sleep. There’s an app that lets me plan all the meals for up to two weeks, which helps relieve some of the daily what’s-for-dinner stress. And of course the calendar is de-stressing my life by helping me not forget everything (which, with “mommy brain,” I’ve been very prone to do lately).

Not that the iPhone gets the credit for my recovery. As I said, I’ve felt the depression gradually lifting over the past couple weeks. But I’m beginning to realize as a mother of three that gadgets that simplify and de-stress my life are sanity savers.

This week I finished my lesson plans with plenty of time to spare, even working ahead to prep for Monday’s classes; I cooked dinner nightly; made a grocery list; helped my six-year-old start learning to play the piano; kept up with the dishes and the laundry; read articles in the New York Times; took naps with and spent time just enjoying the baby; learned some cool iPhone tricks like how to take a picture of the screen (such as this photo above right); and even — miraculously — found time to patch the hole in the wall from when we did some electrical work last summer (I’m the fix-it “man” in our marriage).

It’s like I’m myself again.

But maybe “insight” does get some of the credit. Thanks to various experiences with the baby these four months, I came to realize how easily I let myself stress out and how harmful that is to both my psyche and my body. Because of that insight, I’ve focused on learning to relax. If the baby only naps for forty-five minutes, no biggie, I tell myself now, whereas before I would feel instantly overwhelmed the moment I heard him wake up.

Right now he’s sleeping on my lap as I type this. I’ve learned to go with the flow.

And I’m definitely liking how the iPhone helps the flow.

Anyone else had similar experiences? What do you think of babies, depression, stress, technology simplifying or complicating our lives, etc? Oh, and what are your favorite indispensable iPhone apps so I can add some more cool ones to my collection?

Leave a comment!

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8 responses »

  1. Nikki, I love your post! I definately feel like I have benefitted both from seeing what was really going on and from technology. Getting a laptop a year and a half ago has greatly increased my organization and focus in the academic world. Quitting an overly demanding job to focus on school did the same thing.
    I remember when I was fighting my own depression. The final battle was coming to realize that I am worth loving despite anything I had done or suffered through. I wrote myself a letter and was yelling it to myself in the car on a trip home one day. Repeatedly telling myself that I was worth loving and why (Because I am a Child of God, if nothing else)was the first step in true change for me.
    Thank you for sharing your struggles.

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    • Thank you for the comment. In so many ways I feel like my depression was “silly” because I don’t have those huge issues to work through. It was a lesson for me, though, in recognizing how real it can be, whether because of hormonal imbalances or deep-seeded turmoil like it sounds like you went through. I’m just grateful to be on the other side of it now, and I’m glad you are, too! 😀

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  2. Boy have I been there. I didn’t, and still don’t, have an iphone, so I can’t help you there. BUT, I did use music that spoke to my soul to medicate my post-baby-deal-with-kids-hubby-life-chaos-I-want-my-mommy depression. Isn’t it great to see some blue sky in your life. Hang in there. Hugs.

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    • Thank you. Hugs are some of the best medication. That and just finding ways to believe that I can handle everything. The iPhone helps me feel organized, and I can see how music would help you feel calm. Motherhood can be so overwhelming sometimes that help is a must!

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  3. Wow. I don’t know how you handle life as amazingly as you do. It seems flawless. Even how depressed you were surprises me, because you seem to have accomplished sooo much since baby was born.

    I hope to grow up and be like you some day. 🙂

    I definitely get what you’re saying about organization though. I felt like my life was so much better once I got my buffet in the front room. Now my bedroom is a disaster though, which makes me feel like a complete wreck all the time. 😦

    3 kids is really, REALLY hard!

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    • Yeah, I probably brought some of the depression on myself by trying to do too much while adjusting to a new baby. Three kids is WAY hard, you’re right. But I love your hutch, too, and I’m glad it helps!

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