It felt like a thick, sticky cloud hung around and over me all the time. I would sometimes glimpse freedom through a thinner patch, which kept me alive and gave me hope. Most of the time, however, I felt as though I had to squint to figure out where I was. It felt like my feet were weighted by cement blocks. As I waved my arms trying to grip a hand, a friend, a tree, a way...I found nothing, or I found ugly surprises that only tore me apart.
This is what depression felt like. It wasn't that there were no hands there. It wasn't that my mother, my friends, my husband were not reaching out, trying to help. It was that I couldn't find them, as if I was in an alternate dimension. In many ways, I think I was. I went to the underworld, and the only way to get out of it, was to let myself go.
I had to let myself take antidepressants. I had to let myself lie on the couch and do nothing. I had to let my body hair grow and let myself gain weight and lose the hair on my head until the medicine strengthened me from the inside out and thinned the grim, untiring cloud around me. It is incredibly hard work climbing out of the underworld, and I needed all strength I could get. I needed to hibernate and to do otherwise would have been violent. To push through and workout with the stick thin figures on youtube would have violated my soul. To rip hair out of my legs would have been abusive.
I had to let myself take antidepressants. I had to let myself lie on the couch and do nothing. I had to let my body hair grow and let myself gain weight and lose the hair on my head until the medicine strengthened me from the inside out and thinned the grim, untiring cloud around me.
And so my body began telling the story of my depression. It started to show that I had let myself go. Now, my body rebelled. My body was heavy, much heavier. My belly folded into many rolling hills when I sat, refusing to stay hidden. My breasts dropped with gravity and my thick thighs allowed the earth to feel the vibration of each of my steps. The hair on my legs, under my armpits were like the screams I had been holding in, visible for all to see, and refusing to hide again.
''I could accept this if it was a natural shift into menopause or something,'' I said to my therapist, ''But this is out of my control, due to the medication.'' ''What if it was due to some initiation or transition, Christiane...What would that transition be?'' she guided me. ''The transition into Motherhood....'' I whispered.
Shivers run down my entire body as I type this. I had let myself go. I had finally let myself, my whole self, including my flesh and the shape of me GO, transition and initiate into motherhood.
My body still rocks the curves, the hair and the softness that comes with parenthood. Because I think I have finally completed the initiation, I don't think my body will want to go back.
Our bodies are MEANT to change with parenthood. My body is now strong enough to rebel against patriarchal, colonial, and white supremacist norms that oppress so many bodies. My body is radical.
So yeah, I did let myself go. And I hope you do as well. Because it is only when you let yourself go that you will finally be free.