PPD and Marriage

14 Sep

Marriage is hard.  Marriage with children is challenging. Marriage with PPD is formidable.

Think back to your dating years.  Now imagine you arrange a date with a guy who has everything.  He’s handsome, smart, funny, caring.  He loves cats and doing dishes.  He washes his hands after using the restroom.  He compulsively buys presents – can’t help himself.  He picks you up, you drive to a restaurant on the beach, and find the perfect table for watching the sunset.  And then a loud man drags a chair over to your table and plops down in-between you and your date.  He blows cigarette smoke in your face as he introduces himself as Horace.  He talks over you and your date all evening, spitting chunks of food as he complains about every possible detail.  When you get up to use the restroom, he takes it as an insult and spends the rest of the evening sulking.  You finally ask your date who this man is and he tells you that Horace goes everywhere with him – they are rarely apart.  At times during dinner, your date seems to waver between being annoyed with Horace’s antics, trying to shut him up, and egging him on.  One thing is for sure. . . if you see your date again, you’re going to be spending time with Horace, too.

Would you go on a second date?  I mean, you really like this guy.  But Horace?  Who has time for him?  He makes spending time with your man nearly impossible and even seems to change who he is entirely at times.

Sometimes I think that’s how my husband feels.  I KNOW he loves me.  I know he believes in me – in us – and the life we are creating together.  But he’s fed up with Velma*.  I used to take his frustration with my anxiety personally and felt like he was angry with me.  In my defensive state, I would argue about how hard I was trying and tell him he wasn’t being supportive enough. But I’ve come to understand that he’s entitled to be angry. . . I’m angry.  I hate having an anxiety disorder and on my worst days, I want to whine and scream  like a child about it.

My husband just wants the partner he married.  He wants me – just me – with no Velma standing at my side, whispering that I’m not good enough and tricking me into starting an argument over something silly.  He wants to have fun with the woman he fell in love with over ten years ago.  He wants me to be happy.

It’s relatively easy for me to say this and take responsibility for giving his feelings respect because he is the definition of support. He takes the kids on weekend  mornings so I can catch up on sleep.  He is standing behind my decision to postpone the mood stabilizer so I can continue to nurse the baby.  He gently reminds me to take my medication if I’m feeling overwhelmed, and he adjusts plans to meet my needs.  We are a team this time.

His anger?  Isn’t AT me.  It’s FOR me.  For us.  And thought it may hurt some days, I have to afford his feelings the same respect he gives mine, and support him as he processes them.  After all, marriage is hard enough already with two kids.  We don’t need Velma’s lies about his frustration to make it any more difficult.

*Velma is the nickname the online PPD community has give to depression and anxiety.  We frequently tag our tweets about PPD with #velmasucks or #velmaisabitch or (my favorite) #velmaisalyingho. It’s a way to signal that we’re struggling and that we know that our mental illness is a separate entity from ourselves.

11 Responses to “PPD and Marriage”

  1. Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered) September 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    This was so powerful. First off, I wanted to smack Horace and shove him out of my face. Sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? I love love love this. It makes me feel somewhere in between sad, angry and kind of happy. Because Velma is a lying ho, isn’t she? And we women help one another stay strong, keep her away and I’m so glad that your words are here for others, and yourself. It is the PPD he’s angry with, so on point. I’m sorry I’m rambling. I’m truly touched and felt so much reading this I’m kind of spitting the words out, I suppose. Thanks for sharing.

    • learnedhappiness September 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      I’m so honored it struck home for you…and sad too that you know what I’m talking about. You’re right – us mamas, we gotta stick together.

  2. tranquilamama September 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Susan, these two lines really resonated with me. “He wants to have fun with the woman he fell in love with over ten years ago. He wants me to be happy.” I am slowly getting to be that woman again, but sometimes Velma gets in the way.

  3. Sandy September 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Oh my goodness. I so so so get this. My husband and I love each other but Velma? We hate. And just when I thought she’d gone, she’s back and I can’t help but worry this (every?) time will be the last straw. He’ll get fed up and leave. So far he hasn’t but PPD is shit at all angles. Our supportive husbands have to battle through this as hard as we do. Spending big ole massive hugs.

  4. Ann Becker-Schutte (@DrBeckerSchutte) September 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm #


    What a wonderful post. You do a great job of explaining this dynamic and I’m thrilled to see that the Velma discussion is still serving its purpose. 🙂 I can’t wait to share this.


    • learnedhappiness September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Well, thank you so much! We love Velma at #ppdchat. Well, we don’t love her, but we love what the discussion has done for us!

  5. mammacockatoo September 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you for this post and perspective. Perfect.
    PS Horace and Velma need to elope together.

    • learnedhappiness September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Yeah, they do! They’d be perfect for each other! But can you imagine the kids they’d raise?

  6. redrose856 September 18, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Hi ! Loved this post, and yes marriage is hard. It’s not 50/50. And illness tests any partner. Good luck to you as you work through what feels right to you and your family. I applaud your efforts to keep your breastfeeding relationship intact. I wouldn’t take meds 18 years ago b/c I was nursing my son, But now I look back and wonder if all of our lives would’ve been easier had I done so?? But I cherished the nursing and I also wonder if I could’ve made my own life (and my dedicated husband’s) easier for those long two years I suffered thru PPD. I want to add tho, as our marriage went by, there were many times I was the supportive one..through his cancer and thru other family tragedies, so..I think you will be able to repay his dedication someday. I think marriage is 90/90….!! And we also take turns holding the balls in the air! Much love, Kathy


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