Little Red Books

depression / Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Newborn went for his second set of jabs this week. On the way out I had to grab his little red book, which I’d lost and blogged about before. It was, with everything else missing in the world, in the shambles that is (was?) our dining room table.
It didn’t fit into my changing bag. Or in my poor excuse for a handbag (big enough only for keys, oyster card and purse). It did fit tucked under my son’s cocoon, behind his head, in the buggy.
This was good, in that it solved a simple storage problem and it allowed me to leave the house on time (ish). It was bad as it reminded me of thatwoman. The worst thatwoman I’ve ever been, whose profile isn’t even in my About Me lists.
Now I posted earlier this week about the glory of remembering and my dear wish that some things, like marvelling over tiny toenails or wet newborn dribble kisses, are forgotten. Forgotten and buried amongst the shit being preferable because that means they definitely happened before. Confusing though it was to express (and feel) it seemed right. But as I slid the red book behind his nibs’ beautiful be-hatted head I realised it swings both ways. In searching the forgetfulness of post-post-natal depression you find some horrors.
You see, the red book was a key prop in the story I told of my depression. With Spider-boy, to my eternal shame and horror, I never lost the book. Never once. Because I kept it, in his pram, behind his head. Not for safekeeping or to avoid losing it in the mess tsunamis we nearly drown in. Not even so it could be filled in with each milestone – those pages are as blank as my emotional canvass was, a very clear reflection. But so when I threw myself into the traffic, or slid down and lay on the tracks of the tube someone would be able to identify him. It felt imperative that someone would know his name. That they would realise he had been mine and that he now belonged with his Dad. My poor Paddington.
It was a clear plan with a perishing fatal flaw. How could I be sure no-one would steal him? He was, after all, perhaps the most heart-stoppingly, chest-freezingly beautiful thing, all sculpted snub nose, shiny black eyes, perfect round head. Who would be able to resist him? The plan itself would offer an ideal opportunity to take him as onlookers were preoccupied with the traffic carnage I would cause.
I never found an answer. So I never did it. I thought about it all the time though. I took to using a sling, not because I’m a natural ‘Earth Mother’, a North London uber Mum breastfeeding and slinging in soft-leather sandals as I skipped between coffee breaks (which is not a dig, I wanted to be one), but because I could never have jumped if I had him strapped to me. Whilst waiting for the solution (which was, I realise now, NOT killing myself, rather than solving the dilemma) I wrote lists. Mainly of things like the paint colour of each room, and who would be pissed off if my husband missed their birthday, so his life would be easier and my sum of knowledge in the running of our family wouldn’t be lost.
People have often remarked on how honest I am about depression, although I wonder if I just talked about it then because I didn’t think enough of anyone I know not to. The worst thing about the story above is it is a dull repeat for many who know me and I am beyond lucky enough to call friends. I was too far gone to feel shame or worry about the excess of dramatic self-pity such plans betray. And I had gone so far past empathy that it never occurred to me how upsetting it would be for anyone who cared for me to hear them.
So it is with apology to them I write this post, but also because I was discussing depression with a friend this week and shocked her again with a revelation about my depression when pregnant and I realised I have a way to go in working out what really needs to be remembered.
It is the worst kind of apology though, because I’m sorry and sad, but I have to keep writing. Because depression is a lonely place, pnd in its own particular peculiar way and it feels important to record the worst of times as I hunt for the better ones.

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