The marble bridge

Between bridge tolls and co-pays I spend $22 a week to manage my mental health. This isn’t bad, really. Yet I still wonder how long it will last.

I could cut my weekly dues in half if I saw a different therapist, one on my side of the bridge. But the idea of starting back at the crazy beginning sounds intolerably exhausting. Ideally, I would have found a therapist over here back in April. But I would have had to wait another week, and I didn’t have that kind of time.

I had already waited three weeks, one week longer than the standard questionnaire requires. “Have you felt sad, worthless or depressed for two or more weeks?”  I emailed my OB/GYN on a Friday saying something like, “My anxiety is all consuming,” and, “I think I need some help.” She put in the referral on Monday. By the time the lady from the Psychiatry department called to tell me they were booked solid for the next month, it was already Tuesday. A fourth week was getting ready to pass me by.

She must have sensed my panic. Somewhere between breaking down in tears and stating that, “Surely this is affecting the bond with my baby,” she agreed. I better come in the next day. If that meant I had to go a little out of my way so be it. Nothing as trivial as a body of water was going to stand in my way. I felt like I had lost my marbles, and there I was racing across a bridge after them.

Twice a week I travel down this road to recovery. I’ve been doing this for nearly four months now. Some days feel a bit like that first day, like I need to release the nervous energy before I burst. Other days I wonder what I even have to say. I dread the inevitable awkward lulls in conversation, and question whether it’s worth the $5 bridge toll.

I wonder how I will know when I am “cured.” When do I stop suffering from postpartum anxiety and graduate to survivor? I feel like I’m waiting for my therapist to declare from the other side of the coffee table, “Congratulations! We’re all done here!” So that I can go on my merry way, immune to even a shred of self-doubt. But something tells me this is not how it will play out.

I am a parent now, and the ride has just begun. I will always care and worry about my child.  No matter how many bridge tolls I pay, that’s not something I can expect to get over. No one ever does, and there is no final judgment, and we never reach the end of the marble bridge. All I can really do is step on the gas and hope my sanity doesn’t roll too far away from me.


For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Michael gave me this prompt: ​’No one ever does, and there is no final judgment, and we never reach the end of the marble bridge.’ – Glenn Carle.

I gave FlamingNyx this prompt: It’s all fun and games until someone realizes it’s not fun at all.

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20 thoughts on “The marble bridge

  1. What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful piece. Wow.

    I don’t think you’re ever done treating mental illness. You get better, and more able to cope, but you’re never fixed.

    It’s a tired analogy, but you’re never done fixing a car either. You maintain it, replacing what wears out so that you don’t have a massive catastrophe. But nobody ever walks out of a repair shop and says, “thank God I never have to do that again.”

    Most of all, don’t forget for one second that you’re not abnormal and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

    • Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment! I’m so incredibly flattered that you liked the post, especially since you wrote the assignment and are a very talented writer yourself.

      Your car analogy made me laugh! I suppose we don’t say that when we leave the mechanic’s. It also happens to be a fitting analogy. Maybe I’ll hope for something like, “Thank God it was just an oil change!”

      Most of all, thanks for the kind words of support.

  2. I can say I am fortunate not to know first-hand, but my guess is that this is something that will forever be with you, just in different degrees. In any case, you write beautifully about it. And I hope that writing is somehow cathartic for you.

    • Yes, I think you’re right. Hopefully over time the more difficult times will be less intense and less frequent. Thanks for the compliment on my writing! It certainly is therapeutic.

  3. is anyone ever “merrily on their way immune to even a shred of self-doubt”? I’m not even certain that this is healthy. but again, what do I know? the only thing I know is that poem about the journey to Ithaca vs the destination. And you are well on your journey, getting much better and you deserve all the toll bridges in the bay area 🙂

    • No, I don’t think anyone is immune to even a shred of self-doubt. Wouldn’t that be nice though? And I hate the whole “it’s the journey not the destination” thing! What if the journey sucks?? Ha!

      • haha! I am with you on this one. I am totally a destination person. Especially when it involves literally journeying. You know road trips, cruises etc. I hate those! But there are some things, like health, mental health, or raising your kids, that there is no destination. You’re can never say I’m done here, time to enjoy the beach. In which case, you just have to do the best you can in small segments. You know, like piece wise linear integration. Just in life 🙂

        • Piece wise linear integration… Pretty sure my mathematical capabilities have been reduced to algebra out here in the real world. No wonder I’m having such a tough time!

  4. Love this post. Love love love love love. I often feel the same way. When does depression become something I use to have? When do I become “normal” again? Sometimes I feel really great. Sometimes I feel “cured.” And then other times it’s kind of like I’m crashing again. I love the bridge analogy. Great, great post.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m so touched that you liked it. Wouldn’t it be nice if, during those good times, you could depend on the fact that it wasn’t going to get worse again?

  5. Great post. It must be hard as a mother and suffer from ppd, because you are and you aren’t who you were before the baby. How does one determine when the “new” normal is normal?

    (I applaud you for driving over a bridge to therapy– for me, driving over a bridge puts me in therapy. When I had to drive over the San Rafael bridge en route to Humboldt, my mom always had me call her when I crossed to make sure I was okay.)

    • Such an insightful comment! It is so true that becoming a mother (and probably any mother, not just those of us with PPD) changes you. I do feel like I’m trying to figure out who I am now, how I am still who I was before the baby and who I am that is new.

      As for the bit about bridges putting you in therapy – made me laugh! Thanks for that!

  6. Once, when Kari first had Amelia, she was discussing some aspect of parenting with Brian (cry it out or something) and he gave her this advice: You do whatever it takes to keep your sanity. That’s the most important thing.

    In this case I would say that $22 is a small price to pay for yours. Also, maybe we just need to have our own weekly therapy sessions over skype. I AM related to a clinical psychologist, after all. (That practically qualifies me, right?)

    • Oh yeah, the $22 is totally worth it. I’m not really sweating that. I do wonder how when I’ll know that I’m ready to move on (and stop going).

      I’m totally down for weekly Skype sessions, regardless of my mental health!

  7. I am so happy they got you in and you are able to do two days a week! The money IS worth it 🙂 Especially if you have a therapist you like 🙂

    • Yeah, I definitely lucked out. I got in through “crisis management.” That was supposed to only last for a month or two, but here I am still going! I do individual therapy once a week and group therapy once a week.

  8. When I was pregnant with Amelia I remember thinking, “If I can just make it through the first trimester without miscarriage then all my fears will go away and nothing bad can happen.” and how wrong that is. Amelia is 3 and I still worry about her every day. I think life is about one day at a time. I still have anxiety sometimes when Jonathan is gone but I just breathe and relax and take it one minute or one hour at a time.

    I love your honesty and this is beautifully written.

    • Isn’t that the truth?? Jason likes to remind me of how I thought all my worries would go away when Ruby was born (after the bleeding and all that crap during pregnancy). Instead they just got much, much worse! Yay!!!

      Anyway, thank you for YOUR honesty. It’s nice to know that even the sane mothers feel anxious sometimes.

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