Family,  Well Being

Post-Wedding Depression – My Experiences of Leaving Home & How I’m Coping

It was well after midnight when our wedding ceremony was finally complete. Most of the guests had left by then. The wedding venue was silent and almost empty. That’s when it hit me. I’m never going to have all the people I love in one room like this ever again. I felt heartbroken.

I was a bit surprised to be honest because I didn’t expect to feel that way. Especially not on my wedding day. It’s supposed to be all excitement and happiness, right? But there I was, in the middle of two contradictory feelings. Happiness. And heartbreak.

I felt it again the next day when I was leaving for my in-laws’. This time, with more intensity. There were tears. Bidaay. A goodbye – when the bride leaves her parents’ home to plant new roots and start a new family. But I knew about this. I had voluntarily signed up for it when I said “Yes” to Tathagata. So this time the feeling didn’t come out of the blue but it shook me nonetheless.

The next time I felt it was on the reception evening. As I watched my parents leave, I knew then that life, as I know it, will never be the same.

Two and a half years into the marriage, I see it more clearly now. What I was feeling then was a precursor of what was to come. Every girl knows the inevitable truth about her wedding – the moment you exchange the vows in front of the wedding fire, you are on your own. It’s like an initiation of becoming an adult. You have a new life, you have a new set of responsibilities and you even have the best partner to share them with. But you can no longer go running back to your parents if your choices fall through. It’s all on you from here on. I read this somewhere – “Part of being an adult is making your own choices and living with the consequences”. Just about sums it up.

But the overnight change was unnerving. One day I was at my parents’ and the next day I had a brand new set of parents! Everything in between seemed to have passed me by like the Shanghai Maglev! And it caught me completely unaware.

Taken right after the wedding ceremony
This was taken right after the wedding ceremony

As the hustle and bustle of the wedding died down, I started to feel a void in me. I began to notice my parents’ absence. The absence of my old room. The old smell. I felt like my old self caught up in a new environment. I felt homesick. Most days, I found myself thinking about home. Imagining how life back there has changed. All the relative had gone home leaving behind my tired and lonely parents. I wept inside as I kept thinking about what I had left behind.

You see, no one tells you about this. No one prepares you for this feeling. Actually no one can. The thing is, this feeling is a contradiction in itself. It’s omnipresent but it’s also fleeting. Even though it’s always there, you cannot put a finger on it. I was completely new to it and before I could begin to understand what I was going through, I was overwhelmed by it.

I think the reason why it became overbearing for me is because I kept it bottled up. I never made the effort to talk to anyone about it. Actually, talking about it never occurred to me. I even tried to push it to the back of my mind. But the more I did that, the more it consumed me.

Truth is, I’m an introvert. Big time. And having spent 27 years of my life with my parents, all I knew was that my world revolved around them. So it was all the more difficult to switch and adjust to a new normal in a snap. I ended up feeling constantly homesick. I was thinking about my parents, my home and how life has changed for me in every little thing I was doing. I couldn’t breathe.

Maa

I still remember the time when just days before the wedding I was packing my suitcase. I looked around my room in the afternoon light and I noticed all of the tiny things that made it mine. The mosquito net tucked neatly in one corner of the bed under the pillows, the light green curtains that I had selected, my beloved books scattered all around the room, the picture of a boulevard in autumn on the wall, the feeling of home. I wanted to pack all of it in my suitcase. I realized how traumatic it would be for my parents to look at my room after I was gone. So I had to keep the façade on. I had to be present, even after I was gone. What I didn’t realize then is that my parents would do the same.

It took me two and half years to be able to finally put words to my post-wedding feelings. So here I am now, sharing my experience with you, in the hope that it would help someone going through similar post-wedding blues know that they are not alone. And that it’s ok to feel confused with the rush of feelings after the wedding.

Tathagata and my in-laws could sense that I was going through an internal torment. They knew that I wouldn’t be able to talk about it. They have been my patient pillars of support to help me cope and adjust to my new life by making it easy for me at my new home. They didn’t ask me too many questions about how I was feeling and that helped a lot because I didn’t have the right words yet. Just the tears. But they made sure that I knew that they were present whenever I wanted to talk. Tathagata, to this day is my rock. He gets me. He knows when to speak and when to be just present.  Without his reassuring nods, I would be lost. I think I lucked out in the husband department.

But what I should’ve done then was converse with my parents about my emotional turmoil. The thing is, I have never been too open about my feelings. Ever. It’s difficult for me to express myself through conversation. Plus I didn’t want to burden them with my emotions on top of their battles. So it never happened. Not before the wedding. And definitely not after.

Baba

In the days leading up to my wedding, my parents’ discussions seemed to centre entirely around one thing and one thing alone – the logistics to make mine a perfect wedding. We were talking a lot but we were more distant than ever. I couldn’t steal a moment to talk to my parents about how they would cope with the emptiness after I was gone. Truth is, I was terrified to talk about it. I didn’t want the happy bubble to burst. I knew we would have to face it soon but till then, I wanted the happy tune to go on.

When I think about it now, my chest still tightens and my eyes glaze over, but I no longer feel lost. I smile inside thinking of all the internal battles that I have been through to be able to acknowledge them, grow through them and move forward. It still hurts but lesser with each day and each milestone of my life. Daily exercise has helped a lot in clearing my mind and putting things into perspective. My blog has been my salvation where I can pour out my mind and keep myself from getting lost in the depression.

Post-wedding depression is real. But sadly, it is also a dilemma. I felt happy to have married the man of my dreams, to be blessed with a large and kind family that motivates me to pursue my dreams and go on adventures I never thought I would. But I was constantly feeling the pain and guilt of having left my parents behind. I knew this is how things happen but I just couldn’t make peace with it.

I remember the lingering feeling of vacuum, of the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next. I felt this for the first time at my wedding gathering when my parents were busy attending the guests, ensuring that the show goes on and I was standing at my podium, smiling and clicking pictures with the guests. My eyes were continuously darting around the room, searching for my parents, hoping that they would turn around and smile at me and soothe my reckless nerves.

Baba

My biggest fear then was that I was detaching from my parents. I thought I’d be all alone. But that’s where I was wrong. I didn’t realize that I had an entire family to fall back on. My in-laws were right there, walking with me side by side, taking in my pains and my happiness like it’s their own and helping me stand back up. They put the ground right back under my feet, the same ground that I thought would disappear into thin air once I left my parents’ house. All I needed to do was look. But my anxiety had consumed me so much that I couldn’t see past it.

In the first year of marriage, every time I visited my parents, I began to see that a slower routine had taken over. The morning rush to get me prepped for office was gone. My parents weren’t busy anymore. It was as if the household machinery had slowed its pace. Just like how a fan slows its rotations when you turn off the switch. My parents seemed older. They had become sloppy about taking care of themselves.

And then it hit me. I was so busy coming to terms with how I was feeling that I forgot to notice that my parents were hurting too. They were mighty happy for me. But I could sense that every time they looked at my empty room, they winced a little inside. There was no denying that they were feeling the strain of the sudden emptiness too. Because just like I was, they too were unprepared for this feeling. Suddenly I realized that we were three broken hearts under one roof. Broken, but content.

My family

Such is life. Beautiful phases. Rough transitions.

But it’s probably best that way. You can never be fully prepared to transition into a marriage. Think about it. Would you agree to a marriage if you waited to fully come to terms with leaving home first? I wouldn’t. Truth is, every transition is difficult. With every transition, you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to have new experiences, build new relationships and grow through it all. So it’s going to hurt like hell. But with time, you will learn to see beyond that hurt and look at the good things that come out of it.

And if you’re lucky, you get an understanding family that helps you cope with your transition in a way that you respond to best. You slowly start building your new life. A new world that is your very own. One day at a time. But that doesn’t mean you let go of where you came from. Your parents continue to be your backbone, your well of emotional support. You learn to be responsible for their well-being and happiness just like they are for yours.

Marriage is one of the most beautiful phases of your life. But it’s also a whole bunch of lessons. Lessons to help you become a better, more mature version of yourself. If you are feeling the pain of leaving home and are crying inside, remember that you are not alone. You now have a larger family behind you. Talk to your parents. Talk to your partner. Talk to your in-laws. The pain you are feeling now is a good pain. And you have exclusive rights to it. Own it. Acknowledge it. And most importantly, share it. There are good things happening to you right now. All you need to do is look.

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I love lazy afternoons, sunsets, tea, the smell of old books and oxblood staircases. I'm a bit of an old soul discovering life and adding more elements to my identity as I go.

2 Comments

  • Joe @ Mini Riches

    This post is full of emotion! I am from the United States, so I am not familiar with the culture in India. I left home when I was 19 and moved 900 miles away from my family, and my girlfriend. My girlfriend and I eventually chose to marry, and she also left her family to live 900 miles away with me. We lived that far away for 12 years and were only able to see our families about once each year. It was rough, but we made it through. We have since been able to move back to where our families are located, and it’s rare that we go a week without seeing them! 🙂

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