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This is something I had been reluctant to share in detail with very many people. The fear of judgement can be overwhelming when it comes to sharing very personal experiences and my story is no exception. My history with postpartum depression is something that has made me feel embarrassed, ashamed, and confused.
I realize that there are many mothers out there that have and are going through postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a terrifying experience and many times the sufferer feels worthless, embarrassed, guilty, sad, overwhelmed and like they are completely alone. I can say that I suffered all of those feelings and it was unbearable to feel like I was the only one going through it. I heard about the baby blues and postpartum depression but I had never really heard about another Mother going through what I was experiencing to the extreme that I experienced.
I wish that back then I knew what I know now. I know that many women suffer from postpartum depression and that many of them suffer in silence questioning their own sanity. Postpartum depression is something that isn’t talked about frequently and when it is it isn’t talked about in depth.
When I was suffering I wish I had known other women’s stories and known that it is something that can be overcome. It would have been a small glimmer of light in my darkness. It would have given me hope and some piece of mind knowing that I wasn’t some kind of freak that was going crazy.
Therefore, even with my fear of judgement I am sharing my story today. If my story can help at least one person and give them a glimmer of hope than any judgement that might come my way is worth it.
Before you read any further I want to let you know something. If you are suffering from or think you might be suffering from Postpartum Depression I want to make sure you know……
- You are NOT alone!
- You are NOT crazy!
- There is hope!
- It’s ok to talk about what you are experiencing.
My Story – Postpartum Depression
By the time I came face to face with Postpartum Depression I had already experienced depression. My history of depression went all the way back to childhood. I was put on antidepressants when I was a teenager but like many young people I was irresponsible and didn’t understand the importance of taking them regularly. After a while I quit taking them altogether which was a bad idea that I don’t suggest without your doctors consent.
My life had changed drastically and suddenly when I was 18. I went from being a highschool student living with my Mom and Step-dad to being a fulltime mother and wife. My husband and I didn’t have the best relationship and we were living out in the country which made seeing family and friends hard. My senior year of highschool instead of worrying about prom and graduation I was worrying about caring for a baby and keeping up on housework. My friends were out doing things that 18 year olds do and I was disappointed that I no longer could do the same. I loved caring for my son, Caden but I was struggling with trying to adjust to being a wife and mother.
I had postpartum depression after Caden was born. I was continuously worried about his well being and I was even more worried that he would die from SIDS. My fears soon turned into an obsession. I wouldn’t sleep and I stared at him constantly to make sure he was breathing. This went on until he was about 6 months old. Though, that obsession didn’t last the sadness, guilt, crying spells, panic attacks, and mood swings continued.
My depression deepened when a couple of weeks before I discovered I was pregnant with my second child, my Dad died. My relationship with my Dad was a rocky one and I had resentment towards him plus I had a lot of issues with my childhood that I hadn’t come to terms with yet. When he passed away I was angry and sad. I was angry with him for not being a better father and I was angry at him for dying. At the same time I was incredibly sad that he was gone and that we never got the chance to patch up and work on our tumultuous relationship.
My pregnancy with Cody was a bit complicated. The first 3 months I experienced extreme morning sickness. I couldn’t do anything but lay around and vomit. I barely ate and tried to sleep as much as I could. My morning sickness became so bad that I stayed a few days in the hospital due to dehydration. When I was around 33 – 34 weeks pregnant I went into preterm labor and my OB/GYN had me rushed to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, MO. I ended up being stuck in the hospital on bed rest for the next two weeks.
When Cody was born I didn’t feel the same attachment that I felt to Caden when he was born. I was exhausted constantly and dreaded trying to juggle two kids, a house, and a marriage. I was getting about three to four hours of sleep in total every night that was broken into segments due to nighttime feedings. My marriage was becoming more strained by the day and my husband was gone a lot due to work and school. I was drowning in responsibilities and running on an empty battery.
I was worried about SIDS once again but this time I was worried for two children which made sleep even more difficult. I had trouble getting to sleep but when I would fall asleep it was from complete exhaustion. My sleep wasn’t restful as I often woke up in a panic and would rush to my boys to make sure they were still breathing at night. With my lack of sleep it became harder and harder to do everyday things.
I seldom got out of the house without the kids but when I did my Mom or their Father would watch them. Caden was okay with me leaving but Cody was very attached to me and when I left he would scream until I came back. I’d go to the store or to see friends and within 20 minutes I’d get a call that Cody was crying uncontrollably. They would put the phone next to his ear, I would talk to him and he would settle down but it didn’t last long. Usually, I ended up having to rush back or leave almost as soon as I got somewhere because no one could handle the nonstop crying. If i didn’t come back immediately I spent most of my outing on the phone talking to the baby. I felt that I couldn’t get even a short amount of time to myself.
Cody woke me up for a feeding early in the morning one day. I sat up on the couch and fed him his bottle. At this time he was about a month old. I could feel myself drifting off while sitting straight up but I was trying my best not to fall asleep. With how exhausted I was it was inevitable that I was going to drift before he was done with his bottle. I dozed off for a few minutes and woke up in a panic when I dropped him. My arms let go of him in my sleep, he rolled down my legs, and hit the tile floor with a thud. He instantly began screaming. I remember picking him up and running into the bedroom to wake my husband. I was hysterical! I was screaming and crying saying that I dropped the baby. I was convinced that he was going to die from the fall but in reality, he thankfully, wasn’t hurt.
Unfortunately, that incident triggered a new obsession that was worse than my fear of SIDS. I was now scared that I was going to kill him. I started to worry that I would drop him again, or roll over on him in my sleep, or that I would trip and crush him when I fell. I soon realized that I couldn’t turn off the thoughts that were in my head and they began to replay over and over like a broken record.
At the same time the Casey Anthony murder trial was big news in the media and was something everyone was talking about. If you aren’t familiar with the case here are some links if you want to read about it: Timeline of Casey Anthony Case and Death of Caylee Anthony. I have to warn you though it’s heart wrenching. I don’t want to go into details in this post, but to sum it up, Casey Anthony was on trial for the murder of her two year old daughter Caylee.
The trial and the details around the trial got to me in a bad way. I remember thinking, “how could a Mother be capable of killing her own child?” I couldn’t get the case out of my head and then the scariest thoughts started eating at me, “What if I went crazy and killed my kids?” After all I was terrified that I would accidently kill my baby and there were other mothers who lost it and killed their children. My deepest and darkest fear had risen to the surface of my mind.
The more I heard about the case the more my own fear started to manifest. From then on I had the obsessional fear that I would lose my mind and hurt my kids. I was terrified everyday all day long. The thought that my kids would die through an accident or SIDS was horrifying enough but now I was scared that I would hurt them. I didn’t want to hurt them. I wouldn’t hurt them in my right mind but I couldn’t get the fear of it happening out of my head.
The broken record in my head continued to play from the moment I woke up until exhaustion forced me to sleep. I couldn’t think of anything else. Visions would pop up out of nowhere of me shaking the baby, throwing him down stairs, and even more graphic ones. These thoughts were running alongside the thoughts and fear of SIDS. I checked on my kids to make sure they were breathing but I was scared of myself with them. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes sense. I wanted to protect my kids from everything, SIDS, accidents, illnesses, and if it came down to it from myself.
I wanted to hold, cuddle, and love on my boys so bad but the fear of losing my mind was so strong that I began to become fearful of touching them, holding them, or being too close to them. This grew more intense until I wouldn’t touch them at all. Cody would start crying because he needed a bottle or a diaper change and even though it was killing me to not run to his rescue I couldn’t bring myself to help him. I would pace the room and sob while begging my husband to help the baby. He’d be feeding Cody and my sobbing would continue as I was terrified that he would need me to help at some point. Caden would try to hug me or climb on me and I would back away, panicking and sobbing, and begging for someone to pick him up for me.
I begged my Mom to take them to her home with her. I wanted them to be with her because I trusted her with them. I knew she would make sure that they were taken care of and their needs were met. January 6, 2011 my Mom came and picked up my boys from my house and I checked myself into a psychiatric unit.
I was in the hospital for five days and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Postpartum Depression. I hated being in there. I just wanted to come home and feel better so I could enjoy my babies. Caden’s second birthday happened while I was in there and I felt guilty for missing it. My husband reassured me that there would be more birthdays and Caden was too young to remember that I missed this one. All the reassurance in the world couldn’t make me feel better though, for missing his birthday or for anything else I felt guilty for.
The doctor put me on a couple of different medications. It can take up to 6 weeks for medications such as antidepressants to take full effect. It was a long 6 weeks to find out that the medication wasn’t helping. My medications were changed and the dosages increased many times before we found one that worked for me. I had a few that worked to an extent at max doses but they didn’t help enough to stick with. It was an agonizing waiting game of trial and error.
The only ones that actually worked, only worked a little bit at the max dosage. Some of the meds that helped to an extent suppressed my symptoms just enough to where I was able to pick the kids up to change or feed them but I would quickly set them down after the task was done. The intrusive thoughts weren’t as frequent but they were still there and that made me on edge. I still refused to be alone with them and I was terrified that my symptoms would come back and be as extreme as before the medication. I felt that I was a terrible Mom because although I made sure their needs were met I still couldn’t bring myself to give them the hugs, cuddles, and love they deserved.
My Mom kept my boys while I was trying to get my mental health under wraps. I came to see them almost everyday but the postpartum still prevented me from wanting to be left alone with them or hold them for more than a minute. I wanted so much to be a good Mom for them but I had to make sure that my mental health was taken care of.
It took such a long time to find medications that worked for me. I got to a point where I felt I was completely hopeless. I felt that if all the medications so far hadn’t worked would anything work? I was doing everything I was supposed to, making sure I went to every doctor and counseling appointments and following all the doctors instructions.
By August of that year, between my depression and Bipolar I was feeling very close to the edge. My mental health had been such a strain on everyone around me and I felt that my family and my babies would have a better life if I wasn’t involved. I found myself thinking about suicide often. I was in a place in my life where the thought of living was scarier than the thought of death. I was exhausted and I knew I couldn’t take much more.
There was some stuff that happened in my marriage and I knew that a divorce was imminent. A huge argument broke out. The event/situation was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the final push on the edge off the cliff.
I made one of the worst decisions of my life that day. That was the day I tried to kill myself. (I’m going to refrain from going into too many details about my suicide attempt because that is a story I want to describe in full in a future post.) Determined to end my life I drove my car into a tree at 80 mph. I was injured greatly and life became even more complicated while I recovered physically. My marriage was over for the most part and when I was released from the hospital I went straight to my Mom’s house. I couldn’t care for myself for months because my injuries were very severe. My Mom took care of me until I recovered enough to care for myself.
However, through the darkness a light became visible at the end of the tunnel. During my physical recovery we found the right combination of medication and dosages that worked for me. My body and my mind began to heal.
By February off 2012 I had moved into my own apartment and I had my babies. I was able to care for them again. The intrusive thoughts were gone and I was thriving in therapy. I was in a wheelchair and still learning to walk but it never stopped me from taking care of my boys. My mental health was under control and now my main focus was bonding and making memories with my children. I discovered Pinterest after I got my own place and I did crafts and fun games I found on the site with the boys every chance I could get.
Suffering from Postpartum depression was the worst thing I have ever endured. The struggle and suffering were extreme and the road to recovering was long but I overcame it. I am so grateful that I didn’t die that day because life did get better. I have an amazing relationship with my boys who are now 11 and 8 years old.
Ending the Stigma on Mental Disorders
It’s up to us to end the stigma regarding mental health. If we don’t share our stories and talk about them, who will? I encourage you to share your story if you are willing. You never know who’s life your story can help.
Please feel free to share your story or ask any questions you may have for me at the bottom of the page in the comment section. If you want to ask questions or share your story with me privately go to my page Contact Us to send me a message. Anything you tell me is completely confidential.
If you would like to learn more about Postpartum Depression visit Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression – Risks, Symptoms, Treatments, & More. I discuss everything the title entails along with resources and links that may be helpful to anyone suffering from Postpartum Depression and other mental illnesses.
If you or someone you know is suffering from or thinks they might be suffering from postpartum depression or any other mental health disorder I urge you to seek help. Make an appointment with your primary physician. Your Doctor can help directly or refer you to a psychiatrist. You may feel that your situation is hopeless but I assure you there is hope.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or intentions visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 1-800-273-8255.The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 911.
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