Thursday, May 14, 2015

Putting It Out There - PPD

I've been debating this post for a few months. It's not an easy one to write as it brings up feelings I like to bury and leave alone. It is also a topic on which it is hard to find real posts. When I first encountered post partum depression (PPD) with T, I remember telling a friend at a birthday party, "I just feel so guilty for having him."  Her response was, "Oh I get really overwhelmed with two kids as well." While being overwhelmed with kids might be one way to experience it, it was not a part of my emotional roller coaster. Her answer made me feel as if I was different and it made me uncomfortable bringing it up again.

Right around when T hit 6 weeks old the heaviness of his life hit me. If he's lucky he'll live a healthy life to a nice old age and then die. My sweet baby would die. That thought rocked my world. To the core. I couldn't function. I couldn't stop crying. I would go to bed having panic attacks. After admitting to my friend I felt guilty for having him and receiving her response about being overwhelmed, I stopped bringing it up. Only two people really knew what I went through day after day. 

It was hard to look at my parents aging. It was hard to picture my boys being grandparents. Multiple times Chris told me he was calling my OB for help, but he didn't. Honestly I could have used it. 

One day I broke down on the playground to my mom. In a lot of ways it felt as if I had lost my entire faith and I was floundering. We talked, visited the bookstore, and I felt better. Maybe not the same, but I needed to be different. Acknowledging my feelings, hearing how my mom felt, helped me work through my emotions.

 Around this time I decided it was important to explore my faith. When we moved to this city I visited quite a few churches but now it was time to go regularly and get my questions and doubts answered. I sat there with my sweet baby (while N was in Sunday School) and in a lot of ways it sounded as if our minister knew all the thoughts in my head (our children's minister would call that the Holy Spirit talking). Slowly the fog lifted.

Then T weaned and all the sudden the panic attacks and fears were back. This time my anxiety centered on my kids having to grow up without me. I played "what if" in my mind over and over. I convinced myself that something was wrong every night before bed. I visited my doctor just about once a week (in all fairness I was also getting mastitis weekly at this point). After about a month the haze cleared again. Much later (at a lactation consultant visit with KC) I learned my anxiety was most likely strongly linked to T weaning and a change in hormones. While he weaned, he also struggled with ear infections that would cause him to go back to nursing, so my body was in a constant limbo of production (and hormones) which lead to the constant mastitis, and my anxiety.

We had a plan once we knew KC was on the way. My OB offered up meds at any point (even the delivery room she said). I knew the signs (when you are in the throws of depression it is extremely hard to see the signs because they are a complete reality). I made it past the 6 week mark with KC and was doing great. My best friend checked in and I celebrated. Then at 10 weeks, out of the blue, it hit. KC was snoozing and her head positioning was exactly that of my grandmother's the last time I saw her. The big dark hole of sadness and despair swallowed me once more. For the same reasons.

With school starting back so did my school year commitments. One of these is the childhood education committee at church. Our children's minister oversees this group and after one meeting I asked if I could come talk to her. I couldn't even keep my head together to get the words out, the sobs just pushed their way through. We met for an hour a week later and I left feeling like a completely new person. It was like she performed magic through her words and suggestions and I felt armed and ready to tackle the emotions that were eating away at my precious time with my kids. Since that day everything changed. 

Do I still struggle? Yes. I cringe when my boys talk about death. I hate thinking about time. Does anxiety still hit me? Occasionally, especially at night, I will succumb to the dark thoughts in my head. Looking back at these pictures of my babies, I have mixed emotions. I love the photos but they also remind me of my struggle. The difference now is that I have tools to help keep me afloat. I have words, methods, and people to rely on because I decided to seek help. It didn't come from the first person I talked to, and it didn't come right away, but I have it. 

My point is if you are struggling with your feelings, please talk to someone. Seek out someone you trust, ask for help. It doesn't have to be a person of faith, that is just what worked for me. It isn't normal to feel guilt and sadness over a new life in the world. You can email me too. I have more to share (which I'm sure is shocking after this incredibly long post). As always thanks for listening.

Thoughts for Thursday
Annie and Natalie


  1. Thanks for sharing. I know it wasn't easy but it's something we need to talk about. It could happen to any of us.

  2. My daughter went through and still goes through periods of anxiety over such issues. YOU my dear are not ALONE. You are just talking about it where many women are not. I commend your courage and vulnerability to speak on this often "lonely subject." Keep your eyes on Jesus and the best thing you ever did was reach out and ask for help. Kudos to you!!!

  3. Thank you so much for posting about this. My daughter is ten years old, but I struggled with post partum and when I went back to work, had a midlife crisis. I also continue to fight with depression. It's hard. So hard. I try to find the joy in every day that I'm so fortunate to be given.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this.. I have been struggling with this for a little bit now. I had PDD when my little one was born and I thought going back to work would help with talking to people but i am constantly on edge and need to figure out what I can do! Thank you
    Chelsea @

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story I know it is not easy to talk about! I've struggled with anxiety of different forms my whole life and just lately I've really started to have the heavy life thoughts again- like how can I keep my boys safe from all the scariness out there. Going to the gym and church is really helping me put things back in perspective a lot. I'm so glad you've found what works for you! I wish people would talk about their struggles more with this than they do. I hate that we have such a stigma still on mental illness and depression.

  6. Bless you for talking about this. You are so brave and definitely not alone. Someone reading this is going to feel so much better knowing that this can happen and is normal. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Beautifully raw post. Thank you so much for sharing! I for one definitely wish there wasn't such a negative stigma on ppd and mental health in general. We have to raise awareness in order to change the stigma so more women feel comfortable enough to step forward and receive the help they desperately need and not embarrassed. I definitely have suffered from periods of extreme anxiety at various points in my life leaving me clinging to my religion to bring me out of the thresholds. It's amazing how the Holy Spirit can just speak exactly what you need to hear in those dark times. I'm hoping preventative maintenance and increased self-awareness will keep me from the overwhelming thoughts of the dark hole that usually comes from a spiral about the larger question of life this time. Thanks so much for your bravery to share and open the conversation. Big hugs to you friend!

  8. Oh mama - I so, so feel you. My dad died when I was 8 months old, by then I had lost all my grandparents and my uncle. I can't talk about or think about death without having major anxiety - and I have myself convinced that I'm going to lose my husband and Olivia really early. I mean why not? I've lost most everyone else. I just have to not think about it at all. Not watch movies or TV shows about it, scroll super fast fb posts of people in the hospital (especially children). I guess I've learned what triggers it and to live life ignoring it mostly. And thinking, "A pipe burst? At least Olivia and Dan are alive." But I so, so feel you. Thanks for your bravery in this post - and making me realize I'm not alone.

  9. thank you for sharing! i struggled with this for Fords first months & was super worried it would strike again with this baby. so brave to share, and so very helpful for others to read!

  10. Such a heartfelt and open post. Mental health is a big issue in our society and when people open up about their issues, it makes it easier and safer for others to open up as well! You were brave and I'm so glad you have sought out the help you've needed!

  11. I didn't experience my post partum until I started weaning my daughter when she was around 16 months old. It was HORRIBLE. I cried and cried and couldn't explain to anyone how I was feeling. I finally went to the doctor after I had an anxiety attack in my classroom one morning before school started. He recommended I see someone or try medication. I ended up using essential oils and pushing through the PPD and came out on top once the hormones figured themselves out. I think often about when I have another baby if it will come back and get scared - but there is no point of being afraid of the future and the what ifs. I just have to have faith I will be strong and get through it if it returns. Thanks for sharing your battle.