hello there. my name is heidi and i suffer from postpartum depression. (there, i said it. that wasn't so hard was it?) actually, it is very difficult for me to type those words out, knowing that with the click of my mouse, they will be sent hurtling into cyberspace for anyone to read. i've mentioned my struggles with this disease previously a time or two, but have always hesitated before doing so. why am i (and so many others like me) so afraid of sharing? i can remember dating a guy once who i was really into. and when he shared with me one day that he was on anti-depressants, that completely changed the way i looked at him. from then on, i wondered if his words and actions were fake, the result of "happy pills" instead of his true and genuine self. i wondered why, as a christian, he wasn't able to allow "the joy of the Lord" to fill his heart and mind. i wondered what kind of sad and awful characteristics lurked just beneath the surface of his smile. and the sad truth is, i haven't wanted to share about this particular aspect of my life on my blog because i didn't want anyone wondering those same things about me.
obviously, its a pride issue. its me worrying about what other people think too much, and i have decided that i need to get over it. i've always tried to be as real as i can on my blog. i find the thought of writing only about the happy, golden moments of life stifling, so i tend to share (perhaps too much) about the good, the bad and the downright ugly. in keeping the fact that i am depressed from my blog, i have come to realize that i have writer's block. i can't write about my life, pretending like everything is okay when it really is far from okay. i write not only to connect with my readers, but also to keep an account of these hectic, crazy, wonderful and scary times in my life as i desperately try to parent three small children. i don't want there to be months of nothingness on my blog anymore. i want to document everything.
if its true that "we read to know we are not alone" as cs lewis once stated, then i want this blog to be a place where other moms' loneliness dissipates. i have found the loneliness this time around so hard to bear and have been almost compulsively reading anything i can get my hands on in regards to other's experiences with postpartum depression. (my most favorite book so far, written by a fellow blogger named heather armstrong is called, "it sucked and then i cried" which not only made me feel much less alone, but also caused me to literally laugh out loud on several occasions, which was an extraordinary miracle.) since it is estimated that 25% of mothers suffer from some sort of postpartum depression, i am positive that there are many, many other moms out there who, like me, are trying daily to just grin and bear it, but inside feel like they are breaking apart.
every woman's journey through depression is different and each one may or may not find their own solution. i am in no way saying that the solution i found will work for everyone; i am merely sharing my journey with you and am hoping that i may encourage at least one other person out there. this is what it felt like for me: i would wake up in the morning and immediately feel nauseous as i realized that i would have to get out of bed and be a mom. more than anything else, i just wanted to close my eyes and fall back asleep and never ever wake up. mornings were the worst for me, as the day loomed long and dark ahead of me, filling me with dread and despair. it was as if a heavy, grey cloud was thrown across my life and nothing filled me with excitement or joy anymore. ava's coo's and smiles were responded to by my own empty smiles because i knew the proper response, but didn't feel the proper emotion. tristan and samuel's needs seemed endless and exhausting and often caused my feelings of despair to turn into impatience and anger at them. every time i had to leave the house and interact with other people, i felt like a big, giant fake. tears waited just behind my eyes and sprung forth several times each day, often without any warning. i lost it in front of my kids all the time. tristan finally stopped asking me if i was okay each time he saw me crying. i would call my mom and sob and sob on the phone to her, pouring out my sadness to a listening ear, but would find no reprieve from the dread i felt. anxiety caused my stomach to churn constantly, worried about every day things, finding the simplest tasks overwhelming. i kept thinking of other people who would love to be in my shoes, with a loving husband and 3 healthy kids, but then all i would feel was guilt because i still couldn't erase the sadness. i knew that i needed help, but i felt unable to get it. the thought of bringing all 3 kids with me to a doctor's appointment gave me a panic attack and i just didn't feel like i could do it. i would give myself a time frame like, "if ava reaches 12 weeks and i still feel like this, i'll make an appointment", but i never did. i did try some herbal pills and waited in vain for them to start making a difference, hoping that one day soon i'd wake up to find the sun breaking through the clouds.
about a month ago my mom in law came by to pick up tristan for a morning outing. in a firm, yet sweet way, she told me that i needed to call my doctor and that she would wait right there until i did so. i got an appointment immediately and, though ava cried and samuel misbehaved (he actually lay on the floor on his stomach and licked the ground in the exam room.....seriously i couldn't make this stuff up if i wanted to), the relief i felt while sobbing to my doctor, knowing that something was going to be done, and that i would feel better soon, made it all worth it. i picked up my prescription for zoloft later that day (God bless the person who came up with the idea for drive thru pharmacies!) and didn't even make it out of the parking lot before taking my first pill.
it took weeks, but eventually i began to notice subtle changes. after finally getting on medication when tristan was 6 months old, i remember josh coming home from work one day and lovingly saying, "you're back!" which was my way of knowing for sure that i was getting better. this time there are so many other signs: hearing samuel laugh and climbing onto my lap for hugs and kisses when he used to just cry and cry, tristan telling me, "i'm happy because you're happy today, mommy" and feeling a thrill of joy when ava looks at me and bursts into a huge grin. i am excited for christmas! i can cook dinner without crying! when ava's naps fall apart, i don't fall apart! i wake up in the morning and don't feel sick to my stomach! i feel normal, not high or unusually chipper, just normal. i can still cry. i still get frustrated with the boys now and then and lose my patience, but i no longer have that crippling knot of anxiety and despair hanging around in my stomach, or a wall of tears waiting to flood my eyes, or a dark cloud tainting every aspect of my life. i feel normal and i feel thankful that i found a solution that works for me.
and that's my story of how a broken mommy got fixed.