Saturday, December 10, 2011

as real as i can be

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.


Megan said...

Thank you so much for being vulnerable to share your journey through this. It takes guts to be able to open up and share this. I hope that in doing so that other mom's with the same struggles may find the strength to realize they are not alone. It is important to be real and I thank you for helping remind me of this today. One day at a time!
Take care

Running wildly said...

I am brimming with pride that you wrote this post. Well done my love. Well done.

Kari said...

Thank you for your beautiful, raw honesty. It is comforting to hear, especially since I went through all of those feelings with one or both kids- the anxiety, the sadness, the anger, the panic attacks and then the guilt for not feeling blessed. I am glad that "you're back" and that your mother in law spoke some needed words. I only wish that we lived close so that we could go through this together! Just so you know, I am budgeting a trip out for my family to meet yours sometime in the next few years! Thanks and many hugs!

Naomi said...


I am so glad that you went to the doctor. I think sometimes that there is such a stigma, especially among Christians, for getting help for anxiety and depression, which most times are chemical imbalances. I haven't suffered from either disorder, but I applaud you for getting help and speaking out.

Blessings to you, Naomi

Grandma J. said...

Dear Heidi, I am so so happy for you. The change in your voice was gradual, but what a blessing to have your cheerful personality shine through again! Love you dearly, Mom

Anonymous said...

Hey Heidi, yes, thank you for sharing. I've been there. After Joshua was born, I went through much of what you have experienced, only I didn't realize it was postpartum depression until much later when I no longer was under that dark cloud. Maybe, If there had been someone who shared, as you have now, I would have realized it earlier and there wouldn't be as many things to regret.


Jordan and Breanna Abeel said...

This is a wonderful post, and I hope that you find only camaraderie and love through your blog. Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I think the isolation is the hardest. Us moms need to band together and lift each other up, I know I could use the encouragement and fellowship on many occasions!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so real and vulnerable. Your realness will be an encouragement to other moms out there. I am not a mom yet, but as I contemplate if I am really ready, your courage makes me think that maybe I could do it one day.

I think it takes way more guts to recognize when you need help and to reach out until you get it.

You are an amazing woman, mother and wife!


Lovella ♥ said...

Well Done Heidi! I am so happy your mother in law spoke the truth in love. I remember sitting at the doctors office once long ago too and the nurse assuring me I would not feel like this the rest of my life. I wanted to have her promise me ...and she did.
I couldn't imagine ever feeling well again and when those subtle signs of improvement came I saw the glimmer of hope. OH HOPE!

I never hesitate to tell my story. ..there is no shame in it. No one is ever embarrassed to say they have arthritis ....right?

I love you Heidi. .you are amazing and I love your honesty.

Dena said...

this is an INCREDIBLY encouraging post. thank you for being real. for sharing your gut wrenching story with us. and yes, i'm thankful for my 'happy' pills everyday of my life! :o)

Jessica LaTour said...

Heidi, you are so dear to my heart + I am so thankful to know you and call you friend.

kelly ens said...

Heidi, thank you for your honesty. PPD is not something I've experienced, but my best friend has and hearing first-hand the frustration, sorrow and sense of overwhelmingness of everyday tasks, I am so glad your MIL took care of you and made sure you got that dr appointment.
i can imagine the pride issue, but i'm glad you 'got over it' and got the help you needed. we may have only met once in real life, but i adore you. you're fantastic and beautiful, whether you need zoloft or not :)

Anonymous said...

Well Done Sweetheart.

Love Dad.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

The brain chemistry/sitations conspire and no amount of resolve or reasoning serves up an escape...I've been there too, and when the right meds were finally found it was a portal back to life.

Anonymous said...

high five Heidi. :)


rachel joy said...

Thank you for sharing. I have always admired and appreciated your honesty when you write, and today I commend you for having the courage to tell the part of your story that was, until now, unspoken. As Kelly said, I'm so thankful for your M-I-L and others close to you for supporting you in whatever way they could (and no doubt, will continue to do so). You are so loved!

Kathy said...

Hurray for feeling better. I'm so sorry you suffered for so long and I'm so thankful your mother-in-law came to your rescue, really, when it was just too much to make the move yourself.

Speaking up helps remove needless shame for lots of other women who also need some help. Who doesn't need help?! We just need different kinds.

I too am on an antidepressant, Cipralex. I came to a place in my journey where I had NO emotions - so terribly flat. No laughing and no crying. The antidepressant has returned my normal emotions to me. I am myself again and think I may be on these for the rest of my life. Also, I have way less anxiety which is an emotion I've struggled with since childhood. Until the anxiety was gone, I had no idea how much energy it took to ignore or suppress it.

Bless you Heidi and Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Bless you Heidi for being so open and sharing your story. I know it will help others - wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas - Love, Aunt Flo

Anneliese said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm sure that others will be encouraged to know they are not alone. I know that having three small children is very challenging and if I had them now, I'd probably be depressed too. =)
So glad to know there is something that can be done... and that it will get easier. Wishing you blessings for Christmas.

HollyM said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing

Laura Railing said...

I don't know how I missed this post! But thank you for sharing. I know it must have been really hard to take the giant vulnerable leap and hit "publish." But you did it. Way to go :) I am happy for you, and thankful for your MIL being willing to step in and say something so things could change for the better. I know this wasn't easy to write but thank you. :) It truly means a lot that you did. It's important for moms to know that they aren't failures as mamas for needing help. it happens! And that is totally ok. I think God gave us modern medicine to use so things don't have to stay broken. And that is a beautiful thing. You have such a beautiful soul Heidi. I love reading your blog. :)