I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here

I have started and deleted probably ten blogs in the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to focus. Postpartum depression is really no joke. I can’t sleep (hence blogging at 2AM), I am either eating all day long or not eating until five in the evening, and I am either being perfectly patient with my kids or going off my rocker with them…there seems to be no in between for my brain right now. I’m either happy or so furious I can barely speak, or will be suddenly overcome with tears over something relatively inconsequential. Mixing my PPD with my PTSD and sleep deprivation is…interesting, to say the least.

In short, I’m a hot mess.

I’m blogging about this because more people need to be honest about the struggles with any and all types of mental illness. And postpartum depression, while temporary, is a type of mental illness. The stigma surrounding it needs to end, so that people will seek help sooner.

I thought I had it handled a few months back…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

These last few weeks in particular, I have felt like I was drowning in sadness. I walked around with this sadness that I could literally feel in my chest, like a twenty pound weight. Like someone had put a stone inside my rib cage to weigh me down. I could paste on a smile when I left the house, and try to play with my kids, and might even manage a genuine laugh here and there…but it was just these tiny flares of light in this deep, dark, black hole I had been sucked into. I haven’t felt this kind of depression since I was about 15 years old, and it was not a feeling that I had missed.

I knew that, having suffered from depression before, I was more prone to getting PPD. And I got it with my older daughter, but it passed fairly quickly and I didn’t really seek help. I just got over it. So this time, I thought I could just get over it, too. Take a few supplements, keep myself busy, it would pass.

Wrong. So wrong.

Have you ever felt like a passenger in your own body? Like, you’re watching yourself slip further and further down into this depressive state, and the sane and rational part of you is going “HEY! You’re falling! Get help!” But the part of you that’s falling is going “I’ve totally got this.”

And then one day soon, the sane and rational part of you is watching the insane part of you yell at your three year old over something stupid or have a panic attack driving down the freeway or sobbing on the floor of the shower while the water runs cold because you’ve been in there so long. The insane part of you picks fights with people and says mean things to friends and pretty soon, the insane part is sitting in the living room in her pajamas at four in the afternoon with all the curtains closed, letting the kids watch Daniel Tiger for the entire day, surviving off of your daughter’s goldfish crackers because, while you always make food for the kids, it seems like too much effort to make any for yourself.

And meanwhile, the sane part of you is screaming “I freaking told you to go get help! Now we are stuck down here in this hole and you are too depressed to get help for being depressed.”

I saw a meme the other day on Facebook that described depression perfectly. It said something like “What’s depression like? Depression is like drowning…only you can see everyone around you breathing.” You feel invisible. No one can see how much you’re struggling. If you had cancer or pneumonia or a broken arm, people would know you were sick, and they would want to help. But everyone believes the lie you have pasted on your face, and no one knows you can’t breathe. You share the happy moments on Facebook, the good pictures. It’s an instant life filter.

And then you hit rock bottom. You tell your friend you want to run away or die, and you don’t care which.

And you didn’t even realize you were feeling that way until the words come out of your mouth, and then you burst into tears, because you’re a mom, and you’re not supposed to think things like that, and it makes you feel like a terrible person and an awful mother, and you just feel…defeated. So defeated.

But somehow, putting it into words, realizing where you are at, lets the sane part of you reach the insane part. You pick up the phone, and you call to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You start talking to everyone.

You know that some people are going to think you’re doing it for attention, and in a way, they’re right, but not for the reasons they think. You’re doing it for attention, because you don’t want to disappear without anyone noticing. You don’t want to do anything you’ll regret later. You don’t want them to go, six months from now, “Whatever happened to…” You don’t want to be invisible anymore.

And, funny thing.

The good friends don’t judge you.

The good friends suddenly blow up your phone with text messages like “I had no idea you were struggling so much. What can I do?” Or “I want to get you out of the house, so lets take the kids out tomorrow.” Or “Lets have coffee next week.” One person sent me a text that said “I love you. I’m here for you. Don’t ever get so lost in your mind that you forget how many people feel the same way I do. You’re a good friend to so many people…let them be good friends to you, too.”

My favorite was this message from my best friend that lives out of state.

“Like a shattered mirror
You’re beautiful,
Refracting the world around you in a dozen different ways.
You are perfectly imperfect, a chaotic storm of deepest reds and blues.
Your heart is huge, your emotions deeper than the oceans.
I don’t even have the words for you.
You’re more than I can describe.
You’re amazing.
Beautiful.
A Disney freak to the highest degree, and loyal to a fault.
You carry the world on your shoulders, and pick yourself up when you shatter.
Stronger than you know, just remember, that I see you.
I know you.
And you are wonderful.”

I love the line, “You…pick yourself up when you shatter.”

I have talked to more people and been invited to more places in the last week than I have been in probably the last year put together. And I’m not blaming the people doing the inviting. It’s hard to get a depressed friend to want to do things with you, and even when you manage to make plans with them, there will be a lot of last minute cancellations. I’ve canceled a lot of plans in the last 9 months especially. I’m just mentioning it because it surprised me how many people cared enough to issue an invitation.

Just…if you have a friend with depression (whether PPD or otherwise), please don’t give up. Keep making plans. If they don’t want to go out, go to their house to watch bad movies and eat popcorn. Keep trying. Because the fact that you care enough about them to love them even when they aren’t necessarily a bundle of laughs means the absolute world to them. I promise.

My appointment is on Tuesday.

I am very nervous about it.

But I keep reminding myself, it’s a step toward feeling better. I want to feel like myself again.

I’ve been writing in my journal again every day. There have been three days this week where all I could bring myself to write were three words…but they’re pretty important.

“I’m still here.”

 

Advertisements
Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

I’ve been wanting to blog for a while now, but haven’t had the energy. I was going to say “haven’t had the time,” but I’ve spent too many nights zoned out in front of the television, watching Netflix for hours on end, to honestly say “I haven’t had the time.” So, we’ll say energy.

Truth bomb: postpartum depression is not fun.

Another truth bomb: I let it get to a pretty scary point before I sought help.

There’s this taboo when it comes to talking about depression or postpartum depression or any sort of mental illness. But I refuse to follow the rules, because the more people who are open and honest about it, the more people will feel safe and comfortable reaching out to friends, family, or their doctor for help. So, there it is. I have PPD. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

At first, I was just tired all the time, no energy, and given that I was still adjusting from having just one child to having two, that’s to be expected. Then came the brain fog…I was missing appointments and having to reschedule things because I just couldn’t remember anything. I ran two stop signs in the same day (luckily there were no other cars) and didn’t even realize it until someone pointed it out to me.

There was the numbness…I was going through the motions, doing what everyone expected me to do, saying everything everyone expected me to say, and not feeling a darn thing. I mean, I knew I loved my girls, and that I should be happy to have another baby, and I smiled whenever anyone asked me and said everything was amazing. But the truth was (and still is some days) that I wasn’t feeling any of it. I felt like a robot. And then I would look at my beautiful girls and ask myself what the hell was wrong with me, that I couldn’t appreciate what I had and ENJOY being home with my girls, something I’ve always wanted to do.

The insomnia. Oh LORD, the insomnia. I am blessed with perfect sleepers, both my girls have slept very well from 6 weeks on…but I’m regularly awake until 4:30A.M. I just can’t sleep. Nothing I try helps. I either lay awake in bed, annoyed that I can’t sleep, or I lay on the couch watching shows on Netflix, knowing that trying to sleep will be useless. Here I am, blogging at 2:30 in the morning, because I am WIDE AWAKE, and nothing I do will change that. I didn’t even realize insomnia could be a symptom of PPD until I looked it up the other day. Insomnia is a jerk, and the struggle is real.

The anxiety is a given. Panic attacks. Feelings of worthlessness. I told my husband I felt like everyone would just get along better and be happier if I left. I wasn’t being dramatic, either, I really did feel that way, 100% honestly. I was sobbing, and just completely and absolutely convinced that my girls would be happier if I wasn’t there, because I am so depressed and not handling life well. I have literally never felt so worthless in my entire life as I have been feeling these last few weeks.

There’s the “what if” thoughts. They come out of nowhere and won’t leave you alone. “What if there’s an earthquake and we don’t have anywhere safe to take the kids?” “What if we get in a car accident and one of us is badly hurt?” “What if Briana got away from us in the parking lot and got hit by a car?” There were several days where David would get home from work and I would immediately bombard him with demands that we buy this safety kit, move that furniture, do this or that or the other thing to keep this random event from happening. He listened patiently and nodded a lot, and then promptly ignored my demands. I felt like I was going crazy. I was obsessive. But I couldn’t stop. The thoughts are intrusive and unwanted and horrible, and you can’t make them stop.

The biggest thing is the anger. It’s so…pervasive. I literally feel as if I am trapped in a cage in my head, watching this crazy person yell at everyone and say the most hateful things, treat the people I love the most horribly, make my toddler cry, scare the baby, and test the limits of my husbands patience and understanding. Several times I have stopped in the middle of a tirade and desperately told my husband, “I don’t want to yell, I don’t. I don’t know why I’m yelling.” And then I’ll try to calmly discuss whatever had set me off, and five seconds later I’m in full blown monster mode again. It’s…terrifying. To me, I mean. I hate feeling like I’m not in control of myself. I hate scaring my kids. I hate hurting people’s feelings. I have spent a lot of time apologizing to people around me in the last few weeks.

Briana will say “Mommy, you’re freaking out. I love you so much. Are you okay?” It breaks my heart. David says Bri still loves me, and that everything is going to be okay. I try really hard to believe him.

I have spoken with my midwife and emailed my doctor, and we have a plan of action to tackle this head on and get me feeling better. Truthfully, I would have spoken up sooner, because I could TELL what was happening, but I was a) irrationally afraid that someone would take my baby away because I “couldn’t take care of her” like I should be, b) I didn’t want to be put on medication that would prevent me from breastfeeding my daughter and c) I had convinced myself that I just needed to “snap out of it.” If I just acted like everything was okay and kept a smile on and posted happy things on Facebook, everything would be fine.

I was wrong.

I’m sharing this, my experience with PPD, because I want people to know they aren’t alone. I want other mothers going through it to know that it’s okay to ask for help. I want their family and friends to know what to look for. I want people to be aware that sometimes, it isn’t just the baby blues, and the mom is going to need help and support to get through it.

I want people to know they’re not crazy, they’re not horrible mothers, they’re not robots. I want them to know that even though they feel like everyone’s life would be better if they left, they’re wrong. You’re going through a rough time right now, but reach out for help. You’re going to be okay.

I’m posting some links with some information about postpartum depression. If you think you have it, call your doctor right away, so you can get the help you need. Life will get better. You’re a good mom. Breathe. Everything is going to be okay.

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

Please note:

“Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.”

(As stated on the National Institute of Health’s website.)