My momma calls me Hercules. She has told me I was tough my whole life. Of course, by “tough” she could have also meant hard to handle & stubborn. Back before I had Gabe I was a handful; always getting into things I had no business getting into. In fact, before I had Gabe mom & I weren’t nearly as close as we are now. I used to blame her for that. Looking back, I see my fault as well. Anyway, she’s always half-joked that I was as stubborn as a bull and just as tough. Truth be told, I’m far from tough. I’ve always been terrified. I guess I thought everyone knew that… but I suppose I was wrong.
Rewind to the summer of ’08. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time, who is now my ex, not long after we started dating. By not long I mean within a matter of weeks. It was an unhealthy relationship from the beginning. I don’t think either of us really wanted to be in such a serious stage of a relationship at that point, come to think of it. But we were. And so it began to unfold. We began dating in July of ’08. I was pregnant by November of ’08. I wasn’t lying; when I said we moved fast I meant it. Things began to rapidly deteriorate the moment we found out I was expecting. I took the test at the store I worked at and cried all evening. I told him when I finally got “home” that evening, half expecting him to ask me to leave, and half wishing he would. He didn’t. He & I stayed together throughout the pregnancy and until Gabe was nearly two months old.
We split just days before Gabe was 2 months. To this day I don’t really know what prompted me to leave. Roll your eyes if you need to, but I believe it was God impressing on my heart to leave. No, I didn’t audibly hear him. And no, I didn’t run into some hobo saying he was God and I was a sinner. Hear me out, ok? Shortly after I had Gabe, like– the moment I saw him, I felt strangely. Something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what it was at the time… but I knew I felt crazy. Terrified to see a specialist or tell a doctor, I opted to seek pastoral counseling. I saw a pastor in Pineville a few times. Slowly he got me to open up a little to him. After speaking with him, praying with him, and really thinking things through, I realized that the life I was leading (living with him outside of marriage) was not the right thing to do. So I moved out. A few months later I admitted to my mom that part of my moving was because we began to fight a lot (usually at 2 in the morning) and that wasn’t good for the baby. But that’s beside the point. Anyway, so you’re probably thinking, “Why did you move out AFTER you had Gabe? Wasn’t the deed done?!”. And, you’d be right… partially. Having Gabe could not be reversed (and I didn’t want it to), but living with his dad outside of marriage could be changed. And although my initial guilt had gone away after I moved out, the strange and terrifying feelings were ever-present. And that’s where the story REALLY begins.
Rewind a bit to when Gabe was born. Naturally, for the few hours after his birth, I was in recovery. But after they wheeled me into our room and handed Gabe to me, I felt an over-whelming feeling of uncertainty and a serious lack of any happy emotion. As horrible as it is to say, I wasn’t really impressed with my boy. I felt urges and had thoughts that I knew were not normal… I knew they weren’t sane. I spoke with my parents while Gabe’s dad was out of the room; I had no one else to turn to and I knew they could help. I have never in my life seen my parents try so hard to look like everything was fine, and have fear practically pour out of their eyes. It was clear that they were just as hopeless as I was.
I struggled with the thoughts and insane emotions for months after I had Gabe. I refused to be alone with him.. even for a short amount of time. I was scared to death that I was going to hurt him. I cannot express to you how badly I didn’t want to…. and equally, I cannot express how hard it was not to. I stayed up nights terrified that I’d hurt him in my sleep. I felt the only way to combat that was to stay awake. So that’s what I did. I’d sit in my grandpa’s old chair and just hold him all night, wide awake. Finally, in January of ’10 I sought help. First I met with my general doctor. I did not, however, give him any specifics. I just knew he’d take Gabe away, and even though that might have been a better fate, I couldn’t face it. Oddly enough, I couldn’t face my son alone. I told him I felt depressed and couldn’t get on top of it — which was partly true. He gave me some medicine and it never worked. Probably because I wasn’t completely up front with him. A few months later, the thoughts and feelings worsened. I knew I had to see someone immediately. My mom helped me make an appointment with a therapist. From there, I began meeting with a psychiatrist. My first meeting with him was a quiet one. I was scared stiff to admit to anything, even though that went against my better judgement. Finally, I caved. I told him what was going on, how I felt. I knew he was going to have me committed and that he’d send Gabe to stay with his dad.
He didn’t. He was patient; he was calm. It was exactly what I needed. He said that what I was experiencing was postpartum depression. He took his time to understand and prescribed a different medicine. Slowly, it began to work. I felt happier and more secure around my Gabe. Everything changed.
Nearly a year later, I’m happy to report that we are doing quite well. There are days that I still have troubled days.. depression, anxiety.. but looking back I can clearly see that I’ve made strides that I never imagined possible. I love my Gabe, and he loves his momma. We are going to be fine.
My momma calls me Hercules. In reality, I’m not so tough. But I made it through the darkest time of my life, and now I’m seeing the sun. I thank God for walking me through the hard time. My faith in Him has only grown that much stronger. Looking back now I see that there was never a time I would have laid a finger on my child; I really don’t believe God would have allowed it. I had little faith when I first started on that road; nothing seemed like it would ever be the same. It is truly amazing what God gets us through.
Postpartum depression is a real thing. I never put much thought into it until I experienced it first hand. It’s also taboo. Most people, like myself, find it hard to talk about because it is such a terrifying feeling. I, for one, felt like a monster. I wasn’t the same, and it was such a drastic change. But there are things that can combat it! It is NOT an incurable disease! It can be treated and when given proper attention, will dissolve. I cannot stress the importance of letting someone know, though. There’s no telling what might have happened had I not seen someone when I did. If you or someone you know is or might be experiencing postpartum, I encourage you to seek help. Talk to someone who has walked that path. You’re not alone; I wasn’t alone. I hate to sound like a motivational poster, but truly, together we can fight this.
I’d like to thank Zohrbak for, once again, inspiring me to write this. I never would have uttered a peep had you not “gone first”.