I was twenty-one when I first-born, Gabe, made his mark on the world and on my heart August 20, 2009. Twenty-one when my life as I knew it changed. Twenty-one when my first experience with depression was triggered.
I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will write about it again. You see, I fought an emotion-shattering & mentally monstrous case of postpartum depression. All my life I heard of women’s true love stories over their small ones. Positive emotions that seemed to ooze from their every pore and tired eyes. A sweetest love that seemed so genuine it was almost nauseating. I hoped that I would feel those things.. the simplest form of adoration. But, no matter my dream or intent, I did not feel those things. No; instead of happiness I felt terror. For the first time in my own short life I was petrified… of an infant.
To this day I believe that a series of poor lifestyle choices and awful “mojo,” if you will, contributed to my PPD. I’m sure my poor relationship, terrible self-esteem, and even weight issues were absolute set-backs. The raging hormones that weren’t doing their job was just the icing on the cake. At that time I was certain that I was the only one being affected and tormented by my constant mood swings and sleepless nights; the only one even remotely damaged by the depression. Now, looking back, I realize what a selfish thought process I had. Until on that day… I realized I had to get help. My son needed me to get help. My parents — the only other people in my life aware of the problem– needed me to get help. Not just for me, but for them… and not at all selfishly.
It was on that day, in my grandpa’s old leather chair, at 4:30 in the morning that I sat stock-still, eyes closed, praying for the previous nights’ agony end. On that day, I promised myself and my boy that I would get help. Because the terrorizing thoughts of violence and grief were just too much the night before. I’d been in that chair from the time my parents called it a night until my mother woke up the next morning. The chair was my safe place. A familiar place. The only place in the entire house where I knew no harm would come to my Gabe, or to myself. It was in that chair on that long-exhausted morning that I told my mom I needed to be seen and heard. I didn’t know by whom — frankly, I didn’t care. So on that day, now 2010, I let go of my fears and sought help.
As if the mindset of PPD isn’t scary enough, the seeking of help is twice as agonizing. It was for me, anyway. I had waited a year to get help… and by that point I feared my mind was long gone. I just knew they’d lock me away or, worse, take away my boy. A psychologist’s waiting room always has certain marks, I’ve noticed. In my experience they’ve always smelled of old books and put off a bleak and dismal feel — as if to really hone in on one’s already magnified problem. And there I sat, alone; my thoughts amplified and fears on instant replay in my mind. I sat there for what seemed like hours. And then my name was called. I got up and considered heading for the door. Instead, my common sense finally kicked in and I walked back through a corridor that was, if possible, even more dreary than the lobby. I finally found myself alone in a room once more.. patiently waiting on whoever was coming to strap me in to a straitjacket. And then the kindest face walked in. As if on cue, my fears of the visit lifted. I talked until I thought I could speak no more and cried until my face was sore. And the thing she did next stunned me into an almost painful silence; she hugged me the tightest I had ever been hugged. She assured me that everything would be fine. That it could be fixed — that I could be fixed. To tell you the relief that I felt is virtually impossible. But a wave of thankfulness washed over me… and a wave of regret because I had not sought help sooner.
We continued to meet and I was given a strong anti-depressant. As time went on, we met less and my dosage finally depleted. And on that day, we celebrated a new start and a new-found, long sought after love that I would not trade for the world.
Postpartum depression is real and horrifying. It is also still taboo. But there is help and hope. For more information on PPD, follow this link. If you or anyone you know is suffering from or could suffer from this problem, please seek help and encouragement.
- Postpartum Progress
- Postpartum Progress, main page
- Postpartum Pinterest boards
- Mommy Connections