Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Every year, I try my best to write about my personal struggle with postpartum depression.  It was such a huge part in the turning of chapters in my life, and I feel obligated to share with other mommas who may be experiencing, or could experience, the same hell I lived in for several months of my life.  PPD is left largely undiscussed.  No one really talks about the post-natal depression because it still widely viewed as “taboo” or a “non-issue”.  Hell, the “baby blues” are barely mentioned.  That fact has left me gobsmacked ever since Gabe’s arrival six years ago.  In fact, the longer I think about, the more ludicrous it’s absence in every-day talk seems to me.

Even knowing my family’s history of varied mental illnesses and depression, my OB/GYN at the time didn’t even warn me of the possibility that I might develop the problem.  I was very young — twenty at the time — and might have heard of PPD in passing, but never at length, and never from the one person who could have filled me in.  I don’t blame him in particular — I blame society, mostly.  A society that is in no way, shape, or form idyllic has these contorted views of what the “ideal” mother should be.  I’m telling you right now — the society that runs the world today should have no say in what an “ideal” mother is.  Plain and simple.

But backing off blame, I’m here to urge anyone who might have this problem or knows someone who might have this problem to seek help — NOW.  Asking for help is not embarrassing.  It does not make you a bad mother.  It does not take away from your parenting abilities.  IGNORING the problem, however, will absolutely emphasize the problem not only for the mother, but also for the people that surround her — including her child(ren).

69dddef66ae9d0feb59b756d3cef4a15

I have found that opening up a bit about my own conflict with PPD has helped a few women seek help and counsel regarding their own struggles.  It is still somewhat difficult for me to come forward with my own story, but it is something I am more than willing to do to spare anyone of the terror that went on inside of my own head.  So, here goes:

My Gabe was born on August 20th, 2009.  As luck would have it, my heart truly began beating on that day.  I, however, wouldn’t have that feeling of pride and warmth for several months after the fact.  All my life I’ve been told of these miraculous stories of “adoration at first sight” upon a mother holding her baby for the very first time.  That this feeling of pure bliss just soaks down into very fiber of their being without question and without exception.  A love that, as I’ve said before, is nearly nauseating.  I didn’t have those feelings.  In fact, I was very nearly numb to everything — except terror and the unknown.  The unknown of what I was experiencing; the surprising terror of being petrified — of an infant.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it and I was certain no one else would be able to, either.  So I kept quiet.  I kept quiet for nearly a year.

I’ll go to grave believing that a plethora of factors contributed to my depression; family mental illness, being overweight and in an unhappy relationship, working three jobs from sun-up to sun-down… I believe all these things contributed to my issues.  Add to that a rash of unstable post-natal hormones?  I was just waiting for someone to put me in a padded cell.  My attitude towards everyone, not just myself, was deplorable.  I couldn’t not cry — any and everything made me bawl.  I was living with my parents at the time and refused to be left alone with my own child — I was out of control on a downward spiral.  I needed help and I knew it.  But, due to my fear and hardheadedness, I decided to wait.  I waited almost too long.

For months, I would climb into my grandpa’s old leather chair when my parents would settle down for the night.  So every night from 10:30 to 4:30 the next morning, I would sit there, in my “safe place” — forcing myself to stay awake.  I feared that if I slept, I would hurt Gabe.  He slept soundly every night in my arms — never suspecting; trusting me fully.  He didn’t know that the person he trusted the most had no faith whatsoever in herself.  One day after a long night, I couldn’t tell if I was awake or dreaming.  Awful thoughts and fears poured into my mind as though someone had removed the top portion of my head only to fill it with fright.  Horrified and feeling monstrous, I finally sought help.  Adding to the fear of losing my mind, was the new thought that I could feasibly lose my child.  That the possibility of having my son taken from me could lie in whomever I sought counsel.  Sitting in the counselor’s office didn’t help any — waiting alone, wondering what would be said… what would be thought.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, my name was called.  I was led to another smaller office where I waited once more.  I considered running — I considered calling the appointment off under the guise of a “reschedule”.  What little common sense I felt I had at the time finally took course and I stayed, anxious and alone.  And then someone with the kindest eyes came in.  She held my hand.  She listened.  She let me express every fear I had, no matter how silly or unreal.  I talked until I was out of words and cried until my face was sore.  And after all was said and done, she hugged me the tightest hug I’d ever been given.  She assured me that I was not crazy and that everything would be fine; no one was going to take Gabe and no one wanted to.  To this day, I have not experienced the kind of relief that I did in that room.

We continued to meet for quite some time.  I was prescribed a strong antidepressant that gradually became less and less.  The last day of that prescription, I enrolled in a local college — I had been given two new reasons to live my life fully.  I finally had my little boy, even though I was never physically absent… and I’d been given my life back ten-fold.  It became my wish from that point to today to educate and spread the word regarding postpartum depression in its every form.  I hope you will do the same if you took anything away from this post.

bb1bd7ff30f6a7ad3671b28cad64dfc8

Postpartum depression is real and horrifying.  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.

Advertisements
On That Day|A Blog Dare Post

On That Day|A Blog Dare Post

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 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.

ppd

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.

ppd2

On Progress and SPD

On Progress and SPD

Oh, progress.  What a stress relieving thing it is.  As you know, we’ve been struggling to figure out what is wrong with my oldest, Gabe.  We have been mind-boggled for years, actually.  But time after time Gabe has been cast aside as if nothing is wrong and he’s just an uber knucklehead and I have been chucked away as that mother without parenting skills.  While that last bit may hold partial validity, I’m also sure (and have always been sure) that something just isn’t quite right.  That Gabe is so smart and so bright — but is still so off and so behind on things I’m really shocked at.  My little backwards boy.  Even when he was tee-tiny he excelled at things beyond his level and behind on things that should be right at his fingertips.  Almost like his little mind had a serious case of the Benjamin Button’s — but in comprehension, not age.  Obviously.  I’ve known for a long time that something was not right.  But I’ve constantly been put off as one of “those moms.” You know the kind.  They want their kid(s) doped up and tout d’suite, please, because they cannot be bothered.  No.  That’s not me.  Gabe’s a little boy, and wild though he may be I’ll not zombiefy him for the sake of a little peace and quiet.  There are too many risks involved and I’m not big on medicine anyway.  But until recently, we were left to our own devices.  Left to shuffle through the mounds of “could be” disorders and to figure out where we went wrong.  Left to translate what my four year old has been trying so desperately to communicate, and screaming inside what I wish he would understand.

I’ll admit, after being told a hundred times over that, “You’re the problem,” you really start to wonder if that is the case.  I don’t mean to make this about me so let me do a little closet cleaning; I’m not saint and hardly a good momma.  I’ve done my fair share of yelling and screaming, spanking and cussin’.  I’ve muttered under my breath and daydreamed about getting in a cold beer to let some of the aggravation off.  I’ve wished the day would just end already and I’ve dreaded the drives home knowing that I wasn’t doing the right thing.  Knowing that all the sand raising wasn’t right.  Knowing that following my gut was what I should have been doing and wasn’t.  Knowing that my actions, and the lack thereof, were positively vile.  As much as I love that child, I’ve been equally a terrible mother and a virtual no-show on support because I didn’t understand.. or because I was being told that I wasn’t doing right.  I couldn’t physically or mentally understand the child I carried and gave birth to.  I loved him, and love him still, with every heartbeat that pumped within me.  Yet, I couldn’t muster enough patience with him to see past my own shortcomings to help him fix his.  It was too easy to label him “disobedient and unruly.”  Just as everyone else had done.  Great momma, right?  Hardly.

It took a teacher complaining about her possible loss of career (a crock, by the way) and pretty much hating on my kid that made me call bullshit and seek more help.  Thank God I stumbled on the right path with the right people.  And thank God my faith and patience are being restored.  I almost gave up on my kid.  And I hate myself for that.

spd1

My boy is thought to have SPD; a sensory disorder that can mimic ADHD, Asperger’s, and some signs of Dyslexia.  It not only mimics those disorders but can also coincide with them.  With help from a speech pathologist and occupational therapist he can learn how to deal with his issue and how to advance in spite of it.  We too can be taught how to help him grow and live to his greatest potential.  I will not allow myself to be that crippling mother that tells her challenged child to sit back and just “get by.”  Gabe will be expected to thrive and push — just how any challenge should be handled.  With dedication and commitment.  I will continue to be the same grumpy momma bear because (with some exceptions) because I know that he absolutely can.  Of all my short-comings, I’ve never once truly doubted his abilities.  He is bright and imaginative and I really believe that with a little extra effort he’ll soar.  And really, won’t that little extra effort make the pay-off so much more rewarding?  I think so.

spd2

If he is willing to play a little hardball then Evan and I will be his hard-nosed but deep down rooting for him coaches.  He has an amazing support team made up of great friends and family who are already offering support and shoulders without question.  This little “disorder” might be exactly what the dr. ordered for this little family!

And so our journey begins.  Keep us in thought, y’all.  There are a lot of changes to make!

Leaves are a’Changin’

Leaves are a’Changin’

I can hardly believe that it is finally, FINALLY fall.  We are actually experiencing one here in CenLa, and lemme tell y’all — it is beautiful.  For those of you who aren’t from around this area, the weather here is about as reliable as a coin toss.  It can go either way… and sometimes, quite another.  I pretty much hate coming to work now because I am missing the beauty of the days.  I am (slightly) consoled, however, since my chair allows full view of the brilliant autumnal colors.

I think that’s my favorite — the colors, that is.  Don’t get me wrong; the cool air (sans dripping humidity) is refreshing.  But the colors.  I’ve always found it peculiar that even in death the leaves are stunning — as if in their short “lives” they’ve lived extraordinarily.  I adore, and sometimes envy, them for that.

Gabe and I… well, our own lives are changing although, thankfully, not dying.  On the contrary — it blooms.  Or so it would seem.  Gabe and I are finally possessing some stability.  A stability that has taken nearly a year (and lots of love and support) to cultivate.  Relieved.. that would be putting it lightly.  We have had a truly amazing support system and are finally ready to venture out away from our comfy spot… in the knowledge that we’ll be alright.  We have already stumbled upon a few roadblocks, but have jolted back up just as quickly as we fell.  For now, we opt to remain contented with what we have and just be happy.

Oddly, even in my relief, I am a bit saddened.  I’m saying goodbye to what I’ve known for some time now and approaching something almost completely foreign.  Granted, it’s not as dramatic a change as I make it out to be.  I’m not saying goodbye to the people, just familiarity.  But I’ve known this was coming for a while, as has everyone else.  I’m ridiculous, I know.

At any rate, this is November.  And the 2nd at that!  And during this month of gratitude I choose to be thankful for hits & misses.  Friends & family.  Blessings — even tough ones that don’t go as I wanted them to.  Thankful for health and wealth that most don’t have.  This month I will be grateful.  This month I will take a step back and take in everything that I’ve been given and try not to think about what I haven’t.  Because maybe I haven’t earned it.. or maybe.. it’s a blessing in disguise.

I have so much to be thankful for, and for the next month I will try my damnedest to post about things I feel I’ve been blessed by.  Whether it be people or events… although in no particular order.

The leaves, they are a’changin’.  And they give me hope.  Even as they die, they are lively.  I will be grateful that as long I have breath in my body, I too can be vibrant.  I too can live.

all is well; safely rest

all is well; safely rest

I know I’m two days late in posting about 9/11, but I’ve been so busy the past few days.  I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.  But I didn’t want to not acknowledge everyone affected by the 10 year mark of that horrible date, especially since we’ve come such a long way.  Also, my younger brother, Aaron, left for his second term in Afghanistan Sunday morning.  I feel it a privilege & my obligation to extend my sincerest thanks to him & to all of our troops who have fought, and who are still fighting, for our safety.

On September 11, 2001, America’s world was shaken from a blow that should have destroyed us.  Thousands upon thousands of lives were taken from this earth entirely too soon from their families & loved ones; personal dreams & aspirations.  That many more lives were touched deeply by these unknown heroes.  Not one of them that was taken by the tradgedy has been forgotten, and, God willing, never will be.

The men & women, both here & in the war zone, who gave shelter, safety, and their greatest guardianship should forever be branded in our minds & in history as wonderful, selfless beings, who reached out to a world who knew not their names.  To put a single face on every family; on every fireman; every police officer, soldier, volunteer… every life taken… it wouldn’t be right.  However, many still remain faceless.. most will be never be known.  So here’s to the faceless & every life shattered or taken.  Here’s to the proud, the brave, the selfless, the willing, the loyal… Thank you all for your service.  Thank you all for your protection.  Thank you all for a rebirth of a country that was once held captive by its own terror.

Thank you, Aaron, for protecting the family.  God speed.