I wrote this post a little over a year ago, and contemplated sharing it a million times. It’s for sure the most difficult post I’ve ever written and sharing it with literally thousands of people scares me to the core. BUT, as of recent I’ve come across fellow bloggers and friends who have shared tidbits of their struggle with me, and I feel like there’s so many women out there going through the exact same thing. I’m sharing my journey & struggle with postpartum depression in hopes that my story will help these women find some sort of comfort and perhaps the strength they are so desperately fighting for.
It’s so difficult for me to even begin writing this because I don’t think I even have the correct words to describe my emotions without sounding like I’m drowning in my own pity parade. But nonetheless, I feel so ready to share my story with every new mom who has experienced or is experiencing PPD for the first time, hoping that you will find some sort of comfort in my words & that you feel empowered to overcome the storm. This will also be the first time I open up about my own experience with close friends and family, so bare with me as I try to relive and retell.
As you guys read on this post, after being friends for almost 4 years, my husband Erick & I went on our first official date on November 11, 2005. We fell in love so quickly and deeply. It was truly love at first sight, and within 5 months he proposed at Senior Prom. Within a two year period and at the age of 20 & 22 we had the most beautiful wedding, welcomed a gorgeous baby boy and purchased our first home together. Everything was “perfect” I had the guy, the new house, a stable job & a beautiful healthy baby boy. So why was I feeling so off, so disconnected?
I wasn’t quite sure what it was I was feeling. I felt confused and a bit concerned but at the same time I was so busy with my new life that I had no time to even dissect the problem. Soon the outgoing, confident, friendly, bubbly girl whom my husband had fallen for, was no longer here. I’d become inhibited, insecure, scared of almost everything, and was no longer happy. I quit my job because I was unable to function like a normal person. By this time Evan was now a year old, which made it even crazier to think it was PPD I was going through. I felt so out of place, so inadequate as a mom, as a wife and as a person. There were mornings where I seriously could not get out of bed. I had like this permanent overpowering physical and mental numbness. Everything was always such a blur. I had to force myself to walk to the kitchen and make breakfast for this little guy who I had total responsibility over. The idea of caring for him suddenly became such a burden. Seeing the way he depended on me scared the shit out of me. I started to have feelings of resentment towards him. And that made me feel like the worst human being on this earth. How could I look at this little innocent baby and think he was the reason for my misfortune?
I was in such a fragile state and needed someone to blame for my misery. In my mind he was responsible for everything. I blamed him for the fact that I dropped out of college, for my now almost skeletal body, and for my inability to show him affection. I blamed him for the dumbest things, like being unable to go out & hang out with friends. The sound of his cry made me cringe. There were times where I wished someone would come take him as far away from me as possible. I was scared of him, plain and simple. During this time we had only one car which Erick would drive to work, so this meant I was stuck at home all day. My mom quickly took notice of my absent mind and took it upon herself to pick me & baby boy up every morning to spend the day at her place. I remember being at her house in her amazing back yard with the most beautiful garden as a backdrop and baby boy running around happily, but I just wasn’t there. I remember thinking “look at him, he’s happy, he’s running and laughing. This is where he should be, not with me.” I had to try SO hard to even have a conversation with my mom. And even worse, I had to force myself to eat because god forbid mom would start asking questions.
The situation escalated so quickly and I soon found myself crying thru the night almost every night, sometimes for no reason in particular, getting little to no sleep and unable to grasp what was going on in my mind. And when it came time for Erick to go to work in the morning I’d beg and cry and hold on to him like a baby, begging him to stay home with me. I dropped so much weight people around me were beginning to ask questions about my eating habits which were quickly dismissed with a “it was the breastfeeding” answer…The thing about this though, is that I was so good at putting up a front. I still went to holiday get togethers with my family and his, got dolled up like a pro and faked it so well that no one ever noticed. How I managed to do that, I still don’t know. I guess it was the pressure I felt from everyone around me to be this perfect new mom & wife with my perfect little family. The thing is that everyone around me constantly reminded me of how incredibly lucky I was. After all, I had everything a girl could ever dream of so I didn’t want to appear ungrateful for all this goodness. I didn’t want to be judged for being such a “terrible mother”.
It’s so crazy to me how desperately I tried to be normal around loved ones but at the same time I was dying for attention. I wanted someone to emotionally cater to me without me having to be vulnerable or explain myself. For someone to hug me and tell me it was all going to be okay. I secretly longed for my lifelong best friend to call me and come around and want to know about me. I craved and needed her comfort so badly, but she was nonexistent. She was too busy living her single life like any 20 something year old should, which totally crushed me. I started to hate her for it. For not being there for me when I needed her the most. I felt sadness to the depths of my soul. At some point I had lost touch with almost all of my friends. Feeling ashamed of my body, so insecure about my looks and just wanting to sit at home in my misery. I missed out on lots of baby showers, birthday & graduation parties. Yes me, the girl who always planned the parties, the one who loved meeting new people and making new friends.
Pretty soon this situation started to affect Erick in more than one way. He was feeling so stressed at work, calling me every chance he could to make sure Evan & I were okay. He couldn’t really see his family because I would literally have an anxiety attack anytime we went somewhere outside of my comfort zone, And he couldn’t hang out with friends either because he feared for me & baby’s safety back at home. The poor guy endured more than I can say. He drove me to the ER countless times only to be told there was nothing clinically wrong with me. Imagine his frustration. Not only did it affect his work but also our relationship as husband and wife. He had lost his best friend. He didn’t have the luxury of coming home and telling me about his day because instead he had to come home and make sure baby and I ate dinner, that the house was clean and that baby got his bath before putting him down for the night. Keep in mind that during this almost two year ordeal we had no intimacy & very little dialogue was exchanged.
All of a sudden and out of the blue I decided I had had enough. Enough of feeling completely worthless, of having nasty feelings towards this little person who God had gifted me. And I took it upon myself to seek help (keep in mind that through all this, I did see my general doctor very frequently and PPD was NEVER even mentioned as a possibility). I saw numerous professionals from Psychiatrists, Cardiologists & even Neurologists, but for whatever reason they would all send me home with a Xanax or Prozac prescription and with instructions to “take it easy and get some rest.” I refused to medicate myself, I had dealt with severe anxiety as a pre-teen (which I later found out made me more prone to PPD) due to an unfortunate event I experienced while in middle school and I thought no way, I will not be drugged up once again. There was one more physician on my list that I had yet to see. So I made an appointment and put all my faith in him. Since he had been my pediatrician as a child I thought he must be able to help me if he knew my past history with anxiety. After a thorough physical examination, we sat in his office and he listened to me rant and cry for about an hour…I was finally officially diagnosed with PPD. I felt immense relief! There was finally a name to this monster I had been dealing with for the past two years. After discussing treatment options and learning that I had no interest in medication, he suggested I give yoga a try. And without questioning my beliefs he told me to pray, pray to whomever it was I believed in, but pray with a faithful heart. His words will forever live with me because for the first time in forever I felt reassured and understood.
I will not sit here and say that it was easy coming out of it with just a faithful heart, a determined mind & a whole lot of yoga, but I will say that the process was humbling and eye opening in so many levels. I met wonderful people along the way and learned so much about myself. A year after the diagnosis I became pregnant with Mason. The pregnancy was tough & I did get PPD for the second time. This time though, I was much more aware of the situation and did everything in my power to get through it. I’d say I came out one tough mama after the second time around. I have learned to love my children unconditionally. They are and will always be the best thing that has ever happened to me and I cannot imagine a life without them. They are the reason behind everything I do and are my greatest inspiration. I do always make sure to give my Evan an extra kiss goodnight because to me he’s my warrior baby. The one who witnessed mommy crying & yelling and endured so much at such tender age. I will continue to strive to be the best person for these guys, for myself and for my husband who till this day has lived up to our wedding vows of being there in sickness and in health. I love you baby!
Having dealt with PPD doesn’t define me, but it will always be a part of me.
My heart goes out to all my mama’s out there who’ve had to experience PPD or are experiencing it as we speak. You are not alone. There is help out there and you can and will get through it.
Lots of love,