Before September is up, I thought I’d touch base on the topic of depression, since September is officially suicide awareness/prevention month. To preface – I’m doing fine and my family is all good. I’d like to share my story working through postpartum depression, how it started, what I did and where I’m at today.
This is my daughter Emma. She’s the youngest of ours, now 9 months old (they aren’t lying whey they say time flies by). She’s the turd (that I love to the moon and back) that gave me PPD.
This picture was taken last weekend when we went to the river. Every time I see her face, my heart fills with so much joy. Her squeal of a laugh and her SUPER dramatic head tosses when I don’t pick her up also fill me with joy. Although I think any parent could say that they wouldn’t mind going a day with one less tantrum.
I remember going through this second pregnancy just feeling daunted and emotionally heavy. Our oldest daughter was just one, I was working on launching this new business CK Design, it was winter, I had a ton more back pain and exercise was non existent. A lot of the heaviness I attributed to just being pregnant and figured it’d go away and get back to normal after the fact.
When Emma joined the rest of us earthlings, I had a much larger sense of relief than joy. I was happy to have her, but I was more overjoyed that she was finally out and this pregnancy was done. This may be TMI, but for me it was like being constipated for 9 months and having the most glorified shit of my life. I was more thankful to be done than to snuggle my baby. Not that you’d snuggle your poop, unless you’re into that type of thing I guess.
The following month was easy. I felt like super mom and that everything was so good. I can do all the things. I was legit on cloud nine. By January I was starting to feel rage. Not your typical anger. Deep rooted rage. A rage that felt good and a rage that needed an escape. Now. When my father who lives in Oregon came to visit to meet his new grand daughter and hang with his family, I started to catch these little moments where I just didn’t want to be there. Little things would set me off and my patience was quickly disappearing. There was a moment when our oldest daughter Elsie was crying about something and I just went off on her. I yelled at her. And what I heard come out of my mouth was frightening. Not the words, but the tone. I’ve never yelled at anyone with that amount of rage where I could feel it seeping through every pore on my body. The hair on my skin even felt stiff with rage. This picture below is probably an hour before I yelled at Elsie.
By the time February came it was clear that something was not right. I had enough sense in myself that what I was feeling wasn’t right and that I shouldn’t be finding comfort in what I was feeling. It felt so good to be angry all the time. My mind started to gravitate toward dark thoughts. They were pretty innocent at first which wasn’t too alarming for me since I tend to gravitate toward dark thoughts to begin with. However the type of thoughts that were coming in were new. They came with actual action ideas. ‘What would happen if I did this?’ or ‘If I did this, it shouldn’t hurt too bad.’ At one of my checkups they gave me that PPD checklist and I marked just about everything that was required to have it. I cried at that appointment and I couldn’t figure out why. My doctor recommended that I could take antidepressants or see a counselor, but coming from a family with addictive personalities, it quite honestly scared me. I figured maybe this is just a phase and I talked with my husband about it afterwards. We were both on the same page and we set up my first counseling session.
Before that session came, I had my first suicidal thought. It was late at night after a super bowl party. I told my husband I was fine going home so he could stay and hang with our friends and catch the end of the game. The girls were crying in the van, I was exhausted, tired, didn’t want to go home to a whining dog, didn’t want to deal with the bedtime fight, changing the diapers, nursing, getting myself ready for bed… I just wanted peace and quiet more than anything. That drive home was the longest drive ever. I felt helpless and numb. When we got into the garage I sat there for what felt like an eternity but was likely a minute, just sitting there thinking ‘I could close the garage door and we’ll just all sleep’. I knew that suicide is permanent, but the overwhelming wave of peace and stillness was so lucrative and welcoming. It felt like this dark figure that had the capability to suck everything painful in its soul and it offered this weighted blanket that can shut everything out.<img src="https://hey-carl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/52744129_377396279769330_4347449187914334274_n.jpg"
Obviously we’re still here today. I am incredibly thankful to have had enough strength and awareness to bring the girls in the house, tuck them into bed and have a conversation with my husband the next day. I was more embarrassed than scared to have the conversation and say ‘I had my first suicidal thought the other night that included the girls’. Embarrassed of not knowing why I felt this way, embarrassed of feeling helpless, of feeling broken of feeling like a failure and feeling like a terrible wife and mother. And feeling embarrassed of finding comfort in that end game.
After that conversation we pushed for my session to be sooner. We gave Daisy (our dog) to my parents because there were days quite honestly where I wanted to beat her. Tom asked his mother to come help watch Emma, since Emma wasn’t able to go to daycare for another month yet. I’m very grateful for a husband who was strong in taking action and strong in his trust in me. He never once made me feel guilty and he was there every step of the way through this. He quite literally dropped everything to be there and I can’t imagine where I/we would be at without that.
Between my sessions I had my first panic attack where my lips went numb, I couldn’t see straight and I just felt faint. I can’t imagine a life of someone who deals with not only depression on the regular, but also anxiety. That is no joke, friend. Antidepressants, conversations and sharing my story has quite literally saved my life. I talked with a good friend of mine who had some severe PPD and her support, candor, honesty and transparency was everything. Had I never opened up about what I was thinking, feeling, going through etc., there’s a very real possibility that I would not be here today.
I know this is a heavy read so let me share with you what I know now and how we are today. Depression does not discriminate and it can come in different forms. Take time to pay attention to how you’re feeling and talk about it. I can’t urge that enough. Friends and family – push yourself onto people who need your help. I can’t tell you how many times people would ask ‘what can I do for you’ and I legit had no answer. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on in my head, how could I possibly share what I need? Bring food, babysit, wash the dishes, do the laundry, shovel, mow… if you see anything that you can do – don’t ask just do it.
Today we’re doing great. I still have my moments, but I’ve officially gotten off of antidepressants for some time now and enjoy having some super dark jokes with my fellow moms who have gone through similar experiences. Finding humor in the dark has helped… a lot.
I’ve lost a couple of dear friends to depression and almost lost my own life. If you’re going through depression or know someone who has – I’m hugging you and cheering for you on the other side of the screen. You’re not alone, even though it feels like it. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to have depression, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to feel. You’re not a bad person nor are you a failure. Seek someone to talk to, write it down, make an audio diary, and punch the big D in the D. Hard. That fucker doesn’t deserve you.