It’s been awhile since I shared about my journey with postpartum depression. So many great things have been happening in life and to be honest, when I sit to reminisce and write these posts about PPD, it’s a very emotional process for me. I feel as though I have to go back in time and relive those feelings and that’s hard. Being in a great place now, I don’t really like doing that, but for the sake of this blog, for the sake of sharing my journey with others and for the sake of hopefully helping even just one person recognize what they are going through and get help, I’ll do it!
So let’s do this! If you missed the first two posts of the journey, you can go back and read Part 1 and Part 2. Make sure to check them out before reading Part 3 (it’s like one really long story, broken down into parts!)
* Disclaimer: I want to preface this particular post with saying that I want to be as honest and vulnerable as I can be with what was going through my mind as I struggled to come to grips with the idea that I could be living with postpartum depression. My intention is NEVER to offend anyone…these were just my desperate thoughts that I was going through. Because I’ve walked through this, I’ve completely changed my opinion on depression…and that will be shared in later parts of this journey! *
Struggling to figure out what on earth was going on with me, one day in September, I locked myself in the bathroom and literally cried out, with tears streaming down my face, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!” Then a still, small voice responded back, which was quite the contrast from my questioning scream, but there was something in the calm and peace and stillness of the response, that caught my attention.
WHAT?! No…not me. No way. Absolutely not. I’m a HAPPY person. I LOVE life. I LOVE people. I LOVE to laugh. There is no way, no how that I’m depressed.
Then again, I heard it but this time more specifically, “postpartum depression.” Nah…you’re wrong. It must just be a lack of something in my diet or not enough sleep or something like that. My baby is six months old, I can’t get postpartum NOW! This is ludicrous!
Yet again, “you are struggling with postpartum depression.” By about the third time I heard that still-small voice, I wiped the tears from my eyes and just stared blankly at the bathroom wall.
Could it be? Me…depressed? I’ve never struggled with this. I’m not crazy. Only crazy people struggle with depression and I’m NOT crazy!
After what felt like hours of this inner dialogue, I decided to do what most of us do in today’s modern age…I consulted Dr. Google! My husband really doesn’t like when I try and let the internet diagnose my problems, but nevertheless, I’ve actually found great help through looking up various ailments. This occasion was no different.
It became almost a game to try and prove I DIDN’T have PPD as I clicked through a multitude of sites, each one only confirming further that I was in fact living with it.
“Symptoms of Postpartum depression” is what I googled. I was honestly embarrassed to even type those words out…as if I was already admitting I had it and at that point, I was still in denial. I opened the first link that came up and as I scrolled through the list of symptoms, my heart started to race a little faster and my palms grew sweaty…as if someone was reading my mind and knew exactly what was going on. “No way…this is wrong. Anyone can have these symptoms,” I thought to myself. It became almost a game to try and prove I DIDN’T have PPD as I clicked through a multitude of sites, each one only confirming further that I was in fact living with it. Then I decided to take a few “tests”…those will surely prove I’m not loosing my mind. After about the fifth one, a knot formed in the back of my throat as I was now staring my new reality dead in the face. Every.single.test concluded by saying, “You have postpartum depression and need to see a doctor immediately.”
Still locked inside the bathroom (while my husband kept the kids entertained…he did that alot during those days while I would disappear for long stretches of time to cry and sleep), a friend popped into my mind…again…that still, small voice prompting me to send her a text. She had a fairly severe struggle with postpartum depression a few years before and had recently talked to me about it (I hadn’t known her at the time that she walked through it).
There was something instantly comforting and less embarrassing about asking another PPD survivor to help me with my self-diagnosis.
She was the very first person I uttered the words to “How did you know you had PPD…cause I think I might have it too…” Even before my husband…before my parents…before my best friend…there was something instantly comforting and less embarrassing about asking another PPD survivor to help me with my self-diagnosis. When I started explaining what I was going through and what the online tests had said, she responded with “Oh my friend, I’m so sorry to hear this. Please go see a doctor soon.” More than Dr. Google or any test I could take myself, hearing it from another person who had struggled with PPD, I just knew, this is what I was dealing with and I needed help.
I eventually emerged from the bathroom safe haven and told my husband what had just transpired in there. There was a sense of shock and also relief. As hard as it is being the person walking through PPD, it’s also incredibly difficult living with a person who has it. I could barely function, as I wrote about in the previous post, and my family wasn’t used to having a wife and mom behave the way I was.
Making that phone call was in a sense admitting defeat but also reclaiming hope. Both fear and peace were present in that phone call.
“You need to call the doctor right away,” he said. And so I did. Making that phone call was in a sense admitting defeat but also reclaiming hope. Both fear and peace were present in that phone call. How can both of those co-exist? The only explanation I have is God. I, Christine, was filled with fear, despair, anxiety, embarrassment, etc. But God came in and breathed hope, peace and comfort into my darkest moment. I cannot image walking through something so intense like this without Him there. Was it as simple as a prayer and I felt better? Absolutely not. Depression is a chemical issue in your brain…a sickness…that needs treatment. I’d love to tell you it was that easy and I do truly believe that God can absolutely heal and restore people walking through depression without the need for human intervention. That wasn’t my story. However, I ALWAYS knew He was there. Even in my darkest moments, there was ALWAYS a glimmer of hope and I truly believe it’s because of Him.
“Hello, doctor’s office.”
“Um, ya, Hi, um, I think I need to make an appointment with the doctor…I, ah, um, I think I might have postpartum depression…”
More to come: diagnosis | treatment | living with PPD.
Thank you so much for following along with this journey. This is hard for me to be so vulnerable, especially to a somewhat unknown audience. My hope and prayer in sharing this personal journey with postpartum depression is that someone, even just one person, will know that they aren’t alone. That the stigma of PPD can start to be lifted as we realize so many mommy’s (and sometimes daddy’s) struggle with this very-real, very-frightening illness. That there is nothing to be ashamed of and to seek the appropriate help, at the right time. I pray you will find solace in knowing and reading someone else’s struggle with this.
Love & Blessings,
* Stock image used