Never Change, Embrace Change

My journey from post-partum depression to normal

Depressingly post-partum depression is still the tabooed elephant in the room.  It’s normal, we all go through it, yet we can’t talk about it.

I’m done with that.  I’m done with silence.  I’m done with feeling less-than.  Post-partum depression is a side effect of the lethal mix of hormones we are subject to, and we all know #depressionlies.

So what does it look like?  Where do you find her?

In your mirror.  Because you, new mom, are the face of post-partum depression.  

The face of #postpartum depression is in the mirror. #depressionlies It's OK. You're OK. Click To Tweet

After 3 grueling pregnancies and extreme post-partum depression I failed. Failed at business. Failed at housework. Failed my kids.

I felt like I had failed life.

The baby was 18 months old and I still wasn’t getting better. My anxiety got worse with each passing week.

We were busy, sure – 1 car, a husband on shift work, little kids at home, ailing parents who needed increasing care, a successful business and career to manage. But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t look at my inbox because it was too hard to get dressed, to brush my teeth. I couldn’t face my inbox weeks later when my anxiety over replying to everyone made me hide under the proverbial rock.

My kids were fed, clothed, had activities, saw their grand-parents multiple times a week. They went to school and preschool, they had friends, but I rarely had time to just enjoy them. I felt my life was spent in the car running errands, in the car to go help someone, or in the house trying to make sense of the clutter.

Driving was a nightmare.

The kind of nightmare where you see a crazy driver go by and the accident that could have been flashes before your eyes: the mangled car, my kids splattered on the asphalt, first responders arriving on scene…

Let’s rewind a minute: I could see – clear as day – my children splattered and dismembered on the asphalt.

Horrible, right? I never meant any harm to my kids – EVER. But my anxiety was so severe I could see worst case scenarios all around me.

All the time.

Every day.

A train wreck you can look away from.

I know. Because I felt it. Every day. Every time I got in the car.

You can’t unsee those images your fucked up post-partum brain shoves in front of you. It’s disturbing. It’s horrifying. And like a train wreck you can’t look away.  The memory dwells and each time you remember you violently shake your head to try to get it to stop.

But the show must go on and I’d had enough.

I remember sitting in my Dr’s office, and telling her exactly what was going on. I’d always described it as ‘crazy thoughts’ but that could mean so much.

I was explicit. I wanted her to understand my pain and help me get better because I wasn’t coping anymore.

The house was a wreck, the car was a wreck, my business was a wreck, and let’s just say my marriage wasn’t exactly honky dory. I screamed too much and lived too little. I was a wreck.

We changed my medication, I spoke to someone, and I spoke up.

Spoke up about my needs, my feelings, my truth.

I put ME first for the first time in years and every day I felt just a little bit more me. My husband didn’t understand but then again he didn’t really believe depression and anxiety was a disease. I should have been able to push through it in his eyes.

I cancelled things. A lot. Family events, meetings, appointments… if the kids hadn’t slept, weren’t feeling well, or were fighting and misbehaving, I didn’t leave the house alone with them – I refused.

I burned bridges, business and personal, but I had to take care of me. Ultimately I’m a much better mom, wife, and friend if I’m not frazzled before even leaving the house, never mind doing groceries, shopping for a gift and a full-blown family affair an hour away with three cranky kids in tow, by myself.

It got better. I got better. Clients got booked, the kids & I went out more, groceries got done. I would put my foot down and insist on running errands on my own – I was entitled. Dads do it all the time!

I learned to talk about my anxiety with the kids; I couldn’t live with myself if they grew up thinking I was angry at them all the time. To the oldest, “I’m in a really bad mood right now. It’s not you. But this is what I’m feeling. You can help me by giving me a bit of space for 15 minutes.” To the younger girls, “Mommy is really cranky / has a bad headache. Its not your fault but I need you to help me get better by behaving / not screaming / etc”.

Today, the crazy thoughts are gone.  I’m happy, I smile and laugh, and our lives are much better.

I survived, and you will too. 

No matter how bad you think it is… talk to someone.  Anyone.  Please.

Depression lies, and post-partum depression is a beast of its own.  It doesn’t have to be like this.

You are OK.