On postpartum depression

I’m here on this blog again and ready to do some sharing.  And from seeing my title, you can guess where I’m going with this.

To give a brief update, about a month ago things took a sad turn for me.  Literally sad.  I had been dealing with what I considered adrenal fatigue for the last year and a half, but in the last months I was starting to wonder if it was not postpartum depression.  My dear neighbor read this blog post and suggested that maybe PPD was the problem.  I wasn’t sure at that time; my mood has generally not been great for a while now, but I was functional and I figured when I slept better I would feel better.

And then all of the sudden I felt absolutely miserable.  For a few weeks I vacillated between tearful bouts of feeling overwhelmed, to yelling rages to really elevated anxiety. Then what came a few weeks later was sadness–really sad.  It felt like my brain was sick. And I knew I had ventured into territory that confirmed it was PPD.

Maybe that was the problem all along, I don’t know.  Now that I’ve had some really good days, days where I am able to take deep satisfaction in the daily things of life, I realize that I haven’t felt that way in a very long time.  It feels good now, but it certainly is a contrast.

I am thankful that it became so obvious.  I didn’t like the way I felt or the way life was going or what it was doing to our family, but at least there was clarity as to what the problem was.  Through the last year I have always wondered what is really wrong with me.  So many times it just felt like I was shooting in the dark.  That is torturous in its own way for someone who struggles with wanting to be in control.

It’s been a month since I sat tearfully in my midwife’s office and told her my story.  I have received such great care there, I am really thankful for that, too.  For those of you who have dealt with this sort of thing, you know it still takes time to feel better.  And that has been my journey.

I am thankful for Jason who has listened even when listening means dealing with an angry, fearful person. I’m thankful for the times he’s come home because I’m overwhelmed.  Really, he’s done a million different helpful, compassionate things to make this situation more bearable.

I’m thankful for the friends who have prayed and asked me how I’m doing.  Those who have brought food to us or given hugs or even just acted normal around me so I can feel like life is normal, too.

I’m thankful for family who have come to visit and helped me with the kids and given me time to myself.  The time alone has been really beneficial, especially now that I have some more brain space to do some thinking.  And in that thinking the Lord has given me a couple of observations that I’d like to share.

First, I was finally able to find a metaphor to help me make sense of this experience. It’s like for the last two years I’ve been walking around with a big net cast over me.  Some days I walk around and it gets all tangled to the point I can barely move; those are hard days. Other days it is freer and I may forget its there for brief periods.  But then it catches on something or restricts me or I’m just that’s it there.  And I can’t get it off on my own.

Thankfully, even though I’m still recovering, I am not feeling this way anymore.  But as I said, this word picture was an “ah ha” for me.

The second revelation I had happened while I was running.  I haven’t been exercising regularly for a long time, but last week I felt particularly good and started running again.  Dad & Linda had the kids for me so I headed for the Burke.  I think it was the first time I had ventured there by foot in over a year.

I crossed Leary at the traffic stop, as I have done so many, many times before.  Even though it has been a long time, the movement of my body, the places my feet step, the things I look at, they all come back again as habit, like riding a bike.

As I got to the other end of the cross walk and turned toward the trail I had this thought:

“Right now I just want to pretend I’m the person I was two years ago, before all this happened.”

And for a moment that sounded like a good idea.  And then as I thought about it more, it sounded like a really dumb idea.

I don’t want to be the person I was two years ago.  If I still was, I wouldn’t have her:

Or wrinkles.  I don’t like them, but I like the wisdom I have received in the acquisition of them.

Or two years of living life with Jason and seeing his new career take shape or seeing how God is working on him in this struggle.  How he has held me and let me cry, with no way to explain what was wrong.  Those moments have been like salve in areas where our relationship is wounded.

Or the honest conversation I had with my neighbor and the wetness in her eyes when I told her that I wanted to have more kids but if it was going to be like this again, I couldn’t imagine it.

Or the look on my doctor’s face the time I sat in her office and shed tears as I told her that I was having a hard time with fear since my last miscarriage.  The look on her face was one of compassion and empathy.

Or the conversation I had with a close friend on the phone and how her story has been so different from mine and yet there are parts of it that tell me that she understands the loss I feel about certain things.  She has given me many wise words to ponder.

Or the email I received from my father-in-law who said he was praying hard for me and that Jesus was holding me in His arms.

Or the long conversation I had with my mom, sitting in the back of the van in the dark, sharing some things with her about my situation that I had not before.  She listened and mothered me and put things in perspective.  And of course, as any good mom would do, she called me the next day to see how I was holding up (she does this frequently).

Or how I’ve seen God take care of my children in a time when in a lot of ways I haven’t been completely present to them.  Somehow I’ve been able to teach and discipline and listen and give to them; not perfectly, but well.  How they have passed through this time is a miracle.

And what about all the times I have had to call upon the Lord because I am so tired and weary?  Or the times I’ve been forgiven for my anger, my complaints, my quest for control? These are precious jewels to me.

If I sat and thought about it longer, I would come up with many more stories. It’s true that in my darkest days, I didn’t feel that God was doing anything good with this.

But as you can see, I am seeing His goodness more and more.  And maybe at some point, what I went through will of help to another weary mom–I can hope for that.

2 responses to “On postpartum depression

  1. thank you for pouring out your heart in this post, it is so encouraging to hear your honesty and perseverance.

  2. Dear Elizabeth– you are a beautiful soul. God bless you and continue
    to strengthen you. You inspire me.

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