Saturday, June 20, 2015

Climbing out of Darkness: I am 1in7



If you've never lived in Darkness, you might find it hard to imagine.  You might find it hard to believe that someone living in the best time of their life could be consumed by loneliness.  By regret.  By hopelessness.  You might find it impossible to believe that someone could hold a tiny, beautiful baby and wish that she could run away.  You might find it hard to imagine what it's like to live in postpartum depression.

Today is the Climb Out Of Darkness, a worldwide event in which women and families join together to go for hikes and climbs, to symbolize their journey out of the darkness of pregnancy-related mood and anxiety disorders.  

Today I want to share my climb with you, in the hopes of raising awareness about these diseases for which only 15% of sufferers seek treatment.  



I find it crazy, looking back, that I didn't seek treatment for the depression into which I sank after Sophie's birth.  Having been treated for depression in the past, I should have recognized the signs.  

I think that the fact that she was a "tough baby," the fact that she screamed all. the. time., the fact that Jon wasn't handling our little bundle of sleeplessness too well either, made me think that my feelings were "situational."  "It'll pass as soon as we hit the next developmental stage/sleep through/learn to sit/learn to talk..."  It didn't.

Some days she would be screaming so much, I would walk her all around the house. I remember walking out onto the deck, hearing her screams echo against the surrounding houses.  I remember having to go back inside, because I didn't trust myself not to throw her off the deck.




Looking back, I realize that every single day in the first 13 months of Sophie's life, at some point during the day I wished that we hadn't had her.  I wished that I could choose a different path.  I craved to run away, fantasized about it, planned for it.  The only thing that held me back was the guilt of leaving Jon with this horrible baby all on his own.  

I love Soph, I cherish her.  How can you love someone and also wish her away?

I regret not seeking treatment for over a year.  I regret that I don't remember that much of her babyhood.  I mostly just remember the awfulness.  When I talk about what a horrible baby she was, my mother reminds me "she wasn't that bad."  I'm sure she's right, but I don't remember.  I don't remember the smiles, the snuggles, the walks.  I know they happened, I see them in hundreds of photos.  But the joy is overshadowed by the Darkness.




It set in earlier with Wesley, about halfway through my pregnancy.  I had tapered off antidepressants before getting pregnant, and I was doing alright for the first few months.  

I remember calling my nurse midwife, the day I realized I wasn't alright anymore.  I remember I was driving in the car, my sweet toddler in the backseat.  

Jess, my midwife, asked me, "Do you think about hurting yourself, or Sophie?" It's a standard screening question.

I remember pausing so long, she must have thought I had hung up.  Pausing because I couldn't get the words out.  My throat had closed, as I thought back to all the times that I had, without realizing it, idly pondered twitching the steering wheel into oncoming traffic, just to stop the whining coming from the backseat.

"Yes," I whispered into the phone.

I started antidepressants that day and I've been taking them faithfully since then.  I am one of the lucky ones: the first drug we tried worked for me. I just feel...stable.  Sane.  Strong.  I feel like a person who doesn't let one little thing throw me into a tailspin.  I feel like a person who doesn't have a tantrum every time my kids do.

I feel like a person who is enjoying babyhood this time around.  I can't get enough of Wesley, can't get enough of his squishy smiles, his gooey kisses.  Sometimes when I throw him into the air, and he laughs and drools on my face, I have a feeling of panic, willing him to never grow up, to never leave this moment.  

I think that's normal.  

I missed it, the first time around.



Signs of pregnancy and postpartum anxiety, depression, and OCD are wide-ranging and can occur any time during pregnancy or in the first year postpartum.  They include feeling overwhelmed, helpless, or angry, inability to eat or sleep, feeling that you are not bonding with the baby, that the baby doesn't love you or that you're a bad mother, panic attacks, heart palpitation, and the compulsion to check and recheck to soothe your anxiety.

These feelings are NOT normal and there is HELP for you.

Please fight for yourself, fight for your wife, sister, daughter, friend. Fight for your family.  Join the Climb of out Darkness.  

For more info, click on over: http://postpartumprogress.org/

2 comments:

  1. My eyes just welled up with tears as I read this. I am so sorry you had to go through this and that it took so long for you to recognize the signs. But I am so very grateful that you got the help you needed and are feeling like yourself again. This whole post was so well written. I'm sure a large part of why women don't admit to any of this is because it makes them feel like a "bad" mom. Knowing other normal women - their sisters, friends, co-workers - have experienced the same thing has to be so helpful. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

    Depression has taken a big role in my life lately. And although I'm not the one who is suffering from depression, it affects everyone and it just plain sucks. So glad you are happy and healthy, my friend!

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  2. thank you for sharing this. Posts like this helps break the stigma on depression and mood disorders especially postpartum. You have been a wonderful fitness instructor -- welcoming me and so many other moms during such a fragile state of our lives. ox ox

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