It wasn’t until my daughter was 4 years old that I realized that I had battled with Postpartum Depression and continued to battle anxiety. All of the time I spent hiding my feelings away, thinking that maybe I was a bad mom or just wasn’t cut out for being a mom in that first year really took a toll on me. And then after trying for years, we finally got pregnant again, only to lose the baby weeks later. A devastating blow when you want nothing more to than to add to your family.
Just weeks after my miscarriage I received a phone call — “Your dad and Grandma were in a horrible accident. He’s being air-lifted now to Holy Cross and Grandma is in an ambulance on her way to a local hospital.” Words that nobody wants or expects to hear. And for the next 8 weeks my life would consist of not only being a mother and wife, but also a daughter helping her father to recover from a horrible accident, a grand-daughter trying to be patient and kind in a new environment, all while everyone is living under our roof so that we can care for them. On top of it all, I was still grieving our miscarriage.
To say that those few months were a rough spot in my life would be a grave understatement. After another 4 months, I finally decided that something wasn’t right and I needed to tell someone other than my husband (who was doing his best to help me).
“I truly think that maybe I’m going crazy.”
I remember those being the first words out of my mouth when my doctor came into the room and asked me what was going on. After some reassurance that I was not actually going crazy, she helped me to realize that I had indeed battled with Postpartum Depression and because I didn’t seek help for it, years later I was again struggling to cope with some really tough life situations. Infertility, miscarriages, my dad nearly losing his life, transitioning from working full time out of the home to becoming a stay at home mom and having two extra people in our home for weeks was a bit much all at once. My doctor opened my eyes to the fact that I was dealing with depression and anxiety and that it was OK and not out of the ordinary. From that day on I began taking an anti-depressant. While I’m not typically one to jump at the idea of taking medication, I knew that for my well being, as well as my husband’s and my daughter’s, this was something that needed to be done.
There is no shame in asking for help when dealing with Anxiety & Depression.
At the same time I began treatment for my mental health, I began taking fertility drugs. I was extremely lucky in that the first round of fertility drugs worked and we were pregnant within weeks. The anti-depressants worked about as quickly and I finally began to find the old me. The happy, fun-loving mom and wife that I knew had been suppressed by so much emotional trauma. And when people ask now, it feels good to be able to say “Yes, I have battled depression and I battle anxiety on a daily basis.” Not because I want those terms to define me or because I think it’s great to have them, but because there is no shame in speaking out about depression and anxiety. They’re certainly not issues that I ever hoped to deal with, and they don’t define me, but they have helped to mold the adult that I’ve become and how I walk through life.
Six years later I deal with anxiety on a daily basis, and the depression is mostly long gone. Anxiety is nothing to joke about and it can make some of the simplest situations in life seem completely impossible. When attending a school event or a large party no longer sounds fun, but instead sounds scary and overwhelming, something isn’t quite right. I do my best to push through, continue to take my medications and to talk with friends and others who are in my shoes.
This is where it is so important to have your village. You’d probably be surprised to know just how many other moms are dealing with these same issues; I know that I was. As mothers we are always telling our children to ask for help when they need it. We encourage them to try something on their own, but that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is no such thing as a stupid question. And we need to remember this ourselves! We’re moms and women, but we’re also human. We can’t always do it all, be everywhere at once, help everyone around us and still expect to have our sanity at the end of the day.
If you’re feeling different than usual, sad or anxious in ways that you’re not used to please don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Start with a close friend or family member and be brave. Anxiety and depression happen and there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. We all deserve to live a good life, a happy & healthy life. Reach out to someone and let them know that you’re struggling, because you don’t have to do this alone.
Too many moms (women) struggle in silence.
If you are struggling with a mood disorder, postpartum or otherwise, your first move should be to tell someone you trust. Don’t try to “figure it out” alone. Next, make an appointment with your physician or obstetrician and do NOT sugar-coat what you are feeling.
Please know you are not alone. Our hope is that this mental health series brings you encouragement and support. We are enthusiastic and confident in our endorsement of Moms Mental Health Initiative and would love for you to explore their site to get connected to resources to help.