Category Archives: Postpartum Depression

Soothe Your Soul

Back when Patrice was just a few weeks old and my brain was on hyperdrive due to the postpartum depression by hubby took the girls and me to a park that I had never visited.  I immediately fell in love.  I felt calm and at peace for the first time since we brought our third baby home.

I went back as often as possible.  I still do, no matter what the weather.  It is my healing place.

The last few weeks have been…odd.  There have been some mania type issues.  There have been some struggles with depression.  I have reached out for help and am looking forward to getting this all sorted out.  It’s not an impossible place to live, just not comfortable.

But yesterday…

We went to my park.

Frazier and I walked and walked.

All three of the girls caught fish.

The girls fished with daddy.

And this place right here is my favorite place anywhere.  It just invites me forward, asks me to run or walk.

I think we all came home a little refreshed, a little healthier.

The Battle

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This blog post has been churning inside for a couple weeks.  I realized an anniversary was coming…a year ago today I entered the hospital for treatment of depression, bipolar, and suicidal ideations (meaning I had a plan).

I had spent months working with my doctor to try and get my medication right to get my mind stable.  I took my meds daily, put one foot in front of the other and did my best to be a good mom, wife, homeschooler, and Christian.  It just wasn’t working.

Finally, I reached the point where I needed more intensive help and I needed to be kept safe from myself.  I ended up inpatient again.

This day has been messing with me.  Part of me is thrilled to be able to say I am doing great.  I am.  I have days that are rough, I have days I have to scale back on what I planned to accomplish as I can’t take that much human interaction, I have days that I end up sleeping several hours in the afternoon, I have days that make my head spin.  But for the most part, I am doing quite well.  I am working with a good doctor who knows how to use medications very effectively to manage bipolar disorder and anxiety issues.  I am using exercise and my network of friends to help me with the challenges that arise.

It all works together.

It’s been a journey.

I fought a hell of a battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis 6 years ago after the birth of my youngest daughter. Coming through it wasn’t the straight, easy course I thought it would be. On the other side of Postpartum Mood Disorders, I found Bipolar Disorder, but I kept fighting and I am here. I am here to exercise, I am here to love my family, I am here to homeschool my girls, I am here to fight every day to be here.

The Day Mama Marched

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

My husband and I met over 14 years ago at our church.  We were both part of the singles ministry there.  I just visited at first, but as time went on I came to more and more of the activities.  At the time, the singles group took up two rows of seats (actually pews) in the service time.  For some reason, the group chose to sit way up front.  Like 3 rows from the pulpit.  It seemed a little close to me, but so be it…I sat up there too.  No biggie.

Hubby and I got married, moved to a different Sunday School class, started having kids, and along came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, along with debilitating Social Anxiety.  Attending church became very, very difficult for me.  Sitting up front was out of the question.  I sat as far back as possible most of the time–if not in the foyer.

And hubby noticed.

He realized he could gauge how well I was doing in my head by where I sat in church.  When things were rough I either sat in the foyer or way in the back of the sanctuary.  On the rare good days, I would head much further up in the seating area.  I didn’t notice, but he sure did…and when he mentioned it to me, I started paying attention and he was right.

This weekend was pretty good for me.  Busy, but I handled most of it.  Saturday had some rough spots, where I have to admit I was afraid I was going to lose it, but I didn’t and by Sunday I was okay.

Sunday morning I walked into that church and marched up to the front.  Hubby said, “look at you going right to the front!”

“Of course I am, my babies are singing and I need pictures!”

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It’s Christmas time–time for Christmas programs and yesterday was ours.  The girls sang in both services and had a Christmas party in between.  And this year I was strong enough to be right up front–so close during the first service that Caitlyn could see us and tried to smile for the pictures.

All along, my fight to be well has been for my family–specifically my girls.  The last six years hasn’t been easy on any of us but yesterday was a victory for all of us…the day mama marched into the church to take pictures.

We Went We Saw

Four years ago, we headed a few states over for a family wedding.  We did some camping along the way.

Turns out, I remember very little of it.

Patrice was one years old.  I don’t remember her being there at all.  Hubby tells me she was very good about camping and the wedding, but if you ask me, she wasn’t even there.

And sorry to my niece who was getting married, I don’t remember the wedding at all.  I am sure it was just lovely.  Really lovely, but you see, I was very sick with the postpartum depression and bipolar at the time.  Life at that time was really hard and so very foggy.

But time has passed and my meds are better…and my mind is allowing me to think and remember.

So this trip to a wedding was very different.  It was very nice.  We went to our nephews’ wedding and then headed to Lake Michigan to relax and even visit Chicago for a day.

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A waterfall in Wisconsin we visited with family before heading to Lake Michigan2016-06-08 07.36.48 2016-06-08 07.38.41 2016-06-08 09.24.22 2016-06-08 11.54.49 2016-06-09 10.28.58 2016-06-09 11.20.57 2016-06-09 12.29.25 2016-06-09 12.32.43 2016-06-09 15.09.42 2016-06-09 15.19.48 2016-06-09 15.50.44 2016-06-09 19.28.26 2016-06-10 13.37.00 2016-06-10 20.41.52 2016-06-10 20.53.07

Meeting another warrior mom was a huge highlight of the trip!!!2016-06-10 21.42.05 2016-06-11 08.21.03 2016-06-11 09.31.27 2016-06-11 12.10.21 2016-06-11 19.01.13 2016-06-11 20.51.33 2016-06-12 08.35.53This trip was fantastic and I am hoping to remember it for a very long time!!!

What Does Grace Look Like?

This is what grace looks like:

Leah at park 2010Grace is 5 years ago this little bundle screaming her head off as we put her up to the slide (not down the slide), while her very sick mama battled postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis in the background.

2015-10-01 18.01.08Grace is a mama still be here, homeschooling, her three beautiful daughters that 5 years ago today she tried to surrender them to her midwife during a psychotic break.

2015-10-28 09.22.43Grace, grace, Gods’ grace is this little girl, who was screaming on that slide 5 years ago while her mama battled for her mind, now wrapping her arms around her mama and telling her she’s the best mama ever.

 

Five Years Gone

Patrice is 5 today.  Five.

In some ways that makes me 5 as well.  Five years ago mental illness invaded me first as baby blues, then postpartum depression and anxiety with a psychotic episode.  And it never went away.

My therapist said I should look at all the good times during those 5 years.  And I try, and succeed, pretty often.  But every good time was against the landscape of mental illness.  Me trying to cope.  Me trying to learn to live.  Me trying to live.

Patrice has grown from a little baby.

all three girls 2010 Leah at park 2010To an amazing 5 year old who loves fiercely, can add up to 5, can’t wait to learn to read, crazy cute and oh so funny.  Amazing.

2015-08-07 11.39.05The years have been sweet.  The years have been hard.  But we are here to celebrate them together.  My Patrice and I.

2015-08-06 14.25.06

Flopping Fish

I look at myself and I see a fish.  A fish that has been pulled out of the water and is now flopping every which way on the pier.  This way and that.  Struggling to find a comfortable spot.

The last 5 years have been hard.  Patrice will be 5 August 7.  So, that is when my postpartum depression started, but the struggle came a month before when Patrice did some flopping around of her own.  I was on a crazy roller coaster of emotions as she moved in and out of breech for the last 5 weeks.

I cried, I prayed, I sang, I played music to her.  I even put clothespins on my baby toes.  Don’t ask, it didn’t work.

Thankfully she decided head down was a nice position and she was born without much trouble–besides the cord being wrapped around her neck, but my midwife quickly took care of that.

She came.  She was beautiful.  Our family was perfect.

I was anything but.

Five years later I live with a handful of pills three times a day to control the Bipolar Disorder II that came after the postpartum depression and anxiety.

But the last weeks have been good.  I came out of my last depression May 14.  That makes this good stretch 2 months long.  I haven’t had that much since Patrice started flopping in my belly.  I have days that are harder than others, today being one, but overall, I am in a great place.

So why the flopping fish?  I can’t find a comfortable spot in the good.  I feel like I am continually flopping around trying to settle in and enjoy; every blip unsettles me.  I am sure this is the day the darkness or the mania will come.  But, thankfully, it hasn’t been that day yet.  And yet, I find myself questioning every moment, every feeling.

Will I ever be comfortable here?  I want to be, but I have no idea how to relax my brain after all these years.  My mind has betrayed me so many times I don’t trust it in anyway.

But I breathe.  I look for comfort.  I look for that peace.  I reflect on the two months.  I work to rest my soul, to nurture myself, to heal during this time.

I have no confidence this will last forever, but I am hoping to stop flopping long enough to enjoy it!

A Year Has Gone By

It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since I led a Postpartum Progress Climb Out of the Darkness walk to raise funds and awareness for perinatal (during and after giving birth) mood disorders.

We were a small crew but we had fun.

2014-06-21 13.46.07 2014-06-21 13.48.53 2014-06-21 13.49.30 2014-06-21 13.57.29 2014-06-21 13.57.36 2014-06-21 13.57.45 2014-06-21 14.05.59 2014-06-21 14.26.23 2014-06-21 15.00.29

 

I am not leading a climb this year, but I have decided to join another local group who are climbing/walking to raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders, including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and psychosis.

I hope you will join us in walking (contact me for details) or use this link to donate to my climb.

Help us help families everywhere!

 

Your Feelings Toward Yourself Feel Like a Condemnation of Me

Lets start with this caveat, life has been hectic and I have not been as medication compliant as I need to be.  I am starting to feel the effects.  Emotions and reactions are getting overly strong.

Today I peeked into one of the support groups I depended on heavily in the early days of my voyage into mental health concerns.  I don’t stop in often anymore, as my journey has veered into permanent, not the temporary we all hope for when a postpartum mood disorder shows up.  (see this post)

And there I found a thought that I totally related to and wanted to rail against.  The mama listed all the meds she’s on, some I recognize as part of my cocktail.  And she said being on a variety of meds made her feel like she really was crazy.

I get it, I do.  And yet, I wanted to scream at her.  Rail at her.  Protest, how dare you be so callous?!!!  YOU feel crazy?  Gee thanks, what does that make me?  You take about half of what I swallow every stinking day and will for the rest of my life.

Y’all, I do get it.  I have been there.  I was there today, and yesterday, and the day before…

And yet, I want to scream at her.  I want to punish her.

She still has hope these meds won’t be forever.  I don’t!!!  Where is my hope?  Where is the end of my crazy?

My crazy has gotten so bad I have to aggressively avoid news stories about depression and suicide, because what others see as incomprehensible, makes a heck of a lot of sense to me.  I have been there.  Thankfully, I am not even close right now, but I have been.  I  have stared into that hole and wished something would give me just a little push to let me go headlong in.

And that’s with the meds.  Contrary to what some believe, the meds don’t make my brain work 100% as if the bipolar disorder did not exists, it just makes sure I can sort out the real from the lies.

That’s where I sit with my crazy.  That might be where I always sit.  I don’t know.  It makes me mad.  It isn’t really that lady at all, it is myself I am mad at.  It is my med cocktail that ticks me off.  It is the permanence of the struggle.  I don’t know how long I will be here.  I don’t know how long it will take peace and acceptance to come, but as of right now, it is not there, not even close.

Sigh.

Note:  I am not suicidal at all, but as I said to a mom in our Christian homeschool co-op, “it just hits too damn close to home.”  I’ll let you know if I get banned from co-op for swearing.

 

To the Mamas

Baby comes.  We fall immediately in love.  Or we don’t.

We take to motherhood like a duck to water.  Or our anxiety is so high we are afraid to pick up our new bundle for fear of something horrible happening.

We feel all the changes in our life and just smile because we’re the mama.  Or we see the chaos and our mind tells us we must get control, we must make everything perfect, so we lose ourselves in folding the baby’s clothes just so.  Over and over.

We sleep when baby sleeps.  Or we force ourselves to stay awake and watch the baby so nothing happens to it.

We sleep when baby sleeps.  Or we lay wide awake, unable to sleep at all, knowing that in a few short hours baby will be awake and we need to sleep.  But we can’t.  So we reorganize our Pinterest boards.

We undertake motherhood and feeding baby without a second thought.  Or we struggle to breastfeed only to have our stress grow with each attempt.  Or we formula feed, kicking ourselves because we are not breastfeeding the baby.

Sometimes, motherhood comes easy.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  Sometimes, it is the first baby that introduces us to the struggle that is postpartum mood disorders.  Sometimes, it’s our third.

As we struggle, we hate ourselves, thinking we are  terrible mothers.  We judge ourselves because we’re sure everyone else is too.

We fight to get better.  We fight to breathe in and out.  We fight for each day.

And finally victory is ours.  We sort through some memories.  We hide others that can’t be dealt with all at once.  We breathe.  We try to exhale, but in the back of our mind we’re afraid of the pain.  We’re afraid of it coming back.

Birthdays are one of the days that threaten to overtake us with the memories.  Our mind is naturally drawn to those early days of babyhood.  The good, the bad, the really, really ugly.  And the thing is, we focus mostly on the bad and the ugly.  We don’t give ourselves enough grace to hug the good to ourselves.

Birthdays wake up the hurt, they wake up the feelings of failure.  They scare us.  And we still don’t let ourselves remember the good.

Yet, there is, so much good.  You’ve come through so many battles to be where you are.  And that baby that awakened so many fears and struggles–they love you.  You are their mama.  You are the one that soothes them when they have a fever.  You clean up the vomit they project all over the house. You laugh with them.  You teach them their alphabet.  You teach them to tie their shoes.  You teach them to be kind and courteous.  You teach them to make friends and to be a friend.

They don’t remember you folding the baby wash cloths over and over.  They remember you making them a birthday cake and letting them have friends over to play.  They remember you buying the fun band aids to make their boo-boos all better.  They remember you buying them fun sunglasses and the coolest backpack.  They remember you walking them to school and back home again.  They remember your hugs.  They remember the love you always had for them that you can now show them with ease.

Mamas, as the birthdays come, give yourself grace.  Give yourself permission to know you are a good mama.  Give yourself permission to see the love you show now, and the love you had then.  Give yourself permission to look at your little one, growing up so beautiful, strong and funny, and say, “I got them here.  I got us here.”  And know it is true.  The journey hasn’t been easy and there may still be days of struggle, but you are here now.  You have loved all the way through and you are here now.

To the mamas who read this, I am so proud of you, no matter where you are in your journey, because no matter how hard it is, you are still here.  I am proud of you for finding joy again.  I am proud of you for growing and becoming a more beautiful you.