Category Archives: Postpartum Depression

Roza bil Halib

Roza bil halib.  Rice in milk.  Simple, yet lovely.  It is an Arabic dish a dear friend of mine shared with me.  The closest dish to compare it to in the American diet is rice pudding.  Roza bil halib is not quite as sweet and has a more milky consistency; it is marvelous.

Roza bil halib, which I am probably doing a terrible injustice to in my spelling attempt, is sweet and simple.  It is tasty.  It is comfort.

There are a lot of days I find myself looking for comfort.  I find it in my routine, in my running, in the rhythm of loom knitting, in my prayers. And now in Roza bil halib.

I seek comfort out very intentionally.  Sometimes I become frantic in my search.

It didn’t use to be that way.  I used to be much more able to go with the flow.  Take the ups and downs of life.

Then Patrice was born.  And with her, the anxiety, the depression, the mania, the postpartum psychosis, the bipolar disorder.

All of the sudden, life became very much about finding comfort, finding safe.  I also found others that understood me, who had a similar journey, and above all I found help.  It wasn’t a quick journey, nor was it easy, but I made it one step at a time.  There are days I am still fighting to make it, but I use my knowledge, skill, and comfort to get to another day.

And you can too.

If you find yourself fighting suicidal, or even “just” scary thoughts, reach out.  The Suicide Prevention Hotline is one place you can find help. 1-800-273-8255.

If you recently had, or adopted, a baby you can find help at Postpartum Support International .  Reach out, no matter how hard or pointless it seems.  There is help, there is hope.

There’s No End

Today it is fall.  That may not be true later this week when temperatures go up again, but for today…it is fall.

And life is busy.  Always on the go.  The kids have a ton of activities.  Hubby and I have appointments.  I never dreamed homeschooling would have me out of my house so much 😉

I had taken a break from running after completing my half marathon on September 17.  At first, to rest my body, then due to the outrageous heat, but this week it was time to get it back in gear.  So there is my running.  And new plans to again run a half marathon next fall.  A year from now.  Not in September again.  I do not want to risk running 13.1 miles in those temperatures again.  And I really need to lose 20 lbs before the next go at that distance.  More would be better, but the goal is 20, so I am researching what might work for the whole family.  I am at a loss, so if you have any ideas…

There is also the more immediate.  Sue got a named role in A Christmas Carol.  Rehearsals begin Tuesday…while cross country is still underway. I am not sure how that is going to shake out.  I am really hoping to know more after that first rehearsal Tuesday.

Then there is our day to day schooling, homeschool co-op, church, and spending time with dear friends.

It is all good.  And I love it, though it may overwhelm me at times.

And yet, somewhere in the last few days I began to feel this tug, this tapping at the back of my mind.  Reminding me of something…it whispered at me.  But I could not bring the thought to light.

Until yesterday.

Today is the beginning of October.

Seven years ago that was a tough spot for me.  I loved my girls, yet I was falling apart.  Postpartum Depression, anxiety, and ultimately psychosis tried to destroy me.

I loved my family, yet I was falling apart.  Postpartum Depression, anxiety, and ultimately psychosis, tried to destroy me.  I was fighting a battle against my mind of intrusive thoughts, of how my girls would be better off without me, how I should just disappear so they could get onto life without me, I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t stop moving.  It was dark and muddled in my mind.

I survived, obviously, and am proud to be here every day to love those in my life, to work to be stronger and healthier, but there is a stain that no one tells you about.  Those intense days of fighting against depression, anxiety, and psychosis leave a stain, a darkness on that time in your life that you carry.  All the time.

Fall is no longer the same for me.  The leaves still change colors and are breathtaking.  It still becomes jeans and sweater weather again.  It is finally cool enough to cook again.  But the stain of what happened is still there.  And it still hurts.

But no matter how much it still hurts, I have something the darkness does not have…me.  I survived to talk about it 7 years later.  I am still here to run half marathons.  I am still here to watch my girls learn and grow.  I am still here to fuss at my husband and to always lose control of the mess in my house.

I am still here.

If you, or someone you know is struggling after having or adopting a baby, whether it be mom or dad, be assured there is help, there is hope.  Please contact the amazing people at Postpartum Support International for helping finding local doctors and support as well as on-line help and support.  1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum mood disorders.  You and those you know or love are not alone.  Reach out.  Get help, get hope, get well.

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!