Friday, November 2, 2012

Hope You Know.

{This post took me five months to write. I've decided to just put it out there. I wasn't sure if I'd ever publish it but I  think I need to. The title of the post is a reference to the conference talk by Quentin L. Cook-"Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time." I couldn't bring myself to make a title containing the word "ya."]

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, but at the same time, I've definitely been putting it off. I have things I want to say, but I'm not sure how to say them and I'm not sure I have any special insight and I really haven't drawn any conclusions. But hey, writing is therapeutic, and the longer I put off writing, the more I forget that it's a skill I have. I suppose the only reason I am sitting down and writing this is because both of my children are asleep, I'm slightly caffeinated, and I've seen all of the episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras that are On Demand. I'm really an awful person- I only like to watch the episodes where the kids are really cute or the moms are especially crazy. It's awful, but it's the truth and if there is anything that I'm good at, it's telling uncomfortable and unflattering truths about myself on the Internet. On that note, let's begin.

When I had Avery, a social worker came and talked to me in the hospital. "I understand you have a history of Postpartum Depression," she said. I was offended, I really was. The summer after having Adam was the happiest time of my life- I never felt even slightly depressed. I told her that she was mistaken and she awkwardly left some pamphlets "just in case" and left. I shot daggers at her back.

But in reality, I knew pretty soon that something was up with me. I had a period of intense baby blues, which I wrote off as normal (and maybe it was), but in my head I kept thinking, "The emotions that I'm having are so intense, so dark. Maybe I could have Postpart-" I'd cut my thoughts off. I didn't even want to go there. I didn't even want to call it Postpartum Depression- I'd call it "Postpartum Something" in my mind. It was very easy for me to publicly admit that I was at an increased risk for PPD (as are all women with a personal history of anxiety), but to really consider the idea devastated me.

Because I am a big fat hypocrite. I can pontificate for a long time on mental illnesses and how the stigma needs to be removed, but deep down, I thought that having Postpartum Depression meant that I was weak. A bad mother. If I'm being completely honest, I'm not sure that I've completely left that notion behind yet.

It took me about 4 or 5 weeks to be sure. Really, I wasn't entirely sure until I started waking up in the middle of the night (non-Avery related). I'd wake up with a crushing sense of grief- it was there as soon as I opened my eyes. I'd lay in bed and think, "There is absolutely nothing good about my life." I would categorically go through every aspect of my life and I could not think of anything positive. I felt like I brought nothing good to the world. I felt like I was ruining Jeff and the kids' lives. I started to think that dying would be such a relief, would lift such a burden on my family. One night, I found my mind specifically fantasizing about how great things would be if I were dead. (Maybe I've gone too far in admitting that. I wish that I didn't have to write that sentence. I wish you didn't have to read it. But mostly, I wish it wasn't true.)

That night was the turning point for me. I cried a lot. I prayed a lot. I woke up and made the decision to ask to be put on an anti-depressant. That was at 6 weeks Postpartum, I'm now 7 months Postpartum.

I'm not sure what to say. Sometimes life is hard. Really hard.

Today, I called my mom, angry that she hadn't called in a few days (I made her promise to call everyday when I figured out that I was depressed) and I just started sobbing. I hadn't spoken to an adult all day, hadn't left the house (the car was in the shop), the kids were testing my patience and most of all, I just felt this overwhelming sense of loneliness. I just sobbed and sobbed to her and I thought over and over again, "My life is awful."

But as much as I like to lie to myself, my life isn't awful. Sometimes it's wonderful. Today, Avery was so beautiful and loving. She took my breath away. Seriously, she is the most lovely thing I've ever seen. She didn't nap well today, but she got kind of hyper from the sleep deprivation, and I noticed that if would do this corny fake laugh, she would laugh too. She kept swatting at my nose and true story- she tried (and kinda succeeded) to French kiss me. I kept holding her close and just inhaling her sweet smell. Sometimes, I hope that some of her love and innocence will just rub off on me when I do that. Sometimes, I think it does.

Adam fills my world with joy. I love that kid so much. Today, I tried to make him watch Veggie Tales on Netflix and he just randomly hated it. He glared at the TV. We laid in my bed today and kept making triangle shapes in the air and chanting, "triangle, triangle."  He got in a large box with packing peanuts and lounged like he was taking a bubble bath. I climbed in his crib and laid down with him at bedtime and we talked about getting him glow-in-the-dark stars for his room and maybe a car bed, and when I had to go, he asked me to stay with him and I thought, "My heart might burst."

Life isn't easy. Life is frequently punctuated by periods where you look back and think, "That was awful." I know I will look back at this time and think that. But here is where life pulls a trick on you- I already have looked back on parts of the last 7 months and thought, "That was one of the best moments of my life." How does life do that??? How does it have the ability to be so many things at one time? But you know what?

We all have that ability.

I am a wife. A mother. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am depressed. I am happy. I am whatever I want to be.

I am not my depression.

I don't want to be that. I am Sarah, who happens to have Postpartum Depression.

And you know what?

I like that chick.


Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful writer, and reading this really made me feel good. I was not diagnosed with PPD, but I was put on an anti-depression for anxiety. Maybe I'm just fooling myself and I do have some sort of PPD, but either way, what you have written is inspiring. I am at work right now and all I want to do is rush home and wrap myself around my loving baby boy and breathe in his inocense. Thank you.

Elizabeth said...

I'm so sorry that you are going through this. You have a beautiful family. And you are such a great writer. I hope things get easier soon.

Tiffany Desiree said...

Sarah, thanks so much for sharing. That was insightful and beautiful, and I know how hard that had to have been to write.

and just so you know, I like that chick too.

BMC said...

FINALLY! Seriously, Im always hoping someone in the family has blogged and you are pretty much the only one I can count on.

So I had friend with PPD, it was awful for her. She was a lot like you, happy, social, funny and soooo excited to have her baby. But the first while was awful, she didnt want us asking her about the baby because she couldnt think of anything nice to say. She knew it wasnt her, she cried all the time about the way she felt. After a while she was back to herself and just like you she is an awesome mom. I look up to you for your parenting skills. The other day I watched the video of Adam counting and thought, dangit.... I think Im behind, I need to get Colt on the bandwagon. Keep up the good work! Nothing wrong with focusing on yourself. Youre amazing

Karissa said...

This was beautiful.

I love that you are so completely honest. I think this sort of post gives others who have struggled with the same things courage and a feeling that they're not alone. That may seem small, but to those people it's a really big deal. I keep feeling like what the world needs now is some honesty, sweet honesty. We need people to say, "Hey! I'm having a really hard time. And you know what? It's ok to have a hard time. It's ok not to be perfect."

I love you Sarah!

Melissa Ann Holm said...

Hey Sary,
I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager, and sometimes it can be an uphill battle. You are so strong and I am so glad you shared this. It helped me. I love you, and please call me anytime, I don't do much!!! :)

Val said...

Thank you so much for sharing that. I think I went through a little tiny bout of PPD during the summer. (That or I was just really nervous for Brandon to leave.)

This book really helped me. Because it let me know 1. I wasn't alone, and 2. I wasn't as crazy as this lady. Plus its a really good read.

Hang in there

Anonymous said...

An entertaining read from start to finish. Thank you for sharing your truth in such a straightforward manner. I'd hug you if I could!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to put this out there anonymously. I really admire that you posted this. I am too prideful to admit that I share many of the same thoughts & feelings that you have. I have not sought help yet & it has been a long time of having the same feelings. So long, that I just don't know if I can call it PPD anymore. I would feel so ashamed to go to a doctor for medication having waited so long & feeling like I am making my children's lives worse by being their mother. I am trying my best to cope alone, but hearing more stories of other struggling mom's does help. Maybe one day I will be just as brave to admit everything & get the help I probably need. Thanks for writing this.

Chloe Smith said...

Hey i have been far from the supermom i use to feel i was. Adding another baby in the mix has been alot harder on me then it ever has been. I just blogged how i am feeling more like myself each day by appreciating the small things. I see you're doing the same by embracing those cute wonderful moments you have with your little ones.
You're doing great. Realizing what's going on is a good sign! Admitting to it will only help you heal. You're amazing. You're a good person! Xox

Shantel said...

I think you are wonderful. Thanks for letting me continue to blogstalk you - I always enjoy reading what you have to say and appreciate both your funny and silly posts as well as your more deep posts. You have a real talent for writing and expressing feelings.

Jonathan and Linsi said...

Oh Sarah, hard pregnancies AND hard post-partums?? A girl shouldn't have both. I'm so sorry you have had to struggle with this, PPD is a rough one. I know you didn't write this post because you wanted a pity party or to fish for compliments, but seriously, I think you are an awesome mom. I wish we lived closer so we could have playdates, but just know that I, and a lot of other people (including two very small people that live with you), think you're a great mom. I hope you start feeling better soon!

Rob and Vienna said...

Oh I am sorry you have had such a hard time. I really do understand. Sometimes I get so excited when I think about having another baby, but then I remember all the crying that happened afterward (me crying, not her), and I get really, really afraid. And I don't think I even had it that bad, so I'm sorry. It's hard, because I don't really know what else to say other than I am sorry and I know a little bit how you feel. It's just such a lonely time, but paradoxically littered with such beauty, like you say. I hope that you are okay, and I hope that things get better, and I hope that YOU know that I love you.

the Weights said...

Sarah, you are a brilliant writer, and I'm glad for more voices to express this -- Jenny wrote a small book too about her experience. I don't have PPD but it is sometimes very hard as a mother of young kids... probably any age really, but when they are young and demand your attention constantly, and you can't even use the loo... it can be very rough. But I agree: you are Sarah, you are not your depression. Jenny is Jenny, and not her bouts of depression. Jenny's ordeal with PPD has changed all my ideas on the subject -- I used to think faith could cure these things, but for some, I don't think that is true. I don't know why some people have to struggle with this. Would you mind talking to Jenny about the medication you take -- she's working on keeping hers at bay by: vigorous exercise, healthy eating and hydration, and sleep (things that I feel are incredibly hard to ensure as Mom). She's nervous about taking medication... does yours help noticably? I love you, cousin! And I really appreciate your frank writing style. You are so talented.

Brent and Shanna Farley said...

Sarah, I so admire you for writing this. Hang in there and hugs!! I will call you soon and we will catch up!!

Jenny said...

Powerfully written. Thank you.

Natalie said...

I've always loved how open you are with emotional things like this. I seriously will need to come study your blog when I'm postpartum and raising babies and toddlers. You really are an inspiration Sarah! And I like that chick too!