My Experience With Postpartum Depression: Part 3

I'm so glad you've been following along with my journey through postpartum depression. If you haven't read the first two posts in this series, I recommend that. Part 1 | Part 2

My third and final experience with PPD (I say final, since we're done having biological children) was once again different than my first two experiences. With Joshua, the primary symptom I felt was irrational rage. After Felicity, I dealt with crippling anxiety. After my sweet Theodore was born in the late fall of 2017, PMD came to visit me again–and this time it brought with it relentless depression.

Taken two weeks after Theodore was born.

I don't think I can pinpoint the exact moment when I started feeling the effects of depression–it was probably around when Theodore was 3 months old. It seemed like life was slowly becoming less fulfilling–like watching the color slowly drain from around the edges of your life until the gray finally reaches you at the center. I found myself lacking motivation to do things that I once found so enjoyable. Cooking, one of my greatest passions in life, became a chore and a point of stress and anxiety. Spending time with my children became a drudgery. The hours that I spent alone with my kids after Dustin had gone to work seemed never-ending. I felt tired all the time–sometimes physically, but always mentally.

I think the mental tiredness came mostly due to the fact that I was constantly fighting to seem okay to everyone else around me. I was trying to look like I hadn't missed a beat in transitioning to being a mom of three, or transitioning from maternity leave to going back to work. A compliment I receive often is that my cheerfulness and positive attitude really helps lift others up (not bragging, promise! I've just identified that as one of my strengths in life). Because of that, I almost felt like people were counting on me to be that cheerful, positive influence and that I would be letting my friends and my co-workers down if I wasn't–especially because I'm in a leadership role at my job. I felt like I had to fake being okay to make sure I could lead my team well. 

Some days I would drive home from work in a state of shock and numbness. So much of myself had been put into forcing myself to be okay publicly, that there wasn't anything left to give to my family. At home, I would find myself so mentally exhausted that I was incapable of doing anything but sitting in the rocking chair in our room and nursing the baby. So often Joshua or Felicity would come into the room wanting my attention, but because I running on emotional fumes, the thought of mustering up any fake happiness for their benefit was just too much for me to handle and I would banish them from the room, begging through tears, "please, not right now."

I think anyone who has experienced depression, postpartum or otherwise can attest to the fact that the guilt you feel because of the toll your depression is taking on others really is the worst part. I could see the hurt in my children's faces. They didn't understand why mommy didn't want to play. They couldn't fathom why I would want to be alone in my room instead of be with them. They couldn't understand the mental and emotional exhaustion I was dealing with. They didn't understand that even getting out of bed in the morning was a battle for me. 

There were a few times, I am so ashamed to admit, that I considered leaving my family behind. Not in a suicidal way, but I thought about packing a bag for me and Theodore, withdrawing a few thousand dollars from the bank, and just disappearing with him. I knew the baby still needed me for the obvious nutritional reasons which is why I would take him with me, but I felt that Dustin, Joshua, and Felicity would be better off not being subjected to the hurt I was putting them through on a daily basis. 

I went as far as packing suitcase. Dustin was at church with the older two kids, but I had opted to stay home with Theodore, who was napping as I threw my things into a bag. I was about to turn the door handle and load my things into the car, then come back for Theodore. I don't even know what stopped me, exactly, but I froze, and the thought came to my mind, "You can't just change your mind and come back from this. The life you love right now won't be here for you if you do this."

I knew in that moment, God was speaking to me. This was my wake up call. As that thought came to me, I thought of all the things I would be saying goodbye to–the trust my husband and kids had in me. The trust of my co-workers. A job I'm truly passionate about. I realized if I left, nothing about my life would be the same, even if I came back. It slowly dawned on me exactly what it was that I was planning to do–leave my family behind–and I was filled with so much guilt and shame. I fell to my knees sobbing–I have literally never felt as much emotional pain in my entire life as I felt in that moment. 

It was then that I knew something had to change. The depression I felt was so much more severe than it had ever been during any of my previous postpartum stages. While my symptoms of PMD had tapered off around the year mark with my older two kids, I knew I couldn't wait for or count on that. If my depression had such a strong hold on me that it could push me to almost leave my family, I couldn't count on it tapering off on its own this time. I had to do something before it literally destroyed my family. 

In the interest of not making this post into a novel, I'm going to end here, and leave the healing part of my journey for tomorrow's post. I hope as you've read along with this short post series, something has resonated with you. Either you feel more prepared in what you could expect in your postpartum journey, or you feel solidarity in knowing you aren't alone, if you've experienced this as well.

If you're currently experiencing PPD (or if you've ever) I want you to hear me loud and clear. You are not crazy. You are not alone. You are not a failure, and you are certainly not worthless. 

Have you dealt with depression in your life? What have you done to help yourself cope?

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