Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Living and Loving God's Blessings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's real

The human body is amazing. Each is unique and complex. What works for one body, might destroy another. It really is a science when figuring out what medication will work for each individual person.
I have been taking Celexa 20 mg for 5 months now and it works pretty well. I still have some "postpartum junk in the trunk" though.  I just kept it quiet and tried to think maybe it was normal for me to have intrusive thoughts and irrational fears. I am a mom- and moms worry about everything. Everything is a potential danger to our little curious children. My 7 month old is fascinated  with cords. He pulls on them, tries to eat them, and whips them around like a little baby cowboy.

Today I went to see my doctor and I started crying. She told me I shouldn't be having these kinds of irrational fears that my kids are in danger and I shouldn't be having intrusive thoughts. I also told her about my nightmares. I have a reoccurring nightmare a few times a week that I leave baby Phillip somewhere and I can't find him. He is always in his car seat, but I can't find him. I am in a panic trying to find him. I hate those nightmares because I feel like it is a foreshadowing of what is to come. Then I have to talk myself out of this, like I would never do such a thing.  Well I know I wouldn't, but I have to convince myself it would never happen.

I told my doctor about how I had a complete meltdown over the drop-side crib we own. There is a mandatory recall on all drop-side cribs because they are unsafe and infants have died because they can malfunction. I called my husband to tell him this and I was sobbing into the phone. He didn't even know what I was saying. I overreacted a bit much on this one. Again- the irrational fears got the best of me.

I sometimes don't do so well on this postpartum  journey, but then God reminds me where I have been. I still have to fight and it is a battle. I am still going to have bad bad days, just like everyone else does.
My doctor is prescribing me a new medicine, Wellbutrin, to help with the fears and nightmares. She will probably take me off Celexa cause it just isn't enough. I am hoping this will do the trick.

The medicine helps, but God does the real healing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blessed to be Stressed and a black eye for Christmas!

My husband came home from his last minute Christmas shopping with his best buddy. I did a ton of dishes from the wrestling party we threw last night. It was a ton of fun- but it turned into exactly what I said. A wrestling party- in my living room. Boys will be boys!

Oh I forgot to mention I have a black eye- not from the party, or a wild night with my hubby, but from a cell phone flying through the air. A couple nights ago my husband was talking to his dad on the phone. Then one second later, "Jodie, my dad wants to talk to you...bam!" Corner of my eye meet cell phone. I ran upstairs screaming and looked in the mirror. I had a huge "bubble" coming out of my head. It was so gross. I started screaming even more. My three year old is screaming and crying. "Oh mommy- it hurts doesn't it?" My husband is running upstairs with a phone in his hand- put the damn thing down already!  He is calling his parents back and yelling, "Can you come here please!" Then he runs downstairs to get ice for it. He is apologizing profusely. I am sobbing even more. The F word is flung around like there are no kids around. Finally when I calmed down I asked him quietly why he threw the phone when I wasn't even ready for it? My eye is swelling shut. He doesn't answer except, "Put the ice back on it!"
Now we are panicking because Christmas is coming up and I will for sure have a black eye for Christmas. Awesome. What are we going to tell my parents? "Phill hit me in the eye with a cell phone?" Oh gosh- it sounds so bad! Finally we get our heads together and realize- yep that is the truth. It was an accident and we will just tell the truth. And it isn't so bad. Everyone believes us and laughs at us. Natalie even asks me, "Mom do you still have two eyes?" Yes honey- I still have two eyes.

I'm sure this will be a Christmas I will never forget. This will be a year I will never forget. But I am so blessed to be stressed. I know I am loved like crazy and I have the biggest blessings on earth- my family.  Merry Christmas and God Bless you and your family!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wrestling rookies

My husband is the head wrestling coach this year at the school he teaches at.  He has always been a coach, but this is his first year as head coach. He is still working out the kinks, and we are learning right along with him.

We love to go along to be supportive. The girls dress up in their cheer leading outfits!
So here is my family and my top ten signs we don't have a clue about this sport!

1. My foster daughter watches two people wrestling and she says, "he is loosing his earmuffs!"

2. My three year old asks after five minutes into the meet if it's over.

3. She then is super excited about the concession stand and orders a hot dog and a ring pop.

4. We damn near need a suitcase to attend a meet with the car seat, diaper bag, blankets and toys.

5. During the wrestling meet my three year old yells, "Hi Dad!" and won't stop yelling until he looks over at us and waves.

6. I was so excited about this season that I decided to have a big Christmas party for all the wrestlers, coaches, managers and cheerleaders. I am going to need a ton of food!

7. We had to change the date of the Christmas party because it was originally the day before a meet and the wrestlers need to cut weight.

8. I was loving this sport until my husband came home with a huge garbage bag of sweaty uniforms and singlets that we had to wash and hang dry.

9. I have no idea how the points are scored

10. But we yell and cheer like we do!

We love Wrestling season!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

jogging pants-everyday!

Sometimes it just runs together. When you are a mom all day and then your husband comes home, you are still the mom. I remember barking orders at my husband once and he gave me "the look."  I apologized and explained I was giving orders all day to a very defiant little 3 year old today. He understood and accepted my apology.

One morning Phill had two of his coaches coming over in the morning because they were leaving together to go to a coaches clinic. I knew this, but I came down to greet them both in my jogging pants and sweatshirt. My hair was a mess and I didn't have a bra on. How embarrassing!  How could I ever do this to my poor husband?  He didn't even notice because I usually look like this- well usually I have a bra on!
I was joking with him later that his coaches were probably like, "nice wife!"  LOL

I've tried to be a little more attractive since attending wrestling meets, but it is so hard when you have so much more important things to do during the day. I have been running a lot lately, so I am hoping to lose this last fifteen pounds, but it is really hard to do when you have three Christmas parties in one week! Yikes!

I think this year for our anniversary I wore my jogging pants and a thong. I know it is a stretch, but jogging pants are so darn comfortable!

Moms out there- I know you know what I am talking about! I definitely don't like looking like a frump, but in this season of life, I think it is just fine.  It really gives us a good excuse to get glammed up once in a while.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Playing Santa

It amazes me how much I can love someone so much. My children hypnotize me. I know you know what I am talking about.
The other day I dropped off my daughter at Preschool, on time by the way, and drove somewhere I had no clue where I was going. I found this lady on Craigslist.com  (I love buying things off craigslist! It is so addicting!)  She was selling this Ariel vanity in great condition. I knew my daughter, Natalie, would love it. They are originally $80 brand new, but she was selling this for $40. My little guy and I drove for over an hour, and we got lost a few times. Finally we found her house. When I arrived at her house, it was covered with a ton of little girl toys that her daughter outgrew. I was glad I didn't say "granddaughter" because she looked old enough to be her grandma! Anyway- she kept adding things to sweeten the deal. I walked away spending $50 later, with the Ariel vanity, a doll house, a toy baby swing, a baby crib, and an Ariel doll. She probably thought-"sucker" but I was so happy with my latest treasures! I couldn't wait to show my husband. Then ten minutes into the drive I thought-he is going to kill me! Where are we going to put all of this stuff! Our living room is already at max capacity with toys. Oh well I thought.

So my baby and I drove home with my back trunk full to the brim with toys that were talking whenever I hit a bump. I had a huge smile on my face. I was so excited to get these home!  When Natalie was supposed to be taking a nap, I tried very hard to sneak these toys into the basement. She almost busted me three different times. Being Santa is hard work!

I am loving Christmas more and more as my little ones get older. I also love that I have an older foster daughter who is 12 and I can go shopping with and bake cookies with.

I don't think my kids would really care about presents, they know how much I love them. My husband keeps me in check when I want to go on a spending spree. I call him the Grinch sometimes. He is right though. Kids get way too much stuff-when all they really want is to be with the ones who love them the most and the ones they love in return. So we can play Santa once in awhile, but they would always choose Mommy over Santa any day!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A much larger purpose

I can't stop thinking that I am missing the point.

I don't think I will ever really fully understand the depths of what happened to me this past summer. I am still trying to sort it out. I am still in the struggle. It is much easier to think clearly and to process what I need to do to stay healthy. I feel like I still have this anchor tied to my ankle and I just can't shake it.

Some days I think about this past summer and try to "re-do" it completely. I "what-if" it to death. This thinking is completely destructive and counter-productive. I also still struggle with certain people close to me not wanting to address it as a huge turning point in my life. I don't blame them-it isn't easy to talk about and not everyone knows what to say. It is hard to understand if you never have gone through something like this. I also know I just need to "get over this"
I don't know how to do that. I think I am getting the greatest support from my husband and I am doing all the right things. I am seeing a therapist once a month, I take my medication everyday, I exercise, and I blog and am open about everything that is happening to me. I pray constantly. I am trying to remember to forget.  I really need to get past this and stop living in it.

God's purpose for me is not clear, but it is getting clearer. I think I am trying too hard to make sense of this and finding a reason for it. The more I share my story, the more I find so many people who struggled with depression. I also know many people who have attempted or have succeeded in taking their own lives. I am praying that God would have mercy on them and forgive them of their actions. I truly believe in my heart that Satan will attack and make us weak to keep us from fulfilling God's purpose. He will also try anything to make us destructive to ourselves by his lies.

Maybe my purpose is to educate others on depression and anxiety as a whole-not just Postpartum depression. It is a difficult subject to talk about-especially if you never personally experienced it. My purpose is also to help others find hope and grace in the loving and forgiving Jesus Christ. I truly believe I would not be here if it wasn't for God's protection and my faith. It is so scary to think that people without faith, have nothing to cling to and think that suicide is the only answer. I am not judging-I hope that is clear. I know from my own experience that my faith was tested and I felt like God had abandoned me in my darkest hours. The truth is he is closer to us than ever. I know that now.

I hope whatever struggle you or your loved ones may be going through right now, you give it over to God first and let him lead you to the truth. Don't be afraid to ask for help- you were never intended to go through this life on your own.

The hardest Truth

I still have a hard time watching those commercials for different medications for depression. The people in the commercials look like zombies and usually are laying in bed with their hair all over the place. I never understood depression. I just thought people were being "lazy" or not trying very hard.  But you can't. You physically can not get out of it.
Even though I know they are actors, I still feel an aching in my heart when I watch those commercials. I am glad they are out there and I am so glad there is medication out there to treat depression as well as anxiety.

Our pastor shared his battle with depression and anxiety at church this week. He was suffering this summer too. I looked over at my husband when he was speaking and sharing his story. My heart ached for him. I was so proud of him for having the courage to share this very personal struggle. He continued on to talk about how we are strangers in this world. We have to expect struggles and suffering and be grateful for them. They are also God's way of testing us. At the time, we cannot be grateful and we are usually very bitter and angry. We even question how could a God love us and let this suffering enter our lives? He also talked about how we need to be praying for each other while our brothers and sisters are struggling. He also brought up one of the most important point of all. We struggle so that we can be compassionate and help others who are going through the same thing.

It was finally the closure I was looking for. I told the pastor this after church and thanked him for sharing his story and giving me closure. I joked to my husband that the pastor was my new best friend!

I do not doubt that God allowed me to be tested by Postpartum depression. He loved me enough to allow this to happen to me and my family. I have been blessed several times over through this experience and I would not change a thing about it.
I also know that more struggles will come. Now I know I that when they do come, there is God's blessing behind it 100%.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mom survivors

I took my daughter to her Awana club two Sundays ago. Awana is for children to learn about God and his word. My three year old and I go over lesson plans and go to her class which is called Cubbies. I usually drop her off for two hours and come back to pick her up.  This Sunday we were doing a forest walk, campfire, and picnic. It was amazing.  I loved sharing this time with my daughter and other moms and dads.
After talking to one of the moms, she pulled me aside and asked me if I was Phill's wife.  (I get asked that all of the time. He is kind of well known in this town as a teacher and the new wrestling head coach. Plus he is actively involved in leading high school students on trips to Kenya.)
She introduced herself and told me she read my blog. My husband sent my blog out to the entire school district-without my permission, but I know why he did. I was a little concerned at first, but then I was happy to share my story because I know more people need to be aware of Postpartum depression and how serious it can be.

She told me she was a Postpartum depression survivor also. We talked for a long time, while my daughter was yelling at me to get in the car. I hugged her and had such a great feeling about meeting her. I know God put me in this place to meet her. We have decided we are going to get together and we both share the same passion to get the word out there. She was on the news and has spoken to several different groups about her personal struggle with Postpartum depression.

After the business of the holidays settle down we will get together and meet for coffee. I am so blessed to have met her and I am very confident together we can bring more awareness to others out there. Another answer to my prayers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Milking it!"

So I am still struggling with this for the past four months.

I was able to breastfeed for two months. Then you know my story. Because of some of the medications with the postpartum depression, I was told to stop breastfeeding. At the time I wasn't able to get sentimental or feel badly about this decision, because I was just trying to survive. 

Now I am the mom who buys formula at the store for my baby. I've had comments from random people about how "breast is best." I smile and politely say, "I did as long as I could."  If I know them well enough, I will tell them why I quit breast feeding.
My annoyance with this is simply, what is so wrong with formula feeding my baby? Sometimes I feel like I am being ostracized for NOT breastfeeding. It is really a personal decision and it really is no one else's business. 
Some women CAN'T breastfeed, so why should they have to feel inadequate? 

It really irritates me even more when it is a man who says it to me. I've had two men, who do not know me make comments about how "breast is best"  I think the next man who tells me that, I will ask him what kind of underwear wears. Then maybe he will get the point!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank God for Girlfriends!

We love our moms and our hubbies-but let's face it. They just don't get IT sometimes. Moms are wonderful, but they haven't raised little ones for over 25-30 years give or take a few years. If you read one of my last posts, you understand that husbands are great, but you can't confide in them like you can your girlfriends. Nor would you want to sometimes. I usually get the look from my husband that means, "I don't need to know that!"  That is why God created girlfriends.

I love my girlfriends. I need them like air to breathe!  Even though some of my closest friends are hundreds of miles away, Facebook and phone calls make them feel close to home. I love being able to be so honest and open about what is going on in my life and they can do the same with me. Sometimes we don't even say much and sometimes we just vent and we feel so much better afterwards. It is great therapy!  I usually end up laughing hysterically at the latest thing my girlfriend's husband or kids just did because I can usually relate in my own situation.

The other day, my new friend and neighbor and I went for a walk with our kids. I had just had a slim-fast for breakfast. It went right through me- and I needed to get to a bathroom before I had a PE (poop emergency)  I walked to the park bathroom and of course it was locked. Then I quickly grabbed the stroller and my three year old who was still upset about losing her ball somewhere in the grass. I told my friend, Emilie, I needed to get to the gas station as soon as possible. I practically ran to the gas station with my three year old whining and my baby in the stroller. Once we got to the gas station I bolted for the bathroom praying it was empty. It was.
Afterwards we met outside and I thought to myself, I should be embarrassed by this- but I wasn't. Emilie just smiled and said, "I've been there before too!"

That's the best thing about girlfriends. No matter what happens, chances are we can look at each other, smile, and say, "I've been there before too!"

Monday, November 1, 2010


So we are on 14 days and counting of Germfest in my house. I started calling my house an infirmary.

Let's see, I had the flu first and then passed it to my husband and daughter. My baby had a horrible cold and was miserable. I ended up in urgent care and was told he had a viral infection. Yuck!  Then I came down with a horrible sore throat and a cough.  Our foster son was sick for three days with the flu. Just when we thought he was getting better, he had a relapse at 3:00 a.m. Gross! I am glad I got to hear it because I was up feeding a cranky and sick baby.

Then my three year old daughter's eyes were crusted shut. My new friend and neighbor told me it looked like pink eye. She was right. Pink eye in both eyes. So we have to do eye drops 4 times a day for 5 days. Every time we get near her with the eyedropper it is like a wrestling match to get the eye drops in her eyes!

I have cleaned the bathroom more times than I can count, I have finally caught up on laundry, my doorknobs are covered in Lysol (thanks to my mother-in-laws advice) and I am a local favorite at the pharmacy.

Baby Phillip was absolutely miserable so I tried everything I could to make him happy. I tried to play peek-a-boo, but I just scared him and he wailed even louder.  I tried to put him in his new jumper and he liked it for about ten minutes. I know he will love it when he is feeling better. So I gave him a corner of my chocolate bar. He lunged forward to suck on it! He had the biggest grin ever. It was great to give him some comfort even if it was only for a few minutes. Babies love chocolate-even though I am sure they aren't supposed to have it.
But sometimes we have to "just wing it" and throw out the rule book of parenting. Especially when you are going on 14 days and counting of Germfest.

Today I went to the doctor to find out I have strep throat and a viral infection. I look up and laugh... God you have to be kidding me. But now we get to start all over- One big happy cycle of fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mom vs. Dad

I love the show The Middle. It is usually on Wednesday nights. It is a comedy about a middle class family that has funny things happen to them. The show makes me laugh hysterically because it shows what marriage and children really do to a couple.

One of the episodes that mom's can relate to is Mother's day. They show the dad taking the kids to a store to pick out gifts for Mother's day. As you can imagine it is a disaster. The youngest boy yells, "Hey dad, does mom like condoms?"  The dad replies, "NO-get out of that isle!"  So they buy her some goofy gifts like a foot massage. They go to show how different Mother's day is compared to Father's day.

This has been something I have struggled with since becoming a mommy.
Dad- sleep in until he is rested
Mom- is on call 24/7

Dad- watch a football game uninterrupted
Mom- fold laundry, sweep floors, entertain kids, cook dinner, take the dog out, answer phone, pay the bills, while trying to watch the football game

Dad-has a cold and gets to take a four hour nap
Mom-has a cold and she takes some cough drops and sucks it up.

Dad- goes out occasionally with guy friends
Mom-goes out for an hour with girl friends and talks about how much she misses her kids

Dad-"Didn't the kids just have a bath?"
Mom-knows the last time the kids: ate, napped, pooped, bathed, and brushed their teeth.

Dad-full time employment with benefits
Mom- full time job with no benefits other than snotty kisses and lots of love

It is easy to see how much work we as mom's do and sometimes I get resentful when I shouldn't. My husband is a great husband and an amazing father. His kids adore him. He works very hard and comes home to take care of his kids and more work around the house. I sometimes have to bite my tongue, when I start to think of how unfair it can be with the workload a mother has to carry. I do get many breaks throughout the day to take time for myself and I know it is just a season. One day I won't be woken up because of a scary thunderstorm, I won't read "If you give a pig a party" before bedtime, and I won't have the tiny hand to hold while crossing the street. I need to cherish every moment good or bad, easy or hard, and be the best mommy I can be. That is who God designed me to be and his plan is flawless. Even on my worst days- I look up to the sky, say a quiet prayer and know that God will give me the strength to get through anything.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eat my what?

I recently went to a Women's Expo filled with over 50 different vendors selling and promoting health and wellness. It was pretty uplifting actually. I didn't spend any money other than I bought a soda, so my husband should be proud of me!

First I stopped at True Laser and looked into some skin care products and I won a $25 gift card for whatever I wanted at the spa. I figured I would check it out sometime when I had free time-like never! Their staff is ahead of the game on that one because they called me to set up an appointment so I will be redeeming my $25 gift card sooner than never :)

The next booth was a lady doing bra fittings. I looked at her and then looked down at my A cup chest and smiled. I think she knew what I was getting at.

The next booth I stopped at caught my eye because it had a picture of a pregnant woman with a heart over her belly. It looked like the heart was made out of some organ or something so my curiosity lead me to ask questions. I looked at the pamphlet and it said, "Avoid the Baby Blues" Hook line sinker-I was in!
It was Placenta Benefits.info  Mother nature for mothers.  I still didn't get what it was.
Basically what I understand is that when a woman has her baby, you take the placenta and put it in a cooler on ice and take it home with you. A certified placenta encapsulation specialist will come to your home and prepare the placenta and put them in capsules. Then you know what comes next... The woman who just had her baby will start taking these capsules to help replenish the nutrients back into her body.  So yep- you eat your placenta. Gross huh!  That was what I thought, but then I started thinking about it. Other cultures eat placentas for the nutrients and animals do the same thing. "Women who take these the placenta capsules reported having fewer emotional issues, have more energy, and tend to have a more enjoyable and faster postpartum recovery."
I asked how much this whole thing cost-thinking it would be out of my price range, but it was pretty reasonable. Appoximately $200-$250 for the whole process. She even had a sliding scale for families who may not be able to afford that price.
I am pretty open minded about this whole idea now. It is just another option out there to help with postpartum recovery. It doesn't sound so crazy to me anymore. What does sound crazy to me, is for women to have to go through what so many of us went through after giving birth.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Last week I scheduled too much and my kids paid the price hardcore!  They were crabby and did not appreciate being carted around to every single thing we had to do. My husband didn't appreciate it either. I was gone three nights in a row for work stuff. I scheduled wrong and it wore my whole family out.
After Phill gently reminded me that I was the quarterback of the house, it made a lot of sense. I couldn't be doing so much outside stuff because the people in my family depend on me being home most of the time. It is what we are all used to. It is what my family needs at this time in our life. It is a temporary season of my life. I understand that.
I heard on the radio once, that we need to be careful when saying "yes" to everything that comes up because we are saying "no" to the most important people and things in our life.

This week, I didn't do much and it was great! I took a nap with my baby and when I woke up I just watched him sleep. I ran everyday this week on the treadmill, I was home for bath night, dinner was cooked, the house was clean, we had a date night, I watched Beauty and the Beast with my kids, and most importantly my family was happy and so was I.
Balance will always be a struggle I am sure for most of us in this fast paced world. Sometimes God gives us no choice but to slow down. He also calls us to spend time with him each day. We have to be quiet and still to hear his call or we may miss it. Sometimes I only have five minutes to spend in prayer or reading his word, but I know it is the most important thing I can do each day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phillip's poem

Phillip Henry III  

I kiss your fuzzy head
I breathe you in,
You nuzzle closer to me
skin to skin.

Your gummy grin
you show to me.
You give a belly laugh
so wholeheartedly .

I return a smile
with a sigh.
How could 5 months
just pass by?

You are a miracle
from day one.
How God has blessed me
with an amazing son.

You helped me find
strength and reason
for life's little trials
are just for a season

You will never know
how much you mean to me
I love you always
Love  Mommy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The new me

We are working on putting in a new kitchen floor. Our old kitchen floor looked like something from "That 70's show" My dad has been doing all the work. He is very meticulous when it comes to projects. I am a lot like him in some areas, but not when it comes to laundry or baking. Probably because I am not a huge fan of either of those things.

My dad ripped out all of the old floor. He told me we had to make sure that the floor is absolutely spotless before we put down the new floor. If there are any little stones in there after we lay down the new vinyl, the will push their way up and start a hole.

When my daughter woke up from her nap, she came downstairs and said, "Grandpa this floor is ugly!" We both smiled and told her it wasn't finished yet. I told my dad that ugly is her new favorite word. On her first day of 3 year old pre-school I asked her how she wanted her hair done. Natalie replied, "Ugly!"

I wasn't even thinking of much when I started sweeping over what remained of the old floor. I started to realize that this old floor was a lot like what I had gone through. I was like the old floor. I was doing fine-just kind of going through the motions of life. Then I got hit with an illness shortly after I had baby Phillip. This was like what was underneath the old floor. You could see where the old floor was but it was distorted and "ugly." I stayed that way until I started receiving treatment in the hospital. 
Then the new floor was slowly added over the old floor and it was shiny, new and strong. It covered up all of the old cracks, glue spots, and covered any flaws. This is what I was going through right now.

I think we all go through these kind of transformations. But it is painful and we would rather not have to go through all the "ugliness" in our lives. When we look back on them in a healthy perspective, we can see how God helped us grow and become more like his perfect son, Jesus.
I never stop finding ways that God has blessed my family through this experience. I absolutely love my life and would not change anything about it. I love my family so much!
I don't think I said that very often in the past. I knew I loved my family, but I seemed to take them for granted that they would always be there. I also complained too much about the mundane things in my routine. Now I am so grateful for the routines and so is my family. 
My marriage got stronger through this also. It wasn't easy for Phill to go through this with me. He was extremely patient, understanding and helpful through this whole experience. We did have a few major arguments in the recent past. I think one of the biggest argument was over future traveling. I wanted Phill to give up all of his traveling because I ended up in the hospital the last time he went on a trip. I realized how unreasonable this would be and I love to travel so I would be ending a dream of mine. I let fear and doubt get the best of me.

I also found a new appreciation for myself. I think we can be our own worst critics. I know I was and I still am sometimes. I have given myself a break from this. I am so proud of my own inner strength I never knew I had. I am also so proud of myself for knowing I needed help. 

One of the best things I learned as a social worker, is that asking for help is a strength not a weakness. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


Recently our 10 year old dog, Mullen, died. She was a black lab, husky mix with deep blue eyes. She howled instead of barked which we all got a kick out of. This summer before all of my postpartum adventures began, we had a wedding to go to. My parents took Mullen for the weekend. They kept her after that weekend. They told us that a city is no place for her to run around and she didn't look like she was going to even make it until the winter.
Labor day weekend she died in her sleep. My dad found her and was very reluctant to tell us. He felt really bad and I am sure he was concerned about how he was going to tell me. My parents probably remember really well how I took the death of my first dog, Dodger. I cried for months, yes-months-over him. I got him when I was ten and he was my big baby. He died when I was 22 and was just fresh out of college.

My dad came to our house to help with some projects around the house and to help me with the kids early September. I work part-time from home and usually the kids are great, but it is a lot easier to work when someone else is tending to them. Many times I have the baby in the bouncer on the table and I talk to him, while my daughter is coloring me a picture or making a mess out of play dough. I am sending out an e-mail or working on a mailing for my job. Somehow my work always gets done and I am thankful that I can work from my home. I have the best jobs in the world :)

So my dad told me that Mullen passed away. I immediately hugged my dad and I felt sad. The tears didn't come. Weeks went by and the tears still wouldn't come. I e-mailed my friend and told her I could not cry about this. It really bothered me. I asked her what the medication was doing to me-making me a hard ass!! She told me the medication buffers you from feeling sad and depressed. I guess that makes sense it is in the name of the medication  anti-depressant.  I talked to my therapist about this. She told me it might be because I went through something so traumatic this summer that I grew so much from that experience. Things that normally would make me cry, now I just think they are sad.

This continued to bother me. I started to not like the medication anymore. Plus I was working out 5 days a week and wasn't noticing any weight loss. I started dieting to see if that would help too. I blamed my medication on this also. I started to feel trapped. I did a little on-line research about my medication, which my husband hates when I do this! I will talk to my doctor early next week when I see her. She is the only one I should listen to about my medication.

Our friend Todd came over to visit us last week. He knew how sad we all were about losing Mullen. Natalie was especially sad. She told everyone we saw that "Mullen dieded."  Todd bought her a stuffed dog that barked when you pressed the paw. Her name was Mullen. Natalie loves her. She takes her everywhere with her and sleeps with her at night. That first night we had the new stuffed animal, Mullen, I asked Natalie if I could take her in my room for a few minutes. She let me. I sat down on the big, overstuffed chair in my bedroom. I looked at "Mullen" and started crying. I cried for about five minutes and I said a quiet goodbye to my real dog Mullen. It was exactly what we needed.

And yes ladies... Todd is still single- isn't he sweet!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I couldn't believe another person actually went through what I went through. I thought it was impossible. Brooke Shields did. I felt like I was living through her story all over again. There were points in the book when my heart was racing and I had a huge knot in my throat. I would say over and over again, "Oh my God!" I wanted to hug her and thank her over and over again for writing this book. I wanted everyone to read her book. I wanted to write my own book-but I started a blog instead. I was excited to share my story like she did. She had way more at stake than I did though. Her whole career was on the line. Even Tom Cruise criticized her in public for taking medication. He claimed vitamins could naturally "cure" her. Ummm  No!

I had a hard time at this point in my recovery of not thinking about "it"  I know I was educating myself and feeling the burn inside me to inform anyone and everyone about my experience. I was engulfed in learning more about postpartum depression and about my recovery. I was running everyday for 20-25 minutes, I was starting my blog, I was reading Brooke's book, I was talking to a lot of people about how I was doing, I was going to therapy and I was talking to my husband constantly about how I was feeling.
I couldn't escape "it"  I started to get sad about thinking about "it" all of the time. It was like a constant record playing over and over in my mind. You have postpartum depression, you have to be careful so it doesn't come back, you need to take your medication, you need to exercise, you need to talk about your feelings, and on and on and on....

I was consumed by it. Almost to the point where I was obsessed. It became who I was and I did not like it at all. I was angry. I was feeling sorry for myself.  Then I started to pray. I could get through this. The worst was over and now this seemed minuet compared to what I had overcome. I also had to put things into perspective. I was going to be just fine. For one year, I had to be on medication. For one year I had to go to counseling. For one year I had to suffer from this illness that could be controlled.
It could be so much worse. I could have a different diagnosis. I should be grateful for what I was going through. And after awhile I was.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Therapy session

I was awoken in the middle of the night by the baby. I headed to his room still sleepy and gave him a bottle. I kissed him goodnight and he was back out in a matter of minutes. I laid back down and started to have anxiety. I woke up my husband and told him I thought I had schizophrenia. He asked why I thought that. I said I was afraid I would start hearing voices. This never happened and I was imagining it because it was late at night and I was still not confident I was not crazy. Suffering from postpartum depression makes you feel crazy. It is so hard to explain, but you know something isn't right because you aren't in control of any of your emotions. They are haywire and you are convinced you are certifiably insane. I fell back asleep and felt safe knowing Phill was right beside me.

I had to meet my new therapist in the morning. I got dressed and headed to her office. I wasn't nervous or anything because this was like a day on the beach compared to the hospital. I had gone to therapy two other times in my life. Both times it was to help me with my anxiety. I have always been a worrier, and I didn't like that about myself. I knew I wanted to change and I didn't want medication. It made a dramatic difference talking to someone about the things I worried about. It really put everything back into perspective when a complete stranger tells you that you need to replace the fear with something positive.

I met my new therapist, a woman, and I knew I really liked her after the first ten minutes. She asked great questions and validated my feelings. It was another great support I had in my corner. I talked about grieving over who I used to be and not accepting this new person I was. I didn't like the fact I had to depend on medication and I couldn't stand the fear of going back into that deep depression again. We talked about goals and how I was going to work through this. We had a concrete plan. She also suggested I read the book by Brooke Shields. I liked that, because it kept me accountable. After 45 minutes, our session was over and we decided that I would meet with her every two weeks.

I went home and walked to the library with my kids. I checked out the book at the library and was a little disappointed that there were only two books in the whole library about postpartum depression. I got home and busted open the book and read the first 100 pages with my mouth gaping wide open.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Running for my life

After all of the excitement of the day wore off, it was time for bed. I was still pretty wound up. I watched baby Phillip sleeping in his swing. I kept watching him even though I was growing weary and tired. Phill told me I needed to learn to relax at the end of the night. Watching the baby sleeping wasn't going to help me relax. I laid down in bed and Phill told me he would take care of the baby if he cried during the night.
I had trouble sleeping. Again it was the feel of the house. I was home and I wasn't convinced that the depression was gone. I woke up when the baby cried and went to comfort him. Phill insisted I go back to sleep. That first night home was rough. I woke up a lot and was scared about "going crazy." The next morning I was pretty groggy from my medication. I woke up and Phill was already downstairs. We ate breakfast and planned our day. We needed to go to the grocery store-bad. We barely had any food in the house because none of us were home for over two weeks. After grocery shopping we would hit the outdoor pool down the street.

I also knew I needed to try to get a 20 minute run in. I was so excited to get out and run. I have been a runner since the 6th grade. While most of my friends hated the mile in gym class, I looked forward to it every year. The kids were taking a nap and Phill was home so it worked out well for me to disappear in my running gear and Ipod. Excitement was brewing inside of me to take those first steps. I felt so free as I started out in a jog. I was focused and I was going to make this a great run. My body was not used to running for almost over a year due to the pregnancy. My mind was going to take over for my body and I was visualizing my route. I ran to my usual running songs and felt lost in the moment. I ran faster and pushed myself harder. I was not just running, but I was fighting through all of these mixed emotions and trying to find myself along the way. I was sorting out what I knew about my illness and the medication I was taking. I was fighting for the rest of my life and how I was going to handle this enormous change. It was like running through cobwebs, but I wasn't going to get tangled up this time. I had to process where I was a week ago and where I am now. I found my pace and felt great. I was half way done with my run. I switched my normal upbeat songs to a few of my favorite Christian songs. I felt like God was right with me speaking to me through my music.

Soon I reached my destination after a great success of finishing the 20 minute run. I was brimming with joy and I wanted to celebrate this victory. I have run over 100 races in my life, but this accomplishment was far greater than any other race I ever ran. I was running for my life. Not fear of my life ending, but celebrating it's new beginning. What an amazing blessing!

Monday, September 20, 2010

On fostering and love

We loaded up the car and left Grandma's house. I was glad to have my kids back in my reign and I know Phill was too. We talked the whole way home about the long visit at Grandma's. The kids were there for six days due to my hospitalization. Our foster daughter was there also. She had a great visit as well. Grandma Mary Jo spoils the kids with lots of love and lots of trips to Wal-Mart!
We picked up our foster son who was staying with our good friends.
I was glowing with excitement for Natalie to come home to open the presents I forgot by the side of the door. When we got home I wasn't overwhelmed this time. I was excited we could all be back home under our same familiar roof. I missed my family, and I wanted to reassure everyone that I would be alright and we could go on without skipping a beat. I don't know how much my two older foster kids understood, but they were relieved I was back home and acting like myself again. I didn't want them to see the worst of me. I felt weak in front of them and I felt like I was just another adult in their life that would let them down. Now I know that I can show them that I struggled and I came out stronger for it. I didn't give up on my family when things got tough and they didn't give up on me.
I have been a foster parent for 6 years. I will probably write about my experience someday in blog or maybe a story somewhere, but I am still writing that chapter in my life. Sometimes the kids look up to you like you are flawless, perfect, and have no problems. I was glad I could show them that I was in a horrible, dark place through no fault of my own. This is so much like what these kids have been through already. Through no fault of their own, they have been abandoned, beaten, neglected, and are made to feel unlovable. Trusting someone else to take care of you becomes nearly impossible. I know my experience is like comparing apples to oranges, but I have gained so much insight on every aspect of my life.
I have become a better foster parent. I am not afraid to show my kids affection and tell them I love them, even if they try to resist. They need to know I love them. I talk openly about my struggle with postpartum depression, counseling, and medication. I am showing them that it is so important to get the help you need and medication doesn't mean you are weak.
I have been blessed by all of my amazing kids. The kids that have left my home, the kids who still call or write, and the kids in our home now. They are my heros. They have overcome so much tragedy and they are just children. The odds are stacked against them, but they continue to keep fighting. I am their biggest fan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Birthday Blessings

When Phill and I woke up on Monday morning we had a nice breakfast of waffles and fruit from the lobby. My waffle was drenched in butter and syrup and it tasted so good. I was so excited to get on with the day! I took my medication and noticed that the tingling sensation had subsided. I was very relieved. It must have been that other medication I took in the hospital that I would no longer be taking.

Phill and I packed up our bags and left the hotel. When we pulled up into our driveway a huge wave of anxiety washed over me. I told Phill I was really nervous for some reason. He said we didn't have to rush, we could take our time. When I entered the house the anxiety grew. This was like re-entering my own personal hell. This time I had weapons and I had Phill. I knew I wouldn't "lose it", but I was very scared. This was the place that I endured some of the darkest moments of my life. I didn't like the feeling of the home and I wanted to get out of it. I was afraid the depression lurked somewhere in the walls of this once comforting home.
I wanted to cry because I was so scared, but instead I practiced talking myself down. "You can do this, the worst is over, you are safe here, Phill is right here with you." After about ten minutes, I was able to jump in the shower and I started to feel welcome again in my home. I found a cute outfit and was very excited to start my daughter's third birthday party. I found some wrapping paper and started wrapping her presents.

We headed out to pick up her birthday cake, grab some lunch, and then drive straight to my in-laws house. While we drove, Phill and I talked the whole way. He kept asking me on a scale of 1-10 how I was doing. I would give him a 7 or an 8. I was still a little nervous about the day, but I kept a positive attitude.
We pulled up to my in-laws house and we unloaded the car. Then I realized I forgot to pack Natalie's presents. I was really upset with myself. How do you go to your daughter's birthday party and forget her presents? I put on a smile even though I was really bummed.
We enjoyed her birthday just the same and thought, it will be even more special when we get home because she will have more presents to open. We had an amazing day with our kids and ate Tinkerbell cake. Natalie got a bunch of frosting on her napkin and asked, "Can somebody lick this frosting off please!!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My little angels

At 1:00 I went to the bathroom to put my swim suit on. I had lost so much weight I felt actually pretty good putting on my swim suit. I had hoped I would be able to keep off that weight, but knew from the past losing weight too fast doesn't usually stay off.

I heard my little Natalie outside the door. She came in our room and screeched excitedly, "Dadda!" She gave him a huge hug. She was completely enamored by her daddy that she paid little attention to me. I didn't mind too much. I hugged my 12 year old foster daughter. I told her I missed her. I really did. I couldn't miss anyone while I was depressed, but now that I was on my road to recovery, I felt everything. I felt extremely guilty that I didn't call her before she left for summer camp. I wanted to wish her good luck and tell her to have a great time at camp. I didn't do that. I felt awful about that. I hoped I could make it up to her. I asked a lot of questions about camp and wanted to know everything. Then I hugged my baby. He was sleeping but I kissed him so many times I didn't care if I woke him up. I told him I loved him and I wanted to melt right into him. He smelled so sweet and looked so peaceful. He would never remember this battle I was fighting and it brought me great comfort knowing this.

I was more concerned about my older kids being affected by my illness. When we stayed with  my parents for those two weeks, Natalie kept telling my mom and dad, "My mommy's sad." It didn't even register what I was doing to her. I tried so hard, but I couldn't bring myself to "snap out of it"  It made me even more depressed that I couldn't even fake it enough for her to think I was happy.

We went to the pool and we had a great time. Phill played with Natalie in the pool and I held baby Phillip and talked to my mother-in-law, Mary Jo. She was so happy to see me back to my old self. She told me my eyes looked so much better. They used to be glazed over and empty. I imagined I looked a lot like those people on those commercials for anti-depressants. Mary Jo is so understanding and loving. She has been a foster parent for over 22 years. She has dealt with probably close to 50 kids with all different kinds of mental illness. Depression is a very common illness when working with kids who are in care. Thinking back in my 6 years of foster care, almost everyone of the kids had depression and was on medication. I finally understood it now that I had to experience it.
God knew what he was doing when he allowed this illness to enter my life. Looking back on it, it was the best worst experience of my life. I have learned so much and continue to learn everyday. There is tremendous strength in weakness because it forces you to grow. It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my 29 years. Brooke Shields says that also in her book "Down Came the Rain. My journey through postpartum depression." I found that hard to believe, because she is a celebrity and has been in the spotlight her entire life.
After swimming we got dressed and headed to a Chinese buffet. It was so great to feel hungry again. I even enjoyed a Mountain Dew.  Depression slowly rips things away from you one by one, that you sometimes don't notice it until you have nothing left. Once you are getting treatment, you get those things back one by one. It is an amazing feeling!

We said goodbye to our little angels and told them we would see them the next day. It was Natalie's third birthday. We were going to go home to our house, wrap her birthday presents, pick up her birthday cake from the store and head over to Mary Jo's house to celebrate her birthday. I couldn't wait! I was so relieved that I could be there for her birthday and actually "be there."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What matters most

Phill had to go through some of his bags to find a couple of the presents he bought for me from Kenya. He told me to open the green bag. It was so heavy. It was a huge carved hippo! I fell in love with the hippos when I went to Kenya last summer with him. It is something I started collecting.

I felt so happy, but I was completely overwhelmed. I explained that to Phill and he kept reminding me that we could do whatever we wanted for the next two days. I told him I would really like to get some exercise because I had been cooped up for the past four days. He guaranteed I would get some "exercise!" He said he would go to the house in the morning and get our swimsuits so we could swim in the pool at the hotel. That sounded great.

I was so excited to hear about his trip, because every day he called me I was so depressed I barely asked how his trip was going. It was getting late and I knew Phill would crash soon because he hadn't slept much in 48 hours due to all the traveling. He told me to wake him up if I needed to. He fell asleep in minutes. I took my Trazadone which is supposed to help you fall asleep. I laid down, but I wasn't tired. I decided to sit up and wait until I was tired. Eventually I fell asleep.

I woke up at 6:30 because Phill was holding me. I tried to be nice, but I was exhausted. He was up at 5:30 due to jet lag. He went out to the lobby for an hour or two and then came back. I woke up and we had breakfast. I was so glad to be with Phill. We talked about his trip and looked at his pictures. It was so great to see his pictures and feel excitement again! By 9:00 we both were trying to figure out how to spend the day. We both wanted to see the kids. He hadn't seen them in two weeks and I hadn't really "seen" them in two weeks as well. I was co-existing with them. That is so hard for me to explain, but really I had other people raising my kids while I was barely living. Phill called his mom and asked if she could bring the kids and they could swim at our hotel. She said they could be there by 1:00. We were both so excited to see our little peanuts!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Phill held me close as we walked through the double doors. It was like being released from a prison. The prison wasn't the hospital, it was the depression the consumed me. I knew I was 80% better than when I first arrived at the hospital, but I still had a lot of fear. I had fear about going home, fear about my marriage surviving, but most of all I was afraid that depression would slowly creep back up and take over my life again.

We waited for the elevator. Phill spoke to me is a soft voice. He was so gentle with me like I had a huge FRAGILE sign on my body. He told me that he had made arrangements to take me to a hotel for two nights just the two of us. I was a bit relieved but everything was still so overwhelming.
We made it down to the car and I saw our friend Todd. I said, "Thanks for busting me out of there!" Todd laughed and made some funny joke like he always does. We drove to the nearest Walgreens to get my prescription filled. Phill asked me three times on the way to the pharmacy how I was doing. I said, "Fine." I was really doing fine. Not great, not bad, but fine. I had to call my family because they would be calling me that night and would be upset if I didn't let them know I was leaving. Phill talked to my sister and I talked to my dad. They seemed to be understanding, but they wanted to come and visit. We asked that they wait until Monday because we needed some time just the two of us. They understood and respected our wishes.
We stopped to get pizza. It smelled so good. I was talking to Todd about how I couldn't eat at all in the hospital. He made a joke that it didn't sound very convincing as I was shoving a piece of pizza in my mouth!
I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Todd dropped us off at the hotel. We had a ton of bags due to all of Phill's Kenya luggage. I thanked Todd and told him I loved him. It was the only thing I could say to make him know how much I appreciated all he had done for me and my family. One thing I learned from this experience is to never assume people know how you really feel about them. I tell people all of the time how much I love them. They need to know.

We checked into the hotel and Phill requested that if anyone called looking for us we were not there. We went by the names John and Jill Smith. I laughed because really we weren't famous and who would be looking for us? Phill just wanted to make sure that we could have the next two days to talk and to catch up before returning home with the kids. He didn't want to go to our house because he didn't want people to "pop" over and want to talk about his trip to Kenya.  I am really glad we had those two days. It was exactly what we both needed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Family Meeting

Phill and I talked for awhile about my stay in the hospital and where things would go from here. I felt like I had to  emphasize the fact that I was really really depressed and was on my slow road to recovery, but would need a ton of support from him. My confidence in everything in my life was severely damaged. I had gotten to such a horrible dark place that I never saw myself getting better. I only believed I would live in that miserable place for the rest of my life. I was genuinely shocked that I was doing better and only half believed I would stay better. I felt so fragile and I was afraid the slightest wind would knock me back down and I would never get up.
Phill reassured me that he would be there through it all. He would take care of me no matter what. I didn't believe him at first. He is a very strong willed person (stubborn) and it was his very stubbornness that got me to see that we could get through this together. I was not alone in this and I wouldn't have to fight this battle solo.

I asked where Todd was. Phill said he was waiting in the car. I told him he should go get Todd because we still had our family meeting and I didn't know how long that would take. Phill said he would be fine and he was probably taking a nap. Our friend Todd drove to Detroit to pick up Phill to avoid the 8 hour lay-over so Phill could get to home sooner. I later learned that Todd had to get up at 2:30 a.m. and start driving to pick him up. I also learned that Todd didn't even know I was in the hospital, he just knew I wasn't doing well. I was completely overwhelmed by his friendship and dedication. It shows me that people really do love you and want the absolute best for you. So many people have done nice things for me in my life, but this was honestly one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for my family.  And yes ladies he is single!

The social worker came in and apologized for running late. We started our family meeting. The social worker wanted me to start the meeting by talking about what I wanted to talk about. First I discussed my diagnosis with Phill which he already knew I had. Then we talked about some major life decisions I had been questioning. Phill politely asked the social worker if now was the time to make these major life decisions. The social worker agreed that now wasn't the right time, but in a few weeks we should discuss it again. Then we talked about ways we could simplify our life. Phill agreed that he would be there to do whatever it took to make my life as simple as it could be. In fact we simplified so much in the following weeks we both were extremely bored! We also talked about my medication and my follow up therapy. I felt the meeting went really well. I said what I needed to say and Phill asked appropriate questions and was very respectful.

I was finally able to pack my bags and say my goodbyes. I wanted to run out of there, but I knew I had to say goodbye to my close friends. I hugged Nancy and we both didn't want to let go. I told her I was so glad I got to know her and I would be praying for her. I hugged Kendra and wished her good luck. I stopped in Benny's room and said my goodbye. I wished him well and thanked him for all his encouragement. He smiled and said, "Good luck kiddo-You're going to do real well." I smile now when I think of Nancy, Kendra and Benny. I hope for only the best for each of them. I think maybe one day I will see them again out somewhere, truly happy. But until that day, I will pray for them and smile when I think of them.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finally Phill

It was 1:30 and I had to mentally prepare myself for going home. I was ready. I could not wait. I decided to try to kill some time by laying down. I slept for maybe ten minutes before I jolted awake. My body was tingling from one of the medications that was leaving my system. It was the weirdest sensation. I went to talk to Dr. C about this. She thought it was the anti-anxiety medication I was on. It wouldn't really matter much because I was not going to be continuing that medication. I was concerned it was the anti-depressant and that was concerning because I would have to be on that medication for a minimum of one year. Dr. C told me to call her the next morning to see if the side effects had subsided.

I had my prescriptions for Celexa 20 mg and Trazadone 200 mg. I also had a prescription for my work. It simply stated "no work for two weeks." I felt guilty about not working. I quickly changed my thinking because I needed to be 100% confident before I returned to work or things would not get better. I also started to think about my meeting with Phill. I had a lot to discuss with him. I didn't want it to sound like I was criticizing him or blaming him, but he needed to know my feelings and what I needed to get better.
We had one group left before supper. I was planning to skip the spaghetti and meatballs and get some pizza or something once Phill picked me up.

I started talking with my new friend, Nancy before group started. She was glad I was going home and was so excited that Phill was coming to pick me up. She told me to make sure I hugged him so she could see! We promised to keep each other in our prayers. Still today I pray for Nancy.
When I think of her or any of the other patients I spent time with, we all had one thing in common. We cared so much for others that we forgot to take care of ourselves. I even brought that up in group. I told Benny he was one of the kindest people I ever met just by his actions and the way he looked out for me. He told me he appreciated that with a huge smile.
We watched a movie about bi-polar disorder in group. It was really interesting and I learned a lot about bi-polar. Again I was very grateful that I had postpartum depression and wasn't diagnosed with bi-polar. It is a disorder that seems very difficult to get the correct medications to work and get the correct diagnosis.

Phill signed in at the front desk. I could see through the glass window that the nurse was talking to someone and took their wallet and cell phone like they always do. I walked to the hallway and Nancy said, "Go get him!" I turned around and smiled at her.

Phill had a huge smile on his face and gave me a big hug. It seemed surreal to me that he was actually here. It felt like months had gone by and it was so strange to me that I didn't even miss him. I couldn't miss him because I was so depressed. But now I felt relieved he was home and he was going to take care of me.
We got to talking right away and he gave me a kiss. I told him he had to "watch out" cause there were video cameras in the room!
I felt like I had my best friend in the whole world with me and we were on this journey together. I was a bit nervous that Phill would bail on me and not be able to tread the unchartered waters with me. When I brought that up he gave me a goofy look. He said, "Jodie I'm not going to leave you, you don't ever have to worry about that."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saturday morning

Saturday morning I awoke at 6:00 a.m.  I felt well rested and peaceful. I was excited about what the day would bring. Panic didn't set in like it had the previous two mornings. I was calm. I knew this was a good thing.
I went to the activity room to fill out our daily goals. I couldn't believe how dramatic of a difference I was feeling in such a short time. I knew I was ready to go home. Now I just had to make sure the doctor agreed.
The doctor could order a 24 hour hold on a patient if they didn't think the patient was ready to be released. I knew that in the back of my mind, but I wasn't really worried.
We had breakfast and then group. We talked about exercise and sleep. Both things are very important for a person with depression. Exercise is important because your body releases endorphins which gives you a "natural high" and it helps create a positive coping skill.  Appropriate sleep is important too because too much or too little can affect your mood in a negative way.
After group I took a shower and waited anxiously to see the doctor.  Dr. P was off for the weekend so we had Dr. C. She had a great reputation. While I was waiting to see the doctor, Phill called and told me he was on his way. He told me he should be to the hospital by 5:30 p.m. I told him I was hoping to go home today, but we had to have our family meeting first. Phill was very hesitant to agree to my release. He told me he didn't want me to go if I wasn't ready because it would be harder for me if I had to go back to the hospital. I knew what he was saying. I told him I was ready and I made a promise to myself and my family that I wouldn't go home if I wasn't ready. I just needed the doctor to approve. We said our goodbyes and I waited patiently for the doctor.
I didn't see her until almost 1:00 in the afternoon. I was the last patient to be seen on the unit. I walked with Dr. C to the small meeting room with the doctor.  Dr. C was just as amazing as the nurses had told us. She asked a lot of questions about my plans to go home and I was open and honest with her. I told her of my plans to start running again. I told her about my plans to see a therapist twice a month and to continue my medication as directed. I told her about my plans to continue to ask for help if I was overwhelmed and to recognize the signs and symptoms sooner if my depression creeped back up.  Dr. C. told me she was very confident I would do well at home. She signed my release papers, gave me final instructions on my medication and wished me good luck. I felt like I was floating down the hallway back to my room. I felt free in a way I can't even describe. Like a bird being released from it's cage- I was going home!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A new inspiration

Martha left and we had another group. I sat next to Benny and a new lady named Sue. Sue didn't look up at anyone and didn't speak to anyone around her. She wore her long hair in her face and had no expression. I felt really bad for Sue because from what I could tell about her, she probably had been severely depressed for awhile. She looked a lot like I did when I first came. I wanted to talk to her and to tell her it was going to get better. But I didn't. She wouldn't have believed me at this point. I didn't believe anyone when they told me I would get better. Here I was though, feeling 75% better and having hope in my life again.

The project was to make a poster that we could see to remind ourselves of positive things in our life. I got to work right away. I wrote "One day at a time."  Then I drew a cross and put under it "Jesus Saves"  I put footprints in the sand to remind me that God carries you during your trials and suffering. I also put "God helps those who love him." I know it was a little heavy on my faith, but I felt called to do this. It was a true testament to what I had gone through and would continue to go through. I wanted others around me to see what I struggled through and to see how my faith in God was getting me through. God lead me to the hospital and to get the help I needed. He answered my prayer.

I had another very close friend come to visit me. We talked and laughed almost the whole time. I told her how glad I was she came to visit me. It made the lonely, long hours bearable. We talked about postpartum depression and how common it was. I was motivated right then and there to create more awareness to more moms out there. I just had no idea how I was going to do that.
After my friend left, we had to meet with one of the nurses one on one. I was so glad it was the same sweet nurse who did all of my admission paperwork. We talked for almost a half an hour. She told me that I was the third mom who was up on this unit for postpartum depression in the past nine months. She said that the moms don't really do very well when they are here because they don't feel like they are in the right place. I knew exactly what she was talking about. She said she would love to do more research on postpartum depression and work directly in this area. I remember thinking how amazing that would be. Ideas just kept flooding my head that night. I couldn't sleep because I was too excited about being an advocate for other moms out there. I was also nervous and excited to see my husband. He would be here to "bust me out of here" tomorrow afternoon. I had so much to tell him!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Flooded with emotion

            I felt like I had been awoken from a bad dream. I was alive again and filled with so much joy. I could have ran out or that hospital and did cartwheels, but instead I had to go to group. I was a little nervous because we were with other patients that had already been released and were living at home now. I was jealous. Another emotion I had rediscovered! We sat in group and our topic of discussion was irrational thinking. Just what we discussed this morning. How wonderful! I sat there with a scowl on my face and was annoyed. I didn't have a choice I had to be there so I should make the best of it. Slowly people started to share their stories and some people in the group wanted to dominate the conversation. Finally the few of us who were quiet had to talk. When I shared my story, two of the moms in the group said, "I had that too. It is horrible. It will get better thought."
              Here I am in a room of about 12 people and three of us have had postpartum depression? What is wrong with this picture? It is way more common than people think. Why isn't there more support for moms! I was enraged but also felt like I was finally being validated for what I went through. I do believe there are different degrees of postpartum depression. I believe I had an extreme case of it because it was completely debilitating.
              Julie shared her story next. Then she had a big smile on her face and said she was going home today. My temperature rose. I was pissed! She was only here in the hospital for 36 hours and she gets to go home!! Plus she overdosed on pills and actually tried to kill herself and here I have to sit for four days or more when I didn't try anything to hurt myself. I wanted to cry and scream and run out of the room. After a few minutes I calmed down and realized, she isn't ready to go home so don't be so jealous of her. What is going to change for her in 36 hours? The longer I stay the better I will be prepared to go home. My jealousy turned to empathy and I started to feel sorry for her. I didn't think she was ready and I didn't have to compare myself to her. This is another thing that I do which is irrational thinking. You can't compare yourself to others because no two people have the same situation. Also just because someone looks like they have it all together, that is just on the outside. Everyone has flaws. There is no such thing as a perfect person. Focus on yourself and working to be the best person you can be no matter what the situation.
             I honestly felt like a robot for almost three weeks. I felt nothing and now all of the sudden in less than two hours I felt joy, I missed my baby, I had protective, maternal instincts, I had jealousy, anger, and empathy flood back into my body. It was so overwhelming and liberating at the same time.
             After group I went back to my room. I was so anxious still and wanted to go home. I had to force myself to sit on my bed and read a magazine. I was so anxious to get out of the hospital but also knew one more day I would be even better and more ready. I heard a footsteps in the hall and hoped it was a visitor to see me. It was! It was my good friend Martha. I hugged her. She had an armful of flowers and a teddy bear for me. I was so excited to tell Martha I was going to be alright and I had feelings again! I was talking so fast and had so much excitement in my voice I didn't even realize I was smiling. Martha told me my eyes looked alive again. She said on Wednesday when she came to see me I wasn't really "seeing" her. I had a glazed look in my eyes and now my eyes had life to them. I had life in me again!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Good Tears

        I actually ate most of my salad. My body was so deprived from good nutrients that the salad tasted so good. I downed three apple juices and my sprite. I would have loved a Mountain Dew but I was so anxious already that it would have only made me extremely jittery. After lunch everyone headed to their rooms. We didn't have group until 1:15 and it was 12:30 so I had a little time to journal. I sat at my desk and nothing was coming to me. I looked at the pamphlet about postpartum depression that was laying on my desk. I had read this pamphlet over and over. Inside the pamphlet it explained the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. (lack of appetite, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, lack of interest in things you normally enjoy, irritability, excessive crying, worrying about the baby, thoughts that you are "out of control" or "going crazy", suicidal ideation, thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.)  I fit the bill perfectly except for the excessive crying. I couldn't cry. I felt beyond sad and could not even cry.
        In the previous two weeks before I was admitted to the hospital, I cried three times that I could remember. Once at the beach when I thought my daughter Natalie had drowned but in fact she ran up to the bathrooms. I remember searching in the water with my mom looking for her and looking for her on the beach, but feeling no real fear or sense of panic. It was a delayed reaction. When Natalie came running down the hill with a lifeguard, I didn't even feel much relief. It took me 15 minutes to process what had happened and then I burst into tears. This was a huge flag that something was seriously wrong. Normal Jodie would have started to panic immediately and made the lifeguards clear the water and start a search for her. I would have been absolutely hysterical.
                The other time I started crying was when we were at my house cleaning every room in the house because my dog had been attacked by fleas and so did my house. My dad and I had to do 12 loads of laundry because of all the bedding in our house. We went to the laundry mat on the hottest day in July and I was just miserable. It was probably one of the lowest points in my life. When I got back to the house I started crying and couldn't stop. I sobbed louder and louder and wailed out in pain. I was so miserable. My mom hugged me and asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said no, but four days later I ended up there anyway.
             The day I went to the hospital, my mother-in-law was upstairs putting my daughter down for a nap. Baby Phillip started crying. I picked him up and put him right back down. I walked into my kitchen and started crying. I couldn't comfort him, I couldn't hold him, I was so far removed from myself that I didn't even want to hold him. I started crying because I felt like a horrible mom who couldn't even comfort her crying baby.

          Now I was sitting at my desk in my room at the hospital. I looked at the picture on the front of the pamphlet. It was a picture of a mother holding her newborn baby. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I missed my baby so much I didn't even realize I was crying. I cried and cried and cried some more. I was crying the happiest tears of my life! I missed my baby. I wanted to hold him and never let him go. I had emotions again. I had maternal instincts again. I was getting better. I was going to be alright! Praise the Lord!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

David and Goliath

I headed to my room to take a shower. I stood in the shower for a long time. I started to process what we just discussed in group. It just amazed me that I knew all of these skills and didn't use them. I guess I was being too hard on myself because it doesn't matter what knowledge or skills you may have because they go out the window when you are that depressed. You don't have any energy or will to try to fight that battle.

             I was remembering reading a book to my daughter at my parents house when I was depressed. I tried so hard to add inflections to the words I was reading to her. It was a story about David and Goliath. I started reading it and I honestly felt like David. I had only a stone and a slingshot to take down this giant. The thought was so overwhelming. I had no fight in me. I kept reading the story to her. I had a shred of hope that God was watching me and knew I would overcome this. I kept praying, "God please be with me. God please don't let me do anything stupid. God I know you love me and will never leave me. I just don't feel you with me, but I know you can hear me."
              I read the poem on the wall at my parents house called Footprints. It is about a man who dies and looks back at his life when he gets to Heaven. He looks back through his life and notices that there are two sets of footprints in the sand through his life. One set of footprints is God's and one is his own. The man notices that there are times where there is only one set of footprints in the sand. The man also notices that these times are the most troublesome times in his life. This angers the man and he asks God, "Why did you leave me in the most despairing times of my life?" God replies, "My son I love you and would never leave you. In your times of suffering where you see only one set of footprints, it is then that I carried you."
I read this poem over and over. I probably have read it more than 100 times growing up in my parents house. I read the words. I didn't believe those words, but somehow I remained still and silent and read those words over and over.

We had lunch shortly after my shower, but today time was going extremely slow. My legs were tingling from the lack of exercise and I was still crawling out of my skin. I went to talk to the nurse. I couldn't stand one more second in what seemed like an eternity. My mouth was so dry from the lack of fresh air and the medicine. I was beyond bored. I need to go home I thought. I will just go home and wait for Phill to get home tomorrow. The nurse was patient with me, but I could tell she was busy. I told her I wanted to go home and I couldn't stay here any longer. She told me I couldn't go home until I had my family meeting. I knew the earliest that would be was Saturday night when Phill got home. I didn't think he would really be up for a family meeting the second he got back from his trip to Kenya. The nurse told me to go write down I wanted to discuss with Phill in my family meeting. So I did. I already knew what I wanted to discuss with him.
After I finished this it was almost time for lunch. I walked into the activity room where we had lunch and noticed a new patient had arrived. Her name was Nancy and she was in her late 50's. She was a talker! We became instant friends. I learned she was grieving the loss of her son. He died a year ago and Nancy tried to take her own life. My heart wrenched for her. My pain didn't even pale in comparison to hers. I started to feel weak.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Irrational Thinking

I awoke and looked at the clock. It was 4:00 in the morning. I got up and went to the bathroom. I tried to fall back asleep but I had my blood pressure checked at 5:00 in the morning. I continued to lay in my bed until 6:30 trying to fall back asleep, but was unable to. I got up and got dressed and went to the activity room.
I felt so nervous and scared. I wanted to leave right then and there. I was so anxious and agitated. It had been 24 hours without my anti-anxiety med and I was shaking I was so nervous. I told the nurse I was scared. She asked what I was scared about. I told her I couldn't be here. I needed to go home. She talked me down. She told me my body was responding to not having the anti-anxiety med. The one I was on before the hospital was highly addictive. The nurse wanted me to try to make it without taking an anti-anxiety med. I tried but I was so agitated. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. My heart was pounding and I couldn't concentrate.
We had to rate our feelings. I put a 5 for anxiety and irritability. I thought maybe that was not a good idea cause I was panicking and wanted to go home. They would never let me go home if I was this anxious. I kept telling myself, "Get yourself together! You need to do this."
We had breakfast and then I had to meet with the Dr. P again. I told him I was up at 4:00 a.m. and I was extremely anxious. He could tell by just looking at me. We talked and he said I needed to stay until Sunday and I needed to try a new sleeping medication to see if that one would keep me asleep. He prescribed Trazadone. He also told me I had to go to a group in the outpatient part of the hospital. I was not looking forward to that. I scowled when he recommended I go to this group for two weeks from 9-2. I later told the social worker that I would go to therapy but I wasn't going to be able to go every day for two weeks. I wanted to get my life back on track and spend time with my kids. They told me it was my choice so I could decide before my discharge.
After I met with Dr.P the phone rang again. It was Phill. He was getting on an airplane in Kenya and the next time I would talk to him he would be in Detroit driving to see me. I couldn't wait to see him. I was so irritable.
We had group and we talked about irrational thinking. It would have been fine except I didn't care for this particular staff. She acted like she was better than all of us and we were a gigantic waste of her time. I am sure someone will put her in her place someday soon, but I was already so grouchy and I wanted to be that person. I had to restrain myself and realize it wasn't worth it.
Two things I did get out of this group was the term personalization. It is taking personal responsibility for things you have no control over. This is unhealthy because you become frustrated and feel guilty over things you cannot change. I also learned about the term catrastrophizing. I do this as well. It is where you think of the worst case scenario and you can't seem to get yourself out of it. My example was, I am sick, I will never get better, I won't be able to ever work again, I will lose my husband and my children because I am crazy, I will end up in a pscyh ward the rest of my life.  This is so destructive because it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. If that is what you assume is going to happen then it will just because you made it your reality.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Winding down

We had to meet for a wrap up meeting at 8:00 p.m. The purpose was to go over our goals for the day and see if we achieved them. Each person got a chance to talk about their day. It was my turn and I had to review my day. I honestly felt 50% better than I had in the morning. I started to have hope again. I was laughing and smiling again. I felt like the new medicine was working and I could feel my body responding well to it. I also felt so accepted and my feelings were validated in group.
It's amazing to me that so many of the other patients were in the hospital for much larger challenges in comparison to my own, but they still had so much compassion and empathy for me. They listened to me and encouraged me. I learned that depression is depression and it didn't matter why you were there. I learned that you can't just get yourself out of it on your own. It is a chemical imbalance and you did nothing wrong to cause it. I never understood this until I had to go through it on my own. I never understood how someone could take their own life until I ended up feeling like taking my own. My heart aches for those men and women who succeed in taking their own life. I have been to funerals of people who ended their lives. I never could understand it until now. You are in so much pain that every second is agony and it is the only way you can end that pain. You don't believe it will ever get better and you can't imagine living any longer in so much agony. I continue to pray for the victims all over the world affected by depression and their families. It is such a hard illness to explain and many times family members can't understand it because they aren't going through it. Family and friends get tired  and frustrated because they don't know how they can help.
After our wrap up meeting two of the social workers asked if any of us wanted to play Skip Bo. Benny and I said we would. We played for almost an hour and a half. I imagined we all met in different circumstances and we were friends who met at a party. We talked and laughed. I appreciated the social workers taking time to make us feel like we were accepted. They never looked down on us and Benny and I could tell that. Benny looked exhausted and still looked pale. He had to wear a nicotine patch because we weren't allowed outside for anything. Most of the patients had to wear nicotine patches. I was the only one who didn't have to wear one. I thought how great it would be to have a cigarette again. I quit smoking five years ago but never really smoked a lot. It was a college phase I went through. Once I met my husband and found out how much he hated smoking I knew it was a good cause to quit. He almost didn't date me because of it.
After our game of Skip Bo we took our meds and it was time for bed. I laid down and fell fast asleep.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sister Bonding

After a few bites of dinner due to my lack of appetite, I went to meet with the nurse on duty to talk about how I was doing. She asked me a lot of questions and I answered them honestly. She asked me how my hygiene was. I told her I normally don't wear the clothes I was wearing, but my mother-in-law packed for me. She smiled. I was wearing khaki pants and a Nike athletic shirt and a tan sweater. My hair was all over the place and I had no make up on. We talked for a few minutes and then I had a knock on the door from the social worker. She came in to tell me my sister was waiting in my room for me.
I finished meeting with the nurse and walked to my room. I was so excited to see my sister. It felt like it had been three days when in fact it was only 24 hours since I saw her. Time just goes so slow in the hospital. I was so grateful for visitors and phone calls. I was so bored and started to get agitated by being confined to such a small place. I practically ran to my room to see her.
When I walked in my room Jennie took one look at me and burst out laughing at what I was wearing. "Shut up-Did you bring me some clothes?" I asked. We both just bust out laughing together. I told her the nurse asked about my hygiene and I told her I normally don't wear this! We kept laughing. I love my sister so much because we have a bond that no one else gets. We have inside jokes and laugh at each other all of the time. It was great to laugh and it was more normalcy to such a strange and lonely place.
Jennie asked me if I was doing my homework and going to group. I told her I was journaling and I started making a list about how my life was going to change. She wanted to look at it. She is a fantastic English teacher at a high school so she is used to checking up on homework.
We made a list for the big things in my life. Foster care, work, marriage, kids.
I questioned my ability to continue foster care and my job. I wanted only the best for my children and myself. I had to take a step back and realize that I would get better even if I didn't feel better yet. I was slowly getting better each second I spent in the hospital and I was able to vocalize my feelings and fears with the group and the staff at the hospital. In my mind I was only a few inches away from going crazy and never coming back. I also felt so close to death and didn't think I would ever pull myself out of it. It was so hard for me to picture myself being able to take care of others when I couldn't even take care of myself. It was hard for me to imagine working when it would be so overbearing for me in this fragile state. My job is 12 hours a week and I plan recreation events for adults with disabilities. It is such a stress-free job and it is a job I love. Nonetheless, my confidence was shaken so much that I didn't think I could even handle my job anymore. My company even let me work from home after I had Phillip to make it easier on me.
Jennie and I also talked about my time to myself and how I needed to plan more time for just me. I was going to run four or five days a week for 20 minutes or more. I would take baths, read, nap, and spend time with friends without feeling guilty. I love to spend time with friends and my sister. Phill always encourages me to do this. I always feel guilty for leaving my kids. Moms NEED to do this. It is so hard because some days the kids drive you crazy and you just want some get in your car and blast the radio, go see a movie, read a book, or talk on the phone without interruptions. Going to the bathroom by yourself would be like a mini-vacation!  Then once you are away from the kids for more than an hour you get the mommy guilt. It is healthy and good to separate yourself and enjoy your time with your friends or by yourself. Then Jennie wrote on the paper "more outings with the coolest sister ever!" I knew she was right. I needed to spend more time with her. She pulled through big time and took me under her wing. It was hard for me to show her that her big sister was vulnerable. I wanted to show her I was strong and could handle the world. I just showed her I was human and I needed her. I am so blessed to have her and her husband Ross. He is like a brother to me. I could be weak in front of him too and not have to worry about him judging me.
I had to say goodbye to Jennie because visiting hours were over.  I thanked her for the clothes she brought. It was freezing on the unit and I was so relieved she brought me some nice sweats to wear. I thanked her for coming and told her I loved her. After she left I walked into the activity room smiling.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I want to fast forward a bit to today, August 26, 2010 just to share a little insight on how I am doing now. Many readers have asked if I am in the hospital now and many are concerned about how I am doing.
I am doing very well. I have been home for a month now and I am happy, healthy, and excited about my future. I am loving being a mom more than ever! I am also back to work part-time and love it.
I am still on medication and will need to be for a year. I attend therapy every three weeks. I love my therapist. She gets to the point and asks great questions. Finding a great therapist is sometimes not always the easiest thing to do, but they are out there.
I still struggle with my "condition" I am concerned about having a relapse or having to be on medication for longer than a year. I do know that I will not wait to get help and I won't have to do down that dark road ever again. I am not sure if it is the medicine or the postpartum depression, but I struggle with short term memory loss. I think most moms could identify with temporary lapses in memory-but this is kind of frustrating. I have been almost in tears over little things. I could not remember eating my strawberry at a picnic and accused my husband of eating it! I couldn't remember switching the laundry when I already did and one night I didn't remember getting up with the baby to feed him, but I did. That is scary because I want to make sure I am not asleep or in zombie land when I am caring for him. My husband and I take turns waking up with the baby.
My faith has grown tremendously during this battle, and it will continue to grow. I know that God will use this experience for good. He always does. I am so blessed to have such amazing family and friends and I am so grateful for my new life.
I sometimes get sad because I feel like the old me is gone forever and I kinda liked who she was. But the new me is stronger now and has to learn to accept things for the way they are. I also get very sad at times because I am scared to have another baby. The doctor said I could have another baby, but they would put me on medication right after the baby is born to make sure I wouldn't go through this again. I know right now is not the time to make that decision, but I always saw myself with three children of my own. I am so blessed with my two children and all of our foster children we have raised for the past six years. The two children we have now are an 11 year old girl, who we just adore, and a 17 year old boy, who is so responsible and respectful. I love our family just the way it is. God has truly blessed our family and the children he put here so I shouldn't get sad about possibly being done having children. And maybe a baby is still in my future. I just need to focus one day at a time and enjoy the ride. Life is waiting for me and I have a whole lot of living to do!!
Tomorrow's blog-back to my story in the hospital.

Coping Skills

After my parents left we had group. Our topic was positive coping skills. I learned that patients who end up in the hospital have chemical imbalances, but also many of the patients have poor coping skills thus the addictions.  I thought I knew this all. I have a social work degree and I am a foster parent. I talk about positive coping skills constantly with my kids and in my line of work. How could this be so foreign to me?
I wasn't there like many of the other patients who were alcoholics or drug addicts. I couldn't even think of one negative coping skill I was doing, but the fact was since I had baby Phillip, I wasn't doing anything for myself except for trying to get a nap whenever I could. I was miserable trying to do everything for my new baby and feeling guilty for not spending time with my other kids and husband. Every time baby Phillip cried, I would rush to hold him. My mom kept telling me not to do this. I knew that because I tried to do that when my daughter Natalie was a baby. Eventually you realize you can't devote all of your time and energy to your baby because it isn't possible and it isn't good for you or your baby.
We talked about exercise which is always my favorite response to stress. I love to run. I have been a runner since the sixth grade. I tried running a few times with Phill after my six week check up. It was so exhausting and I had such a hard time. This only made me frustrated and I hated my body because of it. I was way to critical of myself.
After discovering this about myself I knew I needed to start writing down how my life was going to change from this day forward. I knew change had to occur for myself and my family if I was going to continue to get better. One thing my dad talked to me about when he visited was how fragile I was and how I needed to go home to a peaceful environment to recover. I knew he was right. I couldn't go back home into my same routine and making the same mistakes and expect to get better.
I talked with Benny a little after the group meeting. I don't know what it is, but I really enjoyed talking to him. I've always had a great relationship with my father so talking with older adult men was easy for me. I saw things in Benny he didn't see in himself. I wanted to "go to work" and start getting to the place where I could help Benny. The social worker in me couldn't take care of her own problem, but wanted to fix his!