Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Living and Loving God's Blessings

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.