Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Living and Loving God's Blessings

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!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Phone calls and visitors

Phill replied, "I know I tried calling 8 times but couldn't get through. Everything is going to be fine Jodie. You did the right thing." I stopped crying slowly and started to talk about the visit with the doctor and other details of my hospital stay so far. Then I asked, "When are you going to be here?" Phill replied, "I am on my way to the airport tomorrow and Todd is going to pick me up in Detroit to avoid the eight hour lay over so I should be there Saturday night around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. I will come straight to the hospital." My heart sank a little because I wanted him there with me. I told him I was worried about our marriage and thought he couldn't take care of me. I still felt so unlovable and who would want to be with someone who can't even take care of herself? Phill laughed and said that was ridiculous.  He reassured me I had nothing to worry about. I know he was hurting and felt horrible for me. After talking a little more I calmed down and felt a little better. He did say I sounded better than I had  the entire time he was gone. I knew that was a good thing. We said our good byes and he said he would call again on Friday, but then wouldn't be able to talk again until he landed in Detroit on Saturday morning.
I hung up the phone and smiled. I knew everything would be o.k. Phill knew where I was and would be here very soon to come see me.
I had three more phone calls that afternoon. My parents were on their way to see me, my in-laws were calling to check in with me, and my sister would be coming to see me again today. After lunch we had some free time. I started journaling. I wrote down, "Want to go home, Can't go home, need to stay, need to be on the right meds, need to be stable." Just then my parents walked in.
I hugged them both. It was so hard for me to have them there. They both looked like they were exhausted and deeply concerned. It was so hard for them to be in limbo. They were with me for 12 days and saw the absolute worst of it. I told them I felt better after seeing the doctor. I told them the doctor told me the meds. I was on would have never worked for me so I had to come to the hospital to get put on the right medication. I told them I started to have hope again that I would get better and it would just take some time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Doctor's call

After we met with the O.T. lady another social worker came in to talk to us. I honestly couldn't remember what we talked about because I was nervous about seeing the doctor. I put too much emphasis on what he would diagnose me with, that I couldn't concentrate. That is another thing depression robs you of. It takes so much energy and effort to concentrate that it almost becomes impossible.
After group, an older man came walking in the activity room. He was sweating profusely and ghostly white. Later I learned his name was Benny and he just came in on a bender. I learned that most of the people on the unit were alcoholics or addicts. I was the only "young" one on the unit without an addiction. It didn't really matter why you were there to the other patients and the staff. Depression is depression and it doesn't matter how or why you were there. The goal was the same for each of us to be stable, have positive coping skills, be put on medication and have a follow up plan (counseling) so we didn't relapse. Most importantly you couldn't have any thoughts of harming yourself or a plan in order to be discharged. The doctor had to be 100% convinced you were stable or he/she could order a 24 hour hold on you.
Since I was admitted voluntarily, I knew in the back of my mind I could leave at anytime. Some of the patients were ordered on a police hold to stay for a certain length of time. Most of the time it was one week.
I went to my room to take a shower and there was a knock on my door. It was the nurse telling me the doctor was ready to see me. I hurried up and got dressed. I walked down to the same little room where I was admitted.
 I met with a psychiatrist who I will call Dr. P and a nurse. Dr. P looked at me and said, "I here you want to go home." I didn't know if this was trick question or what. So I replied hesitantly, "Yeah." Then he said, "I don't think that is a good idea. It will be 80% harder to do this at home without the support. You will feel better in a few days. I would like to keep you here until Sunday at the earliest." It was like getting kicked in the stomach by a horse. So far I was not impressed by Dr. P, but I didn't have a choice but to listen to him. I was also maybe a little skeptical of his wisdom because he was a man and this was clearly a woman issue, but I needed to trust him and let him help me.
He started asking me questions. I answered them honestly. He asked about the depression and when it started. He asked about my anxiety and my inability to sleep. Dr. P asked if I had any auditory hallucinations or visual hallucinations. I answered no. He asked if I had any period in my life when I felt I didn't need to sleep and I felt like a superhuman. I said no. He was trying to rule out bi-polar. He said bi-polar is over diagnosed right now by many psychiatrists. We talked about my family history and my lifestyle. Dr. P started to bash my husband. I looked at him and he told me that the nurses tell him everything in report. I didn't care for it, but many people were not happy with him so I wasn't surprised. My loyalty was to Phill and I knew the true story. He didn't just leave me. The timing wasn't ideal and I went through hell while he was gone, but that very thing was a blessing in disguise. If Phill was home, we may have continued to miss all of the signs and I would have gotten worse.
Dr. P asked what medication I was on and I told him. He asked me who prescribed it for me. I told him my O.B. did.  Dr. P told me that he wouldn't expect an O.B. to know what to prescribe, but that the medication I was on would have never worked.
He changed my medication to Celexa 20 mg and Ambien 10 mg. He also prescribed Thorazine 50 mg as needed for anxiety. He diagnosed me with postpartum depression and I was relieved that I wasn't completely insane.
I went back to my room to look over my large packet sitting on my desk. My room was totally bare except for two beds, a desk, and a little bathroom with a shower. Just then the phone in the hall rang. It was a free for all to get to the phone. I answered it and recognized the voice right away. It was Phill. I burst into tears. I sobbed into the phone, "Phill I am in a mental hospital!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wendy's fantasy!

After we finished breakfast we had to meet with the O.T. lady. She asked us to go around the room and talk about one or two things we would like to accomplish in our lives that we never had. Kendra said she would like to visit another country, Dave said he would like to visit his granddaughter more, I said I would like to run a marathon. The O.T. lady looked at me and said, "What's stopping you?" I wanted to be snotty and say, "Cause I'm in here!" I told her I had run two half marathons but never had time to train for a whole marathon. She gave some advice about running when I got  home and running in the winter on my treadmill to keep active. That was kind of the plan I had to lose my baby weight anyway, but after I had baby Phillip I had only run four or five times. Then I became so depressed that even going for a walk drained me of all my energy.
Julie, the new woman, said she would like to find a job. It was Wendy's turn and she started laughing. She said, "I've always wanted to have sex with a cop." The whole room started cracking up laughing. The O.T. lady laughed too. Then she said, "We are talking about positive coping skills here!" Wendy replied, " Well there is just something about a cop coming in with guns blazing!" It really did lighten the mood and it felt so good to laugh. Depression robs you of all emotion. I started to feel like maybe we could have some normalcy here and maybe it would be o.k. to stay here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


July 22, 2010
I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and stared at the clock. I heard the nurses in the hallway and a few minutes later one of the nurses came to my room to draw blood. She told me to pee in a cup for lab testing. She took my blood pressure and then told me I could go to the activity room to watch T.V. and drink coffee if I wanted or I could rest until 7:00 and breakfast would be served. I waited until 6:30 to get out of bed. I brushed my teeth and got dressed. I started to panic. "Oh my God I need to get out of here! I will tell the nurses I am going to go home and recover at home. I can't be here. Phill doesn't even know where I am and I can't talk to him cause they took my cell phone! I need to go home right now!" (Phill didn't know where I was, but I asked my sister to Facebook him a message to call his parents immediately. Phill knew I was going to see my OB on July 21st and I told him the medicine didn't seem to be working. We had no clue she was going to suggest hospitalization, but she knew what she was doing and I agreed I needed more help than waiting for the medication to work if it ever did work for me.
I pulled it together enough to go sit down in the activity room. I said hi to the lady in the chair drinking her coffee and watching the morning news. She told me her name was Kendra. I told her my name and smiled. I waited until the nurse came in to give us our medication. She gave me an anti-depressant but no anti-anxiety med. I was shaking I was so anxious. The nurse said I could have something for my anxiety, but she suggested waiting to meet with my doctor first. The doctor would most likely do a medication change.
I took her advice and sat down. A social worker walked in to hand us our daily goals and evaluations. We had to rate our feelings 0-5. One question was how anxious we were feeling. I put a big fat 5 down for that one. Suicidal thoughts- I put a 0 down for that. It was true. Those thoughts stopped the minute I was admitted. I knew I was safe and I could only get better from here on out. The worst was over and I would get better. I didn't want to go through it in the hospital though. I wanted to go home.
We had to write down our goals and I wrote down, "to feel better." The social worker saw mine and said, "No it needs to be something you can measure." I glared at her and wrote, "to make it through the day."
We had to hand in one copy to the social worker and keep the other one for ourselves. We also had to fill out menus for the next upcoming meals. She handed me three menus. Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I almost threw up. I have to stay here until Saturday! Hell No! I couldn't wait until I could see my doctor. I would just tell him I will take my new medication and recover at home.
Breakfast came and it was gross. Cold eggs. I ate 1/2 a piece of toast and downed my apple juice. I had the worst dry mouth ever. I looked at the other patients sitting next to me. Dave, Kendra, Wendy, and a new woman who was admitted at 4:00 in the morning, Julie. During breakfast I learned that Dave and Wendy would be leaving today. Dave was going home and Wendy was going to some other treatment center. The two people I felt most comfortable with were leaving.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Admission to the hospital

I followed the admission nurse to the little room with a window and a crowded table and chairs. The social worker asked me what I wanted for dinner because she could call a tray up for me. I was given some choices and said a sandwich and white milk.
I had a huge stack of paperwork to fill out. The nurse asked most of the questions and I answered them to the best of my ability. I was told about the medications I would be given while I was there. I was told about the routine and the rules of the hospital.
I had to hand over my purse and turn off my cell phone. I had to cut the string out of my shorts. I was told I would have a roommate and my heart sank. I looked at the nurse and said, "Oh No!" She looked at me and asked me what was wrong. I told her I was scared to have a roommate. She said she could put me in a room by myself for tonight, but she couldn't guarantee I would have my own room my entire stay. The facility is a 12 bed facility and there are two beds in each room. The numbers were low and there were only four people on the unit so lucky for me I didn't have a roommate. I couldn't explain it, but I was so afraid of my "roommate" strangling me in my sleep and I was so paranoid. But at the same time I was sent to the hospital for having suicidal ideation.
I went to my room and sat on my bed and started crying. I told the nurse I wanted to go home. She was so sweet and comforted me the best she could. She said, "You are going to make me cry and we are not supposed to do that." I smiled. She told me I wasn't the first mom to come up here for postpartum depression and I would probably be able to go home in a few days. She left my room and told me the social worker would be in soon to meet with me.
I started to feel a little better. I took one bite of my sandwich. I couldn't eat anymore than one bite. I looked up and my sister came in my room. She told me I needed to stay. The nurses at the front desk told her to convince me to stay. They told her, "She needs to be here."
My sister Jennie sat on the empty bed in my room. I asked her if she was checking in too. She smiled and said she would stay with me if she could. I joked with her we could party in the psych ward. She brought me some clothes. I looked at them and realized my mother-in-law packed for me and didn't know where my clothes were. I had mismatched clothes and running shorts. It was freezing in there. I asked Jennie to bring me some sweatshirts and sweatpants the following day. My friend, Martha, came walking in. I hugged her like I hadn't seen her in years. I felt like I would be o.k. as long as Martha and Jennie were there with me. Martha is a nurse and a great friend. I called her right away on the way to the hospital to tell her I wouldn't need her to come over on that Friday to help with the kids cause I was being admitted to the hospital. She said, "I will be there at 7:00 tonight." We talked until visiting hours were over. I had to hug Jennie and Martha goodbye and they said they would both see me tomorrow. I told them I loved them and appreciated them coming to see me.
I sat on my bed and thought to myself, "go make friends-it's what you do best." I walked into the activity room and sat next to a woman. I said hi to everyone in the room. They introduced themselves to me. (I changed their names to protect them.) I met Dave and Wendy. We made small talk and watched America's Got Talent. Soon the nurse came to hand out our medication. I took some Ambien and an anti-anxiety medication called Thorazine. I watched ten more minutes of T.V. and then stood up. I swaggered into my room. I felt drunk. They told us to change in the bathroom because there were video cameras in the rooms. I changed into my pajamas and fell onto my bed.


My husband and I have been overwhelmed by all the response via Facebook about this blog.
I cannot thank you enough for all of your support, comments and prayers.
I set out to write this to tell people what I went through. There are lots of people who go through this.  I want other moms to know that it is o.k. to get help and it is important to talk about it. In fact it is actually the best thing you can do for your family and yourself.

The first thing I want to do is to tell people what happened to me. The easiest way that I have found to do this is by posting my story on this blog.  www.strongermom.com I have also shared my story with others in person but this blog seems to be reaching more people than I could possibly do face to face.

Another thing I wanted to accomplish is showing that a lot of other people go through this.  One of the best books that has helped me with is Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields.  While the book has helped me the most important thing has been the stories that you are sharing with me and my husband via email and Facebook.  Each story is powerful and there is no way I would've ever known that so many of you have had similar struggles without this blog.

The most important thing that I want to get across is that it is OK to get help.  Many people have guilt or feel ashamed or embarrassed that they are thinking and feeling like this and what we really need to do is be honest and get help.

The final thing is to show by example that it is OK to talk about our postpartum feelings, struggles, and depression with others including our spouses (even though they will never fully understand), our friends, our family, and our medical professionals.

I have always been self-conscious about what others think about me.  Through this experience I have gained so much strength and feel called to share my experiences.

Now back to the 5th floor...

Monday, August 16, 2010

My journey to the hospital

My dad packed us up and took us home on July 20th. We made plans for my mother-in-law to come stay with me for a couple days at my house. My dad had a meeting and needed to get going as soon as he dropped us off. I called my mother-in-law to see where she was and she told me she was 15 minutes away. My anxiety was at it's peak at this time. I took my anti-anxiety med and tried to settle down. I remember sweating and pacing back and forth and thinking, "I can't be alone with my kids, I am afraid to be alone with my kids, Please hurry up Mary Jo." I didn't even look at my kids because I was so afraid to look at them. I thought I might break them if I looked in their direction. I never had any thoughts of harming them, only thoughts of harming myself, but the state of mind I was in, I didn't trust myself at all. I wasn't myself. I was this crazy person inside my old body.
I was much more afraid of neglecting my kids and causing them harm.
Mary Jo pulled in the driveway and I was relieved. I have the best mother-in-law in the world. She loves me like her daughter. She took care of all three of us for the next two days. I laid on the couch while we watched "Tinkerbell" the movie. We went to Wal-Mart to pick out my daughter's birthday cake. I put things in the cart and had no concept of what kinds of food they were cause I felt no hunger. I knew I liked chips and some breakfast foods. I had no concept of money either. I simply didn't care. I couldn't care.
I talked to my husband on the phone everyday and we typed back and forth on Facebook. Everytime he called I mumbled how miserable I was and how I wanted to just die. He listened to me and tried to stay patient with me, but was unable to comfort me. I didn't even miss him or look forward to his return. Some friends and family were very angry that he left me in such a horrible condition or blamed him for my illness. The truth is that if Phill had known it would have gotten this bad, he would never have left. We both just thought that my anxiety was due to him leaving and we scheduled help for everyday he was gone. He couldn't easily back out of the trip because we committed to it a year prior. 12 people paid for their flight and room and board and Phill was leading the trip. Without Phill 12 people would have lost their chance to go to Kenya and thousands of dollars.
My sister picked me up for my doctors appointment on Wednesday July 21st. I still could not drive from the medication I was on. It knocked me out and without it I was an anxious mess. As my sister, Jennie, and I were driving to the doctor she asked me lots of questions. I told her that she needed to tell the doctor how bad it really was. I needed more help and more medication. When the doctor walked in she took one look at me and said, "Jodie I don't think this can wait for Phill to get back home." I asked her what she meant. She said, "I am suggesting in-patient hospitalization" I agreed. At that moment I felt better than I had in weeks. Soon I would get the help I needed. After answering a million questions on the phone, I started to regret this decision. I was exhausted from answering so many questions. I was asked if I smoke pot or do drugs or am in an abusive relationship or if was in any legal trouble. Then she asked me if I had a plan to hurt myself. I hesitated. I didn't have a plan, but I had a back up plan. In my head I thought to myself, "If this doesn't get better I will just take all my pills."
I was admitted to the Janesville Mercy Behavioral & Addictions unit. My sister took me straight there after stopping in the McDonald's drive thru. I needed to eat something. I hadn't eaten much in weeks. I wanted to eat something before hospital food would be my only option. I remember smiling knowing this was the answer to my prayer. (The hosptial, not McDonalds-although that was good too!) I made phone calls to close friends and family to let them know where I was going.
When we got to the hospital I had to fill out more forms. Jennie walked with me, hand in hand, to the 5th floor. We said our goodbyes and she went home to pack me some clothes. Suddenly, this wasn't such a good idea. I changed my mind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trial and Error

I called my OB doctor on July 9th to tell her what was going on. Since I was staying with my parents and was two hours away, she had to prescribe an anti-depressant over the phone. I started the medication, but knew it would take 4-6 weeks to get the full effect. That first night I woke up in a panic. I was so worried about the baby. He was sound asleep. I waited for the panic attack to subside and it finally did around 2:00 in the morning. I held my baby the rest of the night and dosed off and on with him in my arms. Not only was I depressed, but I was anxious all of the time too. My body was going haywire and I was a nervous wreck. I was completely convinced I was going crazy and I was going to die.
I had to call my doctor again the following day to tell her about my panic attack. She prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, but told me I had to stop breastfeeding. I tried this new medication, but it knocked me out hard. I couldn't keep my eyes open, couldn't drive a car, and I was in a sedated state most of the day. My anxiety stopped, but I was still so depressed.
This continued for two weeks. I would have a few hours a day when the medicine would try to level me out a bit and I would laugh and hug my children as much as I could. I felt like I could only have a glimpse of my old life and I needed to absorb as much of my kids as I could. I wanted them to see me as the mommy they always knew. Every night I dreaded going to bed because I knew I would have to endure hell until the medicine started working. Every second was painful. I remember not wanting to talk because I didn't feel like it. If I did talk it was monotone and slurred. I felt like the whole world was passing me by and I was stuck in slow motion.
My faith was shaken. I prayed constantly to God. I didn't feel his presence, but I knew he could hear me. I prayed that Jesus would protect me and lead me to get the help I needed. Instead Satan was lurking around me. So close to me. I felt like he was laughing at me and taunting me. I didn't think I would ever survive.
In the meantime, my mom was so worried about me she called my OB doctor to talk to her. Because I am an adult, they couldn't talk to her. Instead they made an appointment for me to be seen on July 21st.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bad to Worse

Thank you all for reading my blog and for the comments on Facebook. It really means a lot to me.

I had my second child, Phillip, on May 14th 2010. It was a pretty simple labor and it was a great surprise since we didn't find out the baby's gender. I felt 90% confident it was a boy though. My first child is a girl and it was such a different pregnancy. The pregnancy was much harder on me emotionally and physically.
When we brought Phillip home from the hospital it was such an easy transition. It seemed too good to be true. He was a really great baby. I didn't get much sleep, but tried to get in some naps or go to bed early. I cried a lot for the first two weeks after he came home. Then the crying stopped.
Around six weeks after having Phillip, I had so much anxiety. I couldn't sleep and my thoughts started racing. I would be so anxious about the baby. I keep worrying about him and he was sound asleep. At my appointment I talked to my doctor about this and she prescribed some Ambien to help me sleep. Who wants to take a sleeping med when you are going to be woken up every two hours to breastfeed? I didn't take the Ambien.
I just chalked my anxiety up to my husband leaving for Kenya to lead a volunteer trip. We had planned this trip a year ago and we were all on board for him to be gone for a little over two weeks. I had family coming to help me out and I would be fine.
My husband, Phill, left on July 7th, 2010. We both left with tears in our eyes and aching hearts. The next two days were awful. I was so anxious and depressed that I couldn't even function. My sister and her husband came to the rescue. I called my mom and dad and they demanded I come home with the kids. I packed up my three year old daughter, Natalie, and my little son. I made arrangements for the two foster children to stay with family.
I decided I would probably feel better once I finally got some sleep. My mom and dad would help with the baby so I could sleep. I told them about my thoughts of death and feeling hopeless. I felt like my purpose in life was over and my time here on earth was done. I felt like I was disconnected from my body and I was going insane. Everything around me was happening in slow motion. I felt numb. I lost touch with reality and had empty eyes. I did not eat. I didn't sleep much. I couldn't cry anymore because I felt nothing. I looked at my children and knew I loved them, but felt empty. I saw pictures of myself on the wall at my parent's house and I was already dead in those pictures. I thought to myself, "I wonder if my parents will take these pictures of me down when I am dead." It makes me sick to even write that, but that was my lowest point.
I did get caught up on my sleep, but the feeling of emptiness and darkness was still there.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Remember the good old saying, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." I never knew that being a mom would be so hard. I never imagined the pain I would endure and the trials that would come from being a mom. I read the bible and I know the curse of Eve. "I will greatly increase your pain during childbirth" God says. He doesn't just mean the physical pain in childbirth-which I think is enough of a curse as it is on it's own. He means the whole journey of motherhood from pregnancy to the rest of our lives being a mom.
Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom more than anything in the world. I would lay my life down in a second for my children. I would do it all over again.
What didn't kill me, but made me stronger was my recent hospitalization for postpartum depression.
I ignored all the signs.
I made excuses.
I was in denial.
I didn't need help... I could take care of myself.
I wasn't going to burden anyone with this.
I was just exhausted and once I got some sleep I would feel better.
I wasn't crazy. I don't need meds.
I have to take care of my family-there is no time to get sick.
This is where I will tell my story.