Originally published at 10:53am on 9/17/12
I think the word depression must be, maybe, the worst word in the world. Ever. Followed closely by moist and mucus. I’ve written this post, oh, about a thousand times. Seriously. Never pressing publish, never getting below about 25 paragraphs give or take, and never actually writing the word “depression”. Because, man, to a happy and positive and seriously my glass is so overflowing, the table is not only soaked, but the wooden floors are probably warped at this point as well, the word “depression” just doesn’t go. Doesn’t fit. Only, in the hours and days following the arrival of our sweet little Sarah June, it did go. Fit like a glove made just for me…out of barbed wire or scratchy wool or something awful. Sweet Sarah June was born at 12:46pm on a Tuesday afternoon. By 6:00pm that very night, I knew that my nightmare “after” had begun.
In that time, I learned the true terror behind the word depression. The true darkness. And the true inability to believe that you will ever, ever, ever return to yourself. That you will ever walk beyond your front door step without having a panic attack. That you will ever grocery shop again. Or cope. Or go to the gym. Or love your sweet little angel-faced baby in that complete and total way that all of the “unbroken” moms talk about. Or want to be here on this earth ever again. Or stop wanting to punch a wall. Or stop looking at a dark corner in a hidden closet and think that might be a perfectly acceptable place to curl up and stay for the rest of your life. Or not dread the sun fading into night because that’s when the really, really bad stuff would start to swirl and choke you until the only breathing you can get out is through sobs. Or ever feel anything happy again. So you stare at the razor and try to build up the courage. Or you look at the pills and think “I think that’s how they do this in the movies, right…?” It all just feels so…so real. And so very permanent. You don’t see that it’s your hormones and you’re experiencing something that people don’t just cope with by being “better” or “stronger”. You don’t see that things will get better. You don’t see because nothing is clear. You don’t see because your mind is so completely taken over, you can hardly finish a complete thought let alone process something visual. You don’t see because you don’t want to believe that nothing in your line of vision is the same anymore. Everything had changed and I couldn’t see the beauty of it because I couldn’t see beyond the huge cloud surrounding me and pushing me down. I couldn’t see how perfect and peaceful and wonderful and amazing our sweet little girl was. I couldn’t see that she was literally every single thing we’ve prayed for in the past two years of trying to get pregnant.
I read an article on goop.com during one of my many late-night feedings with Sarah June where actress Bryce Howard talks about her postpartum depression. She says, “If I had been able to truthfully convey my ordeal with post-partum depression under the glare of those lights, I most likely would have said no words at all. I simply would have stared at the interviewer with an expression of deep, deep loss.” I think that nothing can describe it better than that. It’s empty. It’s both everything and huge and all-consuming and completely and totally drained and empty and void at the same exact time. Everything and nothing. Blank. Indescribable. A huge, empty, and extremely deep loss.
But…and I don’t know how to segway into this in an eloquent way…it just…it did get better. I did fill up again. I read Psalm 143 over and over and over again, I prayed to be surrounded by the Lord’s peace and protection in order to sleep, I had a husband brave and graceful enough to call my doctor and help me get the right medicine, a husband brave and graceful enough to wrap me in his arms and stay there all day if he needed to be, I had a doctor who took me seriously, I had tremendous family support, I had friends that called and texted and wrote me letters without the expectation of me getting back to them ever, I had faith and a God who continued to hold my hand through all of this. It was the darkest time of my life…followed closely with the brightest and happiest. Because once you have again after you haven’t had, once you can feel again after you haven’t been able to, everything is filled with joy. Everything is happiness. My darkest time, my scariest time in life, was because I couldn’t feel me. I couldn’t feel anything. So when I could feel me again? Lord, was that a gift. To see how happy I am just being simple me. To see how happy I am with a little baby girl who smiles at me and snuggles with me and loves me so completely. To be able to love her back. To be able to truly see her. It’s all just such a gift. And without the postpartum depression (there, I wrote the word again), maybe I would never know what a gift it all truly is.
I guess I’m finally pushing publish on this because I want people to know…I want some mama out there to be able to google “ppd” and maybe land on my blog and maybe find some comfort. To know that I felt the same things she might be feeling right then. To know that it did get better. To know that telling someone, anyone, is the smartest and bravest and most courageous thing they will ever do. They aren’t broken. They aren’t permanently damaged. I want them to know that they’ve been taken over, but they will and can take over again. That they will recognize themselves again and they will feel that complete and totally and gripping love for their baby that everyone talks about. They will. They can.
So maybe your opinion of me as the gal who makes the happy and uplifting jewelry has changed. Maybe you won’t like that I had to take medicine to get better. Maybe you’ll think I’m a bad mom. Maybe…but maybe you won’t. I hope you won’t. It just matters so much to me for people to know that everyone can be affected by this, that it’s not just a normal part of pregnancy that you have to live with, but that it’s something really serious that can be fought. That they can and should be brave and talk about it to someone. I know that talking to my Cute Husband and having him talk to my doctor, that praying earnestly and constantly to my amazing Lord and receiving His perfect grace made me, just me, the very best mom I could ever be.
So…here goes nothing. Publish.