one year ago

October 17, 2008

one year ago my baby was just shy of two months old and she was in the throes of colic.  i was in the throes of postpartum-hormone-withdrawal-induced craziness.  i know i talk a lot about how “crazy” i am, and i often joke about it just to normalize my insanity, but after my baby was born i really, honestly felt insane.  i remember one day i was exhausted, and indescribably sad, and feeling terrifyingly unhinged.  i sat on the floor of my shower letting the steaming hot spray of water wash over me, and i held my little gilette razor in my hands and wondered just how much damage i could do to myself if i could get the blades out.  it was a scary moment because it was not me.  it was not a part of my brain that i felt i had any control over.  i didn’t know what else to do, so i called my mom.  i called her in tears on friday night and asked her, through my sobs, if she could come out and help me.  “do you really need me to?” she asked.  “if you can,” i answered.  and sunday morning she hopped on a plane and flew out here from california.  she stayed for a week and during that time she saw me at my lowest point.  i remember crying so much while she was here, and telling her that i had postpartum depression.  she kissed me on the cheek and told me it would be okay, but she didn’t really know what else to do. my mom is not really good with emotion; especially the ugly, scary, un-sunshiny kinds of emotion, but just having her here was a huge help.  that she was willing to drop all her plans, buy a plane ticket at the last minute, and fly out to be by my side within 36 hours of me asking her to come help me was amazing.  things started to get a little better after that week.  

i had been on medication before and i had wondered during my pregnancy if i would struggle with postpartum depression after my baby was born.  i probably should have mentioned my fears a little louder so that my husband and my mom and my doctors could have been on the lookout.  i probably shouldn’t have tried to hold the feelings in as much as i did.  i didn’t want to admit that it was difficult, or that i was struggling, or that motherhood was unmanageable.  but, for a while, it was.

the depression got better, or maybe just morphed into something more tolerable and manifested itself in my anxiety.  the anxiety became intolerable.  “every new mom goes through this,” i told myself. “this is just how it is.  this is how it’s supposed to be.”  but inside i felt like i was drowning.  i felt like i couldn’t catch my breath.  i felt like i was on the verge of tears all the time, but i wasn’t really sad.  i felt like i was going to jump out of my own skin.  i felt like this for eight months.  i put on a good show, though, and no one really knew what i was going through.  

i went to the doctor to talk about my insomnia.  

i told her that i wasn’t depressed.  a little anxious, maybe.  okay.  maybe really anxious, but if i could just get the sleep thing under control it will be fine.  

it wasn’t fine. 

i wasn’t sleeping.

i was still anxious.  

i started to fear that i wouldn’t be able to care for my daughter anymore.  i started to fear that i needed to go to a hospital, or an asylum, or a secluded tropical beach…by myself.  i started to fear that my husband was going to give up on me and leave because i couldn’t get my shit together.

i went back to the doctor. many times. 

i started taking medication again.  

i started to feel better.  

it’s been a year since i called my mom in tears, yet it feels like a lifetime ago.  life is so much better now, so much brighter, so much easier.  i am not the person i was then.  i feel human now.  i wish i had gone on medication sooner because i feel like i suffered needlessly for many months.  i know now that i should have sounded the alarm about my mental health sooner, and i wish that i had had someone to talk to about these feelings.  i wish that someone had told me that what i was feeling was not “normal”.  i know medication is not the answer for everyone, but for me it was a lifesaver.  and probably a marriage saver.  

a year ago i left the house one night because i just had to escape.  i walked to the park in my neighborhood and sat on the swing and cried in the darkness.  today i took my daughter to that same park and we climbed, and slid, and played on the swings, but most of all, we laughed.  on days like today when i am just overjoyed with the love for my daughter and the love of motherhood, i remember how hard it was then and how great it is now.  it’s hard to believe just how bad it was a year ago, and how much it has all changed since then.

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8 Responses to “one year ago”

  1. Angelika Says:

    Oh Liz…big hugs to you…

  2. Kristina Says:

    Liz, you have been very brave and I am so happy you are happy. It makes motherhood a completely different experience, doesn’t it? You are an amazing woman and I am lucky to know you.

  3. jkmastera Says:

    Goddamn you for making me bawl my eyes out, too! But thank you, thank you, thank you for being courageous enough to write this. I know that most of your readers are *just* your friends, but even so, I would be willing to bet that you have (or will have) helped out at least one of them deal with their postpartum feelings. I know that because of my depression/anxiety issues in the past, I worry immensely about how I’m going to feel after our babies are born. Of course I’m hoping I’ll be that stereotypical new mom – doting, proud, and happy to be caring for two new little beings – BUT – I’m also not going to be unrealistic if I don’t feel that way, in part thanks to this post. Big hugs and love to you, buddy.

  4. Ondrea Says:

    you have an amazing way with words Liz, you really do. The fact that you could recognize what was going on – even if you think you should have seen it earlier speaks volumes about how tenacious and strong you are and how amazing of a mother and wife you are. (((Hugs)))

  5. kristen Says:

    I agree with all of the already-posted comments… How brave and awesome of you to put this out there. I went through something very similar with Arwen, only she was older than Avery was when you went through it, so I thought for sure that it couldn’t be PPD, and that I was just a major wuss when it came to parenting. So, like you, I feel I waited too long to get help. I also held a razor and contemplated the damage I could do. I figured the world would be a better place with me not in it. I also eventually sought help and feel saved by medication. After having Milo, I feared the worst, and surprisingly, the worst didn’t come. Very strange how all that works. Anyway, now I’m rambling… Signing off. 🙂

  6. ehiwv Says:

    thanks, y’all. i’m glad you guys don’t think i am a complete nutjob after this longwinded confession of insanity. : )

  7. Sarah Says:

    Huge hugs my friend…your words are powerful and you are amazing for having the strength to writing them and even more, to share them. Thank you so much.

  8. Sarah Says:

    Um. I just realized my reply is full of horrendous grammer b/c I didn’t proofread. Sorry about that!!!


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