Friday, June 19, 2009


APRIL 17. 2008:

I am hungry but don't have an appetite. sleep is relief when it comes, until my eyes open again. Simple decisions are hard. Normal life seems huge to me, hard to grasp. Yet I miss it painfully. Progress seems so small and slow, and the "set-back" worry lurks around the corner. I have cried and cried, and tried and tried, with what little is in me. In the resevoir of my spirit, somewhere, deep down is deep water to draw from. I am taking tiny sips of survival, doing what I know to do...all i know to do. Everything is foggy right now, even in my head. I look but don't fully see. Touch, but don't truly feel. This is the disconnect I even feel, and perhaps especially feel with my new baby. (at least in the natural) But I fight the feeling of a disconnect with my God, too. "Yet i will praise." YET...God is my hope, my only hope. I must trust. "whom have I but you?" These are things you sing about, talk about, read about and believe on a certain level, but those beliefs are tested to the core when you are "crushed" and somehow keep breathing, and therefore, keep praising. When the Lord says he is the "lifter of our head," it just sounds like strong encouragement, until you literally can't keep your head above water without his hand picking it up! And then it falls, and He helps you again...and again...and again. But why God, won't you pick ALL of me up and take me out of this dangerous water? My head is tired from the struggle, as is my body, mind and soul. I have never gone through something this hard, or this grueling. I have in mind to run a marathon one day, but if i don't get the chance, I can look back and remember that I have already been through the longest test of present trial. I have already run a thousand "marathons" in the last few weeks, that I didn't even "train" for, or so I thought. I would never have expected all of this to happen. I wish I could go back to the beginning, right after Israel was born and erase all of this, be a happy mommy and enjoy the new life I expected. Now, I not only fight to get back to the "new normal" but just the "normal" I already knew is very difficult to get back to. I want to live again! Fully live. Jesus came to give an abundant life. It does not bring him joy to see his daughter wounded in this way. RISE UP LIKE A MIGHTY WARRIOR AND RESCUE ME!!! 
I do not wish to be bitter. I do not want to take steps back anymore. I want to get on with it. enough already! May the healing come! This was not my fault. The enemy will not win. When I come out of this, tested in the fire, I will come out shining like pure gold, under the glory of my Father. God, have your glory!! I cannot carry this burden. I carried the reward for 9 months, and now I carry him in my arms. But not this trial...this affliction...I need it taken. Let me "lay aside this weight" and run freely again, the race you have marked out for me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

Written 3/7/09

It’s like I went to sleep pregnant, had a horrible nightmare, and when I woke up, I had a baby boy who was already several months old. Now what do I do? I am still trying to get over the nightmare, but suddenly I’m parenting a child. Why did I have to sleep through the transition? I needed time to adjust. I needed to bond with my infant, grow into this, embrace my new role and gracefully step into so many changes. I wanted to make good memories with my husband and our new son. I expected to go through a new process, but not one of personal survival through great pain. Just the normal one of being a new mom. Oh, to trade the former for the latter! How did I get here? I may never understand. But I’m here, and so is my son. He loves me, and will never know the difference.   

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Taking Steps

 Almost every week, my counselor sent me home with an "assignment" or some  practical goals or advice to think about. Two of the first things she made me do, were taking Izzy for a walk (by myself) and singing to him."Let him get to know the essence of you." At this point, he was at least a month old, and I had never done either. She wanted me to start to bond with him, even if I didn't feel the connection yet.(Another PPD symptom is not feeling bonded to your new child. It feels like there is a wall between you.) She would also give me journaling exercises,and told me to work on Israel's baby book. Though it wasn't easy, I made myself follow through. The walk was the hardest. Before I got pregnant, I was a dedicated runner, in great shape and loved feeling my feet hit the ground. Now, I was a frightened new Mom, who could barely take a walk. Even so, I loaded Iz into the stroller, put on my shoes and just faked it. I walked him through my parents yard, and then up and down the sidewalk by the highway. We even took a turn on a side street, and that is about the time I began to sing. "You light up my give me hope to carry on..." It was a bittersweet moment. It helped both of us but I still think about how difficult it was when I drive by that sidewalk. As for the baby book, my mom helped me remember a few things to record and Ian helped me stamp Izzy's footprints.   

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cheer Up!

 People who have never experienced severe or clinical depression or anxiety, will never understand what it does to your mental ability to cope, and how different it is from “normal” depression or anxiety. It is so much more than having a down day, or being stressed out or overly worried. It is also not necessarily  “about” anything, and so it is hard to come up with a way to help it. If I said “I am afraid,” someone would say, “What are you afraid of?” Or you might want to know what I am crying about. I would cry about nothing and everything all at once. Some of the most shallow things I heard from people during the worst of my postpartum depression was their well-meaning but frustrating ideas on how to make myself feel better. How could I just “cheer up” when I had nothing to do with cheering down? I was in the throws of it so much that I was not even in the state of being able to apply anything I was hearing. Sure, I forced myself to try things like walking outside, taking a shower (which sometimes had to be a supervised activity) watching TV, “breathing” or even just getting my favorite drink from Starbucks. These things would have been more helpful if they were proportional to the problem. But, in my case, the problem was much deeper, more complicated and medical in nature. I could try all I wanted, but until my hormones/emotions got some balance, and until I was able to think more clearly (and sleep, for that matter!) I could not climb out of this pit, even for a few moments to catch a break. I desperately wanted people to understand how I felt, and that this was different. That what they were saying made no sense to me! I just felt like yelling at them. (In fact, I did yell around family members.) I have prayed! I have exercised! I have…” It wasn’t working. I had people bringing me vitamins, teas, music, books, medicine, lavender lotion to help me relax, a special pillow, you name it. They did their best to help, but I think what helped the most was not what they said I should do, but just that they were there with me. That they had the courage and compassion to reach out. They may not have known what to say or do, but I clung to everyone around me. If you are trying to help someone through a situation like this, don’t feel like you have to stop the storm (as much as they wish you could) but just being there for them until it passes is the best help you can offer. You may not “cheer them up,” but you may help them survive for one more day until eventually, something does.

I do remember one validating and humorous word of advice from an older friend of mine, who said, “If you don’t feel like taking a shower, Don’t!” She didn’t try to help me into the shower, or underestimate how difficult it was to do even the simplest things. She just let me feel how I was feeling, and told me it was Okay. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Leaving Home

My dad accompanied me to my follow-up visit at the birthing center. (Ian was working ) I did not feel "right," on the inside, but at least on the outside I was healing up just fine. The midwife knew I was struggling, as I had been calling the center repeatedly trying to get some answers. 3 different times staff from Labor of Love had made home visits postpartum, and had been on the phone with my husband or myself  quite a bit during those first couple of weeks. I don't think they had ever seen a case like mine, and it only added to the hurt and humiliation to have to walk back into their office so "borderline." (One of the midwives had gone through depression before, and had advised me to seek help from and possibly check into the mental health unit at the hospital. She was concerned and a bit stern with me. At first I got angry, but now I advise immediate help on this issue. It can worsen and even "snap" someone into harmful behavior if left untreated.) Dad drove me back to my house, where I gathered up a few necessary items for Izzy and I for our stay at my parents house. I wouldn't need to bring my breast pump...I was now on medication and had to give that up. Israel has done great on formula, but I still get emotional even writing about this. Not only did I have to sacrifice giving this form of nutrition to my son, and miss out on the "bond," of nursing my first child, but because of the PPD, my feelings of failure and loss were compounded.  We loaded up my son and my stuff and went to my parents' house. I felt a little hopeful at first and nicknamed it the "Healing House," planning to just try to rest up and get better-kind of like a retreat. Friends and church members (my Dad is a pastor) began to come over and visit us there, and continued to bring meals, cards, hugs and prayers. One of my dear friends, a nurse, brought over some anxiety pills for me to take to help me relax and sleep. (That was a new one for me! I am a pretty "natural" person, and would rather take vitamins.) I felt calmer, even "happy" for a short time, and cracked a couple of jokes. I took one more pill before bed, and actually fell asleep that night! My hubby stayed with me in my old bedroom, but the baby stayed in my parents room so Mom could take care of him through the night.   Four hours later, I woke up in a panic. The drug had worn off and so did any sense of calm or control. A pattern of insomnia and anxiety set in all over again.  I spent the next 2-3 hours fighting through the night on my Dad's recliner. All of the symptoms had returned, but with drug after-effects now added to the mix. I hated that night.

Jack in the Box

One way to describe the anxiety that constantly “churned” inside of me during PPD, is that I felt like a “Jack-in-the-Box.” There was no break from the stirring, sickening feeling of fear, tension, panic and nervousness. A wave of nerves ran through me like a river in the pit of my stomach. I was either “winding up or exploding.” No in between. I could only “hold it together” for so long, before I lost control. And after I would manage to calm down, or become so drained emotionally that I didn’t have the energy to maintain such severe outward “symptoms,” it would start all over again. The crank would turn and turn, sometimes all day long, while I tried to “stay calm,” and keep the lid down on my emotions- what was going on inside. Then suddenly, “POP!” Another panic attack. Another “melt-down.” Another “episode.” Another defeat. A scary explosion of crying, questioning, breathing, yelling, collapsing…almost giving up. I would repeat the phrase, “I feel like I’m unraveling…”

P.S. When the above picture was taken, I was experiencing an on-coming anxiety attack. I had to hold it together for the camera. I'm glad I did!