Many of us live with a secret. We smile and wave at our friends as though nothing were wrong. But it’s all a lie. Deep down, where we don’t even like to go ourselves, there is a secret. Depression.
This is not the first time I’ve written about depression. And I’m certain it won’t be the last. Because I believe it’s time for us to move past the archaic approach to dealing with depression. The idea that we are the only ones who battle it and the rest of the world does not care to hear about our problems. The “if I was just right with God this would all go away” thoughts. All of the hiding, denying, covering-up… who does it benefit?! No one. It doesn’t help us; and it certainly doesn’t help others who are also silently struggling, and feeling alone.
So, here is my truth…
I have been on medication to treat depression three times in my life. The first was when I was in high school. I took basically a very low dose tranquilizer for panic attacks. I didn’t take it daily; only when I needed it and only for a short time. Usually when I couldn’t sleep.
The second time I took a low dose anti-depressant. This was during my senior year in college, though if I’d sought help when I needed it I would’ve seen a doctor before moving away from home and family my junior year. I stopped taking my medication after 6 months without returning to my doctor. Because who really wants to take medicine for their brain to work normally?!
Finally I was placed on the same low dose anti-depressant after Gracie was born. I had major anxiety with her. If I took her outside I was traumatized a snake would bite her. If we went to town I was certain I would forget her in the car. I worried every single night that she might die in her sleep. I was afraid I was among the 95% of people who have no clue how to actually use a car seat — I read EVERYTHING I could find to educate myself on the subject. Medication helped and I stayed on it. I was afraid to not take it, because I feared going back to how I was without it.
I stayed on medication all the way through Gracie’s first year, all through pregnancy with Skeet, and just kept on taking it. But it wasn’t enough. Last month I had to go back to my doctor. (I love that she has been here, done this; and truly understands me.) I had to tell her that I needed more help. Not for anxiety this time. No, now I needed help to even like my children.
Do you know how heart breaking it is to realize that you, you who always dreamed of raising a large family, are not strong enough to stay at home and safely care for your children??! It’s gut wrenching. You tell yourself to just “snap out of it!” Your husband thinks you’re nuts because THIS is what you wanted and now all you do is yell and scream. Have you ever had a 2 year old pat your back and say “don’t be scared momma. You da best momma. Daddy be home soon.” while you bawled in anguish because you just wanted away from your kids?! Y’all, that was my experience when I finally said “enough. I must get help.”
I texted my father-in-law. I told him to please call Brandon. I’d made Brandon mad (and he had every right to be mad for the things I’d said in my anger, hurt, and frustration) and he wouldn’t answer my calls. I told my dad-in-law that all I could think of was driving away. I so bad needed to go to the grocery store but I was scared to get in my car. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to come back home if I left. Brandon came home and I sobbed, rocking back and forth and shaking like a scared puppy, as I told him that I had planned to run away that night. The only “logical” plan to me was to wait until everyone fell asleep, go take the car seats out of the van and just drive away. I didn’t have a destination in mind. I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay away. I had even thought far enough ahead to realize that Brandon had just received an extra commission check so I would have some money to find a hotel some where.
I was scared to death. What kind of woman actually runs away from a strictly breast fed 8 month old and a wiser than her years 2 year old? How would Brandon have ever explained to Gracie that he had no idea where Momma went? What if something had happened to me?
That was a Friday. I saw my doctor on Monday. She doubled my medication. Doubled…Do you know how it feels to not only be “crazy” but to be crazy enough to need 40mg of anti-depressant? But it’s working. I love my children. I want to hold them now. Brandon and I took a much needed over night trip a couple of weeks ago. I missed my children. I missed them.
Now, I’d love to work my way back off the medicines. It would be nice to have a functional brain without them. But for now I’ll take them. Brandon says I’m myself again. I have energy and confidence. Something I’d been without for months, and just hadn’t noticed as they slowly faded away. I go back to my doctor in a few weeks and I’m excited to get to tell her I’m better. I’m so grateful for the few ladies I did tell who have prayed fervently for me. Your prayers are heard.
If you’ve dealt with depression before, post-partum or otherwise, please feel free to share this. It’s a piece of my heart typed out and scattered to the winds of cyber space, but maybe by telling my story some one else will feel hope. Maybe we can have open conversations instead of whispers in the closet. Maybe…
*** And to those of you sharing Facebook posts about how prescription drug use is the same as using street drugs. Shut up! You are NOT helping. If you use prescriptions to get high, that’s a problem. But to say that I’m a druggy because I take a medication to help the chemicals in my brain stay in balance, is a bold faced lie. And it 110% does not help people, especially Christians, seek help for mental illness. So do us all a favor and seriously, just shut up. Period.