This is going to be a hard post to write. This I know, and I know before I am done there will be many tears shed. There is nothing more raw then the pain that can come for being in a dark place, and this is all about going to those dark places. Reliving the pain, the struggles.. to help. To share. I was prompted by a chat with a friend that now was the time. That it was time to write. Time to share. To dig deep and bare it all. In my Beautiful Me article, I touched briefly on the dark places I had been in my life. Twice. I have felt for awhile now that I needed to write this article, but I wanted to make sure it was something that came across properly… with the right feeling… the right heart… not some “flippant” piece of writing to “get views”. What I want… for my life… for my little corner of the world… is to help. That is all I want to do. To help people. Maybe in their dark time in their life, they stumbled across this, and it pulled them from where they were at. Maybe it prompted them to get help. Maybe it stopped them from making a grave mistake.
Part of what prompted this article are two beautiful friends… one who lives her life to help those she can, the other struggling with her own dark place in her life. I can’t tell you how much these two incredible women have touched my life, my heart. Both in different ways. Both have brought tears to my eyes… either from the beauty of giving of them self, or the pain felt from the struggle the other is going through. You both know who you are. You both mean the world to me.
To “Friend A”, thank you.. for giving me hope that this world does have heart left in it. For giving hope to those who lean on you in their dark times. Though you have come through your own struggles, you give. Thank you for showing me that while the world is in short supply of soul, you have enough to light your corner of the world. Don’t ever stop. Be their light. Be their strength, because you may be all they have. With that being said, remember that you… yes… YOU… may need held up sometimes. It’s easy for those who always help and give, to sometimes lack support for what they go through. You’re not alone. I’m always here. Always.
To “Friend B”, hold on… please… you can do it. Sometimes it might not feel like it, but you can. I look at you, and it’s like turning back a clock in my life and looking in a mirror. I know you’re on your path back to life, and it’s not going to be easy. It can be terrifying, but you can do it. And if ever you are in doubt, if you just can’t. You know where I’m at. I’m here to lift you up if you can’t stand anymore. No matter the time, the place… I’m here. Remember, life is always worth wearing crazy socks…
9 chances of out 10 you have been one of these two of people. You have either been in that dark place, or you have had to lift someone up from their dark place. Either way, this is for you. This is to help shed light on not only Postpartum Depression, but depression in general. I am not a doctor, or an expert. I am simply a woman, a wife, a mother who has battled my way through depression many times in my life… twice almost ending fatally. I am not here with a cure, or a miracle. I’m here to share my story and to let you know that you are not alone. Ever. Many of us live our darkness alone. Surrounded by others living their own darkness. Many of us have no one to turn to. This is simply to let you know that someone has been in your shoes. Well, I won’t pretend to know what you are going through, but I have been in my own dark place. In my own hell.
18 years ago. That seems like an eternity. That was my first run in with depression. I was 16 years old. I started getting sick. I started struggling in school. I will NEVER, as long as I live, forget my first migraine. I thought I was going to die. That migraine was the downward spiral for that moment in my life. I won’t go into great detail, but I remember that day I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t. I physically just could not handle it anymore. I sat at the desk in my dorm room for a really long time, holding a giant bottle of pain pills. I couldn’t do it. I was to chicken, but I did have the strength enough to make a call that got the wheels rolling for getting me help. I ended up leaving school early that year. I went home and battled depression off and on for a year or so. Being home, back in my mountains, with my family and my horse was a great help. I still felt alone, and it was not an overnight process. I struggled horribly some days. I tried though. I got involved in the yellow ribbon project. I tried to keep myself busy.
Skip forward 11 years. Married, 3 children… living in a different country. I had struggled with depression off and on during those 11 years. It was especially difficult at first, having moved so far from home. It hurt. It all hurt. I was SO happy to be married, but to be SOO far from everyone/everything I knew. It hurt. So, as time went on I pulled into myself. I stopped calling home, stopped going out of the apartment, stopped everything. It all just hurt to much. Then came along our first child. They have a way of taking your mind off things. I floated back to the surface a bit. She helped me keep moving. Our second child came. I teetered a bit with PPD afterwards, struggling off and on for a year. It took me a bit, but I eventually got back to some sense of normalcy.
Then came #3. My life kind of just…. fell apart. My pregnancies are tough. Seriously tough. I lost 11lbs with my first child, 15lbs with #2, 20lbs with #3 and 25lbs with #4. I had already been struggling with chronic fatigue and pain for some time. This pregnancy was NOT something I had planned on. However, life had other ideas and we had a beautiful baby boy. At that moment my world slowly started to unravel. Though I had struggled with depression DURING my pregnancy(though I never did really acknowledge it), it was after the fact when everything came crashing down around me. Complications during birth, lead to a long recovery and an exhaustingly difficult postpartum.
There are no words that I can write to express the pain I felt. There is no way to tell you how alone I felt. Sometimes everything would just get to be to much. I would sit in my closet, in the dark, crying and rocking back and forth. I couldn’t physically handle everything going on in my brain. I couldn’t physically handle the pain. I couldn’t. There was no way I could. I felt like I was going to go crazy. I remember sometimes when I would get upset at my husband, for no real reason, it was seriously like this out of body experience. I would be watching myself, and hearing what was coming out of my mouth, thinking “what in the WORLD are you SAYING!? STOP IT!!”. I couldn’t though. I would try and I couldn’t. The pain, turmoil, anger, frustration, tears… I wasn’t sure I would make it through that time in my life. Sure it “looked” ok from the outside, but inside… I was dying. I didn’t smile much at home anymore. I didn’t feel much of anything other then sadness. I was numb.
Then came the day that will be burned in my head forever. I had to go back to the doctor for a check, due to an abnormal test result. I headed to my appointment. I had to see an OB in the practice, instead of my midwife, which I will regret to this day. She was doing her exam, and was talking to me. I lost it. I was shaking and crying. I told her I felt like I was going crazy. She looked at me, laughed… this harsh merciless laugh… and said “you’re not going to go crazy”. I was informed I was just having anxiety and I would be fine. She left… yes it was literally THAT abrupt… and the nurse came in with 2 stacks of boxes of meds. One for depression and one for anxiety. She handed them to me, and told me to “take them and you’ll be fine”.
I went completely numb at that point. Like completely.
I remember somehow getting from the office to my van. I remember pulling onto the freeway. It was at that moment the tears unleashed. I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t. I remember driving. I remember the exact place I was on the highway. The semi beside me. The blinding sun. I remember it all. I remember this… this thought grabbing a hold of me, telling it would just be easier if I wasn’t here anymore. If I just drove off the road that it would be better. That I wouldn’t have to feel all this anymore. I remember the wheel turning slightly, but to this day I can’t tell you what kept me from driving off that highway. I wanted to. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to stop hurting. I blanked out. I don’t remember the rest of the drive home. At all. I made it home, got through the front door and collapsed.
From that moment my wonderful husband kept close tabs on me. I don’t think I would have made it through without him. He constantly lifted me up. He constantly kept my nose above water when I thought I would drown. We didn’t have medical. There was no help I could get that I knew of. So for 4 years I battled PPD alone… without medical help I mean. I did what I could. I did what I figured out would work for me. Slowly… ever so slowly… I started to get better, but I will never forget that day. I will never forget that moment in my life.
It took me a long time to talk about it. It did. I have never struggled more with something in my life. The pain of even thinking about it was so intense. It is now… 6 years later I can truly say that, while I still get emotional when I talk about, I openly talk about it now. It’s not something to hide. It is something that sooooo many women go through, without knowing what it is. So much pain that they have to deal with on their own.
Depression and Postpartum Depression affect so many lives, in so many ways. No one has to suffer alone. They don’t. Please… if you are there… just stop. Stop and think. At the very least just please… STOP. Wait. Listen to me… like I said in my other article. You are worth it. You are. So please. Don’t give up. Don’t carry on alone. If you can, use everything in your to reach out. To get help. Maybe those you love don’t understand. Maybe those around just can’t see. It will be up to you to reach out and get help then, but you CAN do it. You can. This world needs you here… We need you here… I need you here… It wouldn’t be the same if you weren’t. You have your own amazing things to accomplish.
I did. While not every day is rosy, I am so happy. My life, though not perfect, fills my heart. I laugh, I smile, I put one foot in front of the other and keep on moving forward. There are days when I feel things slip, but I reach out for my support and keep pushing forward. I’m not saying what I’m doing is amazing, but it’s amazing to me. If it helps just one…. just ONE person. All my pain. All my heartache. All my struggles… were worth it.
You never know what you can do, what you were meant to do. And if you let go now… we will never know. So please… don’t stop. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. We love you. We want you here. We want nothing more then for you to wake up each morning, slide your feet over the side of your bed and stand to take on the world. No one can replace you. No one. There is NO ONE like you. So please, grace us with your presence. The best gift you could ever give us is… you.
This was real. This was my life. This was my pain. This was my existence. This was.. WAS… Nothing can make me forget, and in a way I don’t want to. However, that WAS my life. That WAS how I had to live. It isn’t anymore. I found the strength to get through. To carry on. To move forward. You can to. Please… try. It’s worth it. I am so thankful each day that I didn’t give in to my demons. That I had the strength to make it home, out of my dark moment. That I had the courage to battle this, to keep fighting even when I was exhausted. You can to… at least try… please.
To those like “Friend A”.. thank you again. You are the reason so many souls have been saved. So many lives have been spared, because you took the time to share your love. And to those like “Friend B”, I was there. I know it hurts but you can do it, and it is worth it. You’re not alone. Your pain is real and you do need help, so find it. You are so very very worth it.
Remember… we need you here. Each of you…. those struggling, and those helping the struggling… We need you.
Please see list of resources to get help below…. Please… if you need help. Get it. Please.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-HOPE
Detailed list of help available(phone, email, chat, etc): Get Help NOW – truly an amazing resource