I Will Not Be Silent

6 Flares 6 Flares ×

After the birth of my daughter, I struggled with crippling anxiety. Rock bottom doesn’t even begin to describe the fears that played over and over in my head. Rolling through scripts of SIDS and crazy diseases like a movie day in and day out. One of the things I learned through this time is that not everyone understands. Not everyone will be there for you. And unfortunately, there are a lot of ignorant and uneducated people in the world.

Which  brings me to Honest Mom being raked over the coals for being…well, honest. This article on Parenting.com featuring her struggle with depression and anxiety after the birth of her kids started a firestorm of criticism – some supported her and appreciated her honesty, while others went so far as to berate her for having kids in the first place.

I’m tired of women being shamed into silence, living in fear that they’ll be treated just as people are treating Honest Mom for sharing her story. The way I was treated by some of the select few I told. I will not be silent. No matter how many times you push me or try to knock me down. I’ll stand here and shout it for as long as I can, because women are dying. Dying because they’re too afraid to ask for help. Or because they reached out and their hand was insensitively brushed away.

I was on the receiving end of some humiliating and scathing remarks when I was at my lowest, but guess what, I still won’t be silent. And Honest Mom refuses to be silent. And so do a lot of other women who are stepping up in support of her and telling their own stories – here and here. I wrote this story over a year ago. My story. My own struggles with postpartum anxiety.

I refuse to be silent.

My Story

She sat in the physician’s office, crying uncontrollably, unable to speak. She wanted to explain to him how small her world had become. To tell him that she was barely functioning. She’d open her mouth, but the reality of it would hit her in the face and she’d choke on the words. She had already visited her OB (twice), spoken with her pastor, another Church counselor, and three different therapists.

Desperate for help, she was begging someone – anyone – to fix her. Finally at the end of her rope, she sat trembling in that cold, sterile room for the second time.

She couldn’t leave the house. She couldn’t let anyone hold the baby. She would stand at the sink for an hour washing her hands. Showering was torturous. It would take so long that before she could finish, she’d run out of hot water, forced to finish in icy cold water.

If anything touched the floor, it was sanitized with bleach or thrown away. Books. Notebooks. Expensive make-up and lotions. Toys. Food. Clothes. Towels. The list goes on and on. Her hands and arms were raw from cleaning and washing. She would even obsess in her dreams, waking up relieved that she hadn’t really held her daughter without washing her hands.

Every day, she would beg her husband to leave her to find a better wife and mother for their daughter, one that they deserved.

By the time she realized what was wrong, she was already in the depths of it. She was living her own personal hell. What started out as attempt to keep her daughter safe had spiraled into an agonizing nightmare that is beyond words – postpartum OCD, one of the lesser known and misunderstood of all postpartum mood disorders.

Initially, even her doctor had written off her fears as normal first time mom feelings. Her OB did the same. Each therapist talked about anxiety and breathing exercises. It wasn’t anxiety – it was an intense FEAR. Fear of germs, fear of SIDS, fear of losing everything that meant anything to her … complete and debilitating fear.

One day, she met a woman online who was struggling with some of the same issues. Like a beacon of light in her darkest time, Cate understood her. She talked to her daily, always there to encourage her. At Cate and her husband’s urging, she was able to get the courage that led to that fateful day when she sat sobbing in her doctor’s office. He prescribed a very low dose of medicine – too low. She would call his office crying and begging for a higher dose. Every second was excruciating.

Looking in the mirror, she did not recognize herself. A woman shattered.

It’s still so hard to believe that woman was me.

I’m slowly getting back to my old self. It scares me to think where I would be if I hadn’t met Cate and didn’t have my husband there to hold my hand every step of the way (he really meant it when he vowed for better, for worse).

It has been a very rough journey. A journey that has certainly taken its toll on us, our marriage and our family. It makes me sad when I think about where I was 2 years ago. I would’ve rather had two broken legs. Gladly. It would have been less paralyzing and painful.

I still struggle. I’m still afraid at times. I now understand what people mean when they say “rock bottom.” But I am able to live. I’m able to visit friends and family. I’m able to take a shower, an entire shower, in warm water. I’m able to play on the floor (gasp!) with my daughter. I’m able to live without that horrible fear in the pit of my stomach that something very, very terrible is about to happen. I’m able to enjoy the family I had always dreamed of.

We’ve come a long way and remain committed to getting our life back. If there’s a silver lining in this journey, a journey that almost cost me my family, marriage and my life, it’s that through these struggles I’ve been able to help others dealing with some of the same issues and hopefully can continue to do so.

PICKING UP THE PIECES

Someone once told me that if you take something fragile and shatter it, even if you glue it back together, it will never be as beautiful.

I am not fragile.

I’ve traveled a long road to get to where I am today. Not the “life is a highway” kind of road, but a treacherous and winding road. I’ve fallen more times than I can count and have the emotional bumps and bruises to show for it. My marriage was shaken to it’s very core. Although most were understanding, some people couldn’t help but show their true colors with their lack of empathy – those relationships will never be the same.

There is hope. There is life after a postpartum illness. A beautiful life.

Maybe it won’t be entirely as it was before, but it will be even more glorious. You will wake up every day and be grateful that you were able to crawl out of the darkness and depths of a place so terrifying that most can’t even imagine it. You’ll laugh. You’ll breathe. You’ll begin to feel alive again. But you will never forget. And that inability to purge those memories is what will make your life so much more amazing. Stronger. More appreciative.

Some people have called me brave for stripping away the layers of pain to expose the rawness. I would call it desperate. It’s terrifying to expose your soul to the world, but too many women are suffering in silence just as I did. So if I can reassure one mother, save just one person by sharing my experience, then it’s all worth it.

If you’re crippled by anxiety or fear, so angry you want to scream, empty, sad, or just generally not feeling like yourself, tell someone. Anyone. Your husband. A friend. Your doctor. If they don’t listen, find someone who will. Postpartum illnesses are treatable and a lot more common than you know. Women have been shamed into feeling like bad mothers if things aren’t always rainbows and butterflies after the birth of a child, making them too afraid to talk about it.

I will not be silent.

Will you?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Like this? Share it by using one of the social media buttons above!

Plus, find me on Pinterest by clicking the button below!

Comments

  1. Thanks for not being silent! It’s disgusting how people judge other moms dealing with issues that are earth shattering. No one wants to take medication…but some of us have to.

  2. mongupp (@mongupp) says:

    thankyou for sharing…medicine does help!

  3. I have bad anxiety and I’m currently in another “depression phase”. Long story short, I’ve had 4 early miscarriages and there is no hope for me in sight. I’m 36, one ovary, time running out and all that has been offered that will help is weight loss surgery which my insurance will not pay for and I cannot afford. All my major life dreams revolved around babies and family, so I have been lost for some time. People stop being my friend, they stop talking to me, they tell me to “get over it” or having kids “it’s everything”. They think it’s simple to “not think about it” or to just “go adopt”. Well, it’s not. It hurts and sometimes people just make it worse when I am TRYING to reach out. No, I don’t expect someone to have magic words to fix me.I just want to feel like I am not alone.. like something is there for me and that is a very hard thing to find

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      I’m so sorry. I wish there were magic words to fix everything for you. I can’t believe that people can be so heartless to tell you to get over it. You’re definitely not alone. Even if you don’t have friends in real life who don’t understand there are a sea of women online who struggle. You can always reach out to us for someone to listen. *big hugs*

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story with women everywhere. After my youngest was born, I fell into such a deep depression that I was unable to function. Thankfully my husband was wonderfully supportive in getting me the help that I desperately needed, but was terrified of asking for.

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      This is what I’m hoping to change – even in a small little world that I can reach – the fear of asking for help. If we cut our finger and needed stitches, we wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctor. This shouldn’t be any different. Glad you are doing well.

  5. Thank you for your post . There needs to be more understanding and resources for women with these issues. We are there for you. 🙂

  6. You are a beautiful person. You ARE brave. And yes, I can see that you were also desperate. I was there where you were, I still am to a degree. I have Postpartum PTSD and it affects most, if not all, parts of my life. I had no idea that’s what was wrong with me in the beginning. I didn’t realize something was wrong until I sat alone in our home with our baby one day and sobbed. All day. I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want to nurse her. All I could think about was how I was violated by my doctor when she was born. Then I realized that I wasn’t enjoying her giggles, her smiles, her coos & sighs. Then I knew I needed help. At first, no one understood. Then I found friends online who had been through postpartum illnesses and that helped immensely. Thank you for standing out and reaching out to those moms who may not know where else to turn. Thank you for telling them it’s okay to have these feelings.

    I would love to link this post to my blog if that’s alright with you. You have written this so beautifully; it is so raw. That’s what moms need to see.

    <3 to you!

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      Hi Jennifer, Thanks so much for your lovely comment. You can absolutely link to this. The more people we can reach, the better! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story. hugs

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. Apparently I have been suffering from postpartum depression for about 10-12mo and didn’t know it. Unfortunately it took that long for my husband to talk me into going to the doctor. I was supposed to go today but had to cancel due to an ice storm so now I do not go till Tuesday. I am glad to see that there are others that understand.

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      I’m so glad you are reaching out to your doctor. Postpartum illnesses can be so hard to recognize when we’re in the depths of them. It is often our loved ones who see it first. Tuesday will come quickly and I know that once you take that step, you will start to feel so much better – just knowing help is on the way is a weight off your shoulders. And you will get better. There will still be some bumpy days, but don’t give up! The good days will start to outweigh the bad before you know it. I’m so proud of you for getting the courage to talk to someone. That’s often the hardest step! *big hugs*

  8. I am with you. I think I always had PMDD. That one week a month I was always in the bosses office for how I spoke to people. I didn’t make the connection until I had my son 3.5 years ago. After having him that week was 10x worst. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, it was me. I talked to my OB and started some happy pills. I feel so much better for it. I do think if I take it later in the day I can accomplish much more cleaning in a faster pace than with the medicine. I reserve that for special occasions when another adult is with my son. 😉

  9. Thank you for sharing your story. THANK YOU. The more we talk, the better. I won’t shut up either. Every thank-you I get from a mom who is hurting and got help because of something I wrote, every blog post like this, and yes, even the haters – they all make me want to spread the word even more.

    Hugs to you!

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      Hugs to you, too! The more women we have to shout the word, the louder we’ll be and the more women we can reach!

  10. Thank you. Yay for not being silent. Yay for standing up! Yay for being a great and honest mom. And in my special little case – Yay for Zoloft and Klonopin. 🙂

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      It always surprises me how many women come forward and admit to struggling when I post something like this. Yay to you also for finding help! 🙂

  11. Your story moved me. I just kept thinking thank goodness for your courage, thank goodness for your devoted husband, thank goodness for your good friend Cate, and thank goodness for the little ones who you are well enough to care for now. It’s the loving people I kept thinking about, and NOT the hateful ones who were rude to Honest Mom and many others. Bless you and your journey. Be well…

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

    I was never the same after having my babies and often cried for no reason. On most days, I just wanted to curl in a ball and wish that I was somewhere else. I had severe feelings of loneliness and wanted to be with my family who lived across the country. I struggled greatly with keeping everything in order, which upset my husband greatly. He didn’t understand…and here I was a big disappointment. Some of these feelings come back every now and again and I am so grateful for the internet which gives me articles like this because I am fed up with magazines that criticize us for our true feelings and actions.

    • Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

      My husband didn’t understand what I was going through either. Maybe someone needs to write a book for dads with tips to identify postpartum illnesses. They’re usually the ones who notice first that something is amiss.

  13. We lost our first child and we have not tried again since. I know that there are a lot of moms out there who have the same thoughts and feelings as you have written. It is important to speak out to show others they are not alone in what they are feeling.

  14. My heart breaks for all the women that deal with PPD and don’t tell anyone because they are worried about what others may think of them. PPD is real, and it’s manageable, if you reach out for help. My best friend didn’t tell me until her son was about 7 that she hated him for the first 4 months and didn’t even want to touch him. She felt so guilty and was afraid to open up. The public shaming of mothers that reach out and ask for help has got to stop. 🙁

  15. Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

    I know, especially when it comes from other mothers. I was telling my husband that other day that decades ago, the overall sentiment was that it takes a village to raise a child. Anymore. people are lucky to have a family member or 2 to help. And now instead of helping each other out, a lot of moms just want to cut each other down. It’s sad.

  16. You are such an amazing woman for sharing this. A lot of other women are ashamed or want to keep stuff like this hidden. PPD is very real. I suffered from it with my now 3 year old. It can be very damaging to mother, baby, husband, and other children in the family. The medication I took helped me tremendously. I’ve been lucky enough to not experience it with my now 4 month old. I thank God every day that my family stuck by me and helped me through it. Thank you again for sharing.

  17. This was a really great article and thank you so much for sharing. I had no idea PPOCD was out there. This must have been terrifying for you. After I had my daughter I had some PP anxiety which was helped significantly with therapy. 4/5 women I am close with had some kind of PPD after they had their babies (especially their first)

    I have found that where I live, it’s really talked about. You meet with a nurse when you register at the hospital (while pregnant) and go over signs, get pamphlets (one for dad’s on what to look for as well) talk about daddy PPD, and take a test to assess your “risk”. Then 3 days after baby is born a nurse comes to your house and you go through it again.

    Hopefully with women like you it will be like this for everyone.

  18. it’s always better to admit and get it out there, in my opinion. well done. TALU 😉

  19. just wanted to whisper a thanks your way for tackling a very important topic that many people like to pretend isn’t worrisome or that common. i never wanted to hurt my child, but i could never get the thought of hurting myself out of my head – i totally identify with thinking that your child would need better mother than you could be – i would think of just driving my car off the road or how to make it look like an accident so my child would still get my insurance. it angers me that we are made to fell ashamed – i felt like i would crack at any minute and then they would say that i was an unfit mother – i think that’s the part that scares us all is the fear of our children being taken from us because we asked for help. and we shouldn’t be ashamed – any individual with that many hormones flowing through their bodies would crack under pressure – even the illustrious tom cruise would be forced to imbibe on anti-depressants.

  20. Crystal says:

    I’m so glad that you posted your story. I got into my panic disorder DEEP before I got help and I was basically not leaving my bed at that point. Nobody understood why I was the way I was and I was so embarrassed that I was so abnormal. After having my first child the anxiety came back with a vengeance and I had a very difficult time bonding with him until the anxiety was addressed. I think more people need to know that anxiety happens to a LOT of people and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you for telling your story.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I Will Not Be Silent – by Motherhood On the Rocks […]

Speak Your Mind

*

6 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 6 Flares ×