Tuesday 24 March 2015

One saw mud, the other saw stars

In my 35 years I have had the pleasure of having two beautiful girls. They bring joy to me everyday. When they were born I was overjoyed, happy, in love with my new beautiful babies. I was the perfect image of a mom.

Well, in all honesty this is what I wished I was. 

Unfortunately when I gave birth first to Abigail I had a small bout of Post Partum Depression. I didn't even know I had it until the day I snapped out of it. I thought I was smart now, I knew the signs. I didn't. When the time came around to have Ellie I never saw it coming. I never even thought about it. Post Partum Depression, oh that's when you cry a little after having a baby, "Baby blues". I will cry a little and than be ok. Or so I thought.

Ellie was about six or seven months when I walked into a health clinic and sat down with the nurse. I walked in with both girls and broke down into tears. I believed myself to be either bi-polar, severe anger issues or I was crazy. I was none of those. I was suffering from post partum despression. I was immediately referred to a psychiatrist and a therapist. I have to admit I was ashamed. There is a stigma attached to depression. Mental illness in its entirety. Not many understand it and not many will try to unless you are diagnosed with it. 

Coming out to your friends and family is not an easy task. I was in complete fear they would think immediately that I wanted to kill my children and that I was not capable to take care of them. That I would need someone to watch me with them. I was afraid people would think I was faking it or think that in fact I was a little crazy. I believe until that day that I walked into the Health clinic I tried real hard to pretend everything was ok. But everything wasnt ok, I felt like I was dying inside.

I let them know through a heavy flow of tears that I loved my children I loved my husband but I don't want to be around them anymore. I am angry ALL the time. I am unhappy, I want to cry, I want to be alone, I want to hide but I cant, I am a full time mommy of two little children. I could put my level of irritability honestly comparable to pms times 10. I was miserable and I was making everyone around me miserable.

I was put on medication and I believed myself to be fine. I had to be. I had no other choice. Life goes on, I have to as well. So I took the medication and following the end of maternity leave I went back to work. I had no idea at that time I was making the biggest mistake in my life. I was on depression medication but I was on nothing to help with anxiety. I grew more anxious everyday. I have always been an anxious person and was put on medication before I even had Abigail. Little did I know the depression medication was great for depression, not so good for anxiety. So I was fixed for my depression and sent off into the work world with a big ol bag of anxiety on my back.

Starting work was fine. I felt fine. I felt great. Like I always did at work. Like I can accomplish anything. But things started to decline. I felt myself always sick. I had never been so sick as I was at this job. It was cold after cold after cold and than Pneumonia followed. I would go to the hospital to check out chest pains. I believed myself to be allergic to some sort of food as I was sick all the time. Throwing up every other day. I thought, how can one have so much food poisoning? I remember telling Enrico, maybe I need to quit this job and get my health on track. Something is really wrong with me. I was holding on by a thread and I didn't even know it.

I spoke to my psychiatrist and told him everything that was happening and that I was even contemplating quitting work because of what was happening. I just wasn't happy anymore. I wasn't me. We spoke long and hard that day and he said that after post partum depression I had become so anxiety ridden I drove myself back into depression. Little did I know this one would be even worse than the first times.

He told me to take short term medical leave and he would put me through courses to better myself. I have to admit this was a hard decision for me. I wasnt sure what my work would say. I was sure they would fire me instantly and than what? We even talked about that happening and if so I could be put on Employment Insurance. But was this the way I wanted to go? I was once again ashamed. Would people see me as abusing the system? Would they think I am just taking time off for a free ride? The internal struggle was deep. I confided in my friends and my family. What should I do. Everyone said to take the time off. I still felt that I was heavily judged. I was sure people around me thought that. Remember I was anxiety ridden and I thought every bad thing all the time.

The day I made the decision to take the time off I visited an old friend randomly and her words were the clincher. She has always been that straight shooter kind of person. The one who will tell you exactly how it is be it if it slaps you in the face or makes you feel like your heart melts. I hadnt seen her in years, but she is exactly who I remember and true to who she is. To me this person has morels and ideals that I envy as she is so matter of fact it makes me wish I could see life that way too. I did that day, through her words to me. I spoke of my troubles and the decision that I was facing. Now, sometimes you just need that one person to put it into perspective for you. Jaimie Kreklewetz I can not begin to tell you how you have impacted my life. How I appreciate it and how I love you for it.

It was not an easy road taking time off work. I delved deeper into depression upon leaving my job. Without the routine of day to day, I was lost. My days were empty and I was back taking care of two little girls while I waited for my courses to start. I had many days where I would just get through the day and be so thankful to see Enrico come through the door so I can give him the baby and turn my back on the world. Dont bother me, dont say mommy, dont touch me, pretend I am not here. It makes me sad to think of the many times I heard Enrico say to Abby "Dont bother mommy right now she isn't feeling good". I felt  horrible inside. But I could not change it. I could not make it better nor did I know how. I just turned my back and ignored everyone.

I think any husband who supports and not only supports but lovingly supports his wife through such an ordeal is a hero. Any woman who has post partum depression and if they were anything like me I am surprised my husband wasn't running for the hills with his suitcase. I would be mad at him at the drop of a hat. I would lay in bed for hours while he watched our girls. He never once said it was hard on him, even though I know it was. I can not even explain the exhaustion. I once asked how can I possibly be this tired. It is like I have been doing stuff all day and I am to the point of utter exhaustion but I have done nothing. Not a single thing. I was told, with your mind in the state it is in, your are mentally exhausting yourself. I have never felt that kind of tired before and hope to never ever feel it again. It takes everything away from you. I didn't clean my house, I didn't do the laundry. I didn't want to do ANYTHING. But I had two little girls. Two little girls under the age of 4 to take care of.

When my courses started routine was again upon me. I was actively seeing my therapist who had me working very hard at getting up and out and doing things again. Be it even taking a shower for the day. Doing one load of laundry or even just taking it downstairs. Just a small accomplishment as I used to think that things had to be "All or nothing" either I clean the whole house or I have failed at it. I can not just clean one room and be happy, all the things that were worrrying me, weighing on my mind, I had to have them done NOW or it just wasnt good enough. They call that All or nothing thinking. Or Black and White thinking. I was a huge abuser of them. I have learnt that it does not have to be that way. Something as simple as that. I didnt even know such a thing existed. A way of thinking that can floor you.

When I started my courses they consisted of:

  1. Stress Management
  2. Life Wellness
  3. Anxiety
  4. Emotion Regulation
These were all group courses. You sit in a room full of people with similar issues to your own and you all talk. I was mortified. I didnt want to do this. But do I want to stay depressed? No! I can not tell you how this changed my life...... I left work in June of 2014 and off and on my courses lasted through December of the same year. I have never dreamed of learning what I did in these courses. I am grateful for the help I received and the people who helped me in these group sessions. It is amazing what you can learn from other people. It is amazing what you can learn from yourself. I dont believe I would be the same person I am today without the help of my psychiatrist. He put me on this path of ...... survival. He is someone I hold in very high regard. 

The one person I believe forever changed how I think and how I am, is my therapist... How do you thank someone for giving you your life back? How do you thank someone for changing your life so that you and your husband are in love like you were when you first met? How do you thank them for getting YOU back? She will never know the depth of my appreciation. 

It is now March 2015. I fully believe after much therapy and much much work on my part I have left depression behind me. I now know the tools to see it coming, to prevent its grasp on me. I understand it. I am ready!

Today March 23, 2015 I write this. The day you read this is will be the 24th of March or subsequently later. Today, on this day I started a new job. It is a milestone for me. I feel I have been to hell and back and now, I am back, I made it! I couldnt be happier and to be honest I couldnt be more proud of myself for digging myself out of that deep dark hole. 

Thank you to my friends and family for sticking through this with me. I know it was tough. I know you didnt understand. You can never know how much it meant for you to be there during such a terrible time. 

To those closest to me.... My Husband... I couldnt have done this without your help. Your support and understanding meant the world to me and I am forever indebted to you for this. 

My Sister, my Mom, my Father, I thank you for always being there for me. At the drop of a hat you would be there and from the bottom of my heart I appreciate it.  I love you forever!

My friends... Trenda and Nadine, thank you for your understanding and support. Jane, I know I pushed you away the most and I love you for still being here. Lori, I feel like you held my hand through it all. Kim, thank you for the late night talks. I love you all. 

Thank you all for being here with me while I end my painful journey. I have lost some friends in this journey and I will always hold close the ones who are true to my heart. 

To anyone reading this blog who is going through depression.
There is light at the end, it is just a hard struggle to it and I fully believe it is possible to get there. 
Never give up. 

"Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars"

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  1. What an amazing read, I loved it! I'm so proud of you for facing your fears - I know there were times when it wasn't easy Going through the process but you stuck with it. The day we met and I discovered we both had GAD - I felt like the back pack of rocks I was carrying fell off my shoulders. To know that someone was going through the same thing as i and that my worries were not something I only did was such a relief. I all of sudden felt like I wasn't alone in my anxiety disorder. Someone got me and they understood what it was like. I feel that someone will read this post and feel the same way about going through post partum. Keep up the great writing!!!

  2. Your story sounds all to familiar and am looking for help but can't seem to make the right connections I would welcome any guidance thanks

    1. You are most welcome to email me. Susanm.mk@shaw.ca.

  3. Great read!!! I too have had my ups and downs with my mentality since having kids. It's like they sucked all my serotonin right out of my head. I wish you the best and so glad that you have found people to reach out to. Thanks for sharing your story on #momsterslink domesticatedmomster.com

    1. Thank you so much for reading :) I hope you can read more. I would be honored.

  4. What an amazingly honest post! I did a group course and I was so cynical at first but it ended up being a really helpful experience for me too xx

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I am glad you can relate. It is a tough situation a group setting but once you let your guard down your life can change

  5. Such a brave post. This has been one of my biggest fears about having children, and that's why I ultimately decided it wasn't for me.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. It was the reason we didn't go for a third. It's amazing how it happens.

  6. Such a thought-provoking, honest post. I am sure it will help many others who read it. I am glad to hear you found the support you needed.

    1. Thanks u so much Al. I hope so. I think women need to talk about it more. Thanks so much for reading :)

  7. It is only through, those of us who have suffered, sharing our stories that we can break the horrible stigma that is associated with mental illness, the sooner people realise it is no different than any other illness in terms of being real the sooner more people can recover.

    Thank you for linking up with my Mental health linky, hopefully it will help raise a little awareness for the issues involved.

    1. I completely agree. Thank you so much for reading my post. I hope you stick around for more. Here is a post you may like


  8. I have been there and worn the shirt...but mine was after an abusive marriage. I took part in courses too which really helped me. I did anxiety management and reclaiming myself and learned all the unhelpful thinking techniques. Black and white or all or nothing thinking does not help... It is only when you understand and have an awareness that you are able to slowly change.

    I recently wrote a post on "unhelpful thinking" during chronic illness but it also applies to depression and any trial or difficulty. You may find it really useful :)

    Here is the link http://wp.me/p5XRN6-1kJ

    A brilliant Post

    Angela at Daysinbed.com

    1. Its wonderful to know they have the resources elsewhere for things such as this. Such great tools to take for the rest of your life.

      I loved your post, it is right on point

  9. What a post! It felt so honest. I'm so sorry that happened, and well done for getting through it! I'm glad you feel better now. As for the friends you lost when you were ill - they were never real friends!

    1. Your comment really touched me. Thank you so much for that. It had always bugged me. I appreciate your comment.

      I would be honoured for you to follow my blog. To follow, please see the top of my blog post. Thanks again for reading :)

  10. As you already know, I also go through depression, I'm bipolar too... I know exactly what you mean and i'm tearing up as I read this because i KNOW how hard that is and I can imagine how bad you felt... Having children is again something else and adds to your list of "Cannot do". I do believe that support of family, friends and partner is one of the most important things, apart from therapy. My partner is a hero to me and has done so many things.... Unfortunately.... He's getting tired of it.... And it's been now a while that he's keeping distance and it's getting worse and worse... It's hard. I need a hug. I am happy you have found your way out already. I'm still in. Drowning.

    1. WOW. Your comment really sits heavy with me. I feel so sorry for you. My heart breaks for you as I know how you feel. I hope your partner sticks through as they are the most important person for you. We even considered counselling for it together just so he would be ok, but he was ok, and we decided not to. But it is an idea. I am so sorry you feel as though you're drowning. So many people are out there that know how you feel. Keep your head up and know you will persevere. ****HUGS****


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