Nine years later — and I am OK

by Janice

It is nine years later and I am making a birthday cake, at 12:33 am, with my kids asleep upstairs.

I am a work at home mom. I love my children. I have a full, wonderful life. I even get on airplanes and fly thousands of miles away from my family, sleeping in hotels all alone.

This may seem pretty unremarkable to you. But nine years ago tonight, as my first baby entered the world, I entered the abyss of post postpartum depression and anxiety.

The terror…

Fear and sadness crashed in on my new love. I adored my son. I was completely attached to him. But I was terrified. Terrified of loving so much, of hurting too much, and most of all, of losing my mind.

And in that place, I truly believed my life was over, that I would never feel in control, or safe, or powerful again.

In the hospital, during my first sleepless night as my husband snored in the fold out bed and my son dreamed in the bassinette next to me, the anxiety became unbearable. I felt like a child who needed to run screaming from her nightmare and run to the safety of her mother’s bed.

But I was the mother. I was the mother. I couldn’t be the mother. I couldn’t do this.

I remembered seeing a WWJD bracelet on my nurse’s wrist. I remembered she was kind. I got out of bed, wrapped myself in a robe, and snuck out of my hospital room to find her.

As I sat at the nurses station, my constant tears still streaming, my kleenex ripped and twisted, I listened to her talk to me and watched the other nurses casually chatter. They were all mothers. They had children at home. But they were here, working. They had lives. They smiled and laughed.

HOW?!? I honestly couldn’t comprehend it. I sincerely couldn’t imagine ever being able to function and live a normal life again. I was sure I would be chained to my fears and tied to my child forever. I would never sleep or eat. I would be sick and in this excruciating pain forever.

It wasn’t forever…

Fortunately, when my son was six days old, the doctor at the maternity clinic recognized my condition. (My OB GYN had ignored my growing depression, anxiety, and sleep disorder throughout my pregnancy and after I delivered.)

I got on medication and began the very slow journey to recovery.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety. I am still on medication. But I am ok. I am alive and thriving. And I am oh so grateful to be here.

Why I am writing this post…

Every year, on the eve of my son’s birthday, I remember — like a day of observance. I look at where I was, how far I have come, and how grateful I am.

And I think of how I want to tell every woman who is in that desperate, lonely place that there is hope. I survived. And they will too.

Time passes. Babies learn to feed, and sleep, and even laugh. And new mothers do too.

I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who leaves mental health issues and medication in the past, packed up with the out-grown onesies and old baby bottles.

No, I still struggle. I still need medication.

BUT, thanks to that medication and to getting medical help, I am ok. I can mother my children and live my life. And I can even be happy, and smile, and enjoy life.

Postpartum ProgressIf you are there — if you are desperate and certain you won’t make it out the tailspin of depression and anxiety — please know that it gets better. You can and will survive. Get help. Talk to your doctor and your family. And seek support from people like me, who have been there too.

If you haven’t found her yet, Katherine Stone has created a fantastic website called, Postpartum Progress. It is a powerful resource for women and families affected by depression and anxiety. I implore you to go and spend some time reading there. I wish she had been there nine years ago!

And of course — Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet son — I am so grateful for you and I am so grateful that I have been here with you these past nine years!!!

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom. Talk with me: @5minutesformom and Facebook.com/5minutesformom.



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debra January 8, 2011 at 7:01 am

Thank you Janice for sharing……..and Happy Birthday to your little one! :-)

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2 Janice January 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thank you Debra! I just hope it helps other women! :)

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3 Larri at Seams Inspired January 8, 2011 at 7:22 am

Thank you for sharing your heart today. :) Depression can be so debilitating. I always tell new Moms that if they don’t ‘feel’ right about motherhood, to talk to their doctor. It’s okay to ask for help. No one expects you to do everything.

PS…Zoloft was my saving grace after my second child was born. His first year is a complete blur. I wish someone would have shared with me that it was okay to ask for help, and that I didn’t have to be SuperMom.

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4 Janice January 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thanks so much for sharing Larri!!! Isn’t it so true that we need each other as women, for support and to share our challenges and our victories! It is the isolation that we new moms face that can be one of the toughest things!

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5 Amy January 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

Thank you for sharing your story and letting everyone know IT.IS.OKAY to be on medication and to feel like your world is spinning out of control. I have two children as well and I felt like you did after my second child. It was not immediately after, but when she was about 15 months old. I felt like I had to be perfect, the house had to be perfect and I was (and still am about a lot of things) strong headed and thought I could handle my feelings on my own.

Well, I could not. I finally reached the point where I felt like i had to go see a Dr. and that was the best decision I could ever make. I clearly remember him standing at the sink in the room saying to me, “I know you do not believe this now, but in 6 – 9 months you will feel so much better.”

He was right. 5.5 years later I do feel so much better. I can let things go around the house, let my kids be kids and not think that everything has to be perfect.

Afterall, we are all human and no one is perfect. That is why there is medication out there to help people be able to function on a daily basis. I also think some people do not realize depression and anxiety is genetic and there is nothing you can do about that.

Thank you again for writing this inspirational story and tell you little boy, “Happy Birthday!”

Amy

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6 Janice January 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

The curse of “perfection” is a killer! I try to embrace my imperfection now. My mother is horrified at lots of my “imperfections” – she would never have let her house get as messy etc as I do. But I am doing my best. And I would rather cuddle my kids than organize all the toys into perfect bins every single night.

THANKS for sharing your perspective! I really appreciate it.

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7 Barbie January 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I only experienced minimal post partum depressions; however there was a season in my life where I was overcome with depression and had to be medicated. I am medication free today, although I still have to work through it some times. Praying other woman will be encouraged by your story and know that it’s ok to treat PPD.

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8 Janice January 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

That is wonderful that you are medication free now! :) Thanks so much for your comment :)

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9 Nolie
Twitter:
January 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. Many readers look up to you ladies and many people think that taking medication for depressions means they are weak. You are walking proof that you can battle it and medication is ok.

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10 Janice January 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for the encouragement Nolie!!! I always want to make sure people know HOW flawed I am. I mean REALLY flawed LOL!!! :) HUGS

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11 Nolie
Twitter:
January 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm

You are not flawed. We are all perfect in our own way.

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12 Janice January 11, 2011 at 3:23 am

you are too sweet! That is a lovely way of looking at it. :)

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13 Amys blah, blah, blogging January 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thank you for being willing to share your struggles. I have known so many, many women who have such similiar stories. It is great to know there is a growing community of women who are willing to walk through those stories together so many more after them know they are not alone.

I am studying to be a biblical counselor and I would really encourage women to consider counseling as well. I’m not an advocate of life long, every week for the rest of your life counseling, but it is wonderful as a way to work through periods of your life that often seem hopeless. There is nothing like being able to share hope with someone who has lost theirs.

Hoping for a revolution,
Amy

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14 Loretta January 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Unfortunately the symptoms of postpartum depression are often ignored or overlooked by busy doctors who just notice. This is a brilliant and beautiful post, and I’m glad you put this out there for everyone to read and know that they’re not alone, they can make it through this, and there is life after depression.

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15 Amber Strocel January 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Happy birthday to Jackson!

And thank you so much, Janice, for sharing your story. I also suffered with depression and anxiety after the birth of my first child. I was one of the lucky ones who left it behind, and I didn’t have a recurrence with my second baby. But I can’t forget what that was like. And I think it’s so important to let other mothers know that they are not alone.

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16 Susan P. January 9, 2011 at 12:31 am

I read Gwyneth Paltrow’s experience with PPD and my experience was much like hers. After my first child I had no depression but after my second child was when I experienced it. I would say it was not severe and went away after a few months. I live with a MIL, husband and daughter (plus nephew) who go through depression and take medication so am surrounded by it.

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17 Rachel January 9, 2011 at 1:15 am

Thank you for sharing! My experience with PPD was very similar to yours. I was okay until my daughter was about 6 weeks old. Then anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt exactly like you described it. I felt like my life was over and I’d never be in control again. It was a horrible feeling. At first I didn’t realize that it was PPD because I didn’t know anxiety was a symptom of depression. I thought it just meant feeling sad. But I did recognize that my mind wasn’t working quite right and called my doctor and she got me a prescription right away. It worked wonders!!

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18 Marj M. January 9, 2011 at 8:53 am

Happy Birthday to Jackson. Thank you for writing such a wonderful article. It will give hope back to many who suffer from PPD also. I have taken meds for years and I am so thankful they are there for me to feel human.

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19 Tarasview January 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

yep, every year on Aiden’s birthday I do the same thing… sometimes it amazes me that I made it this far!! Aiden turns 9 in April. I wish we had been friends 9 years ago!

*hugs* Janice- thanks for sharing your heart :)

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20 Rachel January 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Wonderful post, Janice. Jackson and my four year old Ali share 1/8 birthday – and although my PPD didn’t have quite as immediate as an onset as yours did, I also think about where I was four years ago, and how wonderful life is as opposed to all that I was afraid of.

And, I am so relieved and excited to report that, as I am now three weeks post-partum with my second child, it has been a COMPLETELY different experience!! I have felt all of the immediate wonderful things with him that I expected to feel with my first but totally didn’t – and despite the MUCH more traumatic birth and recovery experience (that I am still suffering from right now, thanks to extremely painful teeth problems from pregnancy), there are NO emotional struggles this time around. So just because you have trouble with your first doesn’t mean it will repeat itself with your second – my experience is that the second is SOO much easier!

Thanks, as always, for sharing and being vulnerable!

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21 Eos Mom January 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Bravo!!! Thanks so much for sharing. I had PPD after both pregnancies and I’ll probably be on antidepressants forever and I struggle with anxiety–so it’s great to be reminded I’m not alone, especially from someone with such a busy and full life as you have. I like that you reflect each year on how far you’ve come, I should do that more often.

Happy Birthday to Jackson and congrats on the 9th anniversary of your motherhood!

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22 Star Traci January 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. While not nearly so severe, I too suffered from PPD. It does help to know that you are not alone and many women will feel better after reading this. Your frank honesty helps to shed a light on something that flourishes in darkness and shame. The more we tell our stories, the more we hold each other up through these dark days, the less women will suffer.

And of course, happy birthday to your little man!

:-)
Traci

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23 SoCOMom4James January 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thank you for posting this and reaching out. I know there will be some who read this, are comforted to know they are not alone … and hopefully will reach out for help.

Happy birthday to your son! Ours had one too this week. It is a special time to say thanks.

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24 Lorie Shewbridge January 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm

First of all, a very happy birthday to Jackson – enjoy your day with your family.
Second, thank you so much for sharing you experience with everyone. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for over 10 years now and sometimes feel quite embarrassed to talk about it to people for fear they may look down at me or think I am weak.
Thank you for being so honest, it really helps the rest of us. HUGS!!

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25 Pamela Gold January 13, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I am almost 2 years postpartum with my 3rd son. This is the only time I have had PPD and I continue to fight it every day. I will not give up. I will survive. Once I was told I love my son too much and it made me angry. How can a mother love her son too much? And so I continue to fight. My name is Pamela and I have a mental illness yet I am somewhat normal and sane. Take that! (I blog fearlessly about my PPD in hopes to help others in the fog)

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26 Robin January 13, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Thanks for sharing this story – I love reading how people look back like this.

Like Pamela above, I am 2 years into my fight with PPD and have started blogging about it. Sometimes I think I see the end and then other times, like this week, I spiral back down. Overall I’m doing well, but I’m obsessed with “getting better” and leaving it behind me. I’ll admit it freaks me out a little to hear you say you still struggle. How do you deal with that?

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27 Liz January 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

What a great story to share. I struggled with some baby blues for a while. Having been previously medicated, I was lucky that my husband and family were looking out for me. I’m getting ready to have my third and have saved this to be constantly aware that it could still happen to me. Thank you. I really appreciated this.

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