Suffering in Silence
– Alexis Kendall
The story of how I became diagnosed with Postpartum depression and how I recovered. I became a better me.
After I had my son four years ago I found myself living in a new state having been moved from California to Florida with a four month old, only having my in-laws as a support system, and being the only people that I knew besides my husband. It was isolating to say the least. When my son was six months old I started to feel like something was a bit off for me. The first thing I noticed was that I could not lose the baby weight no matter how much I exercised or how clean I ate. Frustrating, but I felt that that was my first clue that something was off. As the months went by I started noticing a difference in my energy level.
As time went on I started noticing the feelings of guilt creep in, however I couldn’t figure out why or what was causing these new feelings. I started to feel guilty that I couldn’t lose the weight even six to eight months later. I started to feel guilty that all I wanted to do was sleep instead of get out of bed, but my body was just so tired. I knew it wasn’t because I was sleep deprived because my son slept twelve hours at night and there was no excuse to be tired. The guilt was brought on by everything that I started realizing I couldn’t do as I had when I first had my son. The guilt was becoming a constant theme throughout my daily routine. I would tell myself that I was being irrational, or unreasonable, but no matter how positive I tried to be, the feelings of despair, guilt, shame and unworthiness to be my son’s mother always came looming back into my mind. I tried getting out more and tried to find more things to do to keep me busy. There would be a few days that would go by and I would think to myself, “Wow, today was a great day! Maybe I was just having a bad few months.” Then slowly as the weeks passed the feelings always came back.
When it really became troublesome was when I started feeling very anxious. The anxiety was like a freight train; once it started there was no stopping it, even after I tried pulling the emergency brake. The train was out of control. The anxiety turned into full blown panic attacks where I felt like I was having a heart attack, but I didn’t know I was having anxiety attacks so it was very scary. The best way to describe an anxiety attack is: extremely overwhelming feelings that not only consume your mind, but also the feelings take over your body. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself to calm down the feelings just rush over you like a tidal wave and you’re left with the aftermath. It was one of the most out of control times of my life.
When I finally decided to go and see a doctor it was on one of my “bad days” as I called it. I had just had an anxiety attack and decided that it was time to find out what was going on with me. I was scared, felt alone, and didn’t know who to tell. The problem that later occurred was that my doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me. He did put me on anti depressants because I asked him if I could be depressed. He thought maybe they would help with my “mood swings” as the doctors referred to them. Not long after I started taking the anti depressants I began to lose my hair and a slew of other problems. The new symptoms became greater and more obvious that something else was going on with my body.
Still depressed, anxiety ridden, and on fifteen different medications for all the “new” symptoms that kept arising, I had never felt worse physically and mentally. I was fifty pounds heavier, balding, and losing my fingernails and toenails. I felt like I was a shell of the person I once was.
I was trapped inside my own body and could not get out, could not reach out for help, and could not imagine living like this forever.
In the midst of all of this we had a disagreement with my in-laws. I wasn’t prepared for what they had felt. They had felt that there was something wrong with me and going on with me. To them my behavior was concerning, and I can guess that I probably scared them because they didn’t know what was wrong with me either. The disagreement came about because I didn’t feel my problems with depression and anxiety caused me to be a “bad” mother as it was put. I had already had so much guilt that hearing the words “bad mother” and “not fit” was devastating. I knew in my heart that during the darkest part of my depression that protecting my son and making sure he had very stable and loving parents was one of my utmost concerns. I did the best I could with the situation that I was given even under a doctor’s care. I never had feelings of wanting to hurt my son. I always thought of him as a light in my life and he is what gave me the strength to keep pushing forward, even when sometimes deep down I wondered if my husband and son would be better off without me around. I would think about leaving them to keep them from experiencing what I was going through, to protect them from seeing me in the state I was in. It was like I disappeared. I could see them but they couldn’t see me. I was no longer in the physical body that I once was.
What I learned was that the disclosure that my in-laws left me with caused me to feel like everything I was doing was for nothing. All the suffering I had counted for nothing even though I wanted to be a better me. I wanted to be well! I wanted to be healthy! I just didn’t know how to get myself back to that place. I felt that since I couldn’t cope with the harshness of their words and couldn’t forgive myself for being what they said I was, I decided to put myself in therapy.
Over the next year and half in therapy it was then that my therapist diagnosed me with postpartum depression. She realized by hearing me talk about all that I experienced those years that I indeed had suffered with depression brought on by the birth of my son. It spiraled for months going untreated, but my health took a turn for the worst when I was put on anti depressants. For my body, the medications made my illness worse. I had a reaction to the medications and didn’t know it for a year and a half. When my therapist confirmed this to me that day I started to cry, because I knew the whole time that I hadn’t gone crazy, I knew that I wasn’t lazy, I knew that I loved my husband and son, I knew that I was a good mother and a good wife. I knew it all along, but I just suffered in silence for two years. Even though my family knew something was different about me, the matter of contention I had was that instead of putting me down, telling me I was making it up, or accusing me of being an unfit mother, I just needed someone to listen. Instead their words just pushed me further away. How could I ever ask for help from my family when they felt this way and they didn’t even know what was wrong with me? What would they have thought of me if I did tell them what I was really going through?
What I learned was you have to tell someone that you trust.
Always tell someone you trust and you feel safe with: A doctor, a therapist, a friend, a mother, a sister, or even your husband. Never ever feel like you are alone in this. It may feel that way, but the ones who care for you will always be there and will understand. I chose to tell my doctor first, but unfortunate circumstances forced me into therapy and I am thankful everyday that it turned out like that. I never gave up and I always knew that I was never meant to suffer in silence alone.
If you have ever experienced postpartum depression and would like to share your stories, please feel free to email me at: email@example.com Support from anyone you trust is what will get you through this.
Also on Facebook and Twitter