Pregnancy & the Depression Roller Coaster Part Two

For the bulk of this pregnancy, allllll was well.

But eventually I started to feel the all too familiar creeping of depression again. This time, it brought its old pal, anxiety. I started to worry about silly things, working myself into a panic over house sounds, unlocked doors, and my son’s health.

At ~28 weeks pregnant, the symptoms I experienced during Postpartum Depression in 2017 had all returned.

Fortunately, during my pregnancy, I worked with a phenomenal instructor who helped me gain an understanding of my depression and put me in touch with a local Pastor to discuss it.

This Pastor met with both my husband and I, and it was the first time a third party was present while I heard my husband talk about my experience with depression. It was incredibly eye opening.

I have a habit of thinking my family would be better off without me, but it was clear to me that night that they just need me here, even when I’m not perfect or living up to my own standards.

The Pastor encouraged me to make a covenant with God that no matter how low I felt, I would never take my own life. He prompted me to cling to that promise during hard times.

I took my time considering the consequences of such a promise. Was I even capable of agreeing to that? As someone who has repeatedly dealt with depression and in more recent years, struggled with thoughts of suicide more profoundly than ever before, could I truly promise God that my life would only end on his terms?

But especially as I contemplated the hurt that I felt when someone I loved took his own life several years ago, I kept in mind that I would never want my husband or my children to question my love for them. It was my profound love for them that made me want to save them from ME. But If I truly thought I was willing to die for their sake, can I also be willing to live for them?

So I made that promise to God, that no matter how difficult it gets, I won’t be the one to give up.

And that brought me a lot of relief and encouragement.

But my mind found another way to make things interesting.

In my toils with anxiety and depression, I fell into the same old “my family deserves better” and started to wonder if I should leave. This small voice in my head continued to remind me of all sorts of lies: “you’re useless. You didn’t even make dinner tonight. You’re too tired to play with your son, that makes you a bad mom. You’ll probably never beat your mental health issues, and your husband deserves someone much better.”

In my desire to save my family from ME, I wondered if I should disappear after this baby was born. What would happen to my husband? My kids? Surely they would all move on and be much happier.

In the midst of depression, it’s incredibly difficult to see any sort of hope. Every possible outcome is destruction.

And in hindsight, OF COURSE, I know that what I was feeling was ridiculous. Of course I know and truly believe that no one can love my family the way that I do. Of course I do not believe that I am a burden to them.

These are all lies that play on repeat in my mind. I take a small situation, like allowing my kid to watch tv so I can relax(hellllo, super pregnant), and I tell myself that makes me a bad mom. I turn everything into a catastrophe when I am facing depression.

I tried my very best to allow things to work themselves out, realizing that hormones are playing a part and that after the baby was born, I would be able to safely begin taking antidepressants again to avoid my risk for Postpartum Depression.

After 2.5 months, it just was not happening. I couldn’t sleep at night, I was incredibly irritable with my husband and my son, I had withdrawn from most of my friends, and I was stressed out over everything. It was very clear the situation was not improving. So I talked to my Doctor and her immediate reaction was that I needed to begin medication right away.

There are not many studies about antidepressants during pregnancy, because obviously pregnant women don’t want to risk taking them! Makes sense.

But there are a few, and after a couple of weeks, it became clear that the possible temporary complications of medication were not as harmful as the effect of stress on this pregnancy and the increased risk for Postpartum Depression.

I don’t enjoy relying on medication to function. I know that in normal circumstances, I can battle depression by focusing on my health. After this baby is born, I plan to tackle that approach because I know it works. (I’m looking forward to sharing more about that later on)

But until then, I’m doing what’s best for my family. If that includes taking a small dose of medication each day to balance out my serotonin, WELL LETS BE HONEST, it’s better than allowing the devil to win my mind.

Pregnancy & the Depression Roller Coaster Part 1

After combatting Postpartum Depression in 2017, I remained in counseling. It was like I finally HAD to open up about things and realized I could benefit from that openness outside of postpartum. It was really helpful to sort through life with the phenomenal counselor I met with. She made me feel like I was having coffee with a good friend..except I did all of the talking.

Life was good. We were running out of things to chat about. My appointments started getting further and further apart.

And then out of nowhere, Depression crept back in.

All of a sudden, life felt impossible.

I struggled to find joy in my day. I felt insecure about who I was as a wife and mother. I felt that all too familiar voice haunting me and reminding me I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t deserve life, my family would be better off without me. I thought my war with depression was over, but I found myself tucked away in my son’s room, watching him go down his slide and feeling so much love for him, but no joy. It didn’t melt my heart when he smiled. I was in the room but I wasn’t paying any attention to what he was doing-I was much too consumed with despair.

I hated myself for that-for being so trapped in my own head that I wasn’t able to feel present in such a moment.

My emotions compounded and I found myself on the suicide hotline, begging for a reason to want to be alive. I know that I’ve been blessed with a beautiful life, but feeling unsettled made me feel like I was ungrateful for what I’d been given and I didn’t deserve to enjoy it anymore.

I rushed into counseling the next day, was ordered to stop all medications, and had to ask my husband to babysit me until I sorted things out.

Yep. It was that bad.

Fast forward a week.

I was facing withdrawal from my medication and road tripping to see my husband’s family for Easter. Something about getting out of the house made me feel less “on-edge”.

My husband and I spent the drive home talking about our plans for the future. We agreed that it’d be nice to give Luca a sibling in a little over a year. My husband pointed out that a pregnancy wouldn’t surprise him the next time since we’d planned so carefully. Ha, the irony of that…

The next day I found out I was pregnant! We were in shock but completely over the moon excited for what God had in store for our family. Luca was going to be a big brother! We spent that day talking non-stop about the baby.

The excitement was short lived.

I woke up the next morning and something was definitely wrong. An ultrasound revealed that I was having a miscarriage.

Wow.

Another one.

Another child in heaven.

As devastating as this loss was, my husband and I had a greater sense of peace about it than we did when we lost our first pregnancy. Luca was our living proof that God had a plan and would carry it out despite what felt like great devastation. We were incredibly sad, but looked at the loss as an opportunity to prove we trusted in the greater purpose.

We agreed to take some time before trying again, as even this baby was not planned!

When I met back up with my Dr and told him I had been pregnant and lost the baby, suddenly everything added up. He, my counselor, and I were all perplexed by my sudden bout of depression but the fluctuating hormones helped make sense of it.

Right before I found out I was pregnant in 2015, I experienced a similar period of severe, unexplainable depression. We lost that baby also.

It’s like my body knew there was life inside that just was not going to make it.

My body was sad before my heart even knew what was happening. Both times.

Just 30 days after we lost our most recent pregnancy, we found out we were expecting again-and we were in complete shock! Now I’m 37 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby and feeling thankful that God allowed me an opportunity to show I could trust His timing and His plan for our family. I’m so excited to meet the child God meant for us to have. 💕

This Journey is Bigger Than Me

I recently met with a Pastor, upon a good friend’s recommendation, to discuss my battle with anxiety and depression. When I mentioned that I liked to blog about these things, he asked who I was sharing the information for-Was it really to help other people or was it for me? Did my husband agree that my desire to share such personal information was fueled by my desire to help others?

His questions stuck with me long after our meeting and I started to wonder myself, am I really doing this for others? Don’t I get a sense of satisfaction from coming clean? If I do, does that make it wrong? It’s left me at a crossroads for the past month, wondering if I push myself to begin writing again or allow this journey of always sharing my life story to end.

When I think about quitting, I always go back to a conversation that truly stuck with me and allowed me to see God’s potential for my willingness to be open.

A woman I knew from high school had just given birth a few weeks earlier and was concerned she may be dealing with postpartum depression. Acquaintances had reached out to me in the past, but this time was different, because this woman and I were not exactly friends. She and I had nothing but middle school drama between us from day one. Of course, as we got older, neither of us was holding much of a grudge, but we always seemed to bump into each other and end up in each other’s lives for one reason or another. Having nothing to our foundation but petty drama, things were still awkward between us.

Anyways, she was the last person I ever would have expected to reach out to me about her concerns. She was going through something incredibly personal, but she knew from my tendency to share that I had gone through postpartum depression and that I could talk to her about it.

In the end, she never required much help of me. But that day put me in a position to help someone-to set aside the past and show compassion. In that moment I couldn’t help but look to God and giggle a bit, thinking “..really? Of all people, you sent her to ME!?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was helping me. The exchange that we were able to share helped me realize that there is so much more to my journey than just me and my mental health. I want to be here, as a lifeline, to anyone that needs it-even mortal enemies. Because I don’t believe anyone should have to face postpartum depression, or any mental illness, alone. It helps so much to know that someone else out there understands.

I often worry that sharing too much of my story will come back to haunt me, that I’ll be judged for the emotions I share, that I’ll be perceived as weak, that the “raw-ness” of it all will be considered too much. And maybe all of that is true. But if one person out there can feel a little less alone, a little less likely to succumb to depression, a little more likely to seek out help, all because I got online and was real-then it’s worth it, and the women who have reached out to me and shared their experiences are proof that this is bigger than me.

Stay tuned. Prayers appreciated as I navigate the future!