Trigger Warning: For all of my fellow warrior moms battling postpartum depression (PPD) I do talk about my experience with PPD in this post. I am hoping it would not be a trigger for any of you but wanted to put the warning just to be safe.
For those of you who do not know me this is a picture of me and my son, taken this morning! Philip turns one today and this is not only a milestone for him but for me too.
One year ago was one of the happiest days in my life; I had just given birth to our 9th child, Philip Joseph. I was so very happy to have him here with us and OUT of my gigantic belly! I was so relieved that he was ok; he was more than ok…he was perfect.
Everything was going swimmingly until I had an issue with a new mortgage on a house we were going to close on in a week! Yes, a week! Looking back on it all now it was from that moment on that things went downhill. I went from looking at my beautiful new baby to trying to figure out how to get the mortgage since our home (and family) was practically ready to move. If you would have told me that a mere twelve days after his birth I would be having my husband call 911 ON ME and admitting myself into the hospital I would have said you’re crazy.
But that’s exactly what happened. I self-diagnosed myself with postpartum depression with a few sides of sleep deprivation and dehydration. The Doctor agreed and from there is been one hell of a year.
I cannot believe it has been one year and yet I can. There were moments this past year when a moment felt like an eternity; as if time itself stood still and there was never any intention to progress. There were long days, many sleepless nights and basically, there was sheer hell.
I can remember very vividly thinking to myself, “Am I going to make it?” I remember balling my eyes out to my husband, who held me tightly while crying too and saying, “Is this EVER going to end? Will I be OK?” And I most certainly always remember thinking, “Will I ever be normal again?”
Prior to this bout of postpartum depression (PPD) I had a bout of it following the birth of my fourth child. At the time it felt like a severe case but after experiencing this second bout it was ANYTHING BUT severe. It does not discredit it because it was PPD but I was awakened to a whole new beast of PPD the second time around.
I cry when I think of all of the love and support I had (and still have). Without it I can assure you; I would not be here today so a BIG THANK YOU is due to everyone who was there for me and who still is. I thought I loved my husband a lot before this but now my husband has gone beyond being knighted in my mind and he has literally already been canonized to sainthood for he has been performing miracles every single day -multiple times a day- this past year!
So that is why I am here writing to you today. I am here to tell you that while I am so very happy my son is one and even more perfect than the day he was born, I am so very happy that I made it this milestone which, at one point in my mind, was very questionable. The reason a year was always so important to me was because from my original research from my first bout of PPD I read that PPD can last up to a year of the baby’s birth. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that that is the furthest thing from the truth.
With my first bout of PPD I was able to overcome it in less than six months and let me make this clear: with zero side effects after that time. With this bout I am still riding the wave of it. It is nothing compared to the first six months of it but yes, it is still there. Some days are good days and some days are bad days but so far there really haven’t been any completely GREAT days or “normal” days. I have finally accepted the fact that there may never be any and I am finally ok with that.
Last night during dinner my one daughter said something and I totally thought I heard her say something else and I burst out laughing when I said it (as did the rest of the table). I could not stop laughing. It was that hard core belly laugh and it was really really funny (I am not sharing it because some may be scandalized by how my mind works and what I thought she said!). Before I could even stop laughing completely my eldest son Peter (age 10) said, “Wow, I haven’t heard that laugh in like three years!!!” to which my husband agreed. As I slowed down my laughter I thought about what he said and he was spot on. I had not even thought about it myself up until that moment! Now, granted it has not actually been three years since I have laughed like that but it has been like two (one for the pregnancy which doesn’t usually bring forth hard core laughter and another year of my PPD).
Unfortunately for me one major side effect of my PPD right now is that I still do not enjoy things as much as I used to and I definitely don’t laugh as much as I used to (let alone a hard core belly laugh). I have come to terms with it and it is ok for me only in that while I may not enjoy the things as much as I used to I appreciate EVERYTHING and EVERYONE so much MORE than I ever did.
When you think about taking your own life or that of your child(rens) and when you realize that it is irrational thinking but you can’t control it or when it comes and goes you have a total appreciation of EVERYTHING. When the time arrives that you no longer have those intrusive thoughts and when you no longer feel like your anxiety or panic attacks are literally going to kill you, you don’t take one thing for granted (not one!). So, while I may not be the completely joyful person I was before I am a completely changed person and one for the better.
Without this bout of PPD I may just take another day for granted. I may just let time pass my by. But because of it every day is a new day for me. Every day is one that though I may scream to the top of my lungs because the kids did this or that it is a day that I look at each of them in a way I never did before and never would have. It’s an appreciation for life; all life…mine, theirs, ours, and yours. Needless to say, it has brought my relationship with Our Creator to a whole new level.
Because of this past year I have made my dreams come true. I have published my first book which is insane! And even though it is not the first book that I wanted it to be it is a book that has created a whole new mission in my life: that to help other women and men and families who suffer with postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders. Because of this past year (and because my best friend, my cheer leader, my husband is pushing me) I am going to do something I have wanted to do for a long time; I am going to open an LLC to help people. As with the book, this will not be about money (but the money is always nice lol!). This will be about officially doing something that I have always loved to do unofficially and that is to help people.
I started a new hashtag just for me: #justone I realize there are other people who use this hashtag for other things and that is ok. For me #justone represents if I am able to help #justone person then this whole insane year will not have been in vain. I hope with my book, with my blogs, with my continued “unofficial” advocacy for women’s mental health and my new LLC I can help more than #justone but if it’s #justone then I am more than okay with that.
Happy Birthday Philip! Your life has changed me forever…forever for the better.
And Happy One Year Milestone to me! Here’s to many more!
JoAnne (Wife, MOM & Warrior Mom)