I am sitting here with wet eyes, light tears rolling down my cheeks. I just did something I’ve been wanting to do since my little boy left my house but it has been so hard for me to do… I sent an email to his social worker. I sent an email apologizing.
I know, I know. I’ve been told countless times that Mental Illness is not my fault so in turn it is not my fault that T is not living with us. It is hard to convince me of that. I still remember during our interview with T’s social worker, his boss, and our social worker being asked what would happen if I fell victim to Depression again. Being the healthiest I have ever been at that point (and medication free for 4 years), I said that will not happen. I was so stupid for saying that… so stupid for thinking that as a reality. Depression has been a part of my life for over 20 years. It is like the relative you don’t want to invite to your child’s birthday party but have to.
Even with my Therapist, friends and family telling me it isn’t my fault, I’ve tried to put myself in my husband’s shoes. What if it was him who was in pain, him who couldn’t eat, him who kept crying and shaking… would I be able to tell him it wasn’t his fault, it is an illness? Would I be able to forgive him? I’d rather not answer those questions but just admit that my husband is an incredible man for staying with me.
So, I wrote this letter. I titled it “Apology” with T’s name after it in the subject line. I explained how I was so sorry, that I had no idea how quick the illness would come on. I explained to him how I got worse after T left and once again entered Short Term Psych. I told him we still love T and think of him daily. I told him that I hope T is doing great and that his new family loves him and can take care of him the way I couldn’t.
Writing this short letter brought on images of T’s face. His dimpled cheeks, dark brown hair, deep chestnut eyes. It brought on memories of me kissing his soft cheek, holding his tiny hands. Memories I never want to forget, but still remind me I am not in remission yet with Depression.
There is still some shame there… blame… horrible guilt.
I don’t know what I expect. I will probably never hear from T’s Social Worker. The mother in me just wants to know he is okay and is thriving.
Here I am, sitting, facing this white screen with dry eyes still thinking of T, choking back some tears. I will get better. I will get to remission. I’ve been at war with Depression 5 times before and have always came out victorious. I am winning this 6th battle and will hopefully be able to kick Depression’s butt to a far off galaxy to never be seen for a 7th time.
This past Monday, the article below came up in my Facebook newsfeed. It sparked my interest a lot because those of us who have been through Postpartum Depression or have seen a wife, daughter, friend experiencing Postpartum Depression will ask, “What the heck could you love about Postpartum Depression?!”
by: Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW
Words… words can hurt, heal, describe feelings, activities. They are big, they are small. Some carry intense emotion, while others are minute. When we write, we use words to describe our characters in our stories. What are they feeling? What do they look like? Where are they going?
What happens to that character, when that character is you?
What words can you use to describe what you are feeling as you sink into the depths of Postpartum Depression?
Unworthy, Hopeless, Helpless, Pained, Anxious, Nauseous, Angry, Unloved, Evil, Ugly, Tired, Hateful, Powerless, Emotional, Apathetic, Dead, Beaten, Failure, Stressed, Confused, Doubtful, Anxious, Depressed, Empty, Foggy, Somber, Shame, Blame, Guilt
Now, what words do you use to describe yourself after you have overcome the trauma of Postpartum Depression?
Empowered, Healthy, Loving, Worthy, Joyful, Happy, Strong, Survivor, Warrior, Successful, Deserving, Wholehearted, Inspiring, Lively, Rejuvenated, Refreshed, Alive, Beautiful, Good, Calm, Helpful, Hopeful
My lists are a only small grouping of words that describe the emotions and feelings I experienced while hurting from Postpartum Depression and after my recovery. I implore my readers to tell me some more that they have felt if they are fellow sufferers and I ask others to think about how they would feel if they went through it and survived!
Teach and Tech Tuesday… I know, what the heck does that mean?!
Today I am going to provide information on Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis, etc. and resources that can help. I added the Tech into it because through the years, there has been a lot of resources that can be found and obtained through the great use of our world wide web, the lovely internet.
Please note, I am not a doctor or health care provider but rather a survivor and Warrior Mom of several of these illnesses. Back when I had my daughter and went through the hell of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, resources were very limited. This was the end of 2006. Facebook wasn’t what it is today, MySpace owned the web. Online psychiatric or therapeutic help wasn’t really available. There was not a way to connect easily with others that were feeling exactly how you were. There were no Postpartum Professionals in my area, in fact there were none in the State of CT at the time. My help came from my hospital’s short term psych ward with competent staff but they were not specialized in Postpartum Illnesses. Fast forward 9 years and we have made so many advancements in the field of Perinatal Mood Disorders, including specialists in the state of CT where I am, but we still have a long way to go.
My first resource, founded in 2004 by the original Warrior Mom, Katherine Stone:
Postpartum Progress – A great resource to those suffering, their family and friends, and for mental health providers. Every year for the last 3 years on the Saturday closest to the Summer Solstice (longest day of the year), thousands of women all over the globe participate in an event called Climb Out Of The Darkness to raise both funds and awareness. Postpartum Progress also runs a blog where Warrior Moms share their stories at http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ . Here women can read about others who are went through what they are currently going through. Here they know they are not alone. Here they can find private forums and talk one-on-one with others. On this blog there are also links to find specialists, treatment programs, support groups, organizations, common questions, definitions and books. It is a tremendous resource that I highly recommend and wish I knew about all those years ago.
Another good resource is:
Postpartum Support International – Like Postpartum Progress there are links to finding professionals, support in your area, support if in the military, etc. You can chat online with an expert. You can find training if you would like to become a volunteer coordinator… the list goes on and on.
A resource I hope you never need but very valuable to have:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline – Yes, it is highly possible to have suicidal thoughts while suffering from Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression is a form of Clinical Depression and carries with it much of the symptoms of Clinical Depression.
Another resource I like is:
Psych Central – They have articles about every Mental Illness you can think of. Some relate to studies, some are from those that suffer, some deal with doctors.
And of course there is Facebook. Just search Postpartum anything and numerous Facebook groups will pop up where you can friend people who are in pain like yourself or help someone.
Lastly, please, if you or someone you know is suffering from a Perinatal Mental Illness such as Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis, etc… get help! The repercussion of not seeking help can be deadly, not only for mom, but possibly for her child.