the search for my lost self

It was March. I was sitting in dimly light the basement of my father’s house, having just come far too close to a break down for me to put on a brave face and go upstairs to eat dinner just yet. DanO was faithfully by my side, no doubt bewildered by the woman sitting next to him who is a dead ringer for his wife but her behavior indicates that it is not she.

“I want myself back,” I said as much to my husband as to the darkness around me, “I want to be me again.”

Relieved that the woman wearing his wife’s skin was equally aware of the problem, DanO nodded, “You will be.”

“You will be.”

I almost let myself believe him.

We sat there a while longer with OBaby finally (and I do mean finally) asleep in the pack-n-play on the other side of the door. I pleaded silently to God, with no more articulate thoughts than “Please, please, please…”

This was not the first time I’d stepped back to survey the situation and hated what I saw. It wasn’t the first time I knew there was a problem, but it would still be a month and a half before I spoke to a professional about my fear, my mood swings, my middle of the night panic attacks. And now, on this side of that ‘first day of the rest of my life‘ meeting with a sweet woman from my church who also happens to be a therapist, I have this reoccurring thought:

Why the hell did I wait so long?

Well, that’s entirely not true. Literally, I know why. It’s a complex algorithm that includes 1. not thinking my issues were depression related (I didn’t have the ‘weepy-sads’ like you see in those pharmaceutical commercials, I had the ‘run-away-and-hides’ so it must just be my problem) 2. having watched someone dear to me be medicated year in and year out for psychological issues, I did not want to follow that pattern 3. a huge looming and horrific elephant in the room named Will They Think I’m Unfit To Be A Mother?.

Yes, I could tell you why I waited. But really, knowing what I know now, being in the place I am now, it’s still a little baffling to me how I let myself believe those lies that ultimately sent The Real Me on a nine month exile.

Do not believe the lies.

Ironically, month in and month out the lies got louder.“But now it’s been 7 months… it’s too late…” I told myself, as though there were an expiration date on my emotional wellness. Each month as the broken record of “it’s too late” spun faster and faster in my mind, things also got harder, heavier, scarier…

until one Sunday morning when our church was commissioning the new lay ministers: members appointed to serve the church in various capacities. “These servants of Christ,” the pastor said from the pulpit, “are here to serve His body, you, The Church in your time of need. Use them. They are God’s gift to you.”

He may as well have said “Allison” at the end, so loud was the throbbing pulse of the Holy Spirit in my ears.

The next morning, after hanging up the phone with the lay minister coordinator, my pleading, inarticulate supplication of “Please, please, please…” became the insufficient praise, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…”


Please hear me in this: nothing, no pride, no fear, no stigma toward depression or medication is worth the pain of those months.

I will never have them back, those months in which I wasn’t able to be myself to my husband, my brand new son.

If you don’t know where to grasp, what to reach for, who to tell, might I suggest you start with your healthcare provider? I know, I did not start there (in fact, it took both the woman from my church and DanO practically holding my hand to get me to make and arrive at my appointment) but in the end none of the things I feared from a doctor’s visit became reality. None of them.

If you need someone to hold your hand, please tell me; no one should leave their postpartum depression untreated as long as I did.

33 Responses to “the search for my lost self”

  1. Sara

    Well said. It doesn’t go away not matter how many times you wish for it. It’s a chemical reaction and needs to be helped. Well done for finding the strength to ask for help xxx

  2. Cameron

    Anne Lamott says that the two best prayers there are are, “Help me, help me, help me, ” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Thinking of you, sweet girl, and I’m so glad you’re facing and sharing and dealing with this.

  3. MamaB

    Saying a prayer for you! I’m so glad you are getting the help you need and know you have a whole world wide web full of bloggy friends to listen!!

  4. mama23bears

    take a deep breath and relax now. things will start getting better one day at a time. one day, you’ll just wake up feeling refreshed and liek there is no dark cloud looming over you. it’s important to talk about becaus ei think their is stigma that people beleve it is somehow their fault for feeling like that. i think it’s great you are being so open with everyone about it.

  5. Elaine

    You’re gonna feel like a new woman AND yourself again all at the same time. And it’s going to be so wonderful for all of you. Congrats for taking the steps you need to take for your family and most importantly for YOU. mwah.

  6. Ashley

    Allison, it takes real courage to be able to admit these sort of things. I applaud you for taking that step and I pray that you’ll find healing and support in your choice to be open. Undoubtly there are other women struggling with similar problems who need to hear that they are not alone!

  7. Alanah

    I have never commented on your blog before, but I read it each day, you write with a very honest and refreshing spirit. I just wanted to say good luck with your journey, this motherhood thing is not so easy and while there are the good times, things don’t always get better when they smile at you!
    Wishing you and yours all the best.

  8. Nicole Drysdale-Rickman

    I am bawling my eyes out right now because I know every single thing you feel and have been feeling it for 9 months as well…as old as my sweet baby boy is.

    I have been waiting…waiting…waiting to go see someone until my son was 1 year, because I KNEW, I KNOW they will want to give me medication and I want to nurse with no meds as long as possible.

    This sentence: I will never have them back, those months in which I wasn’t able to be myself to my husband, my brand new son- hits home and hits home hard.

    Thank you for saying what I need to hear. Thank you. Thinking of you, Allison. :)

  9. Kelsey C

    It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to see each other, but know we love you hon! You’ll be close to Matt and my thoughts and in my prayers. I love reading your blog and the brave, funny, honest, and beautiful way you share you and your family’s journey.

  10. emily bilbrey

    sweet allison – you are so brave to write these words! i just want to commend you on sharing this with us all – and also please know that (and i’m sure i speak for many when i say) the reason i read this blog is YOU! you and your darling boys, you and your fabulous personality & writing – whatever form those things come in. indeed, one of the first things that comes to mind when i think of you is “happy new mommy”, but there’s nothing wrong or shameful in being a happy new mommy who also suffers from depression. dealing with ppd does NOT mean that you don’t love your son, or that you are an unfit mother. please don’t feel as though you’ve mislead anyone, and please don’t feel as though you owe an explanation or excuse to validate your feelings…

    i myself have suffered from depression throughout my life. i did not experience ppd, although my anxiety has had more severe flare-ups since becoming a mom. i’ve personally written about depression very little on my own blog (if you look in my “mopey mommy” category you’ll see a snippet) but i truly commend and sympathize with those who do offer up their specific experiences and feelings on the matter.

    i sincerely hope that from this day on, things get easier for you with every single step. asking for help is a HUGE deal – you should be SO proud of yourself! you, your darling husband and your insanely adorable son will all benefit from receiving the help you need and deserve. after all, if none of us has all the answers. if it weren’t for others, how would any of us ever learn anything??

    sending many hugs and well-wishes from afar. love love love,


  11. MooHoo

    I’ve nevery commented on your blog before, but I follow it near-daily and have so enjoyed reading your journey through motherhood. Thank-you, thank-you for sharing this post with the world. It takes a lot of guts to put it out there, and I so appreciate seeing your bravery and honesty about motherhood on this tough subject. It is always easiest to share only the “good” stuff about being a mom, I know that I do the same… but being a parent is an emotional roller coaster and life of extremes–the happiest, most awe-filled time, and the scariest, most frustrating time as well. All of the sadness and anxiety is a part of the journey to becoming a stronger person and worthy mother, and I sincerely thank you for sharing this relatable and true to life facet of parenting. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels reassured and understood just by reading your words that ring true to this crazy experience of raising a child.

  12. Amy G

    I haven’t written to you, but have been following you. I also live in Minnesota…up north. I respect your honesty and bravery. It is very hard to admit to others that something is not right. I didn’t go through PPD but have gone through depression. Three and half years ago I was in an accident with my horse and lost my right thumb. After returning home after 10 days in the hospital I felt so lost. I wanted to hide and never be seen again. I wanted to sleep and just keep thinking it was just all of a nightmare. My husband and I are devoted Christians, but even in hard times when one thinks that things should have been different you question the One who can make that difference. I sunk deeper and deeper into depression and I had two older boys and a 7 month old daughter that I could not care for. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help or medication. My anxiety flared and I couldn’t go into public without feeling like my body was going to explode. The day that I decided to go to my physician was so difficult. I was given some medication and it made such a difference. I didn’t want to be that person it wasn’t helping me or my family or my walk with the Lord. I stayed on it for a year. I got back to life, I went through physical therapy and got movement back in my hand. I retaught myself to write and many other things. I got rid of the thoughts, almost, they come and go but now I know how to handle them. I had to share my story with you in hopes to give you encouragement. Even though I had felt why me? God new and I will let Him use me for His glory. Blessings to you.

  13. Tiffany

    I really just want to a) hug you b) share coffee c) watch our babies play together. Can we work on making that happen?

  14. alysha

    I feel like i know you all so well. And relate to you more than anyone. I have just been diagnosed with PPD and my son is 11 months old. I waited too long, I needed help but i hid under my supermom cape. Thank you for coming out these last few days. You have really helped me.

  15. Dad

    I wish I were there to hug you. I know a Dad’s hug won’t fix it, but it’s gotta help.
    Love, Dad

  16. Jess

    You are an amazing and strong person. I wish you all the luck in the world dealing with this.

  17. Heather of the EO

    It’s so amazing, what speaking the truth out loud can do. It takes a bit of the power, stealing it away from The Big Bad Thing. Not that it’s then easy, of course, but open and new and hopeful.

    Peace to you, friend.

  18. Cherie

    I am so glad you got the help you needed. I’ve been there myself several times, and it is just hard. Plain and simple. You look in the mirror and don’t know who is looking back at you. The more people who share about their experiences with depression, the more people can be helped through this terrible disease. Bravo for sharing.

  19. Alena

    I love this. I love the conversation with your husband (we’ve had the same one) I love all of it…because I can relate.

  20. Grace

    This is what so many moms need to hear! I went through this as well, didn’t wait as long as you did, but did wait TOO LONG. I look forward to following your blog and your journey back to wholeness.

  21. Carri

    I think this post is amazing as are you. So many Mom’s both new and old need to see this post and need to know they are not only, not alone but there are people out there who can and will share there story and their time with them. I too suffered from what I thought to be PPD. I came to later find out it was not going away and I also learned I can not be ashamed. I must be honest and say I have not been on medicine since being in Florida but I am feeling well and hoping to not need to be medicated. I would like to start taking some herbal medicine though as I have heard it can give a little boost.


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