something we don’t really talk about

I don’t remember what day it was, or even what month, but I do know it was sometime during the dark, cold winter of 2009. The snow and the ice heaped their weight on top of my already unbearable load of new motherhood. It got dark early, both outside and in my heart. The date may escape me, but the details of that evening are emblazoned on my memory.  We had just hit an impossibly large bump in our already rough road of infant sleep and it took everything I had not to fall into a crying heap on the floor.

It took everything I had.

It seemed like every night, without fail, our son would wake up crying moments after our heads hit our pillows. It was frustrating to say the least. Some nights it was relatively simple to help him return to sleeping, other nights it took everything we had.

This night it took everything we had.

Walking. Rocking. Nursing. Bouncing. Cuddling. Nursing again. More rocking. Walking around. Singing. Swaddling. More nursing. More cuddles and rocking.

Everything we had was not enough.

Somewhere under the incessant crying, the feeling of failure, the hopelessness, the darkness outside and in – I snapped. I yelled, I screamed, I was irate and completely incoherent. I could not believe this was happening to me and I wouldn’t take it anymore. I kicked a wall and threw things. The world around me blurred, my hands and legs moved without my bidding.

I was scared of myself from inside my own skin. In a fleeting moment of clarity, I remembered seeing a hotline on a form I was given by the pediatrician the week before. A crisis hotline.

It took everything I had to go get that form, find that number, and call it.

I sat on my phone on the very edge of my bed while DanO held our precious first baby in the living room. A warm female voice was soon connected to me. I explained the feelings of complete emptiness and insufficiency. Of losing touch with reality. Of wanting to implode. Simply the presence of another person via phone line was enough to bring my feet back to earth.

This all unfolded well before I knew I had a postpartum mental health issue; at the time I just thought I was a horrible mother (and person) who had absolutely no self-control and a very serious anger problem. So much has been done to address my postpartum depression and anxiety since then, praise God. But I will always, always remember the night at the very bottom of my struggles when I called a crisis hotline.

With everything in me, I am so glad I did.

25 Responses to “something we don’t really talk about”

  1. Chanell

    O My Dear, I have had the same experience. Mine came not from the babies, but from two years of helping to carry close family and friends through the greatest of life’s (and death’s) trials. While the world within my own walls was calm, the storms around us whipped so hard that my edges frayed until I, too, snapped. Doctors are good. God is love. And all will be fine. Love.

  2. Amanda

    I’m so, so glad you did too. Thank you for being so vulnerable, for helping other mamas understand that they’re not crazy, not alone. God always gives a way out, even in those darkest moments. A crisis hotline, a talk with a friend, a babysitter, a song… those little things can bring such light. I believe that sometimes God brings us beyond what we can handle so that He can show His sufficiency and love… <3

  3. Lisa

    Thanks for writing this, I really think it could help someone who is struggling. It would have been helpful to me in times like those to know what was going on. I, too, just thought it was a “bad mother with anger issues” thing, not realizing the anger was really the product of an anxiety disorder that needed to be addressed. For as many times as I was warned about PPD/PPA while pregnant, nobody ever said it could look like that. It can for a lot of people.

  4. ann @ my life as prose.

    thank you for sharing. there are so many more stories like this out there … and these are success stories … stories where help is sought and (as you say) feet are brought back to earth. ppd is an issue our generation *will* bring out of the dark corners and into the light, so more women, more babies, more dads, can get help. and you’re helping to raise awareness and to normalize this totally normal experience. proud of you … for getting help and for sharing.

  5. Jenny

    Thank you for writing this. I had no idea until I was diagnosed that anger could be a sign of PPD & PPA.

  6. Emily

    I keep coming back to your blog over and over again because of your honesty. Thank you.

  7. michelleJ

    Wow! I’m so glad you did talk about it though! See, THIS is the sort of story that, I think, when someone happens to see that flyer from their doctor with the hotline number on it, that one flyer in the pile of papers and reminders and do’s and don’t’s that pile up, they’re going to take one extra second to look at that flyer and think, maybe I should tuck this away carefully so I’d know where to find it again, in case I might need it. THIS is the story that’s going to help other folks recognize, you know what, I’m in that same place, maybe I need to call/talk to someone. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. danielle

    Thank you for sharing this. I remember all too well thinking I was just a bad mother, that I had anger management issues, that I was broken. But I’m not, you’re not. I healed once, and now I’ve relapsed. We are perfectly imperfect humans and sometimes the load is really too much to bear. I’m glad you found some light; I’ve found myself a little sliver and I’m heading for it, I’ll be grateful to be out of this dark again.

  9. Jennifer

    Thank you. Sharing our stories, even the ones that may haunt us, take the shame/guilt/fear away, even if a bit, from those who are reading and share some of our same experiences.

  10. Morgan

    I never spoke about the thoughts or feelings I was having after my son’s birth in April 2010, because I never heard anyone else talk about it. All I knew of PP issues was PPD and that didn’t really fit with me…at least not entirely. Thankfully, it resolved itself and I’ve been able to see it for what it was. I honest to God thought I was going crazy or at the very least losing my salvation. It was so scary. I’m 36 weeks and have taken a lot of precautions this time to ensure that we don’t see a repeat of what happened before. Mostly I’ve asked the people closest to me to be on high alert and I’m planning on encapsulating my placenta for the hormonal balance. But I think the biggest thing is that I know better how to lean on God and I will not be afraid or ashamed to talk about what’s happening with me.
    Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this & God bless!

  11. Candace

    Thank you so much for always being so honest and real. I have been there recently and it’s so encouraging to know that I’m not alone and that you made it through.

  12. Cat

    I have read your posts before where you talk about this, but it still moves me to tears! I’m so glad you found help and I’m so glad you encourage others to do the same!!! :)

  13. kk @ the mom diggity

    I pray that moms who are struggled are encouraged by your honesty to reach out and ask for help. You are a fantastic mama, and we appreciate you sharing the depths of your heart!

  14. Annie

    Your sharing this moment is huge. Huge for so many mothers out there feeling the same way, but not knowing there are others that go through it too. And more importantly, there is help. Even in a phone call. Something that is not talked about, but needs to be.

  15. Beverly

    Oh my goodness. Thank you for posting this…it seems like no one ever wants to talk about post-partum issues. I just recently gave birth to our first child, a little boy, and I have felt the way you described a number of times in the past short 18 days of his life. Thank you for letting everyone know that IT’S OKAY to feel kind of off…it gives me hope. :-)

  16. Savannah

    Wow, you are SO SO brave. I’ve had similar experiences, but I didn’t know of any hotline. I just prayed my guts out. That helped a lot too. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Nicole

    I so appreciate your honesty. Not many people are honest on this topic but so many struggle with some form of PPD. Just curious, have things been different/better with your second baby now that you know what to expect/look for? Just curious…

  18. Stephanie Hanes

    Do you know how much YOUR honesty in sharing your story helped me to see that I too needed help? I remember reading your post about getting in your car and driving away as the tears fell because you couldn’t take it anymore…and not long after that was me. And I remembered your post and thought, is that me? do I have PPD too? It took me well over a year to finally ask for help. But “With everything in me, I am so glad I did.”

  19. Kayti

    I remember reading about your ppd when I had my son in March 2010. I didn’t deal with ppd then, but I have recently discovered it now, two months after the birth of our daughter. The recollection of your posts is what helped me identify it. Thank you.


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