The Catalyst

It’s worth noting that this pregnancy was different from the beginning. I didn’t feel as good as I had with my first son: no energy, ever-present nausea, and a general feeling of “I’m not myself.” Most unsettling was that I didn’t feel the instant (in-utero) connection with this baby that I felt with his brother; it was as if I had no attachment to the child I was growing. He was there, I was his vessel, and that was the extent of it. It was alarming to say the least. I was terrified that this would continue, that my baby would arrive and I’d experience all the horror stories I’d heard other moms talk about, that he would continue to be a part of me but one that didn’t quite fit.

Mercifully, those fears were unfounded. He arrived and I felt all the wonderful Mama Bear things you expect to feel, so I thought I was in the clear. I chalked my more difficult pregnancy to being older and busier and nothing more. I left the hospital barely giving postpartum depression a second thought. I had my husband and my boys, and I was walking on air. Until I wasn’t.

I thought I was in the clear. Weeks passed and aside from being sleepy and sore, I was feeling mostly great. I didn’t realize that while in most cases the onset of postpartum depression is immediate, you can be fine for weeks (or even months) and then suddenly you don’t recognize yourself anymore. I was okay for about six weeks, and then I was very much not okay.

What not enough people tell you is that PPD wears many masks. For me, I never wanted to hurt my baby; I felt connected in all the right ways. I adored and loved him so much it was overwhelming, just like it was with my older son.
No, I didn’t want to harm him or myself, but when I brought him home I didn’t realize I’d also brought home some new friends: sadness and anger. Both were pervasive and all-consuming. There was no logical reason for me to feel either and certainly not to the extent that I did, but my every waking moment was one or both of these emotions, always to the ultimate degree.

I don’t know exactly what PPD does. I know it’s chemical and hormonal and shows itself in various ways. I know that there is tremendous shame associated with it because what kind of mother is selfish enough to be unhappy when what she should really be is grateful for a healthy baby? Don’t you know there are people who would die to be in your shoes? How dare you feel sorry for yourself! You should be over-the-moon.
It takes nine months to properly “cook” a baby and at no point in any of them does anyone mention that in the aftermath you can feel both immense joy and paralyzing despair. It’s not always an either/or.

This was my rock bottom. Truth be told, I’ve struggled with depression off and on throughout my life. I thought I’d summarily dealt with those issues and tucked them neatly way in the box labeled “Things I no longer think about.” A month or two into my dance with PPD, I realized that perhaps I hadn’t actually worked through anything; maybe I’d just pushed it down far enough that it didn’t come up anymore. It occurred to me that PPD brought those things back into the fold, and it honestly felt like someone was rubbing salt on the wound that was my existence.
In that darkness, I somehow found a penlight of hope; I decided that I couldn’t live this way anymore, that I had to first address the immediate issue of postpartum depression and then begin to really deal with my stuff. I wasn’t sure how to do such a thing, and I would try a lot of things before I found anything that felt like it was even slightly beneficial.

I began a total overhaul, from the inside out. This was the beginning of my journey to better. The woman who often found herself thinking “They (my family) deserve so much better than me” was finally saying “I deserve better than this.”

I want to know: Have you experienced a “rock bottom” in your own life? What changes did it inspire?

12 Comments

  1. Such honesty, thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure there are so many mamas going through the same emotions, it’s such a help to know they are not alone!

    Reply

    • Ashley, thank you for stopping by and commenting! My hope is just that, that they realize it’s so common and there is NO shame in it! Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  2. Casie,

    Thanks for sharing this personal journey with us. Although I’m not a mother myself, I know a lot of women go through similar situations and would find comfort reading this. And I am SO glad to hear that you found hope and started working on yourself. That’s the most important thing.

    Oh, and fantastic first post by the way. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Reply

  3. Maya, I’m so happy you enjoyed reading. I am thrilled you didn’t feel alienated by it, because mental health and depression is NOT limited to moms. It’s such a common issue, because life is HARD, right?

    So happy to have you here! Thanks for reading!

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  4. OH Cassie! All those feelings and then some. I am so happy for you – that you’ve found your voice in this journey and keep moving toward the light (advent)!

    It has taken me years to bond with my daughters and I’m still not sure I have. I have to carefully and intentionally be nurturing as it doesn’t come naturally.

    When we listen and support other women we gain strength to keep doing our best! Your boys and hubby are lucky to have you! Keep on keeping on lady!

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  5. Your candor is refreshing. It can never be easy to share our raw emotions; yet, hopefully, your journey will be a friend to others who may be traveling a similar path.

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  6. Casie, I too had PPD with GK. It was the WORST. I would just cry and cry and felt like a horrible mother the whole time until I finally sought help at 6 weeks. I never had thoughts of harming my baby either. Just feeling totally inadequate and like a failure. More than thankful for medication to help get me from that negative spot in life to now being a mommy to two sweet, sweet girls! There should be no shame in PPD, yet there truly is. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience, Ashley. It’s so hard when you’re in the midst of it, because you feel like you’ll never be happy again. I’m glad you sought help and overcame PPD!

    Reply

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