Sunday, August 29, 2010

The post I keep putting off

I've been wanting to write a post about my postpartum struggles for quite a long time now, but I always chicken out. Once I sit down at the computer with time to write, I start getting scared and end up wasting my time just clicking mindlessly around the internet.

I always appreciate reading posts by women who honestly talk about their struggles. These women sharing their hearts and exposing their weaknesses are such an inspiration! They let me know that I am not alone. I am not weak. I am not inadequate. I've always wanted to do the same for other women on my blog.

But something always holds me back.

Part of it is that I don't want to post something that is nothing more than a gripe session; nor do I want my blog to be full of negativity. I want to celebrate the great blessings God has given me! But, the fact is, growth only happens when we struggle, not when we're sailing along blissfully and contentedly. And, the postpartum periods of my last two pregnancies have been times of intense struggle with so much of my energy being consumed by just keeping my head above water, that I don't know if I'm really growing any in the process.

I've never felt so out of control in my life. I'm so tired of feeling angry, frustrated and overwhelmed almost all the time. I'm not a happy mother to my children. I'm not a pleasant wife to my husband. There is so. much. guilt.

Ugh! This is so hard to write! My eyes are filling with tears (again!) as I type this. It hurts.

I pray that God will make some good come of all this bad. I pray that my children will forget the angry mommy and will only retain the happy memories. I pray that my husband will continue to have patience with me. I pray for balance. I pray for the ability to distinguish between wants and needs. I pray for wisdom and perspective.

I continue to hope and trust in the Lord. At least this depression has not deprived me of that.

And, I continue to thank God for my many blessings and for the deep down Joy that has not abandoned me despite all the pain.

I am slowly getting my smile back; and, my laugh has surprised me a time of two with an unexpected appearance. Things will get better. They are getting better. This is just a season and it, too, shall pass.

13 comments:

veronica said...

Colleen..praying for you today and hoping you know how much you are loved..

Shannon said...

oh, sweet Colleen! What a huge cross you've had to carry.
I've known depression in my life, and your words brought me right back to those periods. You are not alone, this is very real. Have you talked to your doctor about it?
Know that I am praying for you. You ARE a good mama and wife, you're just in a rough season.

Many blessings, sweetie!

Shannon said...

p.s. one of my biggest worries is postpartum sadness... I'll be coming to you for help and guidance, I just know it.

Colleen said...

Thank you, Veronica!

Shannon,
I have not been to the doctor. My ob/gyn is definitely the type who would medicate (probably beginning with the pill and going from there) and I really don't want to use antidepressants. I'm scared of the side effects. I am trying to take my vitamins and exercise daily. I've also found that just taking a few minutes to walk outside in the fresh air (even if it is 100 degrees!) really helps. I'm really trying hard to eat a healthy diet and avoid all the sweet stuff that I crave when I'm feeling down. And, Eric and I talk about it. A lot. Thankfully, he is extremely supportive.

If you have any other tips or advice I'm open to hear them!

Mellodee said...

Now listen here, I have been around forever, so as one of those pushy old ladies, I will now tell you what you need to do!

First, I want you to envision that you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean (where you're going is immaterial). As you stand on deck watching the water, someone bumps into you accidently but somehow manages to knock you overboard. So there you are in the middle of the ocean all by yourself except for the people still on the boat. OK, you still with me?? All right, you are a capable woman, strong, able, independent, right? So when the people on deck throw you a life preserver, do you say, "Oh, no. I don't need it, I can swim a thousand miles to shore without any help from anyone or anything."

If you do then there is no hope for you. You will more than likely drown.

No, of course not! You grab hold of that life preserver and hang on till they can pull you back into the boat!! Safe again!

So, sweetie, do you get what I'm saying?? Depression is an illness, an illness that is treatable. Yes, sometimes with drugs. But those drugs can be your life preserver, you use them while you need them, and when you're back in the boat, you won't need them anymore and you will stop taking them.

You say this has happened to you twice and Clara is how many months old now? Please for your own sake and that of your family, talk to your doctor. If he/she prescribes a medication, take it!! If you see side effects, TALK to the doctor again, and he/she will work with you to find one that works for YOU! If you trust the doctor to care for you during the birth of your children, surely you can trust him enough to care for you afterward too!!

End of lecture. :)

I sure hope you will consider what I've said. Its important to get help, really!

Christine said...

Colleen, thank you so much for sharing where you are. I don't think of you as a negative person, nor of this as a gripe. This too shall pass, and your children will remember your love.

Isn't it nice to think that you won't always be post-partem. Praying for you.

Blair said...

Oh Colleen, you are not alone! This motherhood adventure takes quite a lot out of us. I know many of us have similar post-partum and (for me) pregnancy experiences that leave us feeling "unbalanced." I pray that this season passes quickly for you and thank you for your honesty in sharing about it. Sending virtual (((hugs))) your way!

Jill said...

I'll write you a longer and more personal email soon...when I have time. But, I wanted to let you know that I was an absolute mess after my first two (well three due to the twins) babies. I had no idea what hit me after Aslynn was born. I am not a drug pusher at all...I will barely take Tylenol...but, I did end up taking Zoloft and it totally saved me. I had a very physical depression. I was totally fatigued, dizzy, headaches...in addition to the emotional things. Anyway, I called my La Leche leader and she said it was fine to take while breastfeeding. Whatever was 'off' in my body was quickly put back in place and I felt way better. Just wanted to quickly tell you that in case it does ever come to needing medication. There was nothing else I could do to heal myself. I was getting plenty of sleep, eating properly, exercising. Something was physically wrong with me.
Again, I'm not a drug person. :) Just my personal story.
I'll share more details in an email soon.
I absolutely know what you are going through. Many prayers.

Colleen said...

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement!

Thank you Jill and Mellodee for encouraging me to see a doctor. I really needed to hear that.

Jill, I've been meaning to email you because I knew you had struggled with postpartum depression, but, again, I've always chickened out. Thankfully I haven't had a physical depression like you did. And, things have definitely been getting better over the last month or so. I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Jody said...

You are definetly not alone! I too struggled with PPD after my third was born and I like Jill had a very physical depression. To the point I ended up in the hospital thinking I was having a stroke. Not even considering that it was PPD. I thought something was 'wrong' with me and it wasn't until a family practioner suggested that it may be PPD that it even crossed my mind.

I too ended up on medication and had no side effects. It was a life saver.

Don't be ashamed or embarrassed. It happens and I don't think there is anything we can do to stop it. If there were I would have rather had it when I only had one child vs three. You know what I mean? For me too talking about it helps. So if you would like to email me I can share more with you and 'listen.'

Lillian said...

Colleen,
Just reading this. I know exactly how you feel. I've been there many, many times. This past Saturday my priest was giving us a retreat talk. While he was talking, his words almost brought tears to my eyes.

He was talking about how Satan attacks those who are working hard against his cause. Fr said that 1st the evil one will strike at our weaknesses to try to cause us to sin. The 2nd being that we will feel clinical depression, discouragement, despair. 3rd our humility will be tested.

He then went on to say that many of the giant saints (Padre Pio, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila,etc.) felt depression.

All this to say that God is not about depression but about joy. Fr said the way out of depression is to pray systematically. That whenever we have a negative thought to hold it captive and give it to God and pray right then and there, even if it means praying 200X's times a day.

Colleen, you are such a beautiful person doing so much good! You and Eric are such wonderful parents. You believe what the church teaches. You're open to life. You're Aggies! ;-) Need I say more. The Accusser doesn't like what you're doing.

And so turn to God everytime you have those feelings/thoughts.

Fr also reminded us to use Holy Water liberally. Everytime we leave the house, everytime we feel ourselves sinking. Use it! And wear your scapular.

Morning prayer is the most important prayer. Place yourself under God's protection.

Fr reminded us that our guardian angels are very polite. They will wait to be invited. So pray to your Guardian Angel throughout the day. And of course consecrate yourself to Mother Mary.

Even though he was giving this talk at our prolife group, I felt he was talking to me as a hormonal, postpartum, homeschooling, overwhelmed mother of 7.

I took notes on my Blackberry (he probably thought I was texting!) because I needed to remember everything he said.

Hope some if this helped.

You know, I will never stop being your campus minister!!

Love you, sweetie!! Call me if you ever need to talk! 210-520-5412

Colleen said...

Oh, Lillian! Thank you so much! There is so much in your comment that I needed to hear!

It's interesting because I've been reading a lot lately about spiritual warfare. I'm not seeking it out, but the subject seems to be popping up all over the place. But, I had never applied the idea to my postpartum struggles. I think the Holy Spirit was prepping me so I would be open to what you had to say! It's amazing how God works!

I love all of your suggestions. Your priest is obviously a very wise man. I wear a scapular but don't keep holy water in the house. I need to fix that! I've started to say the St. Michael prayer regularly (a habit that had somehow gotten dropped over the last few years), which isn't something you recommended but it seems to match with the other ideas. My poor guardian angel has been neglected lately as well as my morning prayer. That's going to change!

Oh, thank you for so many wonderful suggestions! I'm so excited right now! I feel so empowered.

God bless you, Lillian! Thanks for continuing to be my campus minister! :)

Will said...

just came across you blog. I'm a fellow blogger (and photographer) and I read your post here. I've written quite bit about running (topic of my blog) and have come across some very good material about running and depression. Check out his link for more on this. (http://www.suite101.com/content/why-running-cures-depression-a155335).
I 100% recommend running to help with your situation.