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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : Dealing With Depression As A Mom

5.28.2014

Dealing With Depression As A Mom






Yesterday I sprawled out on the rug next to Luke to read him Oh, The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss and unexpectedly found the rhymes puncturing small holes in my heart.

"And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done."

Oh, do I know that feeling all too well.

Depression has been a troubled companion of mine for over a decade. At times it has overstayed its welcome, turning everything into a numb, hopeless ball of nothingness for months on end. Other times it has gone on a lengthy sabbatical, only to randomly return for a quick chat.

My depression reared its ugly head when I was around 13 years old, after a terrible sports injury. I was in and out of the hospital for years dealing with the injury, and the trauma and emotion of it all (mixed with regular ole' hormones) threw me into a whirlwind of gloom. I pretty much spent my high school years sleeping hours upon hours to escape my depression, coupled with some other not-so-wise, self-medicating choices that further agitated my lapsed mental condition. The anti-depressants prescribed by the doctors made me feel like a generic version of myself, and in my opinion, didn't offer any relief to my mental state.

Five years later, I decided I needed to "unslump" myself. So, I literally packed up my entire life and shoved it into a beat up 94' Honda Civic the day after my high school graduation, and drove 1,500 miles to live with my sister and her family in Arizona. It was a new beginning, and I was determined to be mentally stronger. I wanted to be rid of the anti-depressants and to learn to be happy on my own; I wanted myself back. I figured living in the perpetual sunshine would have its advantages compared to living in a constant cloud of rain and gray — boy, oh boy did it ever! I tossed my Zoloft in the 110 degree trash and practically let all of my sorrows and melancholy melt out of my brain and body. And it worked! I felt as if my limbs were growing back, and it felt so, so good to be ME again!

Fast forward six years from my Arizona days of self rediscovery. I was now married and pregnant with our first baby. The newlywed bubble of living in Provo had popped, and we found our soapy remnants on the concrete of reality. We were living in Southern California with Matt landing his first real job, and all of a sudden we had this insane adult life. You know, grown up stuff, like rent that made us want to scratch our eyeballs out, car payments, and for goodness sake, a BABY! Through those six years of intense life change, I surprisingly didn't lose it and fall back into a funk. Sure, there were the days with the blues, but that was totally different from a full-blown bout of depression. But, now there was a baby on the way, and my biggest fear was postpartum depression, since women who suffer from clinical depression have a higher risk of experiencing it.

I grew rounder and rounder, and before I knew it, Luke had made his intense arrival and was stealing our hearts by the minute. Weeks passed and my anticipation of postpartum depression creeping in was all in vain. I could finally stop holding my breath and gulp in the air of reassurance that maybe, just maybe, depression was a thing of my past to be left in the dust for good.

Those hopes fell short within three months of Luke being born. Amidst the lack of sleep, roller coaster of hormones, and overall bewilderment as to how the crap to be a parent, I slumped hard. Bizarre feelings and thoughts overcame me. I cried an inordinate amount, and my social anxiety hit an all time high (that's another post for another day). The one good thing I had on my side was the ability to recognize the depression, and knowing that if I had kicked it in the pants before, I could do it again. And that's what I did. It took a lot of talking, positive thinking, meditation, prayer and willpower, but I was eventually back to my old self by a year once we had moved here to Encinitas and settled in.

It was interesting having Wes, because I fretted it would all play out the same with him. And you know what? It surely did. The first few months were a dream straight from a motherhood fairytale, but once I hit that three to four month mark, my mind went all sour. And having not one, but TWO babies to care for intensified my feelings of melancholy and anxiety. Pulling myself out of bed seemed like a full time job in and of itself, and forget about doing actual housework. The thing about depression for me is that it almost is an invisible prison. I want so desperately to pull the fog from my mind and push myself to do what seem like simple, daily tasks, but I can't. It feels like I have shackles on my arms and legs and I'm bound to lying around on the floor. I skimmed by with the bare minimum, which included feeding my boys and making sure they were clean and safe. We watched a lot of movies and television those couple of months. Other than that, it exhausted all of my energy and mental stamina to do anything else without having Matt around. If you've been reading this blog for awhile or know me personally, it may seem like I didn't skip a beat. (Or maybe it did, but I just think I am better at putting on a front than I actually am?) I forced myself to put on a happy face for the rest of the world while I shattered into little pieces within my broken self. I beat myself up, wondering why I was given children that I couldn't adequately care for since I could hardly keep it together myself. Nights were spent quietly crying into my pillow, dreading the next day to dawn as another miserable, failed moment as a parent.

Around Wesley's five month mark, I finally sat down with Matt and told him my depression was scratching at the surface, clawing to get out. I needed help and couldn't do it alone. That admission alone lifted a huge burden from my aching spirit. And just as time healed it with Luke, time healed my flirtation with depression I experienced with Wes. I am now beginning to feel back up to snuff once again. Just as the spring and summer have brought the sun out to shine, light and happiness are shining in my heart and soul as well.

This all leads me to a serious question. Has anyone else dealt with what seems like a delayed version of postpartum depression? Both of my experiences with my boys came around the three to four month marker. Perhaps it is exclusive to my brain and body, but I thought I'd share my story in the off chance any of you are dealing with this same struggle.

I feel like I am at a wonderful point with keeping my depression under grips at this point in my life now, which just so happens to feel like a fantastic time to write about it. Truth is, I've ached for years to write about it, yet I couldn't find the right time. Either I was in the eye of its storm and couldn't gather my thoughts coherently, or I was in denial about its existence and pretended it wasn't real. But, now I am here at this terrific phase in my life. Motherhood has forced some stark realities on my understanding of myself, and I am at the page in my life where I am locking eyes with my issues and staring them down until they no longer loom over me.

Depression is clearly a cross for me to bear in this life, but I don't need to let it control me. I have two fantastic little gentleman counting on me to give them a wonderful upbringing, and I cannot and will not let them down. With that, I've learned a few tricks to combat any dismal feelings that float my way, and these help those dim clouds to keep on rolling by:

  • Getting dressed and ready for the day. If I put on real clothes and do my hair and makeup, my day is tremendously more productive.
  • Making the bed. Sounds like a no-brainer for many, but for the messy ones like me, this really starts the day out on the right path. Which leads to me next tip . . .
  • Keeping things clean and uncluttered. I read somewhere that having piles of things on the floor is a sign of depression, and I TOTALLY believe it. Yes, keeping things tidy can be hard with kids and a busy schedule, but it is possible with some effective time management planning and dedication.
  • Exercise. This one is a "duh" for many also, but I suck at regularly exercising, and I know that when I am on my yoga/fitness kicks, I am one happy bird!
  • You know how they say the times you don't want to pray are the moments you need to pray most? This same principle applies to the idleness which is a byproduct of depression. Going outside and doing something out of the house on the days I least want to always makes me feel fresh and awakened, and then I ask myself, "why don't I do this more often?"
  • Engage in a hobby or worthwhile cause. Actively engaging talents and putting others needs ahead of my own has always proven to be a quick and effective remedy for the blues.
  • I would like to update this to say don't be afraid to take medication if it is necessary. I personally needed medication to jumpstart me in the right direction (and could possibly need it in the future). Everyone has a different set of issues and problems, and what matters is coming to a solution that works to become mentally healthy again.

"On and on you will hike. And I know you'll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are . . . And will you succed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS . . . Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!"

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37 Comments:

At May 29, 2014 at 1:53 AM , Blogger Breakfast at the Zemke's said...

Oh man, I'm so sorry to hear about your bouts of depressions. I too have battled with it since I was 12 or 13. I was on and off Zoloft until I got married 4 years ago and since then I've been miraculously depression free. Except for when I had my son 2 years ago. The day after I gave birth I noticed my anxiety and depression flaring up. I think some of it was hormones that comes along with having a baby but it was definitely the old friend "depression". For a month or two after I gave birth I had to battle it, I thought about going back on an anti depressant but I was nursing and didn't want it to be in my milk. I had these crazy thoughts and wacked out situations would pop up in my head. I would randomly start bawling and I felt seriously nuts. But after a couple months it went away and I felt like I was me again and I could finally enjoy motherhood. It's interesting how we all experience things differently.

About 4 months after my mom gave birth to my little brother she had a really bad encounter with depression, so much that she wound up in the hospital and I had to go stay with my grandma for a month or two.

Anyway, sorry this turned into a novel. Just wanted you to know you aren't alone, I think it may even be more common than we think. Prayers to you and all the other mothers out there in the same predicament!

 
At May 29, 2014 at 4:11 AM , Blogger Anna D Kart said...

Thank you for this candid post! I haven't had the experience that you have but it's so awesome to hear that you came out of it every time. I know that it must it so tough with babies around to keep on going because they need our smiling face. Great job mama! Keep up the good work

Currently Loving Link Up

 
At May 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM , Blogger steph nelsen said...

you have a gift with words - i'm sharing with a friend who needs to hear it.

 
At May 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM , Blogger Brady and Brittany said...

Chills! I just saw a research article (http://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/toddler/0528/maternal-depression-is-most-common-at-4-years-postpartum.aspx?xid=fb_wte) yesterday about this. You are so great and a wonderful mom! Love you tons!

 
At May 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM , Blogger Kendra said...

Thank you, thank you! This was beautifully written. I started dealing with depression after I was married. Then it hit again around the same time you described, three to four months after the birth of my first child. I am a generally happy person and never thought I would have to go through postpartum depression. It snuck up on me and because it didn't happen right after Maddy was born I thought I was in the clear. Some days were worse than others and I still have to work hard to stay motivated but it is continually becoming better. Thank you for sharing your story and also ways you have combated the sometimes impossible task of overcoming those depressing feelings. You are lovely.

 
At May 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM , Blogger mckenzie Sant said...

Thank you for writing this post. I suffer with depression and sometimes struggle to get out of it. I worry a lot about how this will affect a future marriage and family. But it's nice to know that other people experience these challenges and that I am not alone. Thank you for being brave :)

 
At May 29, 2014 at 11:24 AM , Blogger Alyssa said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, I know it can be a really tough subject to talk about. I have dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life and it can be extremely challenging to see any hope at all at certain points. I love your list of ways to help but I also wanted to add that therapy and finding a medication that is right for you can also be a lifesaver. And even though I see a therapist and am on an anti-depressant, a lot of it is work I have to do myself. I have to not let my irrational thoughts hold me captive and work on loving myself uncontionally. I have to keep telling myself to think positively and see value in myself. Journaling is also something that I think is a tremendous help! Anyhow, thanks for you post, honestly it made my day and it always helps when people realize they are not alone. You are awesome and appriciated! :)

 
At May 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM , Blogger Abby said...

Thanks for sharing. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was 16 or 17 and I am now 34. I have never taken meds, but there are huge blocks of my life where it literally has stood still while everyone and everything around me marched forward. Good for you for being able to keep up appearances and get out of the prison.

 
At May 29, 2014 at 12:39 PM , Blogger Leah said...

I do not have children, but I relate to your story so much! Thank you for sharing. I want to have children, but one of my biggest fears in post-partum depression. I have gotten things under control and feel back to myself again, but really don't want to slip back into it again after having a baby. Thanks again for sharing so openly, many people are too afraid to talk about it, and it's so helpful to feel like there are others dealing with this as well.

 
At May 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM , Blogger Susan said...

This is so candid and well-written. Good for you for recognizing the depression and tackling it in the way that works best for you. I didn't even realize I had postpartum depression until after I stopped nursing my second child - so it went almost three years undiagnosed. I thought that it was just the sleep-deprivation and stress of motherhood, and my feeling were the new norm for me. All of a sudden when I stopped nursing, I was shocked at how happy I felt all the time! It is crazy how each woman's body (and mind) reacts so differently to the hormones. So glad to hear things are improving for you. Keep up the good fight!

 
At May 29, 2014 at 8:50 PM , Blogger nair said...

Thanks for sharing. I had a deep depression and eating disorder when I was 20. I did something similar to what you did. I moved to another country. Start from nothing, not even the language and I gained back myself. You are so brave.

 
At May 30, 2014 at 5:04 AM , Blogger Natasha Bailie said...

Thank you so much for sharing - I had bouts of depression before bambino and I too held my breath after I had my son in fear that the post natal depression would swallow me whole, but it never came. I felt so relived, but I am now 15 months in and I can feel the depression scratching to get out as you so eloquently put it. Do I have post natal depression? Or am I just in a slump? It is so tricky and so personal and your tips are super and thanks again for writing this post. I have been feeling awful, wrestling with the guilt of depression. Now kids are involved, depression feels terribly selfish and indulgent. I think it is great if you know your triggers and you have an awesome partner who you can count on. Keep your chin up, you are doing great! xxxx

 
At May 30, 2014 at 5:21 AM , Blogger gail said...

Needed to read this today..

 
At May 30, 2014 at 1:13 PM , Blogger Eliza said...

I admire you so much Abbey.

Eliza

 
At May 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM , Blogger Signe Marit said...

Thank you. You are so brave and I admire you very much.
I dont have any children yet, but I am newly over a long depression, and it feels good not to be alone although I dont wish this for anyone.
I wish you a happy life.

 
At May 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM , Blogger Oh how Lovely said...

what a beautifully raw post. Love this and I love the look and feel of your blog. Glad I found it!

 
At May 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM , Blogger Offer KINDNESS. Choose GENEROSITY. Give LOVE! said...

Thank you for sharing.
I would NEVER have known this by your blog (I follow regularly).
6 months was the magic number for the PPAnxiety I experienced. That is when it set in for me.
I'm a week away from my second hitting 6 months… and that PPA has been chatting softly to me. Trying to fight it afraid as heck.

 
At June 2, 2014 at 10:57 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. I was on Zoloft as well, and I totally understand the battle of not wanting it to be in your body and milk. Prayers to you as well, friend!

 
At June 2, 2014 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Anna! You are right, we just to have to keep on keepin' on! :)

 
At June 2, 2014 at 10:59 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you so much, Steph. That means the world to me. Thoughts and prayers for your friend.

 
At June 2, 2014 at 10:59 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you so much for the article link! Love you!!

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Kendra, happy to hear that my story has helped you, and I am sorry you have had to experience the same thing. I really think there is something about that 3-4 month phase that needs to be researched further. xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:02 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

McKenzie, it is absolutely possible to have a future marriage and family. As time goes on, you learn how to deal with it and find someone who will love you and support you through it all. For me, I just have to remember the depression is not who I am, and that it is possible to get over it. It can be hard work, but it is possible. Wishing you a happy and bright future! xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:04 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Alyssa, thank you for adding these points the list. Counseling and medication are absolutely essential at certain points in dealing with it, and I think it is so important to know yourself and what is best for you. Journaling is huge too! So happy to have made your day, and we are all in this together! :) Hugs!

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:05 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Sorry to hear of your struggle, Abby, and remember you aren't alone! Also, as Alyssa mentioned above, sometimes taking the next step to see a therapist or have medication is an excellent way to jump-start your way to recovery when it gets too tough. Thoughts and prayers your way, friend!

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:08 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Leah, I am happy my words can be of some encouragement. This is just my opinion, but I hope that you decide to have children someday without letting the fear of the depression get in your way. Doctors and medical professionals are incredibly aware and encouraging with this issue, and you can definitely make it through. The joy of having children beats the awful days stuck in depression, and the fact that you are aware of your depression going into it will make it much more manageable. Wishing you a bright future! xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:09 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thanks so much, Susan! You are a strong woman for battling through it for all those years completely aware! Glad to hear you are free of it and leading a happy life now. xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:10 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Nair, thank you so much for sharing this! You are such a strong, admirable woman.

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:11 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Natasha, I TOTALLY understand the feelings of depression being selfish and indulgent, which unfortunately just makes it worse. I think that's always a turning point for me when I start feeling that way. Hope you are doing well and having a happy day. Remember you are a strong mother and you aren't alone. Hugs to you!

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:12 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Hope you are feeling better today, Gail! xoxo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:12 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Eliza! xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:13 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Signe, thank you so much. Wishing you the same happiness, friend! :)

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:13 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you so much! xo

 
At June 2, 2014 at 11:14 AM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

I try to share the happy mostly, but I think it's good to share a little of the sad, realistic parts on here as well. Keep fighting, friend! You can do it! Sending prayers your way :)

 
At June 2, 2014 at 8:57 PM , Blogger Katie said...

Your honesty is beautiful, Abbey.

 
At June 2, 2014 at 10:13 PM , Blogger lesleigh // pearls on a string said...

This is such a powerful and poignant post. Thank you for your honesty *and* providing solutions for those who are dealing with depression as well.

Lesleigh
http://www.pearlsonastring.com
www.pearlsonastring.com

 
At June 6, 2014 at 1:47 PM , Blogger Lindsay Dickerson said...

I loved this post. I can't even tell you how many times I found myself writing almost the same things to post on my own blog. It's such a hard thing to talk about, but its one of those things that needs to be talked about. I am so happy to hear that I am not alone. Mine sounds really similar to yours.... I've had depression for years, but this is the worst I've ever had it. Pregnancy and postpartum I felt amazing- probably the best I've ever felt in my life- until he was 6 months. It seemed like over night I was so disconnected from him, not motivated, exhausted and my days were so so dark. I didn't have any feelings about anything. I had no clue it was possible to have delayed PPD until I talked to my midwife and she explained how it's normal/common within that first year to go through it. She gave me some herbal things to take, as well suggesting I start asking for help with Wes. The worst part is that I felt so guilty. I felt like it was a really selfish thing and that I was being a bad mom for not being able to snap out of it. I still deal with it, although it's gotten so much lighter the last couple of months, and it's a constant roller coaster. I just feel like my hormones are so out of whack and I definitely miss my old self. I am always thinking about why I deal with depression and wonder if I will have to forever. It's so daunting to think about! Thanks for bringing light to the subject and opening a discussion, I've read all the comments, too, and they've brought a lot of comfort. I hope you are able to get through this period and that the summer sunshine will brighten your days~ All my love. XO

 

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