June 2, 2017

This is real life . . . how one woman battled Postpartum Depression

I sat there looking at the gun, it was blurry because of how hard I was crying.  I loved my children and my husband more than anything in the whole world.  I would die for them. And that's why I would be brave enough to do this—because they were better off without me—their lives would be so much better if I were gone.

(Guest Post)

Growing up the only thing I ever really wanted to be was a mother.  I could not wait for the day to have my own children. It could not come soon enough.  My husband and I were married in 2005 and I gave birth to my first child in 2007.  It was magical and everything I ever dreamed it would be. My second child was born in 2009 and our love and hearts just grew and grew!  In 2011 I suffered a horrible miscarriage at 13 weeks pregnant. It was gut wrenching and took awhile to heal from. But eventually we found our faith and marriage had only strengthened through that trial.

In 2013 I gave birth to our 3rd child.  The labor and delivery went smooth, I was able to give birth without an epidural for the first time and it was a very amazing birth! I snuggled that sweet baby boy all night and felt so happy and blessed.  Less than 24 hours after giving birth I was headed home with our newest baby.  I remember on the car ride home feeling a huge amount of dread.  I wasn't ready to leave the hospital yet. I felt like a dark cloud was starting to form over my head.
The next 5 months are honestly a complete blur.  I know that my baby only slept in 45 minute increments, wouldn't take a bottle, and was extremely colicky.  He usually cried from 9 pm to 3 am every single night. I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night which I think intensified my depression.  I could feel that dark cloud over my head getting darker and heavier as the days went on.  Towards my baby's first birthday my post partum depression was so bad I was barely functioning. I hardly ever got dressed or put makeup on which is so not like me.  I didn't clean, I rarely left my house. I'm usually a fairly patient person but I had zero patience and would explode over the smallest things. I yelled at my children, I yelled at my husband. I was horrible. I questioned my faith, whether God even existed at all. It was like I was in a deep dark tunnel being sucked further and further away from any light. I couldn't think clearly, I was forgetful, my joints ached, my head always hurt, and my chest felt heavy.  Every morning I had to force myself out of bed. The darkness slowly but completely took over. I just went numb and felt no emotion at all.
I stopped praying. I no longer felt the spirit—which I've since learned is very common with severe depression. I started fantasizing about dying. Sometimes I'd be driving down the road and look at a tree and wonder what it would be like to speed up and hit it as hard as I could.  I'd stand in front of my medicine cabinet and take note of all the pills I could take. When my baby would wake up in the night I'd go in his room and ask him why he was ruining my life.  That is something I will never ever forgive myself for.  I'm so thankful that he was too young to understand and will not remember me when I wasn't myself. As the days passed I literally just got worse and worse. It got so bad I felt there was no hope. My life would never be good again. I was miserable. The one thing I always wanted and found so much joy in, being a mother, I was horrible at. I felt zero hope. I couldn't see anything but pain and darkness.

The day I almost took my own life is a day I will never forget. I woke up to the cloud of darkness and felt like it was consuming me, like I couldn't breathe. I hated myself—and everything I had become. I told my husband I was going for a drive. I found myself parked down a dirt road at the edge of the forest. I just stared blankly at the sky. Then I started sobbing like I've never sobbed before. I then looked down and saw it.... my husband had accidentally left his gun in my car in the middle compartment. I suddenly felt hope. This must be meant to be. My kids and my husband could finally be free of me and be happy. I sat there looking at the gun, it was blurry because of how hard I was crying.  I loved my children and my husband more than anything in the whole world.  I would die for them. And that's why I would be brave enough to do this, because they were better off without me. Their lives would be so much better if I were gone. It would be my one last act of love.

I sat contemplating if I should text my husband and tell him how much I loved him and our children. I decided I should probably get out of my car and walk into the forest so that my husband would still be able to use our vehicle. I went to reach for the gun to start my walk in the woods and an image of my oldest child came into my mind with a look of pure devastation on his face. It caught me off guard because up until that moment I thought I was doing this to make them happy, to have a better life. The image wouldn't leave my mind. And then that still small voice that I hadn't heard in a very long time whispered to me that this would devastate my children. I was promised that if I would turn around and go home things would get better. For the first time in almost a year I felt the tiniest glimmer of hope. Then I felt God's love for me. I thought He had abandoned me, didn't love me. But suddenly I felt like I was being wrapped in a warm hug. He was there. Exactly when I needed Him to be. He saved me.

I drove home, walked inside and nonchalantly told my husband he had left his gun in my car. He immediately got it and put it in his gun safe. (He is huge on gun safety and our guns are always locked up in a safe. We take gun safety very serious). I wasn't ready to tell him yet what had happened.  I felt ashamed. I hugged my children and held back tears.

A few days later I told my husband a little bit about what had happened. I didn't go into details, but I did tell him that I was incredibly depressed, that I saw his gun and was tempted. He made me go to the doctor the next morning. I told her how I was feeling, all my symptoms, and my doctor immediately diagnosed me with severe post partum depression. I was shocked. I knew very little about PPD. Wasn't that the thing horrible people got that made them want to hurt their babies? I never wanted to hurt my baby. My doctor explained PPD to me and how it was a chemical imbalance in my brain. I couldn't just want to be happy, snap my fingers and suddenly be happy. She prescribed me an anti-depressant and suggested I start exercising and make sure I go outside everyday to get some vitamin D. I left that appointment feeling hope. I was glad to have a diagnosis and a plan.

It took almost 3 weeks for my antidepressant to kick in but one day I woke up and that dark cloud over my head seemed just a little lighter and not so heavy. I was still in a dark tunnel but I could see just a tiny bit of light at the end of that dark tunnel. I started exercising; I made myself get dressed every single day. Very slowly I could feel the old me coming back. Some days were harder than others, I was still depressed but I no longer fantasized about dying.

I can literally remember the moment my depression completely lifted. I woke up and instantly felt lighter. My joints didn't hurt; I didn't feel that dark heavy cloud over me. The sun looked brighter, I felt hope, peace, and God's love for me.

It took me a while to start praying again. I felt guilt for having almost taken my life. My precious life that God had given me and my Savior had died for. But eventually I did start praying again. I had some incredible spiritual experiences. I know God doesn't fault me for that day I almost died. I was truly sick. I didn’t almost take my life, Post Partum Depression almost took it. I was also shown how God never left me. When you are severely depressed sometimes you just can't feel the spirit or see God's hand in things. Now I can look back and see him literally taking my hand and pulling me out of bed. He was there. He was always there. And in the moment when I needed him most . . . He didn’t leave me.

I don't know exactly why I developed PPD. I've researched it. I know some of it has to do with hormonal changes in your body, some of it is a chemical imbalance in your brain, some of it is hereditary. But maybe God chose this trial for me. Why? Because he knew I'd get through it and come out stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually. He saw the person I could be. He knew I needed that trial to be the mother, wife, and person I am today. My third child was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder right before his 3rd birthday. What I went through made me a fighter. And I have to fight for him every single day.  I'm not sure I could do that without the perspective I have now.

Going through something like that changes you. I am more patient now. I don't take life and little moments for granted. I make sure I hug my children every single day. I feel deeper. I have empathy for others like I never had before. Trials will do that to you.

Everyone has a story—a Gethsemane that they have to walk through. PPD was mine. That woman that doesn't come to church anymore.... maybe she is struggling with depression and can't find the strength to leave her house. That woman in the store in her pajamas..... maybe she can't see her worth.

Here's what I've learned through my journey with post partum depression.
-If you are depressed, it doesn't mean you are weak.
-It's not your fault.
-You can't MAKE yourself be happy if you have a form of depression.
-You are not a bad person.
-It may feel like God has left you but He's there. He's right there beside you. He sends His angels to watch over you and protect you.
-There is one person who understands your pain completely. The Savior. Reach out to him. If you don't feel like praying, that's when you need it most.
-There is purpose in all things.
-I am strong.
-I'm a fighter.

Today as I sit here at my computer, I'm honestly happy. I actually gave birth to my fourth boy 4 months ago! It's been wonderful and so far I've been blessed to not have any signs or symptoms of PPD.  I do have to be extra vigilant about my mental health. I wake up every morning and open all my curtains and let that beautiful sunshine in. I get dressed and do my makeup every single day. I count my blessings. I take an anti-depressant. I give myself a lot of grace. I talk to God a lot. Sometimes on my knees, sometimes while I'm driving in the car. I've learned He always listens. I try to move my body every day. I set healthy boundaries for myself. I say no when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

I LOVE being a mother. It is my greatest joy in life. They saved my life—over and over they save me. I love them with my whole heart and I feel like I am now the mother they need me to be. Everyday is a gift.

To my sweet, amazing husband- thank you for never leaving my side, even during my darkest moments. Thank you for loving me and encouraging me every single day. I can't wait to grow old with you and spend eternity with you. You are truly my everything and I love you.

There is one thing I'm not sure I will ever forgive myself for and that is the way I treated my husband and children during my depression.  I have come to terms with everything but that. When you are severely depressed you do and say things the "normal" you never would.

Writing this and sharing every detail is terrifying. I know it will come with a lot of judgment. But that's okay. If I can help one person then it is all worth it. PPD has a stigma attached to it. My hope is that it starts becoming a conversation. I think it needs to be talked about by your nurse before you leave the hospital with that precious baby. Maybe if I had known the signs and symptoms of PPD I would've gotten help sooner.

So to all you who have been there too . . . You aren’t alone. We are all fighting together.

If you would like to learn more about April and her journey you can visit her blog www.aprilrises.com

A note from The Moments We Stand:

This guest post really touched my heart. After losing a dear friend many years ago to suicide after a long battle with PPD, I know the fight is real. Thank you April for sharing your journey and being real. PPD is one of those war zones that no one would ever choose, but it is clear you fought it with grace and are now sharing it with a love for others who are battling it now. Thank you.

To all you fighters, please know you aren't alone. Every few months we gather together in person and share our hearts. You will have a place here. No matter your religion, or trials, we understand that life can be hard, especially when we are thrown a fight we had never planned. So if you get a chance, please come!

For more information visit
A Reason to Stand


Shantelle said...

Thank you for sharing this! As someone who has struggled with severe depression for almost 5 years now, I am so thankful to be able to read of someone else's brave account of their struggles and know that I am not alone. I'm so glad that everything has worked out for you. You give me hope. This is my blog about finding joy through depression: http://findingjoythroughdepression.blogspot.com/

crystal carlson said...

Thank you for sharing!

Katie said...

I have 5 beautiful children. Four boys and a girl. In December we found out our surprise baby was a little girl. You can imagine the excitement to have another little girl. Sadly, I went in for my dr. Appointment end of January and my baby girl no longer had a heart beat. I delivered her on January 26 and have been battling sever ppd. This article was meant for me. Monday morning I'm calling my doctor to get on medication. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had read this 2 years ago when I was struggling in the same ways you describe. I can relate to so many of these feelings. Things do get better and they really will work out. Thank you April for your honesty and openness. You are blessing to me!

Carole Parkin said...

There is no judgement here for you during your time of huge trials... I had some post partum depression and it is awful. I am so happy you were able to get the help you needed. My daughter also suffered with depression and she was able to get some help and medication. It makes a world of difference to get that help. Bless you for sharing your trials and story with us.

Dani said...

I'm grateful for people who are willing to be real, genuine and honest. This is real life - it's hard! I've gone through similar feelings as a teenager with depression and even a little bit now. It's devastating but there IS light even if we can't see it at the moment. I've felt Heavenly Father's love just like you did in your darkest moment. He is there - I know it! Thank you again for sharing!

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