This post is second in a series from a variety of bloggers on depression.
Jenny Rapson is a wife and mom to three kids ages 10, 7, and 3 who was born, bred, and resides in Dayton, Ohio. She has been blogging at Mommin’ It Up with her cousin Emily Berry since 2007. Her passions include volunteering with a local non-profit, Shoes 4 the Shoeless, and raising money to support people with Down Syndrome in her area. In her five seconds of spare time each day she also works as a writer and project manager for V3 Integrated Marketing.
One day in late 2008, a friend who I’d only known for about a year asked me, “Did you ever deal with postpartum depression?”
“No,” I answered confidently. “Not even the baby blues. I’ve never had any problems with depression, but my mom did around menopause, so I figure my day is coming.”
I said that blithely, jokingly, innocently and with very little care. I look back on that now and wonder if God perhaps popped that random question out of my friend’s mouth to give me a heads up. Because “my day” arrived within just a few weeks of that conversation. And I was not even remotely prepared for it.
My unexpected battle with depression
began with the birth control pill. After weaning my daughter at 23 months, I decided I wanted to go back on the pill. I had been on it for a few years before I ever had kids, but had not been for about five years. I’d never had problems with it before, so I was blindsided when within just a week or ten days after starting them again, I became depressed.
At first, I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me, but after a few days of indescribable but seemingly unreasonable sadness, lethargy, and an emotional pain that I could somehow feel in my bones, I knew I was depressed. Simply changing a diaper or making a peanut butter sandwich was like climbing both an emotional and physical mountain. I didn’t want my kids near me. I wanted to hide in my bedroom with the door closed and the covers up. Being a stay-at-home mom, this was not really an option. So as much as I could, I sat immobile on the couch. I got up to tend to the kids when necessary, after which I’d sit back down and cry for awhile. Because even meeting a small need of theirs was so hard and so painful for me to do. It hurt like hell.
Depression is the most insane thing I’ve ever gone through. I had no “reason” to be depressed. I had a wonderful husband, home, and family. Two great kids, lots of love, and few worries. Yet I was desperately, despairingly sad. For those who have never been depressed, it is nearly impossible to understand. Perhaps that is why I went through this trial. Because now, I can empathize with people in this dark place, and I believe having someone who understands what you’re feeling is important to healing.
I really wanted to get out of this terrible place, so I tried another birth control pill. No dice. Then I asked for yet another birth control pill and an anti-depressant. This definitely helped, and I began to improve, but after a few months, I still wasn’t quite “me”. Looking back at an old blog post from that time is hard. In it I wrote these words, after I’d been on anti-depressant for several months: “…the truth is I am tired. Tired of trying to get better, tired of waiting to get better, tired of not being better. Tired of feeling totally awesome for a couple of days and then the crushing disappointment of feeling the opposite of awesome the next day.”
I was also afraid, my friends. It was a very scary time, living with the fear that I would never get better. Would never get back to me. Would never be able to adequately show my kids just how much I loved them.
Eventually, I decided to ditch the birth control all together. And almost immediately, I felt about 80% less crazy. From there I just got better and better, and weaned off my anti-depressant after about a year after I stopped the birth control. Since then, I’ve never felt the need for another. I still have some leftover anxiety from those days, but I haven’t felt the black cloud of depression in years, and I hope I never will again.
In the thick of it all, I also wrote these words: “What will I learn from this…period in my life? I want to know it, this lesson, I want to have learned it, earned it, put it into practice. I want to tuck it into my back pocket and say, ‘Oh, I am so glad I had that experience because it made me a better person.’”
Even though the thought of going back to that time in my life makes me shudder, I can read those words and say with certainty that as He promised, God did use that time in my life for good. It was a time I learned to trust Him completely, to know that He knew and understood my pain and why I was having it even when I didn’t. Eventually, I learned that it was Enough that He knew. I let Him carry that for me, because I couldn’t bear it. And I know that if I do go through depression again, and when a future trial that will surely come my way happens, I can count on God to bear my burdens once more.
* * * *
A simple question from a friend was enough to put that tiny bug in Jenny’s ear that depression might be around the corner.
Imagine an entire website of support, advocacy, information, and love.
Postpartum Progress serves millions of women struggling with all forms of depression.
Let’s help them continue their work.
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