It has been six years and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
I sat on the edge of our disheveled bed in my pajamas while Cortney got his breakfast ready in the kitchen. My hand shook as I followed the instructions and pushed the appropriate numbers to make an appointment.
“I need to make an appointment for today with Dr. W.”
“What do you need to see her regarding?”
“I think I have postpartum depression.”
“According to our records, you haven’t been in to see Dr. W in over a year, so we will have to process this as a new patient. I’m not sure she will want to see you for this today.”
“I have to come in today. That is why I called at 7am. For a same day appointment.”
“I’ll have to put in a note for her and call you back when she gets in.”
“But I took the day off.”
“We will call you back.”
I hung up and started crying. It was too late to get ready and get to work. Besides, I had already put in for a substitute and made plans. Now what?
At that moment, Cortney came in and asked what time my appointment was. I told him there was no appointment and relayed the conversation I had had with the receptionist.
“That is unacceptable,” he stated angrily.
I cried harder.
“We are calling them back.”
I knew what he was thinking: if I didn’t go in today, I wouldn’t go in. And I had to go in. The night before was one of my worst meltdowns yet and it was the first time I admitted that maybe something was wrong. If I waited, I would change my mind. It had to be today and he wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer.
I’m not sure who called back, but I remember Cortney getting on the phone and demanding an appointment for me…and getting one. Later that day my doctor nodded vigorously as I told her what had been going on: I was mad all the time. I took out all my rage on the people closest to me. I wasn’t sleeping well, but I wanted to sleep all the time. Mostly I was just mad.
She looked at me and said, “normally I would say let’s wait and see, maybe try some therapy, but it’s been nine months of this, right? You did the wait and see on your own. You have postpartum depression, and I am going to suggest an antidepressant along with talk therapy.”
Sometimes I look back and hate that day. My postpartum depression and generalized anxiety are full-blown depression and anxiety (with some OCD on the side) now. Some people have PPD and it goes away. Mine has stuck around. Sometimes that makes me mad.
But mostly I look back on that day as the day I got my life back. The day Cortney got his wife back. The day Eddie got his mom back. That is the day a team formed around me: my doctors, therapist, psychiatrist, family, and friends. That was when I found out who was going to stay with me; the ones who said, “let’s tackle this thing together!”
That was the day I found out I don’t have to do anything in this life alone.
I credit the internet for helping me know what to look for because I never, ever would have connected my rage to depression. I thought that being mad all the time was just how I felt about having a child–I thought that was what motherhood felt like. I was totally wrong. Katherine Stone and the other warrior mommas of Postpartum Progress saw my blog post about it and rallied around me immediately. Because of them and Lauren’s (of My Postpartum Voice) #ppdchat on twitter, I was able to connect with hundreds of women who were just like me–going through the same thing as me.
When I had Charlie, they were right there for me: listening to my fears about my PPD coming back, supporting me as I tried (and failed) to go off my meds during my pregnancy, virtually hugging me and praying for me when I relapsed in the months after Charlie’s birth. They were there through my pregnancy with Alice. They have celebrated with me as I have avoided a new relapse this time around.
Postpartum Progress is a non-profit that supports thousands of women around the world–including me. Katherine Stone and her staff advocate tirelessly for better support and less stigma related to mental health issues specifically surrounding postpartum women–including me. Their advocacy has saved lives–including mine.
In 2013, Postpartum Progress started a Climb Out event where participants do a climb in their area to raise money and awareness for Postpartum Progress and their advocacy programs. The first climb had 177 participants in 40 states and 7 countries and raised $40,000. Last year the climb had 2,500 participants in 45 states and 5 countries and raised $230,000.
This year I am doing the climb.
I’m doing it to give back to Katherine and Postpartum Progress for helping me get my life back.
I’m doing it to show my kids that I am strong and healthy (and Cortney and the kids are doing it with me!)
I’m doing it to celebrate NO PPD with Alice.
I’m doing it to celebrate surviving.
I’m doing it because I think back at how uninformed and scared and angry and just sad I was six years ago sitting with my hands between my knees in my doctor’s office. I was afraid to say anything. I thought I was a terrible person.
At times, I wanted to relieve my family of the burden of me.
Did you know that the second leading cause of death for postpartum women is suicide?
That could have been me.
But it wasn’t.
So I am celebrating.
If you want to support my Climb or join our team climbing in Grand Haven, Michigan, you can visit my fundraiser page here. The Climb takes place on June 18 (our eleventh anniversary!) and our whole family will be participating!