This is a series about my history of mental illness. Please read the introduction for more information.
Fast forward to marriage and motherhood.
After seeing the counselor for anxiety (though I didn’t realize it was anxiety at the time), I did surprisingly well, emotionally and mentally, for a couple of years. Pregnancy was hard, mostly because I was so sick and had a variety of other irregularities (i.e. bladder infections, infected appendix, etc), but I felt alright. Once I had Emily, who I was lucky enough to love from the beginning, things changed. Sleepless nights, full-time school, and busy church callings amassed to make a perfect storm. With a mixture of anxiety over mothering, trying to be the perfect mother, and feeling guilty for doing school full-time so that I couldn’t do the traditional stay-at-home mom thing, I fell into a dark hole. I would cry for hours during the day and feel so confused by my feelings. I liked being a mom, right? I wanted to care for my daughter, right? But I felt so unprepared and ill-fitted. It didn’t help that Emily had intense colic and that nursing was awful and that all my friends seemed to have these perfect babies with perfect experiences. I felt like an intruder in the parenting world.
My marriage, at that time, was very rocky. Ben took the brunt of all my issues. He also had a full plate of responsibilities with a busy calling, employment, and hard science classes. That next semester, when things seemed to somehow balance out, I got pregnant with Andrew.
The sickness returned and I had to quit nursing Emily (she actually refused to nurse which tipped me off that something was changing in my body). I felt tremendous guilt over having to stop nursing and over getting pregnant so soon after Emily entered the world. What had I done? My baby would be robbed of her infancy because of this pregnancy.
Thankfully, I told myself, I would be done with school in 10 weeks so I can focus on being a mom.
Once I finished school, I was sent into a major depressive episode that lasted for months. The only reason I got out of bed was because Emily needed me, otherwise I would have stayed underneath the blankets forever. Ben could not do anything right. I was constantly on his case over this, or that, the cooking, the cleaning, the time he spent or didn’t spend with Emily. I cried and screamed and hid in our room. I am sure he wanted to run far away from me during this time.
Finally, after Ben sat me down and said something needed to change, I agreed to talk with the doctor. He put me on a low dose anti-depressant and I felt better immediately (thanks placebo effect!). And the rest of the pregnancy was rather smooth…except the guilt I felt over taking medication. I figured after I had Andrew I would get off it immediately.
Continue on to Part Six.