A History of Mental Illness: An Over Abundance of Tears

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.

Ha ha.

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.

Big mistake.

Continue on to Part Six.

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3 Comments

Filed under Month of Instrospection

3 responses to “A History of Mental Illness: An Over Abundance of Tears

  1. Ugh. Amber, I know this is dumb, but I simply feel like the worst possible friend ever for not knowing how much you were going through at this time of your life. I was right there, a street away, absorbed in my own “problems”. Albeit, I could not have understood the stress you felt, from my own lack of experience with any of those things at the time, but I still think about it a lot: how much better a friend I wish I had been, just for you to have someone to talk to. I am really proud of how you’ve pulled through this and humbled by your honesty in talking about it online, but man I wish I had been there for you; seriously, I think about it all the time. I don’t want you to justify it for me. I just really want you to know that I care about you, and I am sorry. You are so strong for pulling through.

  2. Just so you know, motherhood is tough for all of us and none of our kids are perfect, even though they might appear that way from over the fence. We all feel guilty no matter if we work or stay at home with them. Staying at home with them, especially when they are infants, is HARD. I found it easier to be a SAHM when she was a toddler and more interactive.

    Keep writing. I love this series. I love your honesty.

  3. Pingback: A History of Mental Illness: Can’t Get Up | Making the Moments Count