This is a series exploring the mental illness I have had since a young girl. Read the introduction to start from the beginning.
Andrew came into the world much earlier than expected. The experience was amazing and I rode on a high of newborn happy hormones for the next 6 weeks. I convinced myself, my doctor, and Ben that I had skipped post-partum depression and could wean myself off the meds.
I was so proud of myself for conquering the silly depression.
After two miscarriages, the ship of denial I’d been sailing on sank.
The time between January 2010 and January 2011 was a dark, dark period that I almost wish to forget but is essential for my personal growth to not only remember, but to document.
From somewhere within rose this hatred toward life. I could barely stand Ben, the kids, and, most of all, myself. I was constantly planning on how I could permanently leave life. I wanted to drive to my mom’s house, drop the kids off, and disappear. I even made the preliminary step of visiting my mom for a week while Ben was having a particularly busy week and I just could not fathom spending that week at home, with the kids, by myself. This visit helped me regroup and think my way out of escaping. But once I returned, the thoughts came back.
Recently, Ben informed me that he was terrified of leaving me with the kids because he wasn’t sure if they were safe with me. My mom has told me that she and other people discussed my mental state and tried to figure out different ways to intervene.
I really wish I had known. I thought I was on the journey alone. Ben’s fears were grounded in reality; I was afraid of myself. I had horrible thoughts and dreams regarding my children that terrorized me. The voices in my head would not shut up.
Living with mental illness, especially severe anxiety and depression, is walking a thin line between sanity and insanity. While I was never full blown schizophrenic – in that I didn’t have delusions – I did have voices. They weren’t random voices, either, they were people I knew and respected: my mom, Ben, church leaders, friends, siblings, etc. Some would tell me that I needed to pray more (which I did), others told me I needed to serve more (did that too), and others told me to stop bitching and get over myself (tried that too).
I realized that something was wrong with my thinking. I couldn’t look at Ben without either crying or fighting a strong urge to punch him. Everything he did irritated me and I would often have fits of violent anger that would surprise us both. So I tried to change. I kept a gratitude journal where I’d write 10 things I loved/appreciated/respected about him every night. I threw myself into my church calling (Relief Society secretary) and worked over-time taking care of various sisters’ needs. I visited the temple frequently. I prayed as often as I could. I listened to church music. I watched church-related videos. I kept my diet strictly healthy and free of junk (except for a small handful of chocolate I allowed myself each day). I worked out, heavily, every day.
Nothing worked. The voices got stronger, my anger intensified, and thoughts of escaping interfered with living.
I finally broke down and confessed everything to Ben. Little did I know that he was going through a difficult time as well and could offer little in support. When I told him I wanted to run away, he said “well, that’s life” and tried to move on. I finally demanded that he listen and help me. I went and saw a doctor who initially ignored my symptoms, chalking them up to motherhood, but finally listened to my pleas. She started me on two types of medication—Zoloft and Buspar—and had me come back for regular check-ups.
By February, I was feeling like a different person. I was seeing sunlight for the first time in a year and I felt so alive.
Continue on to Part Seven.