Disclaimer: The following article mentions the topic of suicide or other sensitive subjects, which may trigger negative thoughts and feelings for those currently suffering or still recovering from a mental or mood disorder. Reader discretion is advised.
Two years ago, I moved from Florida to North Carolina only 6 weeks after my second child was born. My husband started an intense fellowship program and was gone all the time. I was caring for a 2-year old and my newborn. Within a matter of weeks, I started slipping into what I thought was deep homesickness and unhappiness. About a month into experiencing these feelings, I recognized that I had almost every symptom of postpartum depression and anxiety. I talked to my husband and extended family and got help right away (including medication and therapy). However, things got much worse before they got better, and it was terrifying. I felt like I was losing control of my body, mind, and spirit. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop crying, and couldn’t think clearly. I was desperate for help, for answers, and for peace. I didn’t necessarily want to end my life, but I almost wished someone else would. Specifically, I felt that continuing to live the way I had been was impossible, and I was convinced my family would be better off without me.
It took several months before I felt any relief. It was 6 months before I returned to feeling like myself again. I weaned off the medication and had a few great months. However, after I stopped nursing my daughter, my hormones shifted and I started slipping back into the depths of depression and anxiety. The first time was scary because I didn’t know what was happening to me. The next time was just as scary because I knew what was happening to me. I started medication and therapy, and once again it took 6 months to climb out of the hole I was in. The best way I can describe depression and anxiety to someone who has not experienced it is that it feels like the worst case of the flu: you can’t eat, can’t sleep, and can’t function. There is no “quick fix” to make these feelings go away. You lose interest in everything. You want to lie in bed all day because you have no strength to do anything. At its worst, you wish you could curl up and die–a it is exhausting and horrible.
Thankfully, after lots of help, I am in a better place now where I have the clarity of mind to remember that life is worth living and that depression and anxiety are treatable. Whether or not my depression and anxiety are permanent, it is worth doing everything I can to stay on top of my treatment so I can keep living and enjoying my life.