Friday, May 27, 2011

Mothering with Depression

I came to motherhood with a load of emotional and mental baggage.  When I was 18 I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression.  That meant that I was having more than one depressive episode within a four month time lasting more than one week.  It was determined that my depression started to manifest itself when I was in 5th grade.  I want you to stop and think about that for a moment.  From 5th to 12th grade I was experiencing hell on a frequent basis and no one knew what was going on.  I was self-destructive, I was irrationally emotional, I lashed out, I would go from being happy and content one minute to crashing and crying my eyes out the next.  People around me attributed it all to hormones.  It was later determined, after my first week’s stay in a hospital, that I also had Bi-polar type 2 and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The Bi-Polar type 2 meant that I got all the lows but none of the highs.  The PTSD wasn’t from just one instance but years worth of events surrounding my mother’s alcoholism and the abandonment I felt.  I also suffered some other events that I do not want to go into at this time, but needless to say- they left many scars that I am still healing from.  After my mother’s sudden and needless to say traumatic death I also developed Anxiety Disorder.  Again, stop for a moment.  At that point I was 21 years into my life and have already been diagnosed with FOUR emotional disorders.  I was on 13 pills for four medications a DAY.  Just to be able to function.

Let’s fast forward.  I have now gotten off my medications thanks to the amazing support of my husband, family and friends.  I have learned a world of coping mechanisms to help me through rough patches.  That’s not to say I didn’t still have episodes or times where I felt the world was about to crash down on me.  But I had learned how to get through them a bit better.  Now- add a baby.  Did you just cringe?  Are you worried about how that affected my emotional stability?  Good- you should.  Because, as you can guess, shortly after my first child was born I was diagnosed, on top of my other issues, with Post Partum Depression (PPD).  Keeping score?  We’re now up to five diagnoses. Oh, and a new baby.  And no real support network. And a husband who was finishing his PhD and looking for jobs in areas we had no connections in.  And all those coping skills I had learned?  It’s hard to do needlepoint when you’re taking care of a newborn.  Or to go for a bike ride, or work on a play with a local community theater, or spend a few hours uninterrupted working on puzzles or writing.  So if all that was going on how did I manage?  Partly by remembering one thing- I did not want my daughter to grow up with a broken mother the way I did.  I SWORE my children would not have to worry about if they did or said the wrong thing would it set off mom.  Not that I’m saying I thought my mom’s issues were my fault-but I learned to tip-toe around her to avoid setting her off.  So with a strong determination, a great husband, and a good therapist I worked through my emotions, my fears.  I found a group of moms with kids a similar age as mine and we got together once a week.  I found time and ways to hand my daughter to someone for an hour or two.  I learned new coping skills.

Now that first child is 3 ½ years old and I have a second daughter now 10 months old.  I went through the same issues again, my PPD came back and it raised the cadre of issues from my past to the forefront again.  The new coping skills I had learned again were ineffective when tending to two children.  This time though it was easier to manage.  I had found a larger network and support of friends.  I knew what to expect from my own emotions.  Without the support and help of the many moms I knew I would probably shown my eldest what I feared the most, that mommy is broken.  I still have my bad days, I still go through times where I fear my own mind.  But I know I have people to turn to.  And I KNOW I can get through this, because I have before.  And that’s what matters most.


Grab Our Button

Follow Us


TMN BlogRoll