Monthly Archives: December 2008

His Turn…

This one gets personal for me. Very personal.

I am recovered from Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive/Depression. It’s taken some time and been a very hard and long road. The darkest depths witnessed me collapsed on the floor sobbing in tears after yelling at my husband in front of our then two year old daughter, fleeting horrible images racing through my head every waking moment, curled in the fetal position rocking back and forth willing myself to stay there so that I wouldn’t hurt myself or my children, and admitted to a psych ward.

The lessons I learned? Absolutely invaluable. While I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone else in the world, I know that it was priceless and has truly carved me into the woman I am today. I know now that I cannot control what others think of me and I cannot give them permission to hurt me. I know now that God is with me and I feel his presence each and every day. I know now that I stand strong and breathe deeply because of His sacrifice for me. And I know that I will not let another family struggle the way mine has if there is something I can do to prevent that from happening.

All that said, my journey and growth is not yet over. Yes, I am recovered. But now it is my husband’s turn  to collapse and my turn to support him, to show him the same compassionate understanding, loyalty, and guidance he showed me when I too couldn’t tell which way was up.

My husband was a drug addict when I met him. At the time I thought it was merely recreational and did not realize how deep his problems went. The use became worse after our second daughter, again, unbeknownst to me. Nine months ago I was involved in a car accident and quite a bit came to surface. He had been spending nearly $100/month on his habit while we were struggling to barely pay our bills. He hadn’t paid our vehicle insurance and I went to jail for his mistake. Together we hammered out a plan and got him to a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a faith-based recovery program. He is still sober today.

But we are now in what we’re calling phase two of recovery. Dealing with the nasty habits the drug use hid and the habits that are residuals of an addict like lying. On November 18th he told myself and his family he had been laid off from work. The Sunday before our son’s first birthday, I phoned his boss to find out if this was true. It wasn’t. He had resigned without another job lined up and lied to us about the entire situation. I played my conversation with his ex-boss for him. He called the state’s Mental Health Crisis Line and had an intake appointment made for him at a local clinic the very next day.

Meanwhile I was left to ponder our marriage. Every single shred of trust that had been rebuilt now lay in shards – descimated by one single act. How could he do this to us? How does someone seemingly forget they have a family to provide for? Why does someone do this? Do I stay and continue to be satisfied with the baby steps forward or do I flee? These are the hard questions I’ve struggled with for most of the past year.

We’ve lost just about everything and yet we still have faith and know that we will come through this – as long as we work at it together – something we both excel at. Give us a crisis and we can power our way through it in now time. This time around is a little harder and I am certainly shaken to my core. We have a lot of hard questions and choices ahead of us but I have no doubt that no matter what the answer is, we will both be able to survive.

The reason I tell you all of this is to ultimately introduce my husband’s new blog to you. It’s entitled Diary of a Real Man. He’s posted his first entry tonight and I would really encourage you to go check it out. Share it with others including any men in your life that may be facing similar circumstances and just need to know that they are not alone.

I would also encourage you to visit Married to Depression for a wife’s insight into what it’s like to live with a man who’s depressed. Another blog I’ve also started reading is The Junky’s Wife. She offers quite a bit of insight into what it’s like to live with an addict.


While writing the previous post regarding the sleep study, I remembered something.

When I was hospitalized, the one thing the nurses emphasized to me over and over and over again was that I didn’t have to tell anyone where I had been UNLESS I CHOSE TO DO SO. We even had a cover story for where I was that weekend as I was supposed to be co-hosting my sister-in-law’s baby shower. I was very ill and unable to attend. Everything was kept very quiet at the time and only immediate family knew what was really going on. My mother drove down from VA the night I was hospitalized so Chris could go to work and we would have someone to care for the kids (THANKS MOM!)

I don’t know why we kept it so quiet then. Fear? Shame? I wasn’t well enough to feel either of those things and honestly, I am obviously not ashamed of having been hospitalized because if I was I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now.

As far as my hospitalization goes, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I rested and it was the beginning of what I do today. It opened my eyes to what a specialized population mothers with mood disorders are and strengthened my resolve not to let any mother go through the experience alone and unguided. If there is anything worse than a Postpartum Mood Disorder, it’s going through it alone, feeling misunderstood by everyone around you, wondering what on earth is going on with you and getting scared out of your mind.

You don’t recognize the person in the mirror – who is she and when will she leave? You learn to cope with her but still wish she would disappear or at least stop showing up so much. Eventually she does fade but the fading takes time when you wait for it to happen all alone in the cold. With the warmth and strength of others, you learn how to get her to fade much quicker. She stops standing in between you and your baby, stops yelling at your husband, stops soaking your cheeks or re-organizing the cabinets for the twentieth time today. There is something to that power in numbers thing. It works.

Stigma is a very powerful force in the human world. It’s peer pressure gone horribly wrong. Peer pressure that encourages you to be miserable, silent, and hang your head down low should not accompany any new mother. Instead, the peer pressure should be that it’s ok to talk about your feelings and open up, it’s ok to hold your head high and know that as long as baby is fed, diapered, and has a warm place to sleep, you’re doing the best you can with what you have at the moment. Peer pressure should be the warmth of another person who KNOWS what you’re going through because she’s been there too.

Don’t let the stigma keep you from getting help. Don’t let the fear keep you from getting help.

Getting help is the absolute best thing you can do for YOU and for your family.

So sleep deprivation makes it worse, huh?


A study by Bobbie Posmontier of Drexel University published this past week concluded that sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of Postpartum Depression.

Really? Sure about that?

And money was spent on this research?

You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

So those endless sleepless nights, stolen moments of sleep here or there because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open or my mind awake anymore just made things worse? And wait a second – you’re also saying that women with PPD have a hard time falling asleep? So it WAS the PPD that caused all those racing thoughts and sleep problems! Wow. There’s an eye-opener.

What really gets me about this is that the end of the article published by Blackwell, there are recommendations for sleep habits of new moms.(You can read the article by clicking here)

Posmontier recommends clinicians treating women for PPD to address the importance of adequate sleep. “Mothers can develop a plan to have other family members help care for the baby at night,” she said. “They also should practice good sleep hygiene. That includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps and steering clear of caffeine, exercise, nicotine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.”

Hey wait! Caffeine (and power naps) helped me get through those first few bleary weeks! Well, toothpicks too but that’s a whole ‘nother post in rebuttal to a whole new study – about how toothpicks are ineffective tools for keeping your eyes open due to the OW factor. (That study hasn’t already been done, has it?)

My sarcasm aside, Ms. Postmontier does make a valid point of getting practitioners and clinicians to increase their awareness and their patient’s awareness of adequate sleep.

And here’s where I get serious.

With our second daughter, we begged our pediatrician for a night nurse. Tube-fed, someone had to be up with her 24/7 as we couldn’t just let a feeding slip by. It mattered too much to get her as much food as possible. I was also pumping exclusively for her and my life revolved around caring for her but with a lot of above and beyond thrown in for extra measure. Typically my husband stayed up with her at night and let me sleep at least the five hours I could sleep without sacrificing supply.

Just one month after she came home from the hospital was when I was admitted to psych ward for suicidal ideation/thoughts and thoughts of harming my children. I slept most of the time I was there. The nurses would wake me so I could pump, which I did every three hours during the day until midnight or so and then I would go to sleep until 6a and start the whole routine over.

That weekend was a tremendous turning point for me. Not only was my medication changed but I got sleep. The nurses hounded me to change my routine at home and make sure I took time for myself, something I made sure to do when I returned home. I started walking every morning and learned the true value of self-care. I felt guilty at first but now not only have I come to expect it, my husband is an active enforcer of my self-care time. (He knows what a grump I can be if I don’t get my sleep!)

So while the whole study struck me at first as a “DUH” moment, it really is a valuable enforcement of the importance of sleep in a new mom’s life. The better care you take of yourself, the better shape your family will be in come the long-run. Thank you, Ms. Postmontier for your invaluable contribution to this important aspect of Postpartum Care.