I had planned to post my full story here today. But as I typed, it got long. Really long. I’m at five full typed pages with a few more to go.
(You’ll have to wait until I’m hospitalized for the title to make sense. Just go with it for now!)
In Part I, we’ll work our way from waking up the morning of my hospitalization to later that afternoon when I finally called the doctor’s office.
Tomorrow will offer some background on what led up to the day of hospitalization.
This series is the most brutally honest I’ve ever been with anyone about my experience. Including myself. It feels good. It feels oh so good to get it all out in the open.
As I walked with my family this morning, I thought about this post. And for some reason the movie The Goonies popped into my head. You know the scene when they realize they’re in the wishing well?
Mouth gets pissy and says, “This wish was mine! And it didn’t come true. So I’m taking it back. I’m taking them all back.” Then he disappears under the water as he hunts for his other wishes.
Every mother wishes for a good postpartum experience. Many of us get that wish. Some of us don’t.
This is me. Taking back the power that Postpartum Depression had over me. Taking it ALL back. But I’m keeping my head above the water.
Four years ago this weekend, I visited a mental hospital. Involuntarily. This is how I landed there:
As I stumbled out of our bedroom, I remember looking out the living room window. Blue sky, sunshine, green forest stared back at me. Birds chirped, the dogs glanced at me, I heard our two-year old awake and prayed our almost three-month old was still asleep.
One question repeated over and over in my head.
“What would happen if I let go?” Just let go, they whispered. “You deserve to let go. Let go. Reality is a joke. Just.LET.GO. Let go. Let go. Let.go. let go….let go…..” the soft whispers echoed in my head all day long.
I fed our two-year old breakfast as I pumped. Set up our infant daughter’s tube feeding. Took our two-year old to her room to play. Laid down on her couch. Closed my eyes. Slept through her lifting my arms, dropping them down, begging me to wake up and play.
I did not want to play. I could not play. If I was unconscious, I couldn’t hurt her. If I was unconscious, the voices would shut up. If I was unconscious, visions of smothering them both with pillows would go away. If I was unconscious – no wait, if I was not here……maybe…. maybe…..but how… just.. if I wasn’t here, I couldn’t hurt them.
I dozed as she played. I heard her as she begged me to play with her. Yet there I lay, paralyzed, my mind miles and miles away, locked in a deep dark closet somewhere, refusing to come out just like obstinate toddler.
Our infant daughter’s Kangaroo pump alarm sounded. After a few minutes, I finally stumbled into her room to turn it off and disconnect her. Back to the kitchen to make lunch for our two-year old. I think it was a PB&J.
Let go. Jump. Take a deep breath and fall. The hardest part is just letting go. Let go, they whispered. Over and over and over and over and over……
I clearly saw myself with a pillow, hands tightly gripping either side. If I just made them go away, the voices would go away. The pillow would solve everything. I could just make them go away. Then I’d let go and everything would be okay. Everything would be okay. Everything. Would. Be. Okay. It’d be okay.
I put our two year old down for a nap and started another tube feeding for our infant daughter. I hadn’t pumped since 10:45 a.m. It was pushing 1:00 p.m. I didn’t want to pump. Why should I?
She’s asleep now, they both are. It’d be so easy. So easy.
My thin strand of reality shredding, I turned to the voices. They started to push me toward the brink of the canyon. I didn’t have much fight left inside. Home alone, it would be so easy. The monsters were gaining ground. Their battering ram tediously close to knocking down the last door I had shored up against them, I went to our bedroom and closed the door, disgusted with myself.
Our bed saved my children.
I lay down, curled up in the middle with the phone. I clutched it as a stranded sailor clutches a life ring. Tightly, refusing to give it up even as I rocked back and forth, staring past the squirrels scrambling up and down 200-year-old oak tree swaying softly outside our bedroom window.
As the tears began to slide down my face, my breath shallow and my chest felt tight, I dialed my husband at work.
“You have to come home.” I choked the words out.
“You have to come home.”
“I can’t just leave work for no reason. Why?”
“I’m not doing well. You have to come home. I need you to call the doctor for me.”
“I can’t leave work. Why can’t you call the doctor?”
I gasped for air. The one person I felt safe in reaching out to was shooting me down. I needed help. I needed… I needed…
“Because I just can’t. I can’t… I…. “ burst into tears.
“Call them and let me know what they say, okay?” his voice was slightly softer.
“But I… “ argh. I hung up on him. I had tried to call the doctor’s office for the past four days, dammit. Yet somehow today had to be the day I made it happen. The day I had no strength left in any corner of my mind. Yeh.
I dialed the doctor’s office. And hung up.
I dialed again. Hung up.
I dialed again. Hung up.
Dialed. Ring. Ring…..ring… automation. Press 0.
Hang up. Dammit.
And now my husband was calling me back as I tried again. Ring…ring. Automation.
PRESS 0, dammit, said the only sane part of me. Press it! Say something when they answer. SAY something.
“Hello, this is Dr. X’s office. How can we help you?”
“I… I… I need help. My name is Lauren Hale and I’m not okay. I need help.”
It felt good and so horribly wrong all at the same time.
I feel like Mouth, too.
& I know what it’s like to live your story & I’m so sorry that you went through it, too.
It’s a tough story to live, that’s for sure. But at this point, I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to live it. It’s ultimately made me a much stronger woman and graced my life with the presence of some very strong and compassionate women. It’s also strengthened my faith in God immensely. For without Him, I do not feel I would have made it through.
Are you recovered now or are you still struggling? Continue to take care of you as you journey through Motherhood.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
I admire your courage and your honesty SO much. Thank you for being brave and putting this out there. We need to know about this stuff, and we need women who are willing to talk about. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading more.
Hitting the Publish/Schedule button on this post was so hard. I had to pause for a moment and pray. Once I hit that button though, I knew it was the right thing to do. I’ve danced around my story and let little pieces drop here and there for entirely too long. It’s time to be honest and own up to my experiences.
You are such a good writer, Lauren. I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear more. I’m almost convinced this is a work of fiction. I’m sure you wish it was.
I do wish it was a work of fiction.
But then again, at four years out, healed, I am grateful for the experience. Because on the back end has been the blessing of getting to surround myself with strong woman who have also been where I was back then. I’m so grateful to have strong survivors in my life and thankful God allowed me to survive so I can help others. THIS is what I was meant to do. Kind of a messed up way to figure it out but hey, it’s all in His time and in His way.
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