Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said today in conference that we shouldn’t be ashamed of mental illness. I’ve struggled with postpartum depression and well, I was ashamed of it. But I’m not anymore, so I’m going to share it here on my blog. Maybe it can help others who read this.
I’ve had a tendency toward depression my whole life—I’ve had some dark moments over the years, but my family has been a huge support the whole time, particularly when I was growing up. I remember my mom sitting down with me and listening and letting me know that she knew where I was coming from.
After MM was born, I was worried about postpartum depression, but I felt happy for quite some time. I remember going to my six-week follow-up appointment and telling the nurse practitioner that I honestly felt happy.
And then after a few more weeks, it got harder. I had some bad moments where I did things or thought things that were just not very rational. I didn’t feel all the way right inside. But those were only some moments. I was mostly okay, right?
When we moved out to Nevada, I was pregnant and then Dillon was gone a lot while he went to police academy. In my third trimester particularly, I struggled a lot. I kept thinking—if only I did this or this better, I would feel happier. As soon as Dillon is done with police academy, I’ll feel happier. As soon as I have my baby, I’ll feel happier. I just need do better. I blamed my dark feelings on myself. I felt so horribly guilty.
Dillon dealt with me as patiently as he could. Not every day was bad. In fact, the majority of days were pretty good days. But then those dark moments would creep in. There are a few moments I can think of—when I drove away from my house just wanting to escape. When I sat across the street in the sand and cried. Or when I threw the spaghetti squash in the kitchen.
I had BB, and for a while, life was great and I was happy. But it didn’t last long and those hard days started creeping in again. I was struggling.
I didn’t want to bring it up with anyone because I thought that that would just be weakness on my part. I thought I could just soldier through it and try harder.
Or I just wanted it to go away and not deal with those feelings at all.
I actually tracked my moods, counting all those bad days and good days and okay days and seeing the roller coaster my life had been the past few months. I had thought about ways I could fix it myself and I thought I could do it.
My birthday came. I didn’t have any particular plans for my birthday, which I wasn’t thrilled about. But I woke up with optimistic thoughts about the day. I thought all the positive thoughts that I could.
And then my emotions just didn’t match my thoughts. I fell apart even though I was trying as hard as I could to be happy. That’s when I knew I couldn’t fix it myself.
I called my husband and had him come home from work because I couldn’t handle life. And then I called my doctor, which was hard. Because I was ashamed of how I was feeling. I felt guilty—the guilt hurt.
But the next day I went to my doctor. I sat on a chair and she sat on the examination table and she talked to me in a matter-of-fact way, saying my hormones were messed up and my serotonin was low. She prescribed some medication. I said I would start taking my vitamins again.
And she said that if I went outside for a half hour within two hours of when I wake up, that the morning sunlight would help raise serotonin levels. I knew I needed to exercise and go outside, but when the doctor tells you to do it, it gives you more motivation. I started taking antidepressants and going on walks in the morning.
And after a few weeks, I started to feel normal again.
I loved feeling normal. I realized how much of a hard time I had been having—I hadn’t really had control over myself. I started to gain that control again. I stopped having to feel those dark moments and I started being able to be grateful for what I had. I started being able to not think about myself so much. I started being able to live again.
It was wonderful. It was wonderful to be happy and not to feel broken inside.
There have still been hard moments (lack of sleep, hormones, forget to go on a walk, etc.)—but I feel so much better.
Throughout it all, my Heavenly Father has helped me. I learned to pray when I was feeling down, and there were moments when I started to slip into dark feelings and dark thoughts and I would pray and they would go away. I received blessings that helped comfort me and helped me think. And I think the only way that I can feel happy right now is with the help of the Lord. I am grateful to Him for the experiences I have had, because I have learned so much from them. And I am grateful that I could be feeling better now, that He has helped me find light.