“My goal is to not die…” – Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedI’ve been in a slump. I can tell because most mornings when I wake up, I already want to go back to bed. I spend a lot of my thought life trying to figure out how I might be able to get out of my next social engagement. I practically count my own words because talking out loud and trying to express myself can be excruciating. I want to be alone. I want everything to be quiet.

If this is your first time to #staymarried, welcome to our bright and shiny corner of the internet! Oh, wait… that bright and shiny corner might be elsewhere today. Our mission is to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married. But, sometimes, in order to get to hope, we need to tell our own stories of pain and apathy and how we work through it. Right now, I am working my way through it.

At eighteen I was diagnosed with Dysthymia. I can’t stand the labels of things, but I also value that they help make murky ideas a little bit more clear. Dysthymia is a mild form of depression, mostly manageable without medication. It is very real, but not necessarily incapacitating. The trouble with this kind of depression is that, because I am used to being just a little less joyful than the average person who does not deal with it, a true season of deeper depression can sneak up on me pretty easily.

Because of the Dysthymia, I have been more prone to severe postpartum depression. Now, I didn’t know that, so rather than being snuck up on by a depressive season, I was tackled by a huge linebacker of darkness and self-loathing after the birth of my first daughter.

My Own Thoughts Didn’t Make Any Sense

I remember sitting in the rocking chair with our sweet 3 week old Claire, working through our new bedtime routine. I picked up one of the books that was nearby, Guess How Much I Love You, and I could not finish reading it to her without sobbing.

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedTony heard me from the other room and came in to find me weeping over our daughter and this adorable book and I said to him, “I just can’t. I can’t do this.” I handed him the baby and the book and went into the bathroom where I continued to cry. I wanted to tell Tony what was wrong, but the only thing I could figure out was that that Big Nutbrown Hare just loved his Little Nutbrown Hare so much more than I loved my baby. He loved him all the way to the moon and back, and I couldn’t love Claire long enough to finish reading this little book. I was overwhelmed and my own thoughts didn’t make any sense to me.

I was devastated for my daughter. I wanted a loving mother for her and I was sure that I was not it. I wanted my husband to have a warm and caring wife, and I was certain he could do better than me. I laid awake at night and for the first time in my life I began to relate with women who leave their families. I absolutely had thoughts of leaving, thoughts that they would be so much better and happier without me.

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedThankfully we got through it, but it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. I was given some good advice like taking some Vitamin D, and getting outside. I’d also heard about this thing that helps a lot of people called “exercise”…

Um… No, I NEVER did that. I knew I should, but OH MY GOSH. Are you kidding me? I hated everything, including myself, and now you want me to move and sweat more than I already naturally do. No. Just no.

My Goal is to Not Die…

Wait, one time I did try out a gym. It was after our second daughter was born and I was experiencing postpartum depression again! I was outnumbered then and I figured out I could get a gym membership that included child care. I still didn’t want to exercise, I just needed to be without the beautiful little people that constantly needed everything from me.

I decided to spend that time on the treadmill with my earbuds in. I didn’t run or even walk briskly. I strolled at a leisurely pace not even looking at the monitors on the machine. I listened to music and books and peacefully let my mind wander. It was serene, until it wasn’t.

Wouldn’t ya know, those personal trainers who walk around the gym would find a treadmill right next to me and try to talk to me. They didn’t ask me about my day or what I was listening to. Nope, they were trying to talk me into personal training sessions. I tried, in my most polite voice to simply say, “No thank you”… and since I didn’t even make eye contact and kept my earbuds in, most of the time they left me alone.

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedI’d decided that I couldn’t even care if they thought I was rude. I wasn’t in the gym to practice my people pleasing skills. I was there to work on my mental strength not to breakdown over the next dirty diaper. I needed this time, this precious 45 minutes, not to interact with any other humans. One guy didn’t get it.

He was nice, and for all I know, he was good at his job. He stood on the treadmill next to me and after I twice said, “No thanks. I’m good…” He insisted, “I really think I could help you. I’ll give you the first session for free. Come on, tell me, what are your goals here at the gym?” So, with a big deep sigh, I told him.

“My goal is to not die,” I paused to give the full Wednesday Adams effect before I continued… “I am dealing with some post-partum depression and I have suicidal thoughts and daydream about leaving my family. My goal is to clear my head and pray and breathe without a person attached to me. Despite what you see in front of you, I actually do not care if I lose any weight or gain any muscle. So, unless you are a trained psychotherapist, I do not think you will be able to help me with my goals.”

For added effect and because I just couldn’t help it, I also burst into tears. I could tell by the way his eyes widened and his mouth closed as he backed off of the treadmill that he wouldn’t be offering me his services anymore.

Depression and Your Marriage

At this point you may be looking up at your browser and wondering what any of this has to do with marriage… Yep, you’re still at #staymarried. The thing is, depression, anxiety, post-partum, and mood disorders affect more people than you can possibly imagine. What is going on inside of our minds has a profound effect on our relationships and especially our marriages.

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedI share my crazy with you every once in a while to remind you that, if you are suffering, you are not alone. If your spouse is in a slump, we have been there before. Depression has been linked to divorce, but most couples do not say, “We got a divorce because my wife was depressed.” It’s more common to say, “We grew apart. There was a distance between us and then she had an affair.”

While it can be difficult to cope with depression in marriage, we are not without hope. Mental health experts say couples that address the depression have much better chances of working through it. Try to understand how it affects each partner, determine its roots, keep communication open, and get professional help if needed.

I’ve got some friends having babies soon, maybe you do too, so we’ve listed the symptoms and things to watch for with postpartum specifically. Bringing home a brand new baby is an exciting time for a couple, but it can also be very stressful. It is important to be aware of the mental and emotional recovery process as well as the physical recovery. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for and communicate with each other about for the different levels of postpartum depression. {PIN THIS – You or someone you know may need it in the future.}

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarried

 More information and resources can be found at Mayo Clinic’s website.

Are you having a hard time? Have you had a baby recently or will you soon? Did you see some things in the list above that you can relate to?

A date with my husband, a pedicure, and some fresh air will do wonders to help me through my current slump. However, there have been times, and I’m sure there will be again, when more intervention is needed. Tony and I are trying our best to communicate and connect with each other. I don’t think anyone is more invested in my mental health than he is. You can read how he deals with it here.

What I have loved about our #staymarried Community is our collective desire to be transparent. Today I am asking for your help to share this post. People who look up to you are reading what you post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. By sharing, you may be sending a message of hope to someone who feels alone and embarassed in their own pain and unsure of who to reach out to. Sharing this post could be enough to encourage them to reach out to you, to their spouse, or even a therapist to begin to get help. When I was in the depths of my own pain, I had one friend who shared with me the darkness she had gone through having a baby just 7 months before I did. I found hope in her story, and we pray that other couples will find hope in ours.

Having a baby is such a wonderful and exciting time for a couple. Our hope is that you can be aware of what to watch for and keep communication open, so that if a storm of depression rolls in, you will be able to weather it together and #staymarried.

 The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

Interested in more posts like this? You might like…

The Reason I Take A Million Pictures
How to Find a Great Therapist
♥ Living With My Partner’s Baggage
♥ Lost in the Fog: Guest Post by Carmen Meeks

Tony and Michelle Peterson #staymarriedIf you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post. You can also find us on the socials: PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram. I’d love to connect on any of your favorite platforms.

If you have a question or would like some advice, head over to Ask #staymarried. We would love to help!

Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle

 

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10 thoughts on ““My goal is to not die…” – Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage

  1. THANK YOU for being real about your experience with PPD. I suffered from it too, and your paragraph below describes my experience so well.

    “I was devastated for my daughter. I wanted a loving mother for her and I was sure that I was not it. I wanted my husband to have a warm and caring wife, and I was certain he could do better than me. I laid awake at night and for the first time in my life I began to relate with women who leave their families. I absolutely had thoughts of leaving, thoughts that they would be so much better and happier without me.”

    I remember one specific event when I left my son at home with my husband while I ran to the post office for just a few minutes. I sat there in my car in the PO parking lot and had the same thoughts you expressed above. I felt terrible that my husband had to take care of a newborn and his own wife and I knew they would be better off if I didn’t go back home. I felt selfish when I decided to go home. Later I realized how untrue (and sad!) those thoughts were, and I am so thankful that my family didn’t give up on me. I just found out last week that I am expecting again, and I am very nervous about the post-partum period. I feel that I will be better prepared this time…if that “linebacker of darkness” jumps on my back, I will know that he is only there for a season, and I can get help!

    1. Oh Amber! Isn’t it amazing – devastating – how the thoughts in our own minds can betray us? I’m glad you didn’t leave that day, and I know your soon and husband are, too. As much as you can in this next season, keep talking about how you feel and reach out when you need to. We are in your corner!

  2. I, too, suffered from PPD. The most painful thing I have ever dealt with. I let it go untreated for almost a year and still to this day do not know how I made it through. A combination of medication, sleep, and exercise finally pulled me out of it.

  3. It’s very interesting for me to read this. I swear that I must be the only woman in the world who had PRE partum depression. I spent most of my pregnancy so depressed and angry. I had all the thoughts you describe above, being paranoid that I wouldn’t love my baby enough, that I would mess her up. I spent so many hours in tears apologizing to the baby still in my stomach that I wasn’t good enough. I would have hysterical breakdowns where I made my husband promise that he would take the baby away from me if I wasn’t taking good care of her and take her someplace safe. It. Was. Awful. And then when she came, I was pretty much fine. I mean there were a few hormonal weeks and still some crying because HELLO no one is getting any sleep. But it was NOTHING like when I was pregnant. I still can’t really explain it. But it’s given my husband and I a lot of pause about having more kids…neither of us are keen on going through that again, or putting my daughter through it. I think the only reason our marriage came through as strong as it did is that my husband has an amazing capacity for grace toward me.

    1. KT, you are NOT alone! I had antenatal depression two out of my three pregnancies and it was devastating. The hormones and life changes that occur during this time can wreak havoc on our lives and marriages. I want to encourage you that you have SO many options to prevent that from happening again. I was hospitalized for PPD after my second daughter was born and my husband and I felt like we couldn’t have more kids after that; it was just too hard. But we created a plan and even though I had some mild antenatal and postpartum depression again this time, it was so much better than last time that we are still considering having a fourth. Please don’t let this hold you back. I would love to talk to you more (or anyone else reading this): karenneumair@yahoo.com

  4. That is so ironic that this is the first post to land in my inbox since subscribing this weekend. I am currently a three-time survivor of PPD (still recovering) and I work with a lot of moms through a local postpartum support group. This is an aspect of PPD that is not talked about nearly enough. Having a baby changes your marriage significantly, but adding PPD into the mix takes its toll on any marriage. I would also add to be in the lookout for postpartum anxiety, since it is looking like it is becoming even more prevelant than postpartum depression but easier to overlook or dismiss as “first time mom jitters.” Thank you for continuing this conversation!

    1. Wow, Karen! Well, thank you for the work you do in the field, so to speak, with moms. Support is so important during that fragile time.

  5. Thank you so SO much for sharing this. We are due with our first child this Friday and PPD is one of my greatest fear. I have battled depression my entire life and I know that I am predisposed to it. My husband and I know what to look for but that fear is still there. I am so thankful for your posts… they have been such a encouragement to me and my husband. This one particularly spoke to my heart. I know that God will help us through the first few months and will pull us through anything that comes our way with our sweet boy. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing what you went through with your daughters’ births. I am so thankful to be reminded that I am not alone and that God will help us to get through it, love our son, and maintain our healthy marriage.

  6. I too suffered with PPD, most noticeably after the birth of my second child. I struggled to be able to identify what I needed in able to walk towards health and I struggled to receive any help others offered me. A difficult time for sure and one I am willing to share with others in hopes that it does someone some good. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Megan

  7. “I was devastated for my daughter. I wanted a loving mother for her and I was sure that I was not it. I wanted my husband to have a warm and caring wife, and I was certain he could do better than me. I laid awake at night and for the first time in my life I began to relate with women who leave their families. I absolutely had thoughts of leaving, thoughts that they would be so much better and happier without me.”

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