There’s something very surreal about sitting down to write your own personal life experiences. Surreal? More like scary… terrifying… yes, let’s go with terrifying.
It might just be because the topic is something people don’t often open up about to random strangers on the internet (hello, strangers!).
What can I say? Kaitlyn has inspired me; her willingness to share her story with others has brought about a change in her life. If I can do the same, why not try?
I guess I should introduce myself.
My name is Alexis and I am 23 years old. Husband and I met when we were both students at Utah State University. We have been married almost four years now and Peanut will be turning one in March.
I completed my degree in Elementary Education before Peanut was born (like I left my last day of student teaching and drove to the hospital to have Peanut), and now I work from home selling LulaRoe.
I am a Disney Addict/Netflix enthusiast/Small Business Owner, and I have severe PPD/PPA.
Even throughout most of my pregnancy I didn’t notice anything wrong mentally. I began to feel lethargic (as most pregnant women do), but because of my busy teaching schedule, I don’t think my mind had a chance to notice anything else.
I recovered from having Peanut like as most moms typically do. Life moves a little slower and there’s A LOT more exhaustion involved but I would say I felt good. This mom stuff wasn’t as tough as everyone said it would be. Heck, I was slaying the mommy job.
That was the first two weeks.
My PPD/PPA didn’t come on all at once. It slowly began to wedge its way into every aspect of my life.
We moved to Salt Lake for Husband’s new job when Peanut was about 6 weeks old (red flag #1-moving can be a huge trigger).
So here I was: a brand new mom, living in a big city, far away from everyone and everything I knew, while Husband worked long hours.
I was alone.
And I felt it.
I thought everything I am about to tell you was my fault. I thought it was my new normal. I thought that I had done something along the way to deserve this. This became my new life:
I never left my house. Not even to get the mail.
I sobbed uncontrollably until I would hyperventilate when my husband had to work late.
I refused to go out in public with my son because I was afraid someone would try to take him.
My normal outgoing personally disappeared and I secluded myself from my friends and family.
I had constant “intrusive thoughts” of random strangers kidnapping and hurting my son and I.
I began to experience rage and could feel my blood boiling during an innocent argument with my husband.
Pessimism became my new personality.
I had irrational fears and worries about EVERYTHING which made my life extremely limited.
Depression set in deep and I began to feel a level of self-loathing that I didn’t know was possible. I no longer could recognize who I was because I hated myself. In my mind, My marriage and life were over. I turned away from God and everything important to me. Husband was so loving and forgiving that the ending of my story was very different than it could have been. Neither of us knew what was happening to me. We didn’t know what PPD/PPA was.
Until a friend reached out.
Insert Kaitlyn. (aka blog owner)
We have been friends since my freshman year of college. She and I became close and we stayed friends into our marriages and pregnancies. We had gotten together one night for games when she started talking about a personal trial she was going through. She seemed very confident in her own skin and that stood out to me. She expressed some of the thoughts and feelings she had experienced and how she was being treated by her doctor for PPD/PPA. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but it surprised me how much I connected with what she was feeling.
Our experiences were very different. Thus, I didn’t think I had Postpartum and I continued to spiral.
Nothing much had changed when I got a message from Kaitlyn a couple days later. She wanted to let me know about a support group she had attended the week before and how AMAZING it was for her. She “strongly encouraged” (I put quotation marks because she was very determined) me to try and attend. I told her I’d have to check with Husband. Little did I know that she had also reached out to him and expressed the importance of me going to this meeting. I was NOT interested at all. I didn’t have PPD. That wasn’t my thing. (Side Note: Some people with PPD will not appreciate pressure to get help, in my case I needed it.) I went anyways.
It changed my life.
It saved my life.
These women were incredible! They looked like normal moms! We stereotypically expect people with mental illness to be crazy weirdos who don’t take care of themselves or something along those lines, but this was not the case. They were nice, and respectful of each other’s thoughts/feelings. Best of all they each were willing to share their own stories with me.
They. Were. All. Different.
I could relate to something from every single one of them! I was not alone! It was not my fault! I was not crazy! It was in that meeting that it hit me. I was suffering from PPD/PPA. I will forever be grateful for that meeting.
One of the women has since shared this quote with me that I think perfectly describes how many of us with PPD/PPA feel:
“Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but hating socializing. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It’s caring about everything at once then feeling completely numb.” – Unknown
I immediately went home and sat down with Husband. This irrational fear – that if I told him everything he would leave me – hurt our marriage any longer. I walked Husband through my irrational thought processes so that he could better understand what was going on in my brain every day. It helped us SO MUCH. Open communication with your spouse is so important. They love you and are there for you, so don’t shut them out!
Jump forward to now…How am I doing?
That’s so kind of you to ask!
I’m actually doing really well! We all go through ups and downs and I happen to be riding high on one of those “up” moments. I recently started my own small business (I am a Fashion Consultant for LuLaRoe) and it has helped me in more ways that I could have imagined. It keeps me busy, it forces me to work through a schedule, it gives me a sense of purpose in regards to helping provide for my family, and it pushes me to reach out and talk to people and make connections. It has been an enormous blessing for our family.
I am currently scheduled to meet with a therapist to discuss my options. I don’t know where that will lead. It could be therapy… it could be medication… it could be a lot of things. I know Husband and I will decide what is best for my situation.
I go to the gym every morning at 5 to help myself mentally prepare for the day, I research helpful articles and resources to learn more about my mental illness, and I am currently working on setting up a support group in my area with the hopes that I can help someone out there like me.
Yes, Postpartum can be terrifying. Yes, Postpartum can be debilitating. Yes, Postpartum is the hardest trial I’ve ever had to face. But Postpartum comes from motherhood, and motherhood is worth anything this life can throw at us.
We just have to stick together.
Am I right mamas?