I didn’t want to admit it to myself. Or to anyone else. But I knew deep inside I needed help dealing with my postpartum depression.
I had exhibited some red flags in the hospital after the birth of our baby. Which didn’t really surprise me, because the news of our baby had come as a big shock.
We got pregnant unexpectedly while I was in graduate school. This news—and the timing of it—rocked my world! Having a child didn’t fit into my plan. And because of some health issues, I was told previously I would not be able to have children.
Moments full of fear, doubt, and anger peppered by pregnancy. I kept these emotions hidden from those closest to me. How could I admit I was nervous to be a mom and really felt no connection to the babe growing inside of me?
I kept hoping that some great maternal love would kick in once my baby was in my arms. But as the postpartum screening reported, that wasn’t the case.
Bringing our baby home
Once home from the hospital, everything got worse. I wanted to harm myself. Later on, I even wanted to harm my baby, too. Those are terrifying feelings and thoughts to have privately. And they’re scary truths to announce to the world.
But after processing through the emotions and events of the past year, I’ve realized postpartum depression is something that needs to be talked about.
It’s still hard to divulge. Having postpartum depression seemed like I had somehow failed. That I wasn’t good enough or able to handle the pressure of being a new mom. I thought I could just tough it out, and it would eventually pass.
I couldn’t. It didn’t. I needed help.
Afraid I would hurt our baby
My husband started cluing in that something was wrong due to the tears I occasionally let slip out in front of him. I was intentionally vague with what I shared with him at first. I wasn’t sure how to tell him that, just the day before, I had planned out a way to end my life.
Before I actually got up the courage to tell my husband all of the things I was experiencing, I had a hard night with our little boy. Suddenly, the feeling that I was going to hurt our baby if I didn’t walk away from him overcame me.
I ran to wake my husband. Then I practically threw our baby into his arms. I ran to the living room shaking, crying. I felt like I wasn’t myself standing in my own body. That night was my actual nightmare come to life.
A while later, I came back into the bedroom. Still, I couldn’t look my husband in the eyes. I barely managed to whisper to him what had happened. Unfortunately, this is how my husband learned about the depth of my mental illness.
I had to ask for help with postpartum depression
The hardest part of my story was admitting to myself, and to my husband, that I needed help. I was terrified he would leave me. I was worried he wouldn’t want me to raise this new baby we had brought into the world.
But he was so gracious with me. He gently turned my head to his face and told me good moms have scary thoughts sometimes. He reassured me he would be by my side no matter what and would get me the help I needed.
Nothing could’ve been better in that moment. He saw the ugly, scary, dark, and messy truth in me. And he actively chose to love me through it, just as Christ does the church. What a picture of the gospel!
Even though my thoughts worried me—and put me and my family in danger—I clearly remember thinking that if they were somehow made public, people would want to take my baby away from me. Still, I knew if one of my friends admitted to me the same thoughts and feelings, I would urge them to get help! And that that’s the advice I needed to follow.
I called my OB-GYN. I confessed I was having suicidal thoughts. Making that phone call felt like defeat at the time. Really though, it was the first step toward a journey of healing. My doctor immediately scheduled me for an appointment, and I started medication.
Now we talk about mental health
Looking back, I don’t think I did everything right in the way I told my husband about my depression. But I also don’t think there is ever going to be a perfect way to share with your spouse about mental illness. From that night on though, it has forced my husband and me to open up a conversation about where both of us are from a mental health standpoint. We check in regularly with each other and have both given permission to lovingly and gently tell the other one if we see them struggling.
Having an open dialogue in our marriage around mental illness has been the greatest thing to happen to us, right behind choosing to have a marriage centered on Christ. There is freedom in knowing we can be open and honest without fear of judgement. When you hit rock bottom like I did, there’s really not much worse you can reveal to a spouse!
You can admit it, too
If you or someone you love is battling mental illness of any kind, I strongly encourage you to reach out and ask for help. Reaching out may be a process. It doesn’t have to happen over night. But it is so much easier to clue in your spouse before you hit a true point of crisis.
From reaching out for professional help and letting my husband into my world, I’ve learned God is not disappointed, threatened, or surprised by my depression. God has given doctors the wisdom to develop medication and therapy to treat my condition. And He is healing me day by day.
Copyright © 2019 Emily Youngblood. All rights reserved.