www.pactforthecure.com … Offering Hope to the Helpless of PPD

This original post was submitted in May 31st of 2013.

This past week I noticed a story of an upcoming app that was to be released.  I am submitting links to the CNN article, the app, and the email that I received today giving me permission to submit my article to the organization responsible for this International study of women suffering/or having suffered from Post Partum Depression, and/or, Psychosis.  It is my sincere hope that you will spread this information in an effort to draw attention to this program.  They are looking to collect thousands of participants for this study.

I literally had tears running down my face when I read that this initiative was taking place.  In 1984, at the time of my episode, there was not much information readily available to women suffering from PPD.  This study will no doubt change that, and with it, the lives of thousands upon thousands of women.  It is my understanding that one in five women will experience some sort of the so called, ‘baby blues’ and some will not be as fortunate as those of us who have survived the mayhem of insanity that swallowed our souls.  Thankfully, we have returned to tell a story, using genetic markers they may one day find the answer to helping others from being driven into the abyss.

Thank you for forwarding hope onward.

 

Story of My Life Challenge…Etched upon my heart…

 

Jenni, It’s Day 31, and a Friday.  Somehow I managed to write for all 31 days of your May Challenge (although, somehow a post of mine is time-stamped for the last day of April?…we’ll count it anyway, okay girlfriend?  Thanks, I knew you would understand).

Today’s post, our last one, is writing about:

“A Vivid Memory”

This may take me all of today and well into the night.  I had written in an earlier post that I would revisit something.  I made a special promise to my oldest daughter.  And today is the day I fulfill that promise.  It began the day that she was born.

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She arrived three weeks early.  And, just like any new child’s arrival she came without a warranty clause, a type-written instruction manual and no return address label.

I’d practiced the natural birthing process, The Bradley method.  The 8.25 months of pregnancy went without a hitch, except for mom catching the flu at five months of pregnancy.

Birthing went almost according to plan.  No pain meds, no spinal block, but after several hours of having the water break, the doctor(s) where concerned that infection or stress of labor may cause concerns to the unborn baby.  They prescribed Pitocin*.  Continuing, and with the use of the knowledge I’d gained in birthing class, I clung to my hope of having a natural child-birth, but was also warned that the induction could produce rather strong contractions,  and it did not offer a buffering from any pain that I would incur by its introduction.  I kept with Plan A.  Let me bear this baby, naturally.  (The following link provides further details on Pitocin via Yahoo)

*http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/pitocindiffers.htm

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Now, I have to give my doctors and St. Francis hospital in Tulsa, kudos for the way they helped my delivery.  My labor had begun at work, around 8:30 in the morning, and by 10:00 a.m., I was strapped to a gurney, and plugged into all the machinery a labor and delivery room can offer for the monitoring of baby and mama.  Noon came, but no lunch, who cares though, laboring the birthing of a baby you really have hunger on the last of your lists of wants.

Hubby and I logged miles around the nurses desk and lobby.  Too many to count, and at one point a nurse beckoned me back to my appointed room for a vitals check and centimeter observation.  I tried resting, but I was too anxious.  I was on top of the world and could not wait to see my, Megan Kathleen.  I had dreamt of this moment for so long.  The afternoon rolled on, more walking, more monitoring, and finally at six p.m., my doctor arrives and tells me that he thinks it’s time we get this baby something to speed up her arrival.  It’s that drug, Pitocin.  I agree, but only after he can confirm that I can still birth her naturally, no pain meds, spinal taps, nada, zip and zero.  He assures me he will follow my directive, but warns me that the drug used to induce labor can also cause severe labor pains, and if the time came that he felt it was too much for baby and me he would medically do what he needed.  I couldn’t fight with him there.  He’s the educated soul. He graduated medical school, a certificate that required 12 years of laborious studies. Let’s rock and roll!  You carry the knowledge and I’ll try marathon walking until this unborn baby charges to the finish line.  Deal?

Shortly after six my husband’s family arrived from Texas.  Someone mentioned they were hungry.  The folks had spent four hours en route, and I know that Cliff hasn’t eaten since breakfast. I knew that I couldn’t, but more importantly, as the Pitocin’s effects began to work on my body, and labor earnestly began, eating was the furthest thing from my mind.  I asked them to go, give me a breather, grab some food, enjoy themselves.  Linger if they wished.  Why hell, I’ve been here all day and it looks as if I’ll be here all night trying to birth this baby.

8:30 p.m., and where in the heck were those fools?  Did they not have any clue about what I was going through?  I’m not a screamer, but I do enjoy a hair-pulling now and then.  The R.N. assisting me was becoming less than jovial as I started practicing my Bradley method of breathing.  Every now and then she would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want something for your pain?”

“Sister, where were you when I gave my directive?  Is my clipboard of info missing from the foot of this bed?  Has the doctor given YOU the board certification to overtake his assigned SEAT at my party?”

I tried to deliver it humorously.  I tried to cajole her into seeing my side of it.  She tried to get me to see her side.  We both failed, Communication Skills 101.

WHERE IN HELL IS THAT FAMILY OF MINE?  ARE THEY EATING PRIME RIB AND CELEBRATING?  I’LL BET THEY ARE.  THEY HAVE THE EASY PART IN ALL OF THIS.  THEIR THEATER TICKET OFFERS A FREE DRINK AND REFRESHMENTS…while I stroll through hell…

…..

The little girl dances into my world after midnight.  Drug free from day one, but moms chucking her insides out and there are four nurses pummeling me, explaining something about blood flow, placenta, oh hell, I don’t know the jest of it all!  I was too busy loosing my insides, suffering a notorious headache and begging for water.

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….

Now, the vivid memory.

I am not sure how to write about it, other than to say that it belongs to my Megan.  It belongs to her and I.  Beginning early in the days before we even left the hospital, something was amiss.  Sadly, I felt no maternal bliss, and I feared that I knew nothing.  All those books I’d read on childbirth, the before and after.  None of those had prepared me for the roller-coaster ride , the journey in to hell and the fear that would one day it would descend into thoughts of infanticide.

I warn you.  This is not an easy read, and although Megan is almost two thousand miles from me today, I would give anything to sit beside her and hold her hand as I attempt to answer her questions and to allay her fears.  But I can’t, and since I have promised that I would find a way to communicate something to her within the 31 days of May’s Challenge, today is our day.

I could not sleep.  For three days in the hospital, and for days, off and on, once we were home.  Irrational fears would enter my head and I would quickly try to change my thinking.  I cuddled my angel.  I played with her.  I fed her and I connected with her as best I could, but I was afraid that those so-called baby blues would consume me.  I tried talking to my husband about them, but he didn’t get it, and how could he, had anyone in the male species been through this birthing thing?

Days dragged, literally.  I became consumed with schedules.  I laboriously centered my life around a list of ‘to-do’s’ to fill my time, to keep me busy.  But, I still was not sleeping.  And then one day I could not eat.  Literally.  I could not swallow.  I choked each time I tried.  But I had to eat and drink, I had to sleep.  I had a little one that relied upon me and I was breastfeeding, so it was more important than ever that I find a way to get ahold of myself.

Then I found myself dwelling on a pair of scissors.  I’d been in the baby’s room wrapping a gift.  I saw the scissors, and I remember thinking, “These could kill the baby.”

The thought became obsessive.  It overwhelmed me with grief and shame.  And try as I might, I could not shake the image, nor the auditory, “These could kill the baby.”

I tried hiding the scissors, but I couldn’t find a place to put them, somewhere that was ‘safe’ … someplace where they couldn’t talk to me.

I forced myself to put them back in the spot where I always kept them.  If they could talk to me.  I could talk to them.  I could tell them, “NO!”

For days I fought this battle, until I realized it was beyond me.  I attempted to express my concern for the baby to my husband, but I did not tell him about the scissors, or the voices.

I became so exhausted.  And then the hallucinatory began its foray.  I was fighting an army, and I was ill-equipped for its challenge.

I no longer felt connected to anyone except for my baby.  I felt as if I could protect her I could win the inner war, but I was losing.

The phone would ring.  I wouldn’t answer it.  I had nothing I could communicate.

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Postpartum depression accompanied by psychosis

This is not a war to win.  It cages a soul and will not allow reason of any kind.  I prayed, I begged and I pleaded.  You can have me, but you cannot have my daughter.

On this particular morning I thought I’d heard a knock at my front door, or was that coming from the back door?  I trusted nothing.  I sat in the nursery until the pounding stopped, and the sound of what I thought was my name being called, ended.  Rocking my angel. I sobbed so violently.  I wanted the voices and the visions to go away.  I wanted nothing more than to save my baby from myself.

Something made me pause.  Was that the front lock-set being opened, the door flinging open, where those real voices?

They found me.  Jo and Prescilla.  They found me, and they did not let go of me.  One took the baby, the other took the phone directory.

And every chance I get, I tell them, “Thank you.”

I spent the following three and a half months in a locked Psych ward.

…..

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Each one of us has a story that shames us, it can trap us in a sort of hell, but sometimes to escape hell, we must find words to express its grievance.   I used to think this would be one that I could not share for fear of losing someone whom I love(d).  Now I fear that if I don’t share it, someone may lose their way, they may find themselves lost, alone, aberrant, and of course, crazy.  I would rather lose every friend I have for the sacrifice of gaining that one that reached out to me in need.  The one that discovered hope, when they felt there was none left.  But, if you can find clarity, if you can trust that there are people in this world that care first for others, and second for themselves, than you, and they, will walk with you through hell.  When we have true friends, they don’t leave us when the going gets rough.  They stop at nothing to see that we realize how important we are, in their life.  They don’t call you, Pyscho, MisFit, Crazy.  They call you, Friend.   That having us is a joy, a blessing, a God-send.  A true friend does not judge, does not keep a score card and knows that we are them, should they ever need us and not out of guilt or because a favor needs returning.  No, a true friend stands by knowing that without our connection we are only half of ourselves.

When others walked out, you walked in.  You asked for nothing in return.  You never used my illness to shame me, to discount me, to write me off.  You stood beside me, carried me through my darkest hours. Prescilla Senn, Jo McCormack, thank you for seeing me when I could not see myself.  But more than anything, thank you for saving my Megan from the psychotic lunatic that I had become.  We have fought hard to win, and without each of you, I would have lost.  It took three and a half months, out-of-state, in a mental institution, numbers of medications and therapy sessions, but I came home, loving and vowing that one day I would share this story.

Never give up hope.  When you are at your weakest, grasp for straws.  Dial for help. Swallow your pride.  Do not fear that you will be labeled, CRAZY, for the rest of your life, even by those you thought would stand behind you through thick and thin.  One of the best pieces of advice given to me were these words:

“They already think you’re crazy. Nothing you do, or say, will change their opinion. Absolutely nothing, therefore, be yourself.  Only you know the journey and the victory.”

To Megan,

I promised you I would finish a tale that I had begun earlier in one of my posts.  I think I even noted Day 16 as the day that I would write it.  Day 16, arrived, but the time didn’t feel ‘just right’.  Today it does.  I believe you will recall the post, original, and if not, I’ll help you retrieve it.

BlogEverday

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~ by coffeegrounded on May 31, 2013.

28 Responses to “www.pactforthecure.com … Offering Hope to the Helpless of PPD”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. There’s no doubt in my mind – you will save someone’s life with your words.

    I’m so grateful that you had those two best friends in your life. I am also grateful for what you were able to overcome. Thank you for getting help and thank you for saving us. You are an inspiration to me, and many others, I’m sure.

    I love you with all my heart.

    • As difficult as the words were to write, I knew that you would love me, in spite of them. I knew that with all my heart.
      Thank you, your encouragement means the world to me.

  2. I am very proud of you for telling your difficult story. I had a very tiny episode of this when I had my first son….thank God my mom stepped in and saved us both. Your story is not one of shame but one you should be proud of. Look how it turned out! It was very beautifully written!

    http://paulasplace-paula.blogspot.com/

    • I always feared having to tell this story. Once upon a time I mentioned to a certain family member that I felt that the day would come where I would need to do some ‘explaining.’ She asked me what I meant and as I tried to explain to her that I felt it was my duty to share the experience, although heinous, what if I were to share it and it may one day translate into guiding her or someone that she knew.
      This particular woman happens to be my mother-in-law. She stepped in and cared for Megan while I was hospitalized. (I am thankful, but I can never repay her. The price is insurmountable. She believed that if only I could have pulled myself ‘together’ none of ‘this’ would have ever happened.)
      As I said, I am thankful, she cared for her when I couldn’t, but I cannot agree with her thinking I should never share my story. She may one day read it, detail to detail, she may harangue me, but she will find it impossible to argue her points or thoughts with Megan.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s powerful, and affects more women/new moms than people will ever understand. I’ve facilitated child loss support groups for years, and postpartum depression is very real, and consumes all of you. This touches new moms as well as moms of child loss. It’s no shame to need help. Thank God for those who had the insight to step in see that you got help. There are times when we just aren’t capable of doing that ourselves.

    You’re a strong woman and you’ve just encouraged many, many others!

    • Thank you so much for reading and replying. I’ve visited your blog and website and am fascinated by the work you are doing. I was hesitant to put my words out for all the world to see, but only because of the shame and stigma that attaches itself to those of us that suffer a mental illness. At the same time, I knew it was my mission. There is nothing more heinous than to feel all alone, desperate and challenged.
      I’m extremely grateful to see your dedication to helping others. It is awe inspiring, having read your own trials and tribulations. Thank you, again, for seeing my words as I had hoped they would be perceived.

  4. As you say, everyone has a story. Mine isn’t pretty either but is very different from yours. Thank you for sharing a terrifying experience that you survived and conquered. I am so glad you are IN the world. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Someday I hope you’ll share your story. Writing brings hope, it builds bridges and helps us to navigate the chasms of Life.

      Thank you for your kind words, Sharon. You’re a beacon of light and a joy within the world of those who know you.

      :)

    • Bits of my story are in the fictional stories I write but most people wouldn’t recognize them and for those who would, many details are changed. I’ve found a way to come to terms with everything and that’s to try to make the world a better place for others – and to forgive. Because, frankly, you can’t live in any meaningful way if you don’t forgive, yourself and others. I think it’s what you discovered as well.

      Thanks for all your support. Have a wonderful Christmas.

    • A joy to read and an even greater joy to converse with … I hope you have a wonderful and very Merry Christmas, a beautiful and gracious, New Year. May you be blest beyond your wildest dreams.
      :)

    • Already reaping wonderful blessings, but thank you for yours as well.
      And may the New Year be a special year for you.
      OK, off to bed for me – it’s late!

  5. Although I have never had a child, some friends had similar issues after their first child was born. I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been for you. I can only be grateful for the friends who stood by you and helped when you needed it so badly. Hopefully, putting this in writing has been cathartic, and knowing that it is now out there and can help others in similar situations has in some small way offered healing salve for your pain. All the best to you.

    • Thank you! If I can offer hope to just one, then I have succeeded. Your words mean a great deal to me. I appreciate that you took the time and effort to let me know your thoughts. Discussing Mental Illness is challenging. We want others to find understanding and not fear. If more people could find a way to express their conditions, openly and freely, without judgement, I believe we could open a dialog where both sides would win, thus breaking the stigma associated, the one that keeps us ignorant and uninformed.

  6. This is an incredibly powerful story, thank you for sharing it. I did not experience postpartum psychosis and hallucinations when I had my daughter…but I remember that I was literally afraid of her. I didn’t bond with her like I did my first baby, and she was colicky so she woke up every 45 minutes until she was 3 months old, and screamed every second I wasn’t holding her. I would just put her in her swing and watch her scream from the other side of the room for hours at a time. Because I fantasized primarily about running away and never coming home again without any thought of hurting her, it was long after the fact that I realized I had full blown postpartum depression and I should have talked to someone about it.

    • It is such a taboo subject. As new mothers we are expected to love our new babies, fully and spiritedly. But, when the bond is not there, who do we talk to, and better yet, how do we express ourselves?

      Postpartum depression occurs more often than noted. Just a few weeks back there was another report on the evening news, estimating the number of women who suffer, silently.

      The stigma associated with mental health issues will condemn us if we do not rise up and speak out. Every time we open up about it, we take a step forward.

      No one should feel alone, lost in an aberrant behavior they do not understand. They need help, love, support. They need a lifeline.

    • Exactly. I still have a letter I wrote to her in a children’s book telling her how much I loved her, because I was terrified I would die while I still felt that way and all she would have ever experienced in her tiny life was a mother who didn’t feel anything towards her but fear. Now I can’t believe I never told anyone. I wouldn’t wish those three months on my worst enemy.

    • I was doubly afraid to tell my story to my daughter. It’s horrifying, and I feared it might be too much, but she has thanked me for talking out loud, for writing it down. She told me that by giving my words a voice I might one day save another from having to endure the heartache.

      We have to speak up; we have to help others. Someone, somewhere, needs to know that they are not alone and that we do not condemn them. That there is hope, help, and a road back home. That one day they will love that child to the end of the Earth and back again.

  7. Reblogged this on CoffeeGrounded's Blog and commented:

    To remind you that you are not alone. In the darkest hour of your life their is hope. Thank you, Jessie.

  8. This is a very, very brave thing to do. To write down all that has been in there for so many years! You are very strong. And I am sure your words will inspire countless others! Love!

    • Thank you for your kind words.

      I could hide in shame and disgust, fearing that to speak would forever color others perception of me. But then I allows stigma to imprison me, and, I leave words unsaid that others may oddly find comfort within. The most rewarding part of getting older is learning to have no regrets, coming to peace with life’s injustices and. if we are fortunate, mending broken bridges or being afforded the opportunity to build new ones.

      There is nothing to be gained by silence. When I speak and say, “Hello, my name is CoffeeGrounded and I suffer from a mental illness”. I am offering some to judge me, while I am allowing others to wipe their brow and admit to themselves, “I can speak up for I know another who will be there, one who will not judge, condemn, or think less of me.” Eventually they will come to know the power of their voice.

      I read a harrowing statistic the other day, listing the hundreds of United States Veterans that commit suicide each day. It astounded me. We train our soldiers for battle overseas, but we do not train them on how to fight their demons once they return home. Why is that? Only Congress and the President can answer that fact.

  9. Amazing post. Such a beautifully written description of such a harrowing time. You’ve done a lot of people a lot of good by putting this out there, exactly the way you did. All my best to you, to your wonderful friends, and to your daughter.

    • Thank you, Ann. This means a great deal to me coming from you. On a daily basis you help people who are unable to help themselves. By guiding them toward that light at the end of that very dark, deep tunnel, you help them to realize there is hope. I’m forever grateful to all who dedicate their life to helping others find their paths to safety.
      Many blessings to you.
      ❤️

    • Blessings back to you, also.

    • ❤️

  10. Outstanding. You are truly a great writer.

    • Thank you Henry; I wish this was a work of fiction, but thus it is not so. It came to be the defining moment in my life at age 32.

      As painful as it is to relive through recounting it, my greatest wish is to offer hope to those who may be experiencing a similar event. In the depths of despair we are so ashamed of our aberrant thoughts, too afraid to honestly put the details within the confidence of those who know and love us. And how can any mother admit that she has thoughts of killing her child? The delusions and hallucinations are too frightening to us, how can we explain them to the sane people around us?

      I wish more than anything that this story did not belong to me, and then I realize that it is mine for a reason. May those who read it consider that there may be a person in their own life that is suffering, not just a postpartum depression, but a despair beyond understanding. Please be their lifeline. The journey is difficult, the reward, immense. I look at my beautiful, soon to be 31 year old daughter and I cannot believe my blessing(s), and all because two people looked beyond themselves and set their sights on a friend they valued and loved.

      Again, thank you for your kind words.

  11. Perhaps I should say a very brave writer. What a harrowing experience. I hope you’ve found the place to forgive yourself. If not please consider forgiving yourself. It’s time. I will always think of this. Know that the person or people you affect may never like or respond on your blog. But they’ll know there is a light at the end and it may be something that’s just passed along verbally. The love and selflessness of humanity often shines through at critical moments. My very best to you.

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