Hi there. Remember me? I’m that tall freckled mom who used to blog ALL the time about her life, her family, and her adorable little son – Itty Bitty (aka Rhys.) I kinda disappeared from the blog-o-sphere, and life to be honest, for a large part of 2014. I’ve barely blogged about my new pregnancy – baby due in May…
Where did I go? Well, I was still here. Still home, still living, and still performing my role in life.
Not so fun fact: I suffered from severe postpartum depression.
Here’s a prime example – as a music and theater teacher, I stand in front of a class of hopeful thespians, sharing with them the tricks of the trade to fool the audience:
I personally did everything I taught my students – I woke up at 4:30am, threw on my curlers, covered my freckles with high definition foundation, and slathered on extra pale concealer over my tired baggy eyes. To make myself look thinner, I bathed in self tanner, painted my face with bronzer, and chiseled out features with care and attention to detail that would rival that of Michelangelo.
Gluing on fake eyelashes, and brushing my teeth with whitening toothpaste were daily staples.
This, of course, was all in the name of looking fresh faced and, dare I say, natural.
Even when I was hiding my pregnancy on air, or holding back from vomiting due to the daily smells of the kitchen, I did what I had to do. That was my job. I was perky, calm, and refined.
I stopped wearing the eyelashes, wore shorter-less-product-filled hair, and skipped the heavy foundation. The only part of my morning routine that stayed the same was my daily cup of coffee.
I didn’t eat properly, and loathed my new mom body. Sleep was a rarity, I was judged and made fun of for my parenting skills, and finances became an emotional burden on my family.
No, I may not have been doing all the primping for TV like I used to, but I still had to be me. To the naked eye, I was still the same Tall Mom.
Outwardly, for the most part, I fooled everyone. I was Mary the TV personality, Mary the wife, Mary the daughter, Mary the mom, Mary the podcaster, Mary the worker and Tall Mom to the blogging world.
I managed to look pretty and put together at social events, and could still shoot jokes when I got together with friends or family. I even created a new online company called Tall Mom Media.
I wasn’t crying in a corner, or threatening to hurt myself or my child. Actually, my child was pretty much the only thing that gave me any sliver of happiness. For that I was extremely thankful. Even as I write this now, I think I used my love of Itty Bitty to help propel my persona throughout my daily life.
But, inwardly, I was spiraling out of control.
I felt hollow.Then I started crying on a daily basis, but couldn’t bring myself to cry in front of others.Something wasn’t right.
My mind and heart weren’t working like they used to. My concentration was slipping, and I felt incredibly heavy in my heart and chest. My breathing was shallow, and I was constantly irritable.I couldn’t remember. ANYTHING.
I couldn’t even do simple math.
There were very few, if any, activities or events that I enjoyed.
Simple tasks became incredibly overwhelming, and I often just wouldn’t do them at all. I could only manage to take care of my baby and my part-time work requirements.
I started pulling back from friends and became terrible about communicating.
I didn’t know how to text anymore, nevermind the idea of composing a legitimate email. So I stopped. I hid.
If I had a commitment, I just ignored it. I couldn’t bare the thought of having to talk to someone about whatever they felt was important. I could barely get my pants on without having an anxiety attack, do you think I wanted to hear anything about your life?
Everything started to slip.
I was tired.
I would watch the funny youtube videos about moms in yoga pants, cheerios in their hair, whining that they never sleep.But I never really saw videos that looked like me. No videos or blog posts of crying moms, desperately trying to remember how to breathe properly.
I didn’t see moms shying away from play dates, like I did.
I didn’t see videos or blog posts of moms going to bi-weekly doctors appointments for various problems they incurred from pregnancy and birth.
And that sucked.
Because all these issues started to overwhelm me, I felt immense guilt. Guilt of immeasurable power.
To me – I was worthless. I was a terrible friend, a horrendous wife, and the epitome of all that could be wrong in a mother. I didn’t see anything I did as giving worth to the world.
I couldn’t sleep, didn’t care to eat, and thought that I was a nuisance rather than a productive member of society. The world was better off without me.
Tall Dad could collect life insurance. My debts would be forgiven. Itty Bitty could look back on pictures and only see me in the light of a loving mother instead of the piece of garbage I thought I was.
I mean, I wanted people to see what was happening to me.I wished I had a broken arm, or the flu so that people could see that there was something wrong.
I wanted them to see how scared I was, how out of control my thinking had gotten.
But, they couldn’t.
No one saw any of this because I was performing. And, I was performing because, well, I have no idea. I just did.
It was like that nightmare when you are screaming out for help but nothing comes out of your mouth.
After a long time battle with my sub conscious self, I began to tell good friends and Tall Dad that I was feeling off. I told them that my emotions and comprehension weren’t the way they used to be, and that I was scared.
I think it was still hard for them to grasp at the time. And, it’s hard to blame them for not being more cognizant of how I felt. I could still smile in front of then when I needed to. I seemed to be managing myself and my commitments perfectly fine.Eventually, I knew I needed more than just help from my social circle. It had gotten to be too much.I couldn’t perform anymore.
Tears streamed down my face as I frantically told her all about my worries, my intense anxiety, my lack of appetite, sheer exhaustion, feeling alone and how no one understood. Not even Tall Dad.I was so afraid that my mind was slipping further and further away, and was nervous about what might happen next.I was evaluated, and found to be suffering from severe postpartum depression.
My doctor hugged me and told me that it must be hard for the rest of the world to see and understand because I was incredibly high functioning.
I got better. Then I got worse.I had to leave my house and stay with my dad for a couple of days because I didn’t feel safe. I was going to do something stupid. What that was – I still don’t know. But I just knew that I was in a bad place.
It was heart breaking – being away from Tall Dad. Seeing his face as we talked to therapists in person or over the phone. We didn’t even know how to talk to each other. He wanted to make everything better, tried to talk, but it just made things worse.
I horrified him. I horrified myself with some of the things I said. But I needed, and was getting help.
And then I got better again.
The Center for Women’s Behavioral Health at Women & Infants was a godsend. They helped me understand that what was happening to me was biological because of having my son, and that it could be fixed.
I was going to be me again.
Postpartum Depression happens to all sorts of women, and moms just like me.
Their methods and compassion worked. I’m fortunate enough to live here in Rhode Island where they offer such a program. It was covered by my insurance, and I attended their intensive day program for two weeks.
I learned so much about postpartum depression and anxiety while I was there. I learned that it isn’t always what you see in movies or on TV.
While in treatment, I didn’t feel alone.
I heard other women saying the same things I felt, and saw them progress. It gave me hope, and after two weeks, I was the one giving hope to other new moms.
I’ve been better for several months now, and am finally feeling like I’m getting back to my old self.
I have been taking care of myself. I eat well, exercise, and find ways to make myself feel pretty on the inside and outside – like getting my eyelash extensions and a keratin treatment. I even entered a beauty pageant to push myself into exercising and to feel pretty wearing a dress on stage.
Honestly, I didn’t know if I was ever going to publish this blog post. It has sat in my draft bin for months, slowly being added to, continually just saved as a draft.
I’m embarrassed still. Postpartum depression has such a bad stigma about it, and I don’t want to be classified with those negative thoughts.
I want to be known for who I am now – a confident and healthy mom.
But then I remember what it felt like to be alone. To not see the posts or videos that looked like me, and I thought about the impact a previous honest post was for some readers (read here.)
I decided to publish this in hopes that maybe I can help someone else out. To let you know that these immense feelings aren’t something you have to live with, and that you CAN get better. You will, and you just need to ask for help.
So if you, or anyone you know is suffering from what seems to be PPD, please encourage them to talk to their doctor. I know it turned my life around. I just wish I had asked for help a lot sooner.
So thanks for listening/reading. Now you know a bit about why I’ve been absent – from the blog and from life. I truly appreciate you all, and hope that this post can be helpful to other new parents.
Talk soon (I promise!)
Every woman faces adjustments when she becomes a mother, but for 10 to 20 percent of women, the emotional and psychological changes brought on by pregnancy and childbirth are more than they can handle alone.
In these cases, women may be depressed or anxious; they may cry easily or wonder if something is wrong with them. It’s more than the baby blues, and can severely impact a family’s life or even endanger the woman and others. Depression, psychosis or anxiety can make it hard for a woman to:
Here’s a great list of helpful links for PPD – click here .If you, or someone you know, might be suffering – and live in Rhode Island – here is the information for Women and Infants:
Day Hospital Program Cooperative Care Center
2 Dudley Street, 1st floor
Providence, RI 02905
8:30 am – 2:30 pm
Director Margaret Howard, PhD.,
401-274-1122, extension 42870