Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breaking the TABOO

Before I get into the heavy stuff, some pictures!  The kids and I have been busy making healthy changes.  We're eating tons of apples, raw carrots, fresh fruits and veggies.  Yum, yum!  And in the nighttime hours, after the kids go to bed, I've been busy with my crochet hooks and yarn.  Just thought I'd share some of things I've finished....

Okay, now into the "muck" I go.  You see, I have some emotional vomiting to do tonight.  Kind of.  I've been holding onto some hurt and resentment and shame over a really big problem.  My husband and I have been doing marriage counseling for a year now and I still haven't brought myself to face this one major problem.  It's a problem that people don't generally talk about.  It's not talked about nearly enough and for those suffering it, it often feels like a taboo subject.  Depression.  It's not secret that the diabetic life can often include depression.  No medical professional can find a good reason why.  Those of you living the diabetic life with your child can probably clue them in.  The day-to-day life of a diabetic is stressful at times.  It can wear you down.  It's no wonder people get depressed, right?  Not only have I dealt with chronic depression, but the hurt and resentment that I'm holding on to have a whole lot to do with a very special kind of depression.  Postpartum depression.  Forgive me if this gets a little long, but I feel like I need to start at the beginning and get it all out....

Lily was born May 11, 2007, just before Mother's Day.  When she was born, there was a risk of her blood sugar being too low because mine had been high during the labor and delivery.  My doctor wasn't very experienced.  As soon as Lily was out, they took her off to the NICU for sugar-water.  I didn't get to touch her or hold her and I got only the smallest glimpse of her.  I have a strong belief that this is where my issues started.  I believe in the power of touch and the amazing bond that is cemented between a parent and child in the moments after birth (look up "IMPRINTING"'s not just a Twilight thing).  Two days later, Mother's Day, was the date we should have been discharged.  I spent the day terrified, bawling, and confused by all the "baby blues" feelings.  The next day, we went home.  And the troubles really began.  Lily had a sensitive gag reflex.  She was tongue-tied (severely-the end of her tongue looked like the top of a heart) and couldn't latch on.  I was pumping exclusively and feeding her breast milk by bottle.  She would gag on the bottle nipple at the end of a feeding and the entire bottle would come up.  We would have to start all over.  New bottle, new outfit (for her and me), followed by a deep-cleaning of the floor.  It got frustrating.  I remember a moment very clearly.  Lily was four-months-old and the puking thing happened again, for who knows how many times it'd been.  Vomit was everywhere.  Breast milk and formula vomit are probably the most disgusting things ever, right?  I put Lily on the floor so I could get us both cleaned up and clean up the vomit.  And as I walked by her to get all the supplies, I had the very distinct urge to kick her.  My four-month-old baby.  I sat down on the floor and I sobbed.

I wish I could leave it all there.  I'm crying already, just remembering all of that.  Just remembering those feelings.  You can't imagine the shame that goes with them.  But it didn't end there.  As Lily got a little older, other things happened.  Whenever I turned on the stove, I had an image pop into my head of her hand on the burner.  I had no control over the things I saw in my head.  I never again had an urge to harm her in any way, but the images made me question my own value, the contents of my heart and mind, my own existence.  It was disturbing to see these things.  I knew I was having problems.  But I couldn't talk to anyone about them.  The only times I was able to bring myself to talk about them was when I was trying to explain to my husband why I didn't want to do things he wanted to do, visit family he wanted to visit.  I know he didn't intend for it to seem like he was putting me off or making light of it, but his response was always the same....I was using it as an excuse and it wasn't real.  I was alone.  And deeply bothered by everything that kept popping into my head.  And even more disturbed by the urges I had to harm myself.  I didn't take care of my diabetes.  Driving down the road with my husband and daughter and I'd have an urge to open the door and throw myself from the moving car.  Driving the car and wishing I could just drive it right into brick wall.  And then I got pregnant again.  It didn't stop my depression.  In fact, it made it worse.  Uncontrollable emotions.  Weeping, anger, fear.  But, it gave me a new purpose.  I had to take care of myself.  I had to keep going, if only for the baby.  And when Leo was born, I was smart enough to know that I needed medication.  I needed a strong anti-depressant if I was going to be any kind of a mom to my children.

Medication helped.  It's made an enormous difference in my life and in the quality of care I've been able to give my children.  It's made a difference in the quality of my life!  I'm not ashamed to say that I will be on medication for the rest of my life for depression.  I'm not willing to go back to what I was.  But, I haven't forgiven and I haven't forgotten.  I was so deeply hurt by the lack of understanding, the lack of support, the lack of care.  And I didn't tell my husband that I was carrying around that deep hurt until just a couple of nights ago.  I know he's dealt with deep depression in those he cares about throughout his life.  His mom is depressed.  His grandmother has a very difficult time with depression.  He has memories of picking her up off the floor and helping her to bed because she just wasn't able to get up on her own.  It's draining for him.  And no matter how much he's dealt with it, it's not something he can understand.  Until you deal with it yourself, in your own brain and body, you just can't imagine what the reality of it is or how deeply it affects your life.  But when I explained to him all the hurt I'd been holding onto, how even now, even with medication, those images and those urges are still burned into my brain.  I've seen them and I can't take them away.  They will always be there and I cannot forget them.  I can only balance them with the cuddles, kisses, hugs, tickles, giggles, and LOVE that I share with my children.  All I needed to start the healing process, to get over that deep hurt, was to hear my husband tell me he was sorry for not being there for me, for not understanding and taking me seriously.  Hearing that has helped ease some of the shame I have been carrying around and it's helped me to understand my husband a little better as well.  And now that the healing has begun in that area, hopefully it will lead to better things in others!

Anyway, if you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me and allowing me to purge all this crap.  Shame isn't a very productive emotion.  It can be so incredibly destructive.  I'm hoping that by acknowledging my problems with depression and bringing the details of it to light will help me get rid of those dark places in my brain.  I don't believe depression should be a shameful thing for anyone, but until we start talking openly and honestly about it, we live in the shame and dark.  I hope, if any of you are dealing with depression, sharing my experience with you will help convince you to seek help, to open up and not live with shame any more.  Seeking help, for me, was like walking out of the cold, dark, damp shadows and embracing the warmth of the sun!  It's a beautiful thing!


  1. Once again, I admire and am inspired by your candidness Cindy. I am so glad that your husband could meet you where you needed him too and that you are on the path of healing.

    I think the closest thing I had to depression was after Joe's diagnosis and it was hard to go there and to get out. I am fairly jovial. I am really good friends with someone who suffers from depression and she is good about seeking help etc. I just listen...but don't hover or overly focus on her depression. Is this the best thing to do by my friend?

    Have a great day and enjoy those beautiful munchkins! Love the pix.

  2. I'm glad to hear that you are on the path to healing. I understand what you are going through as I too suffered from PPD. I struggled through it after my first two pregnancies, first one not knowing what was going on and the second, too proud to ask for help and scared of meds. I was terrified of having it again after I found out I was pregnant with Bekah so I got the help that I needed. The images of dropping my babies over concrete will forever be etched in my head. Getting the meds and help was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, and my family. I weaned off of the meds just before Bekah's 1st birthday and have not had to go back even after David was born. Everyone is different though and for some like my BFF, once the depression is there it always has to be controlled with meds. ((hugs)) I am proud of you for facing this giant in your life and marriage and for your very honest post about it.

  3. I think depression is more prevalent than we think. It is a scary and personal thing to talk about, and I applaud that you have brought it to light! When I was wrapping up my first new born son to bring him home from the hospital, a very kind older nurse came and sat next to me. Her words have got me through some difficult times, and made me realize that frustrations are normal. She said, "You are not a bad mother if you want to throw your baby out the window, you are only a bad mother if you act upon it." When she said that I was taken aback, and thought it was awful...but I soon realized that her words were brilliant. We all get frustrated, but as long as we can control our actions...all is well!

  4. I dealt with PPD after my first son, though didn't know it. I think the hardest part was that I REALLY wanted to be a mom, I LOVED being pregnant, and I couldn't wait to meet my little guy. But nursing was hard and he had reflux and was colicky. I was miserable. I had visions of throwing him against the wall. I couldn't believe that children, especially in the olden days, survived and that women would ever have more than one child. Luckily things got better...we now have 3 sweet boys. But I get it.
    Anyhow, as always, I appreciate how REAL you are on here...always makes me feel better knowing I am not alone. You are a smart know your stuff! All the best to you!

  5. OH, man...thank you once again, Cindy. I have also struggled with this's so hard to get those images out of my mind.

    One day, when my youngest was only a few weeks old, I had a plan. It was very scary to me...and I pleaded with my husband not to leave me alone with her.

    I'm thankful he recognized what was happening and was proactive in getting me the help I needed.

    Depression is real and it hurts.

  6. Cindy- thank you for being so transparent. Your words will touch many. And I so hope that it helps you along the road to recovery. ((hugs)) my brave friend!