January 6, 2012

Those Dark Moments

Today's challenge is probably one of the hardest: a time you thought about ending your own life.

I've written about postpartum depression a few times, but I've never talked about the darkest moments of it outside of a couple folks who already knew. The first time around was bad, but as bad as it was, it was easy compared to the second.

At first, it seemed like I'd be just fine following Sneak's birth. I was much clearer headed than I was following Boo Bear, though that's likely because I wasn't given a medication that induced petite maul seizures while in labor. I'd been through breastfeeding failure before, and I knew this time I'd done everything I possibly could to make it work. So there was less guilt when we were forced to go to formula.

Yet, depression set in, and this time it just wouldn't go away. Months passed. I'd improve a bit only to fall further until, yes, I did consider taking my life. Daily, for almost half a year, in fact.

When you can only see your faults, and you magnify them and worry them over in your mind through one sleepless night after another, it's easy to convince yourself those you love would be better off without you holding them back.

I became convinced I was the worst woman in the world. Hubby could find a woman worthy of him if only he wasn't saddled with me. He could find a woman who'd be a thousand times better mother than I was. The girls could do so much and go so far if they didn't have me there to mess them up. Boo Bear was not quite three, and Sneak wasn't a year old yet. I knew neither would remember me if I died then.

It was only the fact I knew they could hurt themselves with no one there to look after them that kept me from it during the days when we were alone in the house. Hubby is very good at telling when something's off with me. I can't tell you how many times he pulled me back from the brink. The same goes for my brother.

My brother's the one I have to credit with bringing about the end of those days. One particular day just after Sneak's first birthday, he'd come over to do something or other. I can't remember what. All I remember is running on twenty hours without sleep, the constant wailing of a teething child and overtired preschooler for what seemed like hours on end, and the feeling of ice picks in my ears and behind my eyes. I collapsed in tears, hands grasping for something, anything to blank out the pain, finally settling for beating myself about the skull with my own hands.

They stopped me, the both of them. Cody saw Hubby at a loss and asked him to take the girls and go to the park or visit his parents for a while. Hubby nodded and set about packing a diaper bag and getting the girls in the car while Cody calmed me down.

We talked for hours that day.

There's a bond between siblings I can barely explain. Even separated by six years as we are, Cody and I can read each other like we were twins and will tell each other things we'd never tell another soul. I can't remember exactly what was said that day. I do remember he cut through the mess I was trying to sell myself. He held up a metaphorical mirror and made me see exactly what I was doing to myself and my family. He painted a crystal clear picture of how they'd feel if I succeeded in "freeing" them of my presence. He didn't pull me free of the pit I'd fallen into that day, but he woke me up and tossed me the rope I needed to climb free.

It took most of a year to overcome that depression, but the thoughts of ridding the world of myself ended that day. Finding the underlying issues causing the frequent migraines and chronic insomnia and correcting them helped tons. Reforming ties with friends helped too, as well as the sense of accomplishment with learning a few new things and finishing some long waiting projects.

Two and a half years later, I'm so thankful. Life is good. It's been about a year since my last depressive spell, and even then, it was nothing by comparison.

If you're in a dark moment in your life, I beg you, reach out to someone. Your mind will lie to you in that state. Talk to someone who knows you as well or better than you know yourself; who won't shy away from hard truths that need saying, so you can see through the lies. Check your diet. Try vitamins, especially the B vitamins and D. Remove wireless devices from your bedroom and unplug what electronics you can before you go to bed. (You'd be surprised how sensitive some of us can be to electromagnetic energy, causing a sensation of pressure or buzzing in the head and disrupting sleep.) Get tested for sensitivities, especially food additives and gluten. Pray or meditate. Have a physical, and take medication if you must. Never forget you aren't alone, and something can be done.

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