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I knew something was definitely not “normal’ when I found myself Googling “definition: suicidal thoughts and ideations”. Worthless. That was the word that defined the feeling of my existence at that point.

I had a wonderful first year home with my second born son. Breastfeeding was successful with him, unlike with my first, but now it had come to an end. We were beginning the weaning process and that’s when I noticed the change in my behavior. I was detached from my first born, easily angered and annoyed by both my sons and unable to enjoy their jokes and games. The relationship with my husband was like that of two roommates that couldn’t stand each other but relied on one another to pay the bills. We had been sleeping in different bedrooms for over a year now, under the excuse that I didn’t want to wake him when the baby got up to nurse. The truth was, I escaped my reality through my online communities and chats with other moms who I felt understood me. I rarely slept, and when I did it wasn’t very long because, night feeding.

Alone, with my toddler asleep in my arms one day, I cried and cried and couldn’t stop. I needed to talk to someone couldn’t think of anyone who would want to hear my “first world problems”. I didn’t want to be a burden but I needed a lifeline. I called our local suicide prevention hotline. “I just have a question…how do I know if I’m having suicidal thoughts?” I managed to ask between sobs. “Tell me how you feel. What are you doing right now? Do you have any weapons? No. Ok, I’m listening. You don’t need to rush.” And she listened. She listened to my sobs more than anything, then to my doubts, and my story–she didn’t judge. At the end of the call she gave me a list of numbers I could call that took my insurance and told me to call her back once I made the appointment. Crisis averted. I felt better, lighter. The next day, during a family outing at a baseball game, I told my husband what I had done. He said nothing. The next day we fought over something silly that turned into a big deal. He picked up the phone and said “We need help. I’m making the call.” That was the beginning of a new chapter.

In therapy it didn’t take long for my therapist to diagnose me with major depression and anxiety. As I received the diagnosis I felt better because if there was a specific problem, then there was a solution. Through my experience I’ve found the following to be the three most important factors to being a present parent, able to feel the happiness I was missing.

  1. Your loved ones: Rely on those around you that you love and that love you. Since beginning therapy the conversations with my husband have become so much more meaningful, we understand our love for each other is there and we are willing to help each other through the tough parts of our misunderstandings and communication. He has become a lot more empathetic, as have I of course, to mental health issues.

  2. You: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and admit that you need it. I reached out to a complete stranger and that was easier for me at the time than reaching out to my husband. Lifelines are there for all of us, not only for teenagers with angst or veterans with PTSD. You will not be judged and it can be the beginning of positive change. Understand that you don’t HAVE to feel this way forever. There is help, things can once again be bright and beautiful as they once were.

  3. Your story: After therapy came the suggestion for medication. “I can beat this” I thought. “It’s mind over matter.” I tried the suggested medication after a while, hated it and wanted to give up. A Facebook friend read a post I made about it and she PMed me with “Can I call you?” She made the jump from social media to real life and that was quite possibly the most instrumental piece in me being able to feel like the normal me again. She shared her personal story, gave me practical advice and let me know that taking medication did not make me weak, that there is a reason it works: “If you are sick with the flu, you take your medication. This is no different. You can feel better. Yes, there is an adjustment period but after that, you will feel like yourself again.” With my husband by my side, my therapist and doctor suggesting the medication, dosage and support and with my new found friend, I tried again. I have regained my independence. I can drive again without fearing I’ll lose control of the wheel. I can enjoy cooking again without fear of accidentally contaminating the food. I can enjoy when my sons play and laugh in my ear. I can discipline without getting angry. I can have a discussion with my husband without blowing my lid. I can be active and productive in my activism without feeling every setback is a personal failure. My feelings are all here but stay within a margin. I can experience without feeling detached in a bubble of worthlessness. I can parent through my depression.

Some helpful links if you feel like you are having suicidal thoughts or feeling depressed: 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Depression Hotline:

Whispered by Anna: Anna Carpenter is a mom of two boys and works full time as a teacher for the Lycee International de Houston. She has a degree in psychology and is a certified children yoga instructor.

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One comment:

  1. Kristianity LaMattery said...

    Great article!!!!

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