To Post or Not to Post...

I've been debating for a few weeks about whether or not I wanted to blog about this. I haven't been doing much in the way of personal blogging, other than Olivia, for quite a while. Beyond that, I know that there will be people who are critical of the decisions I've made but I've decided that I want to be open and honest about this part of my life.
So how to begin...basically I haven't really felt like myself since Olivia was born. I chalked a lot of it up to being sleep-deprived and I did feel better once I started getting more sleep, but I didn't feel like me. Most days were hard to get through. They seemed so long. I often felt overwhelmed when I looked at what I needed to accomplish that day and most of the time would just end up taking care of Olivia and neglecting the housework. I would sometimes cry when the day began because I just wasn't sure where I would find the energy to even take care of Olivia. I kept thinking that things would get better once I was used to having a baby. They didn't. Anxiety become my near-constant companion. Most of the time I could push it down but it took a lot of energy. At night when I would fall into bed exhausted I didn't always have the energy or the distractions and I began to have panic attacks. I didn't enjoy things that I had before. Cooking wasn't fun. Playing with Olivia wasn't even fun. My perspective on life and others was skewed to the point that I often perceived myself as being slighted or criticized when those around me didn't mean it that way. I took everything negatively and took it to heart as well. I was pretty sure I was a terrible mother and wife. My self-esteem was shredded. I had good days once in a while, but the bad days outnumbered them by far. No matter how sunny it was outside the world seemed like a dark place to me much of the time.
Very few people realized that there was anything going on with me and of those few only Glenn knew most of the story. I even hid from him how bad things were most of the time. I'm not completely sure why I did this but I do know that I didn't want to appear weak. I didn't want people to think that I didn't love my husband or daughter or that I didn't know I was blessed. I didn't want people to think that my faith was weak or that I didn't trust God. So I kept it to myself. And that made it worse.
Finally about 6 weeks ago while Glenn was gone on a business trip everything came to a head. I had panic attack after panic attack. I had trouble breathing and had chest pains. I felt like I was completely losing what little control I had left. I came to a realization that I had run out of the energy and resources to manage my depression and anxiety and that I needed to do something. I called a dear friend who I knew had dealt with some of the same issues and she encouraged me to get help. And then I wavered. I knew that it would take a lot of work and that it would be scary. Could I even do it? My friend refused to let up on me. She knew that I needed someone to push me and even bully me if that is what it took and she loved me enough to do just that.
I made an appointment with a counselor. I was so nervous but I knew deep down that I had to follow through. To make a long story short, I definitely needed help and the counselor I found was a good fit for me. I have struggled on and off with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager but it has never been this bad. My issues are not completely "postpartum" but having Olivia definitely tipped the scales of my ability to deal with life. Counseling is not easy but I have committed to the process and doing the work and I'm seeing the benefits. I'm learning new and better coping techniques. I'm learning to be more self-aware so that I can stop the cycle of anxiety before I have a panic attack. I'm trying to remember to breathe! I'm learning to be honest with the people around me about how I am really doing.
Together my counselor and I decided that I needed some extra help to get over the initial hump and I started on Prozac. I haven't been on it all that long really, but let me tell you that for me it helps. It's not a magic pill by any means. I still have to do a lot of work in counseling and at home to retrain my thought life. What it does do however, is allow me to feel more "evened out." I feel like I can be more analytical and objective about what is going on with me. I don't respond with a gut emotional reaction to everything. To me the medication isn't a crutch or a long-term solution. It is a tool that I am using short-term in conjunction with counseling and for me it was a really good decision.
Last time I met with my counselor she said that I had done as much work as some people do in a year. She was so pleased with my progress that I am only going to see her from time to time after this week. I still have bad days, but the good days are far more often. I have only had one panic attack in nearly 4 weeks. I feel like life is good again. I laugh. I enjoy things. I feel more like me than I have in a very very long time.

I am not ashamed of where I was or what I am doing to be well. I wish I would have gotten help sooner, but maybe I wasn't completely ready. I don't know. And I know that this may be something that I always struggle with, but now I know that the effort and courage it takes to get help is worth it.


Never feel ashamed about this, Em. I wished I would have known about it sooner. Love you and I'm here for you! If you need me to come to your house and take Olivia back to mine for a while so that you can feel less stressed, I will do it in a heartbeat. Or anything else for that matter.
Kimberlee said…
Sorry you were feeling this way. In some ways, I know how you feel. I have days, weeks and sometimes months of feeling anywhere from blah to having no idea how I am going to survive through the next moments. Being home alone with the kids is sometimes so rewarding, but when you are tired, hormonal and can be really hard. Glad you got some help. Do not be ashamed of it. You did the right thing.
I am SOOOOOO proud of you!!! It takes a lot of courage to share your struggles and as Christian sisters (and brothers) we SHOULD be letting people know what pain we're dealing with. I wish we would all do this more often but we seem to all be too prideful or fearful or something-ful so we just keep it in. Thank you so much for being real and for just being so awesome. I'm so proud of you for sharing and for taking the steps you needed to take to get help. And for working so hard to let the help be helpful (eh?).

Hugs to you!
Gail Miller said…
Oh Emily I wish I had known--my sister and Lynn have dealt with this and I am so glad you have someone to talk to now and getting some medication (or what I call "happy pills"!) They make a huge difference. Your body sometimes needs a little extra help. Don't ever feel weak or not good enough--EVER!!!!!
Please call if you ever need to talk. I will run up there (well, actually I would drive up there) on the double. I love you! Gail
Stacia Hamidi said…
Oh, Emily! Bless you for your honesty! It takes so much to admit that we need help beyond ourselves and God. I have a anxiety disorder and am a huge fan of counseling, so I understand how scary they can be. You are a strong, amazing woman, wife, and mother. I am so glad that you are feeling better now and able to smile more. Blessings!
Phifer Family said…
I feel so behind as I am just now reading this right now! PLEASE KNOW THIS.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I go through these things daily! I have considered going to counseling and after Tinzley was born I was on Zoloft for awhile. I have reconsidered going back on recently! Life is funny.... I hope you are doing well and again remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It helps me to know that whenever I am having one of those days!

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