Things They Can’t Say: Two Bears Farm

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to spend IRL time with today’s featured blogger: she’s just as sweet as can be. And I’m honored that she’s using her guest post to talk about something she hasn’t blogged about before: something I know a lot of you can relate to. Please welcome Lisa of Two Bears Farm. Be sure to show her lots of comment love and visit her blog, facebook, and twitter.

Today I’m writing about something that I’ve wanted to blog about for years, but have never had the nerve. But I’ve been reading Shell’s blog for ages, and have always been so impressed with the way she empowers moms as parents through her validating and open words. I’m not as expressive as Shell, but I’m gathering my courage from her today to try come out about postpartum depression. Thanks, Shell, for offering me the chance to guest post on your blog!

 

I knew I was at risk when I was pregnant with the twins, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, women who have twins are at a much higher risk for postpartum depression. All the extra hormones in the system from carrying two babies can wreak havoc. And on top of that, I had a history of depression (from many years prior) when I battled an episode of situational major depression my junior year of college.

 

But I hoped I would be okay. I didn’t have any problem after my first pregnancy, and overall my experience carrying the twins was positive. Comparatively, I had an easy multiples pregnancy, was fortunate enough to carry the twins to term, and delivered naturally. I got the birth story I so longed for, and I was elated with my my sweet baby boys. And then the struggle with breastfeeding one of my twins began. Why is it that breastfeeding is so raw and emotional? After numerous consultations at the hospital with lactation, and by phone with my doula, we finally overcame this issue and all should’ve been well. But the battle took a lot out of me emotionally, and I never quite felt like I recovered. I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and I had a not-quite-3 year old at home that was clamoring for my affection too. I felt tugged in every direction by so many demanding little people, and yet completely alone.

 

At night, when all 3 boys were tucked in for the moment, I sat alone in my room and the weight of the situation would decend. I should’ve taken the moment to sleep, but instead I sat, watching my babies breathing, and wishing I was anywhere else. I loved them – so powerfully – my heart wrenched with love and affection just watching them, but my mind was so screwed up. I knew, from my background in neuropsychology, that my issues were chemical. I could almost feel the neurotransmitters struggling to work in my brain. I imagined them sputtering, groaning in trying to crank out the chemicals I so badly needed, yet failing, flopping limply in their synapses while my brain screamed in vain for help. I told myself it would pass. That I just needed time. But each night my anguish grew worse.

 

At my 6 week postpartum appointment, I asked for help. Having the previous week lost my temper with my toddler when he climbed on me while breastfeeding the twins, I knew I couldn’t go on. Although he wasn’t harmed, and wouldn’t remember it later, it wasn’t fair to him to have a mom that would yell and push him aside when he was in new circumstances and crying for affection. My own affect when I arrived at the doctor was so low I couldn’t even talk about the depression in detail. I couldn’t tell my ob/gyn how bad it had become, about the thoughts of self-harm or about the raw internal screaming in my brain. I did tell him I needed medication.

 

He prescribed Zoloft. I felt guilty with each pill I took. I worried it would poison the twins, even though it was considered safe for breastfeeding. But take them I did, out of love for my children. I had no love for myself. I wished I didn’t exist. I told no one and hid the situation the best I could, although a few people may have suspected. I didn’t even talk to my husband because he tends to become insensitive over emotional circumstances, and I’ve found over the years it’s easier to bear the burden alone than hear words from a partner that don’t help (he does, however, have many other redeeming qualities). And I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want them to worry about me. So I suffered in silence, other than a couple of bloggers with twins who read between the lines and reached out to me. I’m still thankful for their kind words.

 

That winter was one of the most harsh, weather wise. Snow after snow blanketed our region. I was unable to leave the house; our driveway was impassible without four wheel drive. Once every 2 weeks I would try to venture out to Sam’s Club, but the effort of hauling 2 carseats, a 3 year old, and bulk groceries up the long steep hill of our driveway was so foreboding that I couldn’t bear to do it more often than twice a month. Locked in by day, I tended to my children the best I could. I breastfed all the time. I read Brooke Shield’s Down Came the Rain and Heather Armstrong’s It Sucked and then I Cried. The latter only served to make me feel worse – I was subsequently terrified people would discover how badly I was coping and take me away from the twins so that I could take more effective meds. I called my doctor out of fear, and he increased the dosage of Zoloft.

 

I waited and waited for my brain to heal. I stopped running for a month – something I never, ever do unless injured (or in the latter part of my pregnancies). My one healthy outlet of joy, gone. I just couldn’t pull myself up to do it. I could have gone to counseling, but we didn’t have the money for $40 copays every week and I told myself it didn’t matter because what was happening was chemical. In retrospect, I probably could’ve used the support, had I actually been able to open up to someone. I was so afraid that I would be hospitalized if it was discovered how much I obsessed of walking out into the snowy woods, curling up in a hole, and never waking up. Every single night I fought the battle with my brain not to hurt myself. While I couldn’t control what my brain was thinking, I could still control my actions, and I told myself if I felt like I was losing control of my actions that I would then ask for serious help. I was thankful I had the psychology foundation to tell myself, over and over, night after night, it’s just chemical, it’s just chemical, it’s just chemical.

 

I called my doctor again. I couldn’t talk to him, not really, but I told him I was not better; that I needed something more. He switched me to Lexapro. Over the next two weeks I proceeded to start running again, which was an improvement, but I also gained ten pounds. And I still had plenty of postpartum weight I wanted to lose. Spring was coming and the twins were turning six months old. I didn’t want to try another medicine. They weren’t productive and I felt lousy. So I just stopped taking it. I knew that this was against all recommendations, but I started to feel like the meds couldn’t do anything for me.

 

I don’t think it was stopping the meds that ended up helping, but rather the fact that the long winter was over, and perhaps six months was just the time that my hormones finally settled. Suddenly, the sun was out, and the boys and I could go for walks in the sun. I started to feel better. The more I got out, the better I felt, and the more I was able to venture out more. Bit by bit, my mind healed. I ran in some spring races. I started taking pleasure in small things again – the buds on the trees, the twins fumbling through crawling, my 3 year old’s imitation of Baby Jaguar. I rediscovered myself, slightly shell-shocked from the ordeal, but still the person I had always been.

 

I hope that if you are struggling against postpartum depression, you know that you are not alone. Ask for help, when you need it, and please feel free to email me for support. I know the emails I received from twin moms who had been through the same thing were little gifts of hope for me during my hard time. I’m a private person who has a hard time reaching out, but there are people who are happy to listen, and I’m offering myself up as one of them.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to guest post today Shell! This was the hardest post I’ve ever written – that’s for sure. But I hope that it will help someone out there to know that they aren’t alone – there are others who struggle with PPD as well.

  2. Oh Lisa, I can’t even imagine what you went through. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it helps so many of us out there know that we are not alone!
    Barbara recently posted..PreschoolMy Profile

  3. How brave of you to share your story.  I’m sorry you had to go through what you did, but hopefully sharing your story will help someone else.
    Kmama recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments: Good BehaviorMy Profile

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Lisa, I can’t even imagine how hard it was for you to write this. I know that you will have helped someone today. 
    Alison recently posted..I Am…..A PoemMy Profile

  5. Lisa-
       I had no idea you have been through all this. I hope that mom’s will contact and reach out for help.  You are an amazing lady with a terrific listening ear. I have bent it a few times myself and found you to be an amazing friend.
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..Read.Explore.Learn.- Imagination #readforgoodMy Profile

  6. Hi there –
    you and your babies are beautiful! I hope it feels better to have posted this story. I thank you for sharing it. You are not alone. I had my first child about three months ago and have shed more tears in the past 12 weeks than I ever thought possible. And they come without cause! Things are turning around but the first six weeks were very difficult emotionally. Add general exhaustion, recuperating from a c-section and running a business to the mix and I started to feel literally out of control.

    A friend suggested an herbalist who I’ve been seeing for about six weeks. It’s helping. When I see my little guy’s stunning smile and hear his silly shrieking, I can’t help but smile and giggle. Laughter goes a long way! The most we can do is get the medical attention we need and rely on the good family and friends around to lend a gentle ear. Be well and much love to you and your family.

  7. Thank you for sharing this, and also for sharing the different things you had to try and how they made you feel before you started to feel better. I think your words are going to help people struggling, even those who don’t feel “right” after starting a particular medication that might not be the right fit.
    angela recently posted..A Change In PlansMy Profile

  8. I went through this, too. I took medication, went off of it because I really wasn’t feeling better and didn’t see the point, got REALLY bad, and then went back for meds again. And therapy. I’m still not 100%. I still have days where I sit in a stupor and don’t interact with my children or my husband. Those days are less in number than they used to be. But it’s hard. I’ve struggled with depression for YEARS. I hate taking medication. But my marriage and my children were suffering because of it, so I did it for them. Like you, I really didn’t care about myself. Didn’t even want to live…

    Thank you for sharing. Your experience with the internal struggle matches mine. It helps to hear it coming from someone else, even if it makes those emotions come up to the surface again.
    Teresa (Embracing the Spectrum) recently posted..Family Vacation Part 3: Sleep DeprivationMy Profile

  9. It’s so great that you’ve shared this story. I had PPD after my son was born and it was awful, and I know how hard it is to talk about it. So you’re not alone, and no one else is either. So glad you’re feeling well enough to share.
    Robin | Farewell, Stranger recently posted..Home AloneMy Profile

  10. Lisa, so good to see you here.
    Thanks so much for sharing. This post was so well written, and I’m sure it will help someone. 
    I was so afraid of PPD after birth (my sister had it) that I asked a lot of people to watch me, and help me if they saw anything amiss. 
    Thankfully, I was okay, but I was scared.
    Carolyn recently posted..Open For BusinessMy Profile

  11. Lisa, This is raw and beautifully written. I could imagine how your brain was screaming at you. Though I don’t have children, I have been depressed, so I could relate so much to the darkness that you felt.

    You were very brave and kind to write this. Others will read this and see themselves and know that they are not alone.  I’m so glad that I found your wonderful blog, and thank you for sharing the link to this blog!
    Tina Barbour recently posted..Making art to ease the anxiety and depressionMy Profile

  12. What a beautifully written story. I often wonder if I suffered from this after my twins were born. I went on meds but for a completely different reason so I guess I’ll never know but I do wonder. I’m so glad you had the courage to write this so others won’t feel so alone.
    AnnMarie recently posted..I Need to be BetterMy Profile

  13. Your story touched my heart. I suffered from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety after my youngest daughter was born. Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story.
    Jenny recently posted..Anxiety from weaningMy Profile

  14. So heartfelt and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story……I can’t think of a better way to help people who are now suffering as you did.

  15. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I am so sorry you suffered this way, but so glad that by sharing you might help even one mother reach out for the help she needs.
    Mel recently posted..Pool SnobMy Profile

  16. Lisa, this really touched me. It was painful to read; I stopped twice but found myself coming back to it. I had to read to the end! I needed to make sure you were ok! I didn’t suffer post-partum, but when I was pregnant 18 years ago I had horrific advice of what to do “if it came out”. Things like, “Never tell your doctor how you really feel…” and “have a few drinks now and then after the baby sleeps…” Other, worse, “helps”. Anyway, this is about YOU and I want to say THANK YOU for opening up. I hope this helps many, many people!
    Molly Jo recently posted..Hot Enough, Part IIMy Profile

  17. Someone close to me recently had a baby and is going through a time. She has ups and downs but I am going to share this post with her.
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing. You may just save her and her family from herself.
    Kristen recently posted..Clean Living with Literal Mom – Quinoa Caprese RecipeMy Profile

  18. Very brave post! I’m really glad you got the chance to write this and share it. So many women will be encouraged by this. I have never had to deal with PPD, but I do deal with depression and anxiety. Medication helps, but it’s not always full proof. I’m so glad the sun started to shine at just the right time, and you’re feeling better!
    adrienne recently posted..How To Back Up Instagram PhotosMy Profile

  19. Being a mom is hard! I hate the winter months too. I’m so glad it all worked out for you. Your little ones are just beautiful.
    Sandy
    momof12 recently posted..Things Just Keep Looking Up for the Dog Walker!My Profile

  20. Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t even begin to imagine how isolated and alone you felt during those 6 months.

    I so admire your strength in digging through that dark time to be a mom for your boys. I know that there are women who are listening!

  21. Thank you for sharing… there are many parts to this to which I can relate. I did not suffer from PPD, but like you, sort of watched myself because I dealt with situational depression in college. It was definitely harder having my son in the fall with the short days and long winter ahead. Recovery with my daugher 18 months later, a spring baby, born as the days got longer and warmer, was much quicker and it shouldn’t have been… at that point I hadn’t slept through the night in almost 2 years!
    Sorta Southern Single Mom recently posted..Friday Fragments: Joy and SadnessMy Profile

  22. Such an important message.  And truthfully, I think hormones can wreck havoc at all stages of life.  I’m in a new stage at 43, but yet I have young kids.  I’ve found myself not having patience, and I think it’s tiredness and hormones. Exercise does help me control it.  I”m so glad you found an upward curve. 
    Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog recently posted..Say What? Penguins in NC? You Bet!My Profile

  23. I know how hard this must have been to share!