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I am Not as Strong as I appear. I enjoy weakness from time to time. We are a homeschooling, special needs family of 6. My 4th son has a Congenital Heart defect, and my oldest has ADHD. I am a survivor of Adultery and mental abuse. I learned that you never really know someone until you are strong enough to stand up and walk away. I love and protect my children, with everything I have. My life might seem unbelievable, but I couldn't make this shit up if I tried! Stick around & let's get to know each other.

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Sharing Your Voice: Welcome PPD Survivor Joanna

This week’s visiting Postpartum Depression survivor is Joanna from Now With Baby. I have only recently met Joanna and am a new reader to her blog. I feel a connection with her as she works to Break the Myth of Super Mom and describes herself  “as a great mom who is interested in attachment parenting, natural childbirth, green and eco-friendly living, being environmentally responsible, easing ever closer to a self-sufficient lifestyle, baking, reading, writing and relationship building.”

As  a new reader I have enjoyed working my way through her blog and got lost in her posts about Hypermiling, embracing a healthy lifestyle on a weight loss journey, delicious looking recipes, and her 2 year old toddler. I am honored and excited to share Joanna’s PPD story and her blog with you today and encourage you to go check out her blog when you are done reading her story here.

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I am no stranger to mental illness. I’m no stranger to depression or the darker side of thoughts that can be loosed in the night. When I met my husband, I was nowhere near the place I am today, and thanks to his help and faith in me, we were able to put the pieces back together of my shattered soul. When we became pregnant in September 2007, we knew that my hold on the brighter side of life was still tenuous, but we were confident that I could continue on my path of peace without returning to medication that could hurt our unborn baby. In an effort to prepare ourselves, we both researched post partum depression – including the signs, symptoms and the treatment. We spoke honestly and openly about what we must do if one of us feels the pull of PPD – we recognized that men are susceptible as well, and that in my previously weakened state I was possibly extra-reactive to such a pull. Even with the best intentions and the best research, I still fell a victim to the silent subtle scourge of post partum depression.

After returning to work a month post partum, I was having trouble pumping enough to supply my son with milk while I was away from him. Breastfeeding was very important to me, and the guilt of not being home and not being able to provide him with nourishment was wringing me dry. My son was not able to digest dairy proteins, so supplementing formula was expensive and it still made him sick from time to time, even with hypoallergenic formula. Remembering those days is like looking through a cloudy window at a dark rain cloud. My moods were fierce. I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning, because I knew that I would be leaving my son. It felt like physical pain in my chest to prepare for my day, to pack him into the car and to leave him to the care of another person. Although I trusted our babysitter, my heart found it impossible to have faith in her care for my infant son. It burned with the pain.

One day, enough was enough. I remembered what we had said to one another during our pregnancy, when we swore that we would reach out if we felt the dark pull of PPD within us. I woke up that day, my heart burning and breaking as usual, and I could not force myself to do what I knew I must. As I was preparing to leave, I begged for strength. When it did not come, I called my grandmother – she has been my hero and motivator for as long as I have lived. I was crying when she answered the phone. In between sobs, I told her that I could not bear it. I could not bear to be away from my son. I confessed to her that I was not ok, not at all. Her primary concern was for the baby. I told her he was fine, sleeping quietly beside me as I sobbed. She asked where we were, and was happy when I told her we were still at home, not stuck in traffic or on the side of the road somewhere. She gently reminded me that I needed to call for more help, closer help. My grandmother has never held a driver’s license, she could not save us. She offered the balm of her voice over the phone, and it salved my soul.

I did call my midwife’s office that day. I went in, with my son, and we talked. Using the strength I borrowed from my grandmother during our conversation, I told her everything. Every feeling, every reaction, every detail. She understood. She reached out to me, she helped me up. Her first concern was that I grow my support network. I’ve always lived like an island because I know from experience that sometimes, if we love or trust too much, we will be hurt by that love and trust. Not through our own fault, but through the choices made by others. She encouraged me to reach out, and through her encouragement I met a huge network of mothers, people who knew where I was and what I was going through. She also put me on an antidepressant and put me off work for a time.

Through the help of my grandmother, mother, stepmother, mother-in-law and all the women I met at La Leche League and in a local mother’s group, I was able to reconstruct my shattered soul. The pain of being away from my son gently eased over time. The heartbreak calmed and the tears stopped flowing. It took time, effort and trust on my part to open up my battered heart, but in the end I was able to return to work to provide for my family, I was able to trust others to watch my son and I was able to let go of the pain. PPD is no joke. No amount of preparation will keep you from it, but it can help you to remember to reach out when you are under it’s dark pull.

If you have or someone you know has not been his- or herself after the birth or adoption of a child, or if you think that you or someone you know may be experience symptoms of post partum depression, please encourage him or her or yourself to reach out for help. There are things that you can do, it does not make you a bad mother or father. MANY people experience this, and so many are scared or guilted into silence and never receive proper treatment. The proper treatment can greatly speed up how quickly you are able to be yourself again. It is also easier for a father to see the symptoms of post partum depression in a mother, but mothers also tend to want to hide what they see as a weakness and do not want to admit to it – but please, try.

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If you are a Postpartum Depression Survivor, and wish to share your story, you can find all the details at The Nut House Community. Sharing Your Voice is a weekly feature at The Nut House and visiting authors share their stories on Mondays.

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2 Responses to Sharing Your Voice: Welcome PPD Survivor Joanna

  1. Joanna on November 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you so much for putting this series together – it’s awesome!

    • Hazel Nut on November 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      Thank you so much Joanna for sharing your story!

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