Depression, Anxiety, and Me {Part One}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 17, 2013

At Blissdom last month, Jon Acuff challenged us to let go of our fears, and step out of our comfort zones to do something amazing. And then he said something that truly spoke to me–

my scars :: depression and anxietyphoto credit: reNET via photopin cc

It was then that I realized that I have been hiding my scars. I was ashamed of where I had been and what I had experienced. I retreated during a very difficult time and when I emerged – a different person – I hid all traces of difficulty.

Not any more.

As I began to share with my family and a few close friends, I discovered that it’s even more uncomfortable to talk about my anxiety and depression than I anticipated. I was afraid of being judged, felt like this was something I should have been able to handle through prayer, felt weak and had waves of guilt overcome me as I thought I should have more faith in God to heal me.

Sharing here is even more uncomfortable. I can’t see your reactions as you read about what I had so carefully hidden. And again, I am afraid of being judged. I am afraid that this image of “super mom” that others have created will be revealed as nothing more than a weak and anxious woman. One who simply does not appreciate who she is or how she’s been blessed.

But, I must tell my story.

Not that I think doing so is amazing, but because I hope to become a lighthouse for someone else. Perhaps this someone else is to do something amazing.

When it all began…

Looking back, I’m convinced that leaving Ben at Target, two months after I gave birth to Noah, triggered something in me.  I’m sure my postpartum hormones didn’t help. Then, add a foreign object in my body, and bam! I was no longer me.

What depression looked like for me…

Ben forgave my mistake instantly, but I was harder on myself then I would have expected. I began believing the lies that I was a horrible mother and didn’t deserve to be blessed with any of my children. I doubted every little decision I made, and second guessed myself constantly.

I went through the motions, doing what was necessary to take care of my kids, not caring much about anything else. I felt tired and restless at the same time. I lost weight, simply because I didn’t feel like eating. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. If I didn’t feel worthless, irritable, or empty, I simply didn’t feel.

 Anxiety attacks became the norm…

Out of nowhere there was a tightness in my chest. A weight I could feel, but didn’t see. The heaviness of panic. Overwhelming fear and sudden uncertainty were choking me and making me dizzy.

And then…

I got pregnant. Again.

I felt weak.

I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

I felt empty.

I lost friends.

My marriage was suffering.

But, to the world, I seemed happy. After all, I was the “super mom” of seven kids. The one who seemed to have it all together.

{TO BE CONTINUED}

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, please find someone to talk to. Email me, leave a comment, or check out PostpartumProgress.com - the world’s most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. 

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

jenny April 18, 2013 at 12:30 am

Hey… I always lack the words. I just want to say I love you. And again… I love you, my friend. Hi, low, deep and wide. You hold a special place in my heart, Christine. Proud of you. xoxox
jenny´s last [type] ..A note about getting stuff did and earning things.

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Robyn Wright April 18, 2013 at 12:33 am

You have the wrong definition of a super mom. She is not one who is perfect, a super mom is one who is imperfect and makes the best of her life that encompasses the good and the bad.
Robyn Wright´s last [type] ..Create Custom Google Analytics Report for Best Day of Week on Your Blog

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Julie April 18, 2013 at 12:42 am

I too struggle with anxiety. The attacks come out of no where sometimes. They are silent. I smile through them most of the time. Or if I’m at work I try to “escape” to the ladies room and close my eyes and process. More often than not I don’t get that opportunity because the phone is ringing, someone needs something. Yes, I have medication I take. And yes, it works fabulously and I feel “normal” again. Thanks for sharing….you are strong, you are worth it, you are a child of God and HE loves you just like you are. XO

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Andrew Bradley April 18, 2013 at 12:50 am

I agree with Robyn, Super Mom is not a perfect mom, she’s a mom. A mom that loves her kids and that is the definition of you and the way you love your kids (and your husband and sometimes the dog too). I see it in person a lot and I know that you and Ray are amazing parents to your amazing kids.
Andrew Bradley´s last [type] ..Media, Burgers, Pine Needles and Birthday

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Kristi April 18, 2013 at 12:58 am

No mom is perfect and if she tells you she is call her on her BS! We all make mistakes and that is what makes us great moms in the end. Big hugs!!
Kristi´s last [type] ..Boxtera Review

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Beth Zimmerman April 18, 2013 at 1:07 am

Keep talking, honey! People are generally more gracious than it sounds like you expect. When we went to a new church about a year ago … I told ‘em, straight up before I KNEW anybody, that I struggle with depression and anxiety. I talked about it in ladies class. I asked for prayers at prayer meeting. And if I missed church because I couldn’t make myself get out of bed … I said so. Not because I wanted attention … Lord knows I didn’t! But because sharing on my blog had given me courage. And because somebody eventually needs to start erasing the stigma that depression still has in the church! If I could be brave enough to admit that my life was not picture perfect … maybe it would be safer and easier for someone later … who couldn’t be that brave!

A couple of other thoughts for you …

David, had he been seen by doctors, probably would have been diagnosed as clinically depressed and he was a man after God’s own heart!

Jesus, who never sinned, was a man of sorrows! A man of sorrows! Can you think of a better definition of depression? And in the garden He was heart sick so badly that He begged God for another way and He sweat blood! I’m not diagnosing God with depression but honey … He understands how you feel! Really!

Hugs! And Bravo! Come see me if you need a cheer squad some days! =)
Beth Zimmerman´s last [type] ..Please Hold My Mail – I’m In Facebook Jail

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Debra @ A Frugal Friend April 18, 2013 at 1:08 am

I was there and was inspired by Jon’s words at Blissdom too. Though I’ve only met you once at a luncheon, I couldn’t be prouder to “know” you. What you did shows courage, strength and faith………something I hope I can do one day myself. Thank you for sharing your heart!
Debra @ A Frugal Friend´s last [type] ..Franklin Arrives at SeaWorld – Big News!

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Nicole @MTDLBlog April 18, 2013 at 1:28 am

I remember when he said this! So inspiring on so many levels. You speaking out is a wonderful gift to others. Definition of super mom isn’t about doing things perfectly, just like Robyn said. Perfection isn’t necessary and our kids don’t expect that.
Nicole @MTDLBlog´s last [type] ..Look for the Helpers. Focus on the Good.

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Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) April 18, 2013 at 1:28 am

SO proud of you for writing this post Christine. “Perfect” people are no good to anyone. It is an illusion that alienates. You are an amazing woman, mom, and friend. I am so grateful for your friendship and, like Robyn said, you are a REAL super mom! :)
Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)´s last [type] ..Kid Friendly Earth Day Snacks

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Krista April 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

It’s incredibly hard to share because we think that we are the only ones who are weak and crazy and everyone else IS the super mom. But when we share I think (hope) that 9 times out of 10 we find that others feel the same way.
Not that I am actually any good at sharing… but the few times and things that I have I’ve always felt better and like I had a deeper friend for sharing. It’s just so hard to get over that hump and say anything…
Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!
Krista´s last [type] ..Wordless Wednesday: Robot Hands

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Sommer April 18, 2013 at 6:44 am

I feel your pain and you are so brave to write this. I recently shared my own story (http://greenandcleanmom.org/combating-depression-anxiety-and-insomnia/) and can relate to much of what you feel. It is so hard to talk about it but I’ve learned my online community has been so supportive and nice. I’ve gotten emails from friends and cards in the mail. I have also found that vitamin D and vitamin B are helping me with the symptoms, maybe they would help you too? Just a thought, my doctor suggested it because I had a reaction to medicine.

I’m thinking of you. Hugs.
Sommer´s last [type] ..Why I Vlog and You Should Too

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Katja of Skimbaco April 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

Thinking of you Christine. It takes a lot of courage to open up and I hope it will help you to see – we are all battling something. There is no real perfection. You just have to create your own perfection with the cards that you have been dealt with. And I agree with Robyn – you are a supermom and doing an amazing job!
Katja of Skimbaco´s last [type] ..Travel Insight: Reconnect over Afternoon Tea

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Megan {Velveteen Mind} April 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

Okay then, so I’ll go ahead and write this here, burying it somewhere deep in your comments: I’m becoming increasingly afraid that I’m having panic attacks. Or anxiety attacks. Or something. I don’t even know the right words to describe it. But something is wrong. I tell myself I’m just lazy and ungrateful, that whatever it is is my fault, so I rule out talking to a doctor before I get close to doing anything about it.

I see you there, lighthouse. Now I just have to figure out how to get to you.
Megan {Velveteen Mind}´s last [type] ..BlissDom 2013: Focus is Your Strength

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Sommer April 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

Megan,
I remember being SO scared telling my doctor about how I was feeling. I didn’t want to use the words: anxiety or depression because I was fearful I was labeling myself and I’m not a doctor. I tried to explain how I felt without using these words but it was so very hard to actually describe how I was feeling or why. I will say, if it is of any help to anyone that reads this that taking Vitamin D and Vitamin B –eliminating my diet soda because of the aspartame and taking regular walks…it has really, really helped.
Sommer´s last [type] ..DIY Epsom Salt Facial Scrub

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Amy from Resourceful Mommy April 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

Megan, talk to someone. And if that’s not the right person, talk to someone else. And someone else. And someone else. Until you find someone who listens and helps.
Amy from Resourceful Mommy´s last [type] ..Shutterfly Best Gift Ever Twitter Party

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Tarasview April 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

I loved Jon Acuff’s talk at BlissDom too. Good for you for speaking up :)

I only have 3 kids but I can completely relate. Pastor’s wives aren’t supposed to be depressed and anxious… and if they are they certainly aren’t supposed to talk (or worse, BLOG about it!).

I’ve struggled with depression/anxiety for over a decade now and apparently it isn’t going away anytime soon. I’m on meds that help a lot though. I continue to talk about it in the hopes that someday it will be better understood.
Tarasview´s last [type] ..Welcome to The Ultimate Blog Party! #UBP13 LINKY

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Leanne April 18, 2013 at 10:19 am

Thank you for giving words to this, Christine. I suffer from anxiety also and am fearful to talk about it. As a Christian, I feel like I’m supposed to have it all together – a peace that surpasses all understanding – but still, the anxiety looms. I’ve tried herbal treatments, counseling, and very low-dose prescriptions and have found a combination of those to work best. It’s a constant struggle, but I think I’ve finally found solid ground. I am looking forward to reading more and am so thankful that you’re shedding light on this!
Leanne´s last [type] ..Jarrod’s Wish List

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Meagan Francis April 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

Christine, I just loved getting to know you better at Blissdom. You are a sweet soul and I felt we immediately connected. I’m so glad you’re writing about this because it gives other people the chance to support you and let you know you are NOT alone! By the way, I went through some really crazy panic attacks at about 6-8 months postpartum with two of my kids. For me it manifested in running around my house at night convinced somebody was breaking in. I wondered if I was going crazy, but it did eventually ease up…I think those hormones really do a number on us, sometimes more than anyone talks about. And not always in the first 3 months after birth, either.
Meagan Francis´s last [type] ..New episode of The Kitchen Hour podcast with Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest of Minimalist Parenting

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Sprittibee April 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Sweet mama. YOU ARE NORMAL. You are loved. We all have those days – and most of us have left their kid somewhere – at least one of them. LOL

I left mine at a bus stop in downtown Arkansas. You might enjoy reading the story – http://sprittibee.com/2008/01/hello-my-name-is-heather-and-i-steal.html

and it will make you feel a lot less alone. So glad you get to be my friend in real life!

God certainly puts people together in life. He knows how to sprinkle the Sundae with the very best nuts! <3
Sprittibee´s last [type] ..Sponsored Post by Pennington Smart Feed & 50$ Amex Card Give-Away

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Rajean April 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Christine, it seems the bliss in blissdom may hold a new meaning for you because a speaker triggered something to allow to open up more fully which, in turn, I know, will allow the flow of support you deserve and require. I love his quote.

Someone very close and dear to me is suffering from anxiety and depression. I think it is the first time I’ve truly begun to recognize the symtoms, the pain and now, little by little with posts like yours, the hope for better days.

You may have lost friends, but I’m happy to call myself one of those you’ve gained in recent years. I can’t wait until we can meet in person. I applaud you for your courage and just know, I will share this post with that special person in my life. I hope that makes you feel confident that writing this was the right thing to do. Hugs.
Rajean´s last [type] ..What Happens In A Newsroom In Times Of Crisis?

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Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} April 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Anxiety and depression are very real, and no one is “above” it. I am so glad you’re sharing your experience. xo
Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife}´s last [type] ..Summer Ready with Jergens Natural Glow

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vera April 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm

wish we lived closer – this is very brave. you are stronger than you think. and i really, really understand.

hugs to you

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Cam April 18, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I don’t know why this makes us feel shameful but it does. And it doesn’t need to. You are not alone in this at all. Nor are we judging you. If anything, some of us, myself included, are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

At least you didn’t leave Ben in the gun aisle at Walmart…the day after Thanksgiving. Emma was only 3 months old. The story still makes my stomach turn 4 years later.

Depression and anxiety suck.
Cam´s last [type] ..Toddler friendly rides at Disneyland

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Whitney Wingerd -MWS (@WhitneyMWS) April 19, 2013 at 6:39 am

Just wanted you to know that I read and that you are NOT alone. I’ve dealt with anxiety for much of my life and my sister has had an awful time with depression so I’m no stranger to it. Thanks for sharing – I’m reading and just know that you are so not alone!
Whitney Wingerd -MWS (@WhitneyMWS)´s last [type] ..The Best Solution for Your Jewelry that I’ve Ever Seen! @QVC #FashionFriday

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Amy from Resourceful Mommy April 19, 2013 at 8:59 am

Christine, thank you for being brave enough to write this. There are hundreds of women who are going to read this and think, “This is me,” and hopefully find the strength to tell someone.
Amy from Resourceful Mommy´s last [type] ..Shutterfly Best Gift Ever Twitter Party

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Danielle Smith April 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

I understand. I know. I’ve been there. And I’m proud of you for sharing this. I hope the sharing becomes easier and your ability to guide others gives you strength. You are certainly offering me some. So, thank you. My chest tightens even as I think about it… about sharing, about talking about it, about writing it. There is power in your words and in your beauty. I believe in you. xoxo
Danielle Smith´s last [type] ..Hair Tutorial: How to do a Sock Bun – Keeping Style in Your Life

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Anne April 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm

As I am reading this, I am literally crying. I am so happy you shared this… because I was afraid of doing that very thing – sharing what was REALLY going on inside of me; even though that’s what I had set out to do with my blog. Thank you for the encouragement. If YOU can do it, I can do it, too. Here’s a big >>>cyber hug<<< !!
Anne´s last [type] ..Back-To-School: Playmobil School House Review

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Ethan (your son) April 25, 2013 at 12:37 am

That’s deep;)

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