Becoming a mother was all I ever wanted. When asked what I saw for myself after graduating high school, I said, “A mom.” My class predicted I’d be the first female navy seal. I met them somewhere in the middle and became a special needs mom. I wasn’t upset when I got pregnant right after I got married. I was elated. Finally, everything I’d ever wanted was growing inside of me. My pregnancy was difficult. I have auto immune diseases that weren’t diagnosed then. I stayed sick. I was miserable and sad. Shortly after my son was born, and by shortly I mean the first night home, he began screaming for hours on end. He screamed during all of his awake hours for six weeks. He vomited all of his food. I had to stop breast feeding. My life was not following my script. I began to fall apart. Sleep deprivation, sensory overload, hormones and defeat were stripping me of my sanity. When I saw the worry, not just for my son, but for me in my family’s eyes, I knew I needed help. I contacted my doctor and he put me on Zoloft to get through the “baby blues”. Baby blues…so cute. This condition that takes women’s lives, we give it a name that belongs on a baby registry.
Never questioning whether it would work or not, only trusting it would, I left with my prescription. (We didn’t have selfies then, you’ll just have to believe me.) The next year was hell. There were no crashes. No highs. No lows. No sex. No anything. I was a zombie. I was a distant mother, wife, friend…person. I pulled myself off and assumed medication wasn’t for me.
I had two more children within three years and became a youth minister. Whenever I had mental health issues, I assumed they were attacks from Satan. I placed my screaming toddler at “God’s feet” in front of my entire church. At this point, unbeknownst to me, I had a full fledged child with autism on my hands. To the church, and by no fault of their own, he was under attack. Our entire family was “under attack from the enemy”. He had a “rebellious spirit”. This was spiritual warfare. After six years of youth ministry and not even knowing that we were a family swimming in special needs and mental illnesses, my marriage fell apart. Very, very publicly. I also fell apart very, very publicly. I left my husband, moved in with my parents and began the decline to a total mental breakdown. Single life can do that to a mother. This was mental hell. Everything I wanted was gone and destroyed and everybody knew it. I left my church and all of my principles behind. I’ll spare a couple of years for my dignity, but I eventually came out of my “rebellious period”, found a church I love, and married my husband. He was and is my soul mate. We had a son together. Everything was falling back into place. Except it wasn’t. I was still a miserable, angry, nervous wreck most of my days, and I couldn’t shake it. Homeschooling, special needs, auto immune diseases, advocacy, work…It was all too much. Simple trips to the grocery store for forgotten detergent gave me panic attacks. I took the long way home to avoid traffic and not have panic attacks in the car. I spent more time locked behind my bedroom door than playing with my kids. I was missing everything. The moment I found myself screaming to my husband that “If it wasn’t for the kids, I would kill myself. I can’t. I don’t have it in me…but I don’t want to live. It’s too hard.”, I knew I had to do something. Moms aren’t supposed to be the weak ones. Everybody knows we are the backbones of a family, if we are good ones, and I desperately wanted to be one of the good ones. I didn’t want to admit I was failing. See when you hear your own death fall off of your lips though, your view changes. Pride takes a back seat. Stigma? What stigma? Save me. That’s all we know, at that point. Save me or let me die.
Medication may not always be the answer, but for some, it’s the right answer. It’s THE answer. The wrong answer every time is dying.