Edit the Sad Parts

19 Oct

It’s like being trapped under dark water so cold you can’t breathe or think or move. It’s like being inside your own skin and desperately wanting to get out. It’s like being slowly, insistently poisoned by your own mind. There is nothing I want so much as to get away from myself. I haven’t been eating. I’ve been sleeping less and less to the point that one night I didn’t sleep at all.

It was my birthday and I was losing my mind.

I knew something was wrong as far back as Thursday. I could feel the burn of adrenaline streaking through my veins uncontrollably. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t slow my heart or control my breathing. Despite Anthony’s gentle, earnest and numerous attempts to calm me, I felt totally alone and was utterly convinced everyone hated me. I was completely unworthy of my husband and my beautiful child. I was losing my mind.

This was my first panic attack. But it wasn’t my last.

Over the next six days I had more, at first with gaps of recovering, head-clearing and feeling better, but always they returned, and worse than before. Then they grew closer and closer together until I had no relief. I have been seeing a therapist since I was diagnosed with PPD, and over the phone he assured me I was not insane. It took me awhile to believe him. I was convinced I was losing my mind.

I wanted to tell you this because my typical tactic is to keep everything to myself, even from my closest friends. Not many people know this, but I grew up in an alcoholic household and my mother and sister and I dealt with this problem by never mentioning it, ever. Not even to each other. Especially not to each other. I grew up knowing that something was very, very wrong, but I was never exactly sure what that was. One day, I realized it must be me.

We just didn’t talk about it, this problem that was making our lives hell, and life went on, until one day when I was about twenty my father had a seizure. Barely coherent from drinking, he fell to the floor in the living room, convulsing. Firemen saved his life and he was rushed to the hospital, no one knowing if he would make it. When I visited him he looked at me with his bright yellow eyes, not comprehending who I was. When it became apparent he’d survive, doctors still weren’t sure how full his recovery would be. We lived months with the future of our beloved Dad in limbo. He spent months learning to walk again and regaining his motors skills in physical rehab centers. After that, when it became clear his mind and body and heart will mostly recover, and he spent many more months in a drug and alcohol rehab center. I am so proud of him and his ten years of sobriety. He has changed, but I still cling to the old coping methods. I hold it all in, isolating myself from friends and family when I need them most. I still keep my feelings locked deep in my heart like they were shameful things best kept hidden.

Throughout these last six days I’ve lost 10 pounds and countless hours of sleep. At the advice of my therapist I saw my doctor to get back on the medicine I took for PPD. While I was in the doctor’s office sobbing, Isobel rubbed my leg and said, over and over, “Don’t cry, Mama. Don’t cry, Mama. Mama is sad.”

Mama is sad.

I’m sharing this with you because I don’t want to live with half my heart in lock down until the point it spills over into mental disorder. I’m sharing this with you because I want my daughter to grow in a healthier environment that I did. And I wanted to share this with you because I could use the support.

46 Responses to “Edit the Sad Parts”

  1. Sarah October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Thank you for sharing that. You are brave and awesome. I am glad you are here! 🙂

    • LittleBig November 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      Thank you so much for this, Sarah!

  2. Beth (@Bethazon) October 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    hi sweetiepants. let me tell you this, you are far from alone, and if i could hug you in person i would. i’m bipolar and have suffered my fair share of panic attacks, and live daily with a cruel back and forth between anxiety and depression. i see a psych nurse who helps me balance my meds and my vitamins and my life as a whole, but even in treatment, it ain’t easy. i constantly feel like my world is ending, or that i’m worthless, or have no one. and it’s completely untrue. just like it’s not true for you. from what i know, from what you’ve shared with us on your blog and on twitter, you have a gorgeous loving family and beautiful friends. lean on them. they love you and that’s what they’re there for. they’d hate it if you didn’t go to them when you needed them. trust me. i get regular lectures from my own support system for not reaching out when i should 😉 and never ever forget that you are strong and brilliant, funny and resilient. you will get through every moment, because you can. i believe in you, and i’m sure loads of other much more important people do as well 🙂


  3. TheRedQueen October 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Exactly what Beth said. I am here for you, just like any other number of people who love you are. All of us are more than willing to do whatever we can to help you through this.

    I love you lady!

  4. Anna October 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, it can’t have been easy. You are not alone.

  5. Cara October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    We support you! I have been there. I have so been there. In fact, just last night I was mentioning to my husband that it doesn’t feel like it’s only been a year since I had a complete breakdown and was mired at the bottom of a giant pit of depression and anxiety. So many of us suffer from this, but we can make it through with help from our families and doctors. You aren’t alone. I was there. I might be there again someday. Good for you for getting help! You will get through this. It will get better.

  6. Laura Copeland (@lauracope) October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    i am so so so glad you shared this. you’re an amazing woman and an amazing mother in a thousand different ways, and you’re on my list of people i’ll be turning to when i have kids of my own. … in spite of all this. BECAUSE of all this.

  7. shinyinfo October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    You are ABSOLUTELY not alone. I experience many of the same things and like you, my first instinct is to Never Talk About It. I believe in you too!

  8. Kelly October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Hai, I am cyber-holding your hand.

  9. jenn October 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    You are LOVED. And awesome. I wish I were there to join you in a bowl of miso soup. Love you.

  10. valerie forrestal (@val_forrestal) October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    This brought tears to my eyes. I’ve struggled with severe depression on and off since high school. It’s debilitating, and the loneliness is crushing. You *are* brave for posting this. We’re happy to be your non-judgmental, anonymous sounding board whenever you need one. We love you. 🙂

  11. Tristina October 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Hi, I love you so so so much and BOTH of my shoulders and BOTH of my arms and BOTH of my hands are here for you always. Always. Any time of day or night.

    I went through severe depression in college to the point of being suicidal. I get the mind-numbing panic and the sleepless nights where your brain won’t stop spinning in stupid hamster wheel circles.

    You are never alone, honey. Never.

  12. mark @ yelling near you October 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    The internet is here to support you. Take care.

  13. Adio P. October 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I’ve missed your words & photos. You are braver than I have been about this kind of thing – and stronger than you know! I can’t say it any better than @Bethazon. Persist & persevere… one foot in front of the other.


  14. rachel keeler (@rachel_nk) October 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Some people might think it’s silly, but I often feel closer to friends I know or met online than in real life. I seem to build the best, most supportive friendships with people I meet online, and am able to share with them in ways that I can’t seem to replicate with my IRL friends. There’s something really special about internet-friend-support, and it’s powerful. Thank you so much for sharing: it is inspiring to me as someone who doesn’t like to share these things either. Sending *hugs* through the interwebs.

  15. Elizabeth October 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I am so sorry you’re experiencing this, and so thankful that Anthony and your therapist are there to take care of you. I have been at the bottom of that well, though not with PPD, and I know it feels like you’ll never make your way out. We’re all here when and if you need us. *hug* :hug: ::HUG::

  16. Yfnlibrarian October 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Sending you a virtual hug. Been there, done that and it is super awful. Talking about the experience has been so helpful and I hope it is for you, too.

  17. shannon October 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    You are not alone. We are out here in internet land and we love you.

  18. ohnoAMY October 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    I understan so much, love. Many hugs to you, and never forget that I’m never far away from my laptop or phone if you want someone to talk to.

  19. bri October 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    I’m not so awesome with words, but.


  20. filigreegirl October 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I too suffered from Postpartum Depression when my daughter was born. Like you, I was fortunate enough to be working with a therapist at the time she was born. In fact I made an appointment on the day after the birth (calling from my hospital bed) because I knew then that I was going to need help. My daughter was born 8 weeks after my alcoholic mother died of lung cancer, and for weeks, my husband would come home to find me holding our beautiful baby and sobbing my heart out for no good reason, except those caused by layers and layers of grief mixed with wild-running hormones. It took a while, but finally it passed.

    You’ll be OK, really. Let the people who love you surround you and hold you up. It’s OK to be helped, and it’s OK to let others do things for you. Let Isobel make you laugh, and let her see you smile. Be lavish with your hugs. Every hug we give gets us one in return, and hugs are healing. Give yourself permission to give her a life that does not require the secret-keeping the alcoholism in your family demanded.

    Thanks for sharing this, oh brave woman. Thank you.

  21. chris zombieking October 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    the hard times – they will pass. i promise you that. they always do..

    and i also wanted to say that you sound like a fantastic mum
    🙂 x

  22. Stefanie October 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I love you so much lady. I wish we could be getting through these hard times together because I need you. It will get better. I tell you from experience. It gets better and you will come out of this stronger. I am here from you…even though I’m four hours away

  23. Hayley (@funtrees) October 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm #


    I also grew up with an alcoholic father (though mine is not yet successfully dry), so I get everything that goes with that. You are not alone. Thank you for sharing, and I really hope things get better soon.

  24. erin (@thecorbettkid) October 20, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    please know i’m thinking about you a lot. big bear hugs to you. XO

  25. cris October 20, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    It’s different for everyone who feels it, but you aren’t alone in what you feel, and you have people near and far who love and care for you. I love reading your lovely passages every day, and they mean so much coming from someone who can be so real about being a real human being.

    As it happens, I had a panic attack a couple weeks ago while running craft errands in Michaels. I think it was brought on by several days of extreme headaches this time, but regardless, most bizarre. experience. ever!

    *internet hugs*

  26. Windsor Grace October 20, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    This just breaks my heart. As you may be aware, I have panic disorder and have had it for several years. If you ever need to talk to someone who understands, my inbox and phone lines are open for you, my dear. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you 🙂

  27. K October 20, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Thank you for trusting your readers so much to share something so personal.

    Mental health, and even physical health, is such a complicated thing. To acknowledge what is happening in the moment and why as well as trying to figure out the root of it is hard. And while my heart feels very sad that you’re struggling in this way, I am reassured that you have Anthony and Isobel and the ability to seek help for yourself.

    You have been missed an inordinate amount, but taking care of yourself is infinitely more important. Hugs to you, friend.

  28. Juliet October 20, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Dear, I am sorry that you are going through this. I too suffer from Depression – with horrible debilitating anxiety / rages – and I know how black that pit can be. Some days I just wish I could be “normal” and wake up every morning balanced, rather than taking a fist full of pills that does it for me. I wish. But that’s not my reality. Maybe not yours either.

    However you have a supportive husband who loves you (I hope, unless you are censoring for the internets, which I understand. I also understand that husbands can’t always be supportive in these times.). You have a beautiful baby and a following of people who feel with you when you feel pain just as much as when you feel joy.

    You are doing the right things for yourself. That is the most important part. Keep doing that.

    All my love,

  29. erica October 20, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    giant huge hugs for sharing. suffering in silence is suffering so much more. you are loved.

  30. lilpyrogirl October 20, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Oh Honey,

    You have all my love and support and cyber-hugs. It will get better. By understanding that you need help, you already have a huge leg up over thousands of people that are too scared to get help. You are so brave to not only seek help but to share your battle and I truly believe that this one blog post could potentially save a life. Thanks for sharing with us. Thanks for letting us be your support. We love you. And you’re not alone. I may be all the way on the other side of the country but today (and every other day) I’m holding you in my heart my friend!


  31. Mrs. H. October 20, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    I have been reading your blog for a long time now, and I have always loved seeing your photos of your daughter and the beautiful way you describe your experiences with her. I find in you an inspiration. I’m pregnant with my first child (a girl, too), and I look to your experiences with Isobel as guideposts for what I would like to do with my future girl…what I would like to be like with my future girl.

    I also appreciate your openness and honesty with your readers about your PPD experiences. The troubling thing is that, unless and until you go through it, it’s never very clear if you will be hit with the condition too. I’ve struggled my entire life with depression. I started to experience fairly powerful and disturbing panic attacks and fantasies of suicide halfway through my Master’s program (which extended into my PhD program, and have, fortunately, subsided for the past couple of years). Sometimes I fear that I might be predisposed toward PPD because of my history with depression and panic attacks.

    But then I read your blog, and I’m filled with hope. Even if I am diagnosed with PPD, I know that someone else out there is making it, in spite of it all. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being honest and brave. You probably can’t know who you’ve already helped and how you’ve helped them. But I will say, for myself, you give me hope.

    Thanks for being a light, even when you don’t feel like you are. I deeply believe that you will be able to overcome this obstacle because you are not afraid to ask for support. You’re a good mom. You really are.

  32. keli October 20, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    So many thoughts of peace and love to you. I was glad to read you were able to sleep last night. I hope this continues. And thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. Much love.

  33. erica October 20, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    I grew up in the same household… and it freaking sucks ass. But you can change your daughters childhood and you are doing it. and your doing things that you love!! ROCK ON SISTER. Just remember each morning is a chance to start fresh

  34. Cookbook October 20, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Sending you big hugs and many well-wishes. Take your time to feel better. I can’t really add much to anything anyone before me has said, other than to reiterate that you are loved and I admire your honesty very much. And I really do wish I could give you a for real hug right now!

  35. Kerry October 20, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    No shame in having a nervous breakdown, babe. And you’re doing the best thing and the hardest work for you and your family by getting help. Hugs.

  36. Erin Dorney October 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    You are absolutely not alone. Sending peaceful thoughts your way. ❤

  37. the grumbles October 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    I so understand. I mean, no one REALLY understands anyone else’s pain but the desire to brush it away, to run from it, to hide it. Yes, I so understand. But no matter how weird it feels the best thing you can do is reach out to the people who love you. In my experience when I hold stuff in it feels so much worse. We’ve got your back.

  38. Missy (@geceosan) October 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    i wasn’t going to comment, but then…i can’t just read your blog everyday & then not care about you & your family when the chips are down.

    like some of your other readers, i too am living with depression. each day it is a struggle to wake up and find something worth living for.

    the panic attacks suck. it’s a thing. remember to breathe. hug the baby. hug a cat. hug the hubby. hugs in general are good things & help with panic attacks, i find. that’s my Rx for you #iamtotallynotarealdoctor #butseriouslyHUGS

  39. Anne G October 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I don’t believe that the person that wrote about Brian McPoopington will not be OK. Your positive energy will prevail.

  40. LittleBig October 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    I don’t ever think I could tell you all how much this has meant to me. Thank you.

  41. Cameron October 23, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Oh, sweet girl. I’m just now reading this and I’m so, so sad for you, but I’m SO GLAD that you shared it… that you are sharing it. I, too, have a tendency to hold things in and as I’m getting older I’m figuring out how much that just doesn’t work. I hope and pray that you are finding comfort and peace and relief and breath and sleep and calm and a light at the end of the tunnel. Sending so, so many hugs. xoxoxoxo

  42. amanda October 23, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Oh mommy, you are so brave and beautiful. I had a really fucked up upbringing, too and I went through panic and anxiety, too. I was on Zoloft for PPD, and I made the decision to just stay on it. I hope that you can find something that helps, too. It’s so scary to feel like you’re going crazy. I felt the SAME WAY, and I was so scared to admit it. You’re doing an amazing thing by being honest and letting people who care about you to support you through it. Love.

  43. Dingey October 24, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Oh, ladypants! I am so sorry that I didn’t see this when you posted it, and I’m so glad things are getting better. I’ve gone through a few dark spells myself over the years and, like you, was VERY PRONE to keeping it all inside. The thing is, keeping the darkness in just gives it more power and lets it grow. If you expose the darkness to the light, it shrinks. If you keep it bottled up, it just gets bigger and stronger and spills over into, oh, I don’t know….say….complete freakout anxiety attacks in the bean aisle at the grocery store. Which I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT. Ahem.

    I know it can be hard to even put into words what you’re feeling or what’s going on when the darkness is rearing up and staring you in the face, but you’re TOTALLY DOING THE RIGHT THING confronting it, even if you can’t get it all out at once. Every time you try, it’ll put a little chip in the armor of the bad stuff. Besides, if you let the bad stuff stay bottled up, it takes up all your emotional room and makes it hard to even recognize the happy stuff that comes your way. You gotta spill yer guts once in a while; make some room for the good shit!

  44. Dingey October 24, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    I accidentally hit the post button before I was really done, so…

    And further, you are a super-goddess of pure awesomeness. So, clearly, you can beat this shit. BEAT IT like Michael Jackson in a bad jacket. I mean a “BAD” jacket. Wait….getting off topic….You will win. That’s all I really meant to say.
    Beat It!
    Beat It!
    No one wants to be defeated!
    Show them hot funky!
    Show them your spider!
    It doesn’t matter!
    Who’s wrong or right!

    Just beat it!

    (Envision mortifying chunky-middle-aged-white-lady dance moves and it’ll probably make you laugh…)

  45. Bleu October 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    You are awesome if just for sharing this. I too went through severe PPD and continue to struggle with it almost three years later.

    Thank you for letting me know I’m not (and many other moms) are not alone in struggling with depression and anxiety.

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