***Trigger warning: If you are feeling fragile, or struggling, this post might be triggering. I talk about intrusive thoughts and suicidal thoughts.****
I struggle with sharing some of the harsh truths that marked my experience with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It is hard for my family and friends to read on my blog stories I struggle to articulate in words.
During the few weeks leading up to the Climb last year, a dear friend shared her story of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. When I saw her at the climb, I hugged her. I thanked her for her courage, and I whispered in her ear that I had those feelings of suicide too. Later she read this story aloud, and it broke me wide open. Her story and her journey to recovery is different from mine; however, we both struggled with those feelings of utter despair and hopelessness. I felt like I wanted to just disappear. I felt like my husband and my daughters deserved better than me. I didn’t have an active plan. I just wanted to disappear into nothing. I have mentioned that I had intrusive thoughts of crashing my car headfirst into oncoming traffic. These thoughts were my thoughts of escaping. I did not realize that these intrusive thoughts were considered passive suicidal ideations until after I read Dr. Walker Karraa’s book, Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth. After I read this book, I wept with the realization of how sick I had been. It is only in looking back that I realize how anxious and despondent I had been.
Suicidal thoughts are more common than we realize among postpartum women. In fact suicide is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women. I never said yes to the screening question about hurting myself or others because I was afraid that I would lose my husband and my daughters. I was one of the lucky ones – the 15% that receive treatment for their postpartum mood disorders. I got help, and I recovered.
I climb for the moms who we lose every year to suicide. I will keep climbing, and I will keep telling my story. I climb for all the women in my life. I climb for the warrior moms past, present and future. I see your struggle, and I see your brave. I will continue to encourage others to tell their own story. I do not want another mom to feel like she is all alone in her struggles. I have been on the edge of that precipice. Take my hand, and I will support you as you climb out of this darkness. You will be well. It does get better.
If you’re local to the Milwaukee area, please come join me and my little ladies and a host of amazing women as we walk through Havenwoods State Forest for Climb Out of the Darkness 2016 http://postpartumprogress.org/climb-out-of-the-darkness/. If you are not local to Miwaukee and want to find a climb in your area, http://postpartumprogress.org/climb-out-of…/find-a-climb/. Together we can shine a light of hope for moms on their darkest days.