Rising from the Ashes

Today is a momentous day for me.
It marks the two year anniversary of my journey towards recovery. It was Mother’s Day, 2011. My daughters were then 7 months old and three and a half years old. I was at a free yoga class twenty minutes from my home. At the class’ end, I lay in relaxation pose. I felt a peace I hadn’t felt in days, my body and mind relaxing into stillness and quiet. I hadn’t felt this in months.

It was on my way home from the yoga class, when I realized something was wrong. Just two days before, I had stood hiding in our bathroom, sobbing uncontrollably as my little girls stared at me. Where had all the piece and stillness disappeared to?

Every morning had been like this for me: frustration, tears, falling apart, at not being able to get both my three and half year old and my seven month old out of the door on time. There was yelling, screaming, a rage from being overwhelmed. Why couldn’t I do this? I only had two. I knew women who had more. My inner dialogue consisted of the same repeated word: failure.

The peace and stillness from Sivasana made me realize that something was wrong. It had been much too long since I hadn’t felt like a jangle of nerves. Truthfully, I had not felt right since my daughter was born nearly seven months ago. I was just surviving my life. I spent my days changing diapers, working full time, nursing, cleaning, and being with my family. I spent all my time outside of work with my husband and my daughters.

But I wasn’t really there; it was just a ghost of me.

I passed my days behind a mask of forced smiles and feigned interest. Parenting had become nothing more than a long check list of to-dos. Missed were the brilliant blue of my daughters’ eyes that are so much like their dad’s– replaced by only shades of gray and clouds everywhere. I knew enough to realize that I needed to ask for help. This wasn’t the mom I wanted to be for my girls; I wanted more for them.

My first step was to tell the person closest to me: my husband, Luke. Exploding into tears, I told him that I needed help. He told me that I had not been myself since I was pregnant with our youngest. He never knew what mood I was going to be in. My husband promised to support me in whatever I needed to do to get better. We decided to call a therapist.
Without knowing what to say, my fingers shook as I dialed the number of a therapist I found. I left a message for her, in a voice that sounded more like a frightened child than the grown woman I was. I heard myself leave my name, number. Sounding confused, I said, “This is Jennifer Gaskell. And something’s wrong. I think it’s anxiety. I want to be seen as soon as possible. I’m really struggling.”

I felt some relief after that call, but I still felt scared. I couldn’t do this alone. How could I explain and who would understand? The image of my sweet cousin’s face floated before me. I urgently called her familiar number. When she answered, the words tumbled out of my mouth. “It’s Jen. I’m not good. I think… I think I’ve got postpartum anxiety. I called and left a message for a therapist. I want to be seen right away.” I had to reassure her, “I am not going to hurt myself or the girls, but I need help soon. Can you tell me what to say so I can get seen as soon as possible?” And with that confession, the floodgates opened, with all the anguish and anxiety I had been carrying alone for months. I burst into tears. Two days later, I was in my therapist’s office.

My first therapy appointment, two years ago, was only one step of many – but it began my journey. Therapy along with medication controlled the overwhelming moments I was in, BUT the most comfort I found was peer to peer support online. The Internet saved my life, and the first blog I logged on to was Postpartum Progress — a site dedicated to providing mental health resources and support for women with postpartum issues. And from there, I found a springboard for a live twitter chat online called PPD chat – where women from all over the world log on and find themselves in a safe place, where we can ask for understanding, acceptance, and community.

It was as if someone had handed me a tank of oxygen when I could no longer breathe on my own – I was no longer alone in my struggle. I had found a community of what we call, Warrior Mamas, women like me who work hard to survive and help others survive postpartum mood disorders.

I feel myself being reborn, like a phoenix refined from the ashes of my postpartum depression and anxiety. I want to talk about what I went through to let other moms know that they are not alone – that’s why I started my blog. I am not afraid to tell my story. I am thriving, strong enough now to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I am no longer just surviving life. I am living it and loving it. Something I never thought I’d do again. I am recovering, and my journey has made me what I am today: the mother I want for my children.

Two years ago, I wasn’t even able to know how to ask for help. And now two years later, I am standing here, in front of you – telling my story, hoping that someone out there who needs to hear it, does.

And that they hear this – never give up hope.

  • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
  • If you are looking for pregnancy or postpartum support and local resources, please call or email us:
  • Call PSI Warmline (English & Spanish) 1-800-944-4PPD (4773)
  • Email support@postpartum.net

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About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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20 Responses to Rising from the Ashes

  1. This piece is beautiful. So transparent, so vulnerable, and so brave. Thank you for finding the courage to both write and speak this out loud at LYTM. I’m so proud of you!

    • Thank you so much Jenna. It was scary being that vulnerable, but it was definitely worth it. I feel inspired to own my truth and share my story without shame.

  2. I love this so very much. Each and every word. And you. So much love to you. So brave and strong and powerful – you were then and you are now. xo

    • Andrea, thank you so much. I have to credit my editors of this piece who helped me frame it – Lauren, Story, and of course, Alexandra. I thought I was weak initially. Now I know that asking for help is the bravest thing that you can do when you are struggling. Thank you for all your support. xoxo

  3. Jill says:

    Jenny,
    This is beautiful!!!! I just sat in my car and read it and tears rolled down my face! You are an inspiration for me and you will be for so many other women dealing with PPA and PPD. Congrats!

  4. So proud of you for sharing this and I’m so grateful for your honesty. The support you’ve given me has been invaluable and I know others are helped by it too.

  5. You are incredible, Jen. I’m so proud of you for how far you’ve come. We’ve both traveled a long road, which we’ll continue to walk along….the road of recovery. You’re doing wonderful things by sharing your story. It’s my hope that we’re both helping more people than we’ll ever know.
    xoxoxo

  6. Reborn. Reborn. Reborn.
    We are never lost in this chaos, but reborn stronger.
    And obviously awesome-er…because come on now…you kicked ass.
    xoxox

  7. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. We benefit from it greatly.🙂

    • Thank you Dr. Hibbert. I felt so empowered sharing my story. All Listen To Your Mother shows are recorded, and the YouTube videos will be up later this summer. There are at least 3 pieces on some form of postpartum mood disorder that I know of.

  8. Megan says:

    Love you Jen!! Happy to see your strength and know we can lean on eachother ♥ Meg

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