Postpartum Voice of the Week: @WalkerKarraa’s 10 questions for a partner of a PPD Survivor: My Husband


Earlier this week, Walker DM’d me with this link on Twitter. I immediately clicked and knew it would be my Postpartum Voice of the Week. It is not often we hear from Dads in the Postpartum Tapestry. Any chance I have to share the other side of the Postpartum Glass is one I NEVER pass up.

In this very insightful post, Walker interviews her husband about his perspective of her own struggles with PTSD as well as PPD after the birth of their child, Ziggy.

So very often, communication between couples is shut down completely when a partner struggles with any form of Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorder. It can break a marriage to pieces, smashing it against the rocks of miscommunication, doubt, anger, and mistrust. Those who have managed to weather the storm successfully have come through hell. To do so intact is no easy feat. Even then, intact does not mean they are the same as they were when they first entered the PPD tunnel – we all emerge changed. It’s whether or not you allow yourself to embrace your change as well as that of your spouse’s which determines your success rate.

Ladies, it is SO SO very important for us to try to remember that our husbands and partners are just as scared as we are when it comes to PPD.

This quote by Walker’s husband sums it up perfectly:

 

Backrground stock photo found at: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1301703

 

There’s no need for further introduction. Go. Read this week’s Postpartum Voice of the Week. Then email the link to your husband.

Dirty Talking with the hubs about PPD


Harry: Why are you getting so upset? This is not about you.

Sally: Yes it is. You are a human affront to all women and I am a woman.

Harry: Hey I don’t feel great about this but I don’t hear anyone complaining.

Sally: Of course not you’re out of the door too fast.

Harry: I think they have an OK time.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: What do you mean how do I know? I know.

Sally: Because they…

Harry: Yes, because they…

Sally: And how do you know that they really…

Harry: What are you saying, that they fake orgasm?

Sally: It’s possible.

Harry: Get outta here!

Sally: Why? Most women at one time or another have faked it.

Harry: Well they haven’t faked it with me.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: Because I know.

Sally: Oh, right, that’s right, I forgot, you’re a man.

Harry: What is that supposed to mean?

Sally: Nothing. It’s just that all men are sure it never happened to them and

that most women at one time or another have done it so you do the math.

Harry: You don’t think that I could tell the difference?

Sally: No.

Harry: Get outta here.

 

Fake it till you make it, right?

SO many moms I have talked to have shared that they have not told their significant other the true depths of their suffering as they move through their Postpartum Mood Disorder.

He goes to work.

I don’t want to burden him when he gets home.

He deserves to come home to a happy home.

He won’t understand.

He thinks I am using a PMD as an excuse to make him do everything.

He deserves time with his friends so I’ll lie and throw myself under the bus.

Ladies?

Your husband cannot read your mind.

Gentlemen?

If your wife is smiling on the outside but it’s obvious there is something going on, sit her down and ask if she’s okay. If you’re struggling too, let her know. It will help her feel less alone in her hell. (And trust me, it IS hell!)

A good relationship is centered on trust. Trust relies on open communication. Open communication fosters a strong sense of intimacy. Intimacy suffers when open communication falters. When open communication falters, trust cracks wide open. When trust cracks, good relationships are monumentally at risk for destruction. Relationships at risk for destruction are toxic to all involved – there is a ripple effect that reaches out in every direction, including your children.

Postpartum Depression is nowhere near as exciting or pleasurable as an orgasm. (And never will be.) But recovery will only lead to a pleasurable place IF you’re honest. An honest recovery as opposed to a faked recovery is infinitely more pleasurable for all involved. We owe ourselves honesty, we owe our partners honesty, we owe our CHILDREN honesty, we owe our medical professionals honesty.

Because without honesty, we have nothing.

I am just as guilty as the next mom for lying about my Postpartum Depression. I minimized my symptoms, lied to my husband when something was wrong, lied about hating him, about resenting him, sucked it up when he came home – how could I tell him about my hard day when he had been at work for just as long as I had been at home? I threw myself under the bus. The only person I hurt in the process was myself. I let it slide until I was having good days – until he got home. All my built up resentfulness would burst through the door along with him – and suddenly I morphed into super bitch. He couldn’t do anything right:  he was in the way, he was a bad dad, MY life was interrupted the instant he arrived home annoying me to the zillionth degree. But none of it was really his fault. Why? Because I didn’t share with him what was really going on with me. Once I started talking WITH him instead of yelling AT him, things began to improve. It took both of us nearly five years to begin to truly communicate with each other after the birth of our first daughter, making it almost three years after the birth of our second.

The other night I came at him the wrong way about something as we were putting the kids to bed. We moved on with what we were doing instead of arguing in front of the kids. Once the kids were down for nap, I apologized for handling it poorly. He apologized as well. We moved on with our evening and put it behind us. The old us? Would have argued in front of the kids. We would probably still be arguing about who was right or wrong. Instead, I’m throwing the remote control into his shin, nearly gimping him for life, and we’re cracking jokes about it on Twitter. I am SO madly in love with the new us.

Postpartum Depression sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. Did I mention it sucks?

But given the chance, it allows for such amazing and miraculous growth within yourself, within your marriage, within your relationship with your children.

Be honest with your significant other about your journey, your feelings, your emotions. Get dirty. Get into the nitty gritty. Life is messy. Emotions are messy. We cannot wrap everything up in a neat package like we do before Christmas. Not everything has a shiny sparkly bow on top. Sometimes they look like they’ve been in the gutter with Edgar Allan Poe after a bender. It’s hard to admit you are not okay. But until you do, you’re just lying to yourself and those around you. You? Deserve better. So do those around you.

Write it down. Reach out. Get the help you need. There’s no need to continue to fight in silence or in loneliness. There is hope. There is help. You are not alone. You are so not alone.

Just Talking Tuesday 11.23.10: Husbands, Wives & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Oh My


"Argue" by jk+too @flickr

“I wish my husband understood that I’m not just trying to get out of Motherhood.”

“How can I admit to struggling when he seems so happy? I’d hate to rain on his parade.”

“He doesn’t believe in mental illness. Neither does his family. So I fake it.”

“I can’t take medication. He won’t let me.”

“My wife won’t admit she is struggling. What can I do?”

“Everything I do is wrong. I’m scared I’ll lose my wife and my child.”

“She’s awesome with the baby. Me? I suck. I’m failing at fatherhood.”

“I’m the Dad. I have to be the rock. I can’t be depressed.”

“I drink/do drugs to hide/numb just how bad I’m feeling from her.”

Every single one of these statements are real things parents who have reached out to me have expressed. These statements are extremely telling. What do they tell, you ask? They tell just how much communication has broken down within the relationship. The breakdown may have occurred before baby. Or it may be a new thing. Until now, everything within their relationship may have been picture perfect. They were the perfect couple. Never had to work hard at their relationship. They may have been “THAT” couple. But now that everything is dashed to hell, smashed to pieces by an innocent new life, their relationship struggles to stay afloat. Everything they thought they knew about each other is also up in the air. They wait with bated breath for it all to crash back down, hopefully back into the right place.

We did just that six years ago.

Things are still falling back into place.

We met at work. Yes, we were like Pam & Jim. We met the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2000 after our Supervisors relocated us to adjoining cubicles. Our first date? A flirtatious invite to a non-existent steak dinner as I bragged to him about my evening. I dashed like a mad woman to the grocery store to turn this imaginary meal into a reality. We’ve been inseparable ever since. In 2002, we got married.

In 2003, we got pregnant.

In 2004, we officially became parents and I went off the deep end.

Suddenly he couldn’t do anything right. I knew everything, he knew nothing. I snapped at him because, well, I could. He got frustrated. We stopped talking. If he did talk or get upset about something, it was automatically my fault. My self-esteem took a nose-dive. I did not think I was verbally abusive, irritable, angry, or crazy. Turns out I was. This continued well into my second pregnancy.

Then our second daughter was born. She spent time in the NICU. I was hospitalized 56 days postpartum after a near-psychotic break. Think we weren’t communicating before? Now we really weren’t on the same page. He had been medicating with marijuana along with the same anti-depressant I ended up on after my hospitalization. We yelled. We screamed, we fought, I cried, I begged him to tell me he wasn’t okay about all of this – that he was hurting too. He lied and said he was fine because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do – he was the man. The rock. He was supposed to be okay.

Turns out he wasn’t okay after all.

After the birth of our third child, I was involved in a car accident at just 3 months postpartum. I went to jail. Why? Because my husband had been spending money on marijuana instead of on important things like vehicle registration and car insurance. Again, failure to communicate.

He’ll be 3 years into recovery this coming March. So will I. Wait – did you say  – I did. I’m no longer a co-dependent. I’m no longer enabling his habit. Believe me, you didn’t want to be in this house the day after my accident. It was not pretty.

Our fallout from PMAD’s and Paternal Postnatal Depression took nearly four years to explode. It’s taken close to seven years to claw our way back to where we are now – a place very closely resembling normal and healthy. Even here though we have our issues. I suspect we always will. To assume perfection is to ignore the flaws in front of you. Flaws are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they are just what we need to learn and move forward.

We have mistakes in our past. We have learned from them. Moved on. Trusting in God and His enduring support as we grow to trust in Him for everything. Our journey has been full of hell. But it’s also been obviously filled with grace and tenacity. On our part and on God’s part.

There are times within the past almost seven years at which I could have walked away and no one would have faulted me. I chose to stay and fight. Certainly not the easiest path but definitely the right path – especially as I sit here in the glow of a Christmas tree, a fireplace, and my husband beside me.

For us, our brush with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders ripped the band-aids off situations we may not have otherwise faced head-on. We were thrust headlong into trauma, grief, mental illness, and forced to decide how to move forward. I am thankful we clung to each other and made the decision to move forward together. I know many other couples who are not as fortunate for whatever reason. Each situation, each person, each Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is different. Therefore, the results will be assuredly different as well.

What challenges have you faced as part of your PMAD? Has your husband axed certain avenues of treatment? Has that affected your recovery? Your marriage? Did your PMAD ultimately lead to divorce? Or is your marriage stronger as a result of coming through the fiery storm that is a PMAD?

Let’s get to just talking about Husbands, Wives, and Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Oh My.

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Just Talking Tuesday: Through the eyes of another


It’s dark. You are both collapsed into heaps, this time, you managed to make it to bed. You sigh, close your yes and mutter goodnight into your pillow.

It’s 234 a.m., your wife notes.

“Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

You lift your head and glare at the clock.

It’s 315 a.m.

You shove your face back into your pillow and silently scream.

Really? 46 minutes?

Sighing, you get out of bed to get the baby. Check the diaper. A little wet so you change it. Rock, sing, soothe. Nothing works.

Time to get mommy. She’s got the food.

You walk into the bedroom to wake her up. She sighs, shifts, and snuggles closer to the bed. When you do manage to wake her up, she snaps at you.

“But I JUST nursed! Did you check the diaper? Try to put him back down? I’m tired. I don’t want to…. ”

“Yes. Gimme a little credit. I’m not an idiot. I’ve tried everything. Clearly he’s hungry. You’re nursing so…”

“Dammit. I’ll be there in a minute.” She snuggles back into the bed.

You sigh, loudly, frustrated, knowing it will be a good 30 minutes before she even attempts to get out of bed. She will fall back asleep and you will have this conversation all over again before she finally gets out of bed, cursing you under her breath for interrupting her sleep.

She won’t mean it. She’s exhausted, just like you. And yes, you have work in the morning and should be sleeping but she won’t get to sleep much during the day either. Oh, she may rest, but it won’t be restorative. She’ll nod off while nursing, try to snooze when the baby does, but if the baby is up, she is up. And then there are chores. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. Cooking. Possibly other children to care for. Errands. Her job? Never.friggin.ends.

Your job never ends either. It’s hard for her to see that though. What SHE sees is you, walking out the front door toward other adults. Toward freedom. Toward conversation that involves more than a few garbled syllabic words at a time. What SHE sees is you, showered, shaved, dressed in something other than the same pajamas she’s now lived in for two weeks. What SHE feels is jealousy, hatred, sadness, grief. For the most part she knows it’s not rational. Somewhere, deep down, she tries hard not to feel this way. But she’s been moody for weeks now. Snapping at you for the simplest comment or action.

You bring home dinner. It’s not what she wanted but she loudly sighs and announces “It’ll have to do.” You pick up the baby and she watches your every move with him like a hawk, waiting for you to falter. You begin to falter yourself. Are you built for fatherhood? Are you doing things wrong? What if you’re screwing up your kid for life at just 3 months old? What if she never lets you really be a father? How will you ever learn what to do? Will your marriage survive? Where the hell are you?

What she doesn’t know is that as you walk out the front door every morning, your heart hurts. YOU are filled with jealousy because she gets to enjoy every moment with your son. She gets to watch him grow, change, and do new things every day. You mourn your fatherhood as you shower, dress for work. You fumble under her judgmental stares, worrying that your fathering skills are not up to par with her expectations. You’ve asked  a million times but you can’t for the life of you get her to tell you what her expectations are for you as a father. What are the rules to this ball game? If you only knew, life would be so much easier. After all, you’re not a mind reader.

___________________________

Today’s Just Talking Tuesday is cross-posted with The Postpartum Dads Project. If you’re a mom, please go visit the Postpartum Dads Project and share what you wish your husband had known about Postpartum Mood Disorders and parenting. What would have best helped you when you were suffering? If you’re a dad, share here. What got you and your wife through those dark days? How did you keep communication open if you managed to do so?

(Note: The Postpartum Dads Project site is down for the moment. Let’s all just share here for now and I will cross post when the site is back up! Thanks for understanding.)

Social support is key for recovery from a Postpartum Mood Disorder. The best social support starts at home with your partner. Get them involved and you’ve zoomed forward a zillion spaces on your recovery path.

Let’s get to just talking.

His Turn…


This one gets personal for me. Very personal.

I am recovered from Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive/Depression. It’s taken some time and been a very hard and long road. The darkest depths witnessed me collapsed on the floor sobbing in tears after yelling at my husband in front of our then two year old daughter, fleeting horrible images racing through my head every waking moment, curled in the fetal position rocking back and forth willing myself to stay there so that I wouldn’t hurt myself or my children, and admitted to a psych ward.

The lessons I learned? Absolutely invaluable. While I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone else in the world, I know that it was priceless and has truly carved me into the woman I am today. I know now that I cannot control what others think of me and I cannot give them permission to hurt me. I know now that God is with me and I feel his presence each and every day. I know now that I stand strong and breathe deeply because of His sacrifice for me. And I know that I will not let another family struggle the way mine has if there is something I can do to prevent that from happening.

All that said, my journey and growth is not yet over. Yes, I am recovered. But now it is my husband’s turn  to collapse and my turn to support him, to show him the same compassionate understanding, loyalty, and guidance he showed me when I too couldn’t tell which way was up.

My husband was a drug addict when I met him. At the time I thought it was merely recreational and did not realize how deep his problems went. The use became worse after our second daughter, again, unbeknownst to me. Nine months ago I was involved in a car accident and quite a bit came to surface. He had been spending nearly $100/month on his habit while we were struggling to barely pay our bills. He hadn’t paid our vehicle insurance and I went to jail for his mistake. Together we hammered out a plan and got him to a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a faith-based recovery program. He is still sober today.

But we are now in what we’re calling phase two of recovery. Dealing with the nasty habits the drug use hid and the habits that are residuals of an addict like lying. On November 18th he told myself and his family he had been laid off from work. The Sunday before our son’s first birthday, I phoned his boss to find out if this was true. It wasn’t. He had resigned without another job lined up and lied to us about the entire situation. I played my conversation with his ex-boss for him. He called the state’s Mental Health Crisis Line and had an intake appointment made for him at a local clinic the very next day.

Meanwhile I was left to ponder our marriage. Every single shred of trust that had been rebuilt now lay in shards – descimated by one single act. How could he do this to us? How does someone seemingly forget they have a family to provide for? Why does someone do this? Do I stay and continue to be satisfied with the baby steps forward or do I flee? These are the hard questions I’ve struggled with for most of the past year.

We’ve lost just about everything and yet we still have faith and know that we will come through this – as long as we work at it together – something we both excel at. Give us a crisis and we can power our way through it in now time. This time around is a little harder and I am certainly shaken to my core. We have a lot of hard questions and choices ahead of us but I have no doubt that no matter what the answer is, we will both be able to survive.

The reason I tell you all of this is to ultimately introduce my husband’s new blog to you. It’s entitled Diary of a Real Man. He’s posted his first entry tonight and I would really encourage you to go check it out. Share it with others including any men in your life that may be facing similar circumstances and just need to know that they are not alone.

I would also encourage you to visit Married to Depression for a wife’s insight into what it’s like to live with a man who’s depressed. Another blog I’ve also started reading is The Junky’s Wife. She offers quite a bit of insight into what it’s like to live with an addict.