The Anniversary Effect

Last week it suddenly occurred to me that I was nearing my anniversary – July 26th. For a minute I had forgotten all about it, but on a random Tuesday it hit me and I felt a bit sick to my stomach. Today is the 3-year anniversary of the day I was admitted to the psych hospital for postpartum depression/psychosis.

I like to take this day each year to share parts of this story on the blog, in hopes that it might help or encourage at least one person. For whatever reason, this year it is proving to be particularly hard. It’s like reopening the wound – healing has taken place, so it hurts to go back and poke around inside of it.

For those who are new to my blog, I’ve written a series of posts over the years about my experience with severe postpartum depression, which led me to admitting myself to a psychiatric hospital for a week. My son was only 4 weeks old at the time. If you’re interested in reading them, you can search the tag “Postpartum Depression” and find all the posts I’ve written.

That experience was really what inspired me to start this blog – I wanted to be open and honest about my struggles with depression and anxiety, and use it as a way to let others know they are not alone.

Before writing this next section, I went back and reread all of my previous posts, including a draft that I have not made public yet. There’s so much more to say, so much more to the story that is not complete. Someday I would really like to write all of it out, but it feels too hard today.

Instead, today I would like to focus on the idea of trauma, and healing from psychological trauma. As the days were leading up to this anniversary, I found myself really struggling with a lot of anger. It was coming out (mostly at Dean) but at everything in life really. I had an appointment scheduled with my counselor yesterday, and I came in seething. As we talked, I decided to bring up to her that Friday would be three years since I was admitted to the hospital. I couldn’t even say it out loud without crying. I didn’t realize how much this simple date, July 26th, was really causing havoc to my emotional and mental state.

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Going Home

Today is July 26. It’s my 2-year anniversary. It has been two years since I was admitted to the psych hospital for postpartum depression. I have had this segment of my story written for many months, but had not felt ready to make it public. I feel ready today. 

This post focuses on the day that I was released from the hospital after being inside for a week. If you missed earlier parts of my story and want to read them, you can click on the following links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

It had been a week – an entire week inside a psychiatric hospital. I was pretty sure today was the day I was going to get to go home, although I felt nervous. What if the doctor didn’t deem me “well” enough to leave? What if I was stuck in here forever?

It felt like a game – you had to win over the right people to get out. One being the doctor, the other being your case manager. I remember when Amy came to me that morning and told me I was going to go home. I was so excited – I was going to get out of there!

*Anthony told me I had never looked happier or smiled more than at that moment – it was probably true – I had been quite the recluse, like when I didn’t leave my bed for a few days.

I remember gathering all my things from my provided laundry basket. It wasn’t a lot – I had a few changes of clothes, a few books that I hadn’t read, my toiletries, a few pictures of Calvin that Dean had brought to me … actually it was more than most people had with them. The day I was dropped off, I had nothing except the clothes I was wearing. I was lucky – I had people to bring me more things. But not everyone in here was as lucky.

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“New Patient” Forms

Today was the first gynecology appointment I have had since I had my 6 week postpartum check-up after Calvin was born – so it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve been for one of these kinds of check-ups.

I have a new doctor – my old OB-GYN moved her practice out of Abilene, so I got to fill out all the “new patient” forms today. As I was filling out the forms, I had to answer questions about any past pregnancies, medical conditions, etc., as is typical on these types of forms. I kept waiting for the place where I would have to check that I had experienced postpartum depression. It ended up not being in the context of “postpartum depression,” but there was a spot to check for “anxiety” and “depression,” which I checked because of some obvious history there.

After getting in the exam room, the nurse came in to ask me the typical questions they ask you, even though you just filled out 10 pages of forms in the waiting room.

Nurse – “Did you have any complications during labor?”

Me – “No, labor went great.”(Here it comes, I was thinking – she’s going to ask me if I had any postpartum depression…)

Nurse – “Did you breastfeed your baby?”

Me – “Only for three weeks, and then we started bottle feeding.” (Because I went to the hospital for postpartum depression…)

The question actually never came up, which I was grateful for. I didn’t expect to be triggered as much as I was by a normal gynecology appointment, but I certainly was today. I felt on edge the whole time – and the feelings of guilt and shame have surfaced more today than they have in a while.

It’s weird how suddenly old feelings can come right back with no warning – if you’ve had any sort of traumatic experiences I’m sure you understand the feeling. I know I’m still in a healing process, mentally and emotionally. Please say a quick prayer for me if you get an extra minute today.

All that being said, my new doctor is great – and his RN is a wonderful woman who I got to have a great talk with about wanting a natural pregnancy and labor for any future children I might have someday. I feel confident that I’m with the right doctors to have a safe and pleasant experience if childbirth is in my future again. I’m thankful to God to feel this way – thankful to him for leading me to the right place and people.

And I’m so thankful for my son, Calvin, and my wonderful and supportive husband, Dean. I’ve said it before, but if I could choose to go back and change how my whole pregnancy/birth/postpartum experience went, I wouldn’t. It has taught me a lot, and continues to remind me to have compassion and grace for people. It reminds me that I’m not perfect, and that it’s okay.

Thanks for reading ❤