The $11 a month that changed my life

It’s not often that I get nervous about writing a post, but I’m pretty nervous about this one. Worried about judgement and criticism. What I’m writing can be very controversial, especially in the Christian realm. However, if my experience will help anyone, I am very happy to share it.

What is this big, scary topic you ask?
Postpartum depression and anti-depressants.
The $11 a month that changed my life
For some reason, no one gets chided for taking medicine for headache/stomachache/diabetes/cancer, but when it comes to the mental and emotional realm, it just isn’t as readily accepted. And that just isn’t right.




Let me tell you my story. You see, I’ve had four children. I’d never suffered postpartum depression and anxiety until my last baby was born in November of 2012. Sure I’d had a very hard time when my first son was born because he was sick much of his first year and we were in and out of the hospital a lot, but I felt like that was more situational than anything and I was able to come out of it fairly quickly.

I truly didn’t understand PPD before, but I am here to tell you sisters, it. is. real.

(You may also like: Establishing Family Traditions)

When Canaan was 6 weeks old, I went to my follow up appointment with my OB/GYN. I was going to a different office than I usually go to and couldn’t find it. I feel like I had the first panic attack of my life that day and was very ugly to my husband on the phone as he was trying to look it up for me.

I did make it to the doctor, but that situation really shook me up. When the doctor came in to see me, her first question was, “How are you doing?” and I quickly became a puddle of tears. She sweetly hugged me and after getting more information, suggested that I start taking an anti-depressant, especially since it wasn’t right after birth and I was still obviously having a very hard time.

 

She wrote the prescription. I got it filled. And I let it sit in my cabinet for several months. I was nursing Canaan (and still am) so I researched natural options. I began taking fish oil several times a day and did see an improvement in my mood. I still felt like I was barely hanging on, but I was hanging on nonetheless.

How spending $11 a month changed my life!

Then March rolled around. Shortly after a very fun, but exhausting, family vacation, my grandfather died after being diagnosed with cancer only 10 weeks before. Canaan still wasn’t sleeping through the night, we were away from home a lot for the funeral- in short, I was exhausted both physically and emotionally.

Still, I didn’t take the medicine. I guess it was pride, plus a little nervousness because I was still nursing. I researched a lot and found that the medicine I was prescribed seems safest for breastfeeding, so I kept it in the back of my mind- and my cabinet!

with little Canaan the day he was born.

Then May rolled around. I had just lost my Papa in March and my grandma was very, very close to dying as well. Our dog we’d had for almost 12 years- our whole marriage- was also dying. I spent an entire Saturday crying because I was away from my family and none of our friends were able hang out.

The next day, for the first time since planting our church, I stayed home from church purely for emotional reasons. I knew that I would be a basket case the whole time so Ben took the older 3 kids to church and Canaan and I stayed home.

At that point Ben began really praying for me and getting a few others to pray as well. (Did I mention I was pretty good at hiding all of this? Only a very few people know I was struggling.)

The whole next week was a bad one. I think on that Wednesday I finally decided to start taking the medicine.

That Friday morning, my doorbell rang and my husband told me it was one of the neighbors to see me. Instead, when I opened the door, it was one of my best friends from my hometown! Ben had called her to come visit me and cheer me up. We had a very good weekend of counseling (on her part), healing (on my part) and eating (on both of our parts.)


Through talking to her, I realized that my expectations in some areas were way too high, and that’s why I was getting disappointed and upset about some situations. Additionally, the medicine began to get in my system and I slowly began to feel better. I began to pray in earnest that God would change me- it wasn’t fair for anyone in my life, especially my family, for me to hold them to impossible standards.

I also realized that I was holding myself to impossible standards as well. I have four children, am a pastor’s wife, homeschool two of my children, have a baby that is just now beginning to sleep through the night, lost both of my grandparents in 11 weeks time (my grandma died on June 8), and we did lose our dog in May. Yet I wanted to carry on as if everything was normal, when in fact, everything was just.too.much. 

But God is faithful. He is so faithful. Through the last few months, I have grown closer to him than I have been in a very long time. Coming out of the postpartum fog has made me even more grateful for my family (and a very patient husband!).

Did I think through and pray about taking this medicine? Absolutely. Believe me, it was a HUGE deal for me to start this medication. I rarely even take Tylenol, and I give the pediatrician a million questions before I give my children any new medications.

But. When I felt like I wasn’t myself for so long, and there is something that would help- for $11 a month!- it began to seem foolish to not take it.

Is my life perfect now? No. I still grieve over my grandparents and get impatient with my children. But that is normal, that is healthy. What I had wasn’t normal or healthy.

I don’t plan on being on this medication forever, but for now I (and my husband!) are so thankful that it is available. My sincere hope that this post will give someone else the courage to do whatever it is they need to do to help with their depression. (Read also my friend Paula’s ongoing battle with depression. You are not alone!)

Have you had to make a hard decision that worked out well for you?
If you’ve suffered emotionally too, what advice do you have for others?
The $11 a month that changed my life- struggling with postpartum depression
 
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About Kelli Hays

Kelli Hays is a wife, mother, writer, and friend. She has been blogging since 2008 and loves sharing inspiration for the everyday woman!

Comments

  1. Good for you. God Bless. Hugs, Marty

  2. Oh Kelli!!! I love you:). You know my story! Thank you for posting this… Still working through mine, but you’re right God is faithful and I needed that reminder today as they wean me off some of my meds and that is always a hard process.

  3. Thank you so much Marty. xoxo

  4. I love you too! How are you feeling so far? Praying for you Kristie!

  5. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. I have suffered from depression over the years and have often had to use medicine to help me through. It is hard, like you said, your pride gets in the way. But staying faithful is so important and knowing that there is always hope and help.

  6. I’m sorry for the loss of your grandparents! A few years ago my husband and I lost everything our jobs, home, cars, retirement and almost all of our household furnishings due to the economy, so I know about depression. Like you I’m not a big fan of taking medication, however had we had the means during that period of our lives I think I would have taken an anti-depressant.

  7. You’ve had such a rough time, but also have so much to be grateful for. I think you need to do what you need to do to get through the trying times in life – everybody needs help now and then, now matter what kind it is…good for you!

  8. I take fish oil and high doses of vitamin D3 to handle my emotional sate.

  9. I’m glad you chose to share! I think things that we think have stigmas become less so when more share them. (I have a son with autism, but because he’s ‘so verbal,’ people tend to make judgments, so I know how it goes to worry about the Judgey McJudgeys out there, but you know what you need and what’s true, and that’s all that matters!)

  10. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s so hard talking about topics that seem taboo. But I don’t think anything we struggle with should be a taboo subject. I went through years of infertility and suffered though 4 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy. I was very open about it which bothered the older generation. I heard things like “in my day women didn’t talk about things like this.” But I’m glad I did, it allowed the people around me to know that I was struggling and people quit asking me why we weren’t stating a family yet. I imagine you felt alone hiding your struggles and I hope your story will help someone else not feel so alone.

  11. You are so brave to share this story. As someone who struggled in the first place to take the medicine, I’m sure you struggled whether to share your journey. But we all have our issues and you should be applauded for sharing your so others who struggle can ask questions and not feel alone. I’m glad you are doing so much better and continued good health to you!
    xo ~kim & chloe

  12. So glad that you shared such a personal story. If more people would open up about the depression, they wold see that there are more people who have the same thoughts and feelings. It is great to find a support system, and the only way you can do that is by telling people. Goog for you!

  13. During the time I was a pastor’s wife, I too had many things happen like you described that threw me into an emotional tailspin. I was able to hold it together publicly, but inside I struggled to maintain my life in the fast lane – rearing 15 kids, most of whom were special needs adopted, working full-time in the school along with all the other demands on my time. You know how it goes in the ministry – every minute of your time is scheduled and perfection from you and our family is demanded. It’s good you shared your story. No one can judge if they’ve not lived your life. I started a blog years ago to help with the stress. Keep it up! Here is my personal blog if you’re interested: http://www.momofmany.wordpress.com. Here is my newest one: http://www.lovemydiyhome.com. Blessings!

  14. I think we all have hard times we go through and sometimes we need something to help get us through. No shame there. Why do people judge anyway. It’s no one’s business. Thank you for sharing your story.

  15. All of us at some point fell that we are just holding on. Because of all the uneasiness in life you should never feel that you can’t talk to someone about what you feel. I tell my best friend more about how I feel about all the crap in my life than I tell my husband. Just to get it off my chest makes my sprit lighter.

  16. I am so glad that you actually decided to take the medication. So many people don’t because they are worried about what other’s will think. Glad you are feeling better!

  17. This is a great post. I too suffered from PPD after my daughter was born. I have been on meds since and have no regrets. Good luck to you.

  18. I didn’t suffer from PPD with my son, but I did have a few months a couple years ago where I had really bad anxiety. Its not an easy choice to take the medicine because you don’t want people to think of you that way. Glad you are dong better!

  19. Thanks so much Amber! It seems like a lot of us suffer emotionally at some point or another, and I’m so glad there’s help!

  20. Thanks Remona for the encouragement. I am glad you are feeling better, too! How old is your daughter?

  21. Thank you so much Annie! It definitely has made such a difference for me.

  22. Sorry you have been through so much, but you’re a mother of 4 and you’re doing fabulously well! I’m glad you’re feeling better now. My mum had 4 and as I’m the eldest, I remember how she would struggle sometimes. You’re doing such a great job. I have never suffered PPD before with my two boys, but I’m not going to rule it out and will take the necessary action when I feel like I am depressed.

    I don’t know why you thought people would chastise you for this post! You’re doing the right thing for you, don’t let anyone else tell you different.

    It would be awesome if I could share your post with my new free magazine for parents as I think it’s a fab way to raise awareness and support other mums going through the same things as you.

    Best of luck

    Leyla
    http://www.motherhooddiaries.com

    xx

  23. Good for you for having the strength to take the medicine you needed and tell others your story. None of us are perfect. Life is hard, Loss is painful, and parenting can be downright hard. Kudos to you for managing so much–your children’s schooling and well being is incredible. So sorry for the loss of your grandparents and dog.

  24. I do understand depression. I’ve been there for sure. My escape out of it was fitness (you can read this post if you want my story —> http://bit.ly/16CRB4Z) but if I hadn’t found fitness when I did I would’ve taken meds. You are doing the right thing for your family. Keep up the hard work!!! :-)

  25. Sounds like a similar story to mine. I was in a fog after my third baby and it took me a year to get any meds. I’m so thankful for people like you wiling to share your story.

  26. Oh wow…you have been through a lot recently! I’m so thankful that you spoke out about taking anti-depressants. And I’m so glad that they are helping you right now. Sounds like you did the right thing!

  27. I struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of my first son. You are right. It is very real. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain. I would in no way judge you for taking anti-depressants. For me, they didn’t work. I felt worse. If I’d taken them longer, they may have helped, but honestly I felt so awful after the first day that I couldn’t take another one. After trying two different pills, I went to a Christian therapist and found that just talking through some of the issues I was having helped tremendously. Everyone is different. Glad you’re getting through it and thanks for sharing.

  28. Abby, I am so glad talking to a therapist worked for you! Good for you for seeking help. And yes- my doctor warned me that the first few days on the pills would make me a bit worse, and she was right! How old are your kiddos?

  29. Thank you Krissa! It feels good to be back to the old me! xoxo

  30. Holly, how are you feeling now? I am so blessed to share my story in order to help others. xoxo

  31. sarah, I DO want to read your story! I have been working out like crazy and I am sure that helps my mood as well! Thanks for sharing!

  32. Thanks so much Kim. It was a rough 6 months or so but I am so thankful I feeling like my old self. And you’re right, parenting can be downright hard!

  33. Leyla, please feel free to share my post! Is your magazine on your blog? I’d love to spread the word because I think so many women feel like they suffer from PPD alone, when in fact, it seems to be common.
    xoxo

  34. Thanks Deedra- talking to my friends is definitely a way to feel better!

  35. Laurie, thanks for the encouragement.

  36. Thanks so much DeDe. I felt like, especially because I am a pastor’s wife, that people feel like they always have to hold it together in front of me. But I am just a “regular” person with regular problems and I know now that lots of people suffer from PPD. Thanks for your encouragement!

  37. Thanks for your sweet words, Kim and Chloe. It was hard to open up, but I have SO many people share their own stories and I am just thankful to be able to start conversations with others who are struggling.
    xoxo

  38. I appreciate you sharing this, and your courage to understand what your body needed. It sounds like you did what was best for you and your family. While I’ve never been in your situation, it’s encouraging to know that you have found a place/solution that works for you.

  39. Oh, I am so, so sorry about your losses of your babies. And I’m sorry about people who were insensitive to your struggle. I went to a women’s conference earlier this year and the speaker asked all those in attendance who had lost a child- whether through miscarriage or after birth- and the response was enormous. Thanks for sharing your story

  40. Kelli, my boys are 5 and 22 months. They keep me very busy. :-)

  41. I’m so glad you had the courage to share this. We all have different struggles and just because I’m not going through the same thing you are doesn’t mean that your struggle is any less important than mine.

    I struggled with giving two of my daughter’s daily meds that I didn’t want them to have to be on, but after a lot of prayer and thought I felt that it was what they needed (one has OCD and the other has ADD). My 17yo that is on medication for her OCD is getting so much better and she is learning to cope with her challenges and change her behaviors. I’m also grateful for the help that these meds have given her. They have helped her be a normal teenager.

    I feel that you are doing what is best for you and your family and that’s what really matters. The Lord expects us to do what we can for ourselves and then He’ll make up the rest. May He continue to bless you and your family. (((Hugs)))

  42. I had a baby almost 5 months ago and I have what I call the baby blahs. I’m overwhelmed by everything and there are days I feel like I am barely hanging on. I have considered therapy and than I have a couple of days where I feel “normal” so I think it’s getting better. My biggest concern is if I take meds will I still feel like me? Will I be out of it?

    I am glad it’s working for you. My head was spinning reading all you had on your plate. Btw I think it’s awesome you are homeschooling. What really resonated with me from your post was that you had such high expectations. I’m slowly learning to let go.

  43. Great honest post! I never suffered from postpartum depression or any depression for that matter but I have friends and family that have. I remember this past winter watching a “facebook” friend suffer through postpartum depression and cry out for help on Facebook. I live 3,000 miles away from her and had never met her in person ( a friend of a friend) and it was awkward but I knew she needed medication. Although people suggested medication to her, she resisted. I don’t really like Facebook and I don’t believe things like this should be played out there, but it did. I did reach out to her mother privately and connected her with a few people that I knew. Her daughter did connect also and decided to go on medication and found that it really helped her. Things are good for her now and with the supervision of her doctor, she will probably discontinuing the medications in a month or so.

  44. People are way too judgmental about areas in which they have no knowledge. I am glad you got some help. If you had had a broken leg and not treated it, people would have been really encouraging you to fix it and fast!

  45. Great post! I totally agree that anti-depressants are making such a difference in my life. I think it’s much healthier for kids to have a more even-keeled Mama than it is to have one that struggles daily with emotions. You’re making the right decision for your family and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  46. My mom suffered from post partum depression after my sister was born so I do believe it is real. It just takes time and your mood will eventually go back to normal.

  47. You did what was best for you and your family. Mental illness is not something people should be made to feel guilty about. It is just the same as other illness, not a dirty secret. I believe prayer can do a lot but you suffered many losses in a short time. I wish others would take the meds they need and the world would be a better place.

  48. Peg that is so true. There is such a stigma associated with it for some reason but there just shouldn’t be. Thanks for stopping by!

  49. Oh wow no I have not heard of that! Is it the hormones in the placenta that help? And I love what you said- God does delight in healing us! So thankful for grace!

  50. Thanks Dianna! I am feeling so much better. Thanks for stopping by!

  51. Absolutely! Thanks for your encouraging words. Xoxo

  52. When I had #3, I had PPD BAD. I actually tried to smother him with my breast. Which is laughable with my tiny size B bra size, but still…the intent was there. Never be ashamed to need some help.

  53. We were going through a lot of life stuff that coincided with N’s birth and what I know NOW is that I had PPD but no one caught onto it. Life just seemed very hard and not filled with the joy I had expected after having our precious little girl but instead of dealing with the emotions I had, I just plastered a smile on my face and kept moving. I wish I had let my tears out when my doctor and N’s pediatrician both asked if I was doing okay. I guess they picked up on something but since I wasn’t forthright with how I was feeling, I was never diagnosed or offered help. A few very good friends offered their support and eventually, after N started sleeping through the night and life in general settled down, I began to feel normal-ish again.

    Thank you for being honest, mama. <3 Hugs!

  54. Thank you for sharing this! I haven’t had kids, yet and I didn’t even know post partum depression was a thing until one of my friends told me about hers. It is very scary and very real and I appreciate you being honest about it, so that other women can be honest about it, as well!

  55. First of all, dear Kelli, thanks for sharing. I’m sad that I didn’t know you were going through such a hard time, but I applaud you for being brave.

    So maybe this is crazy since I have said I wouldn’t tell people, but I did actually take my placenta also after my homebirth. Not sure if it helped in any spectacular way, but my postpartum recovery was normal. I wonder if anyone has ever been able to persuade a hospital to allow a C-section patient to take home her placenta.

  56. Yes, it is supposed to be the hormones in the placenta that help.

  57. I applaud you for both your honesty and bravery in sharing your story with everyone. There is so much stigma that surrounds mental health issues and the world needs more Voices like yours in it. God did put his faith in you – he led you to a kind, compassionate doctor that listened to you and gave you what you needed to carry on. :)

  58. When I had my children, I suffered from fairly mild postpartum depression. After the birth of one child, we had a situation where I told my husband that, if he didn’t get his grandmother out of my house I would divorce him. (Long story as to why she was there.) My mother was a devout believer all her live, but suffered from depression in her final years. Medication helped her a lot. When you realize the stress levels you were under with a birth, 3 deaths (animals become part of our families) and life in general, you cannot be faulted if you ran into problems. Do not be ashamed or feel judged that you needed medication to help you. Glad you are doing well.

  59. Thank you so much for your sweet words. I can understand not wanting anyone else living with you when you just had a baby! Enough stress already!

  60. Thank you so much for your encouragement! xoxo

  61. Thanks Krista for your encouraging words! xoxo

  62. Yes sleep most definitely helps! I had the privilege of spending 2 of my grandfather’s last 3 nights at their house helping to care for him, but between caring for both of them and still nursing Canaan, I got zero sleep. That’s probably when the downward spiral began.
    Love you girl!

  63. Oh Amy I am so sorry. It’s amazing how such a joyous occasion can make us think strange things!

  64. Holly this is so true! Thanks for your kind words!

  65. Pam that is wonderful that you helped someone you didn’t even personally know! Kudos to you for recognizing it! xoxo

  66. Sara, I know everyone is different but I definitely feel like myself. The first 2-3 days were bad, but it takes that long for lots of medications to “get into your system.” I am on a very small dose and did try to up it at my doctor’s suggestion, but I did feel weird then. So I went back down and feel great. No foggy feeling or anything.
    Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any more questions!

  67. Rachelle, thank you SO much for sharing. I am glad that your daughters are doing better. Medicine really can be a miracle worker!
    xoxo

  68. Definitely! A combination of all of those is definitely what helped me through. xoxo

  69. Thank you for your kind words Becky!

  70. Val, wow 15 kids! I’m not busy at all compared to you! I am definitely going to check out your blog to get tips. It’s so nice to hear from another pastor’s wife! xoxo

  71. I totally understand. I went through a stage of PPD after having my daughter. I didn’t understand at the time, but it was hard. I think that you need to do what is best for you and what The Lord leads you to do. I pray that you be healed quickly and be filled with joy!

  72. I have been on antidepressants since I was around 24. I’m 35 now. I can say that they have helped me tremendously. My grandmother dealt with depression and I figure that it’s hereditary. Mental illness has been stigmatized so much and that’s why so many people don’t get help. Unless someone has had depression, they have no clue what it’s like. Yet, those are the very people who will judge someone for taking antidepressants.

    Kudos to you for getting the help you needed and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it!

    http://southernpixie.com/color-run-2/

  73. So glad you were able to start feeling better! I had PPD with only one of my 8 children, and yes, it is very different!
    –Gena

  74. God bless you for sharing your story. It seems that even in today’s time, this is a taboo subject.

    As for a difficult decision I had to make…I decided to leave my job at a place I had worked for over ten years. It was not an easy decision and it was one that I had been putting off. I didn’t have another job lined up, but trusted that God would take care of me. It was totally a step of faith. And of course, He has been taking care of me and my family all along!

  75. I was lucky enough not to have to deal with PPD with any of my kids, but I know women who did, and it definitely is real. This is so brave of you to talk so openly about this!

  76. I just wanted to say that I’m so proud of you for sharing your story and opening up about PPD. I know God is using you!

  77. Darlin’ I’m so sorry to hear that you had to suffer with depression. It is so debilitating. But God works in mysterious ways. You have what you need to be the Mom and wife you want to be now. I had a hard time overcoming my own barriers to start taking my anti-depressant but it has been such a blessing to me. It is worth every penny and then some, to feel normal again. You recognized there was a problem and you are taking action to over come it. With a prayer in your heart and your husband by your side I know you can do anything!

  78. I have taken an antidepressant for years and have no plans to quit. Just like someone needs glasses to help them see well, my body needs help to keep my mood positive. There shouldn’t be such a stigma attached to it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Welcome to day 5 of 31 Days of Financial Savvy! I honestly cannot believe it’s October 5. Seriously, where has 2013 gone? Can’t say I’m sad to see it leave though- it’s been a hard year for our family! […]

  2. […] The $11 A Month That Changed My Life — Eat Pray Read Love Kelli writes about the fear of getting treated for PPD because of her Christian faith. […]

  3. […] one struck a chord with many women- the $11 a Month that Changed My Life. It’s about my journey through post-partum depression and how I got […]

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