Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Climb Out of The Darkness :: My Story of Falling and Climbing

Climb Out of The Darkness is an annual fundraiser event to help raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. It was created by Kathrine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress. The goal of the event is to raise both funds and awareness about perinatal and pregnancy mood disorders.

I experienced first hand postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD, which eventually lead to postpartum depression.

It was the first time in my life that I was scared of the dark.

  Dominic's birth was so easy and quick. It truly was a blessed birth and everyone was happy and healthy. I was so high on life that day. Once again, I had given birth to a miraculous little baby who was mine. I concentrated on every little detail. I couldn't get enough of his sweet smell. When he nursed we would stare into each others eyes as I caressed his cheeks and fine baby hair. Everything was perfect. Until 3 days after his birth and something changed inside.

  I felt like my adrenaline was still rushing through my veins. I was wide awake even after days of getting nearly no sleep. I started getting very anxious thoughts, thought about someone hurting him, thoughts about not waking up to crying, thoughts about accidentally dropping him. What if? What if? WHAT IF? Those thought were taking over. I loved him so much, that the fear of losing him was taking over.
 I cried out for help when D was 5 days old. It was a Friday. Black Friday to be exact. I hadn't slept in days and couldn't, I had no appetite, I couldn't even talk without a huge lump in my throat.I was obsessive over nursing, not wanting to sleep in case I missed a feeding, wondering if he was getting enough. Truth be told, he was a fine nurser, while I was the one that was not fine.
The office that I called, a male answered. it took me probably a whole minute to even tell him why I was calling. I dont remember the conversation. Most things around that time were a blur. But he could tell I needed help. He said he could set me up with a counselor in a few weeks. I begged him to try to get me somewhere sooner. He told me he would try. He called me back hours later and told me that I can see someone sooner.
 I seen a counselor that next day. On the way there it was raining so hard. Cold November rain.The only thing we talked about really was other stress in my life, the recent passing of my mother, my fathers recent illnesses, and how to cope when I started feeling OCD or feeling like I have about to have a panic attack. We talked about if I had feeling of hurting myself or him, which I did not. I left there feeling like she had all good intentions, but I still felt alone and ashamed. Why me? Why this? Why now? Was I finally having the big mental breakdown of losing my mother...then almost losing my dad soon after that?
 I never went back to her. I just decided I would "toughen" up and deal. And that what I did. It was a nightmare. I decided to stop breastfeeding, hoping that maybe somehow this would make me feel "normal" again. It did the opposite. I truly 100% believe that stopping breastfeeding threw me in to postpartum depression. I had failed. I was not "mom enough". I longed for the relationship that came along with breastfeeding. Going back to work and helping new moms breastfeed was extremely difficult. Of course I would help, but I would then go and wipe tears away in the bathroom. I was teaching a new mom how to breastfeed, when I myself was a complete failure over it, and not because it hurt, or i didn't produce, but because I was so messed up in the head that I couldn't. I had wished and envied women who stopped because of physical reasons. At least it wasn't their fault.
From the outside, I looked completely happy. While on the inside I was just trying to hang on.

I didn't feel like myself again until Dominic was about 18 months old. What I found was that it was in telling the truth about this emotional struggle that I found peace. I started telling people that I had been dealing with ppd. To my surprise, other women were opening up back to me. This is about the time that I felt the strongest bond with him. We were inseparable. Me, Tony, Cameron and Dominic. We were a perfect family and my heart felt so full.
This was taken around the time that I started to feel "normal" again, and when I realized what I had gone thru and I knew that I would not keep my experience with ppd a secrete anymore. I had climbed out. Strong. Stronger then ever.
Around the same time as above. Looking back, I find it ironic that I actually did climb a mountain ( a small one, but still!).
   I look back, and I cant believe what I went through. The bond between me and my children is as strong as steel, and to just know that that survived ppd is very empowering. I may always look back to those early days, weeks, months and feel a deep sadness that I was dealt the ppd card. Luckily, it is fading. I always try to take the good out of a bad situation, and if I had to pick the good from this one it would be things such as:
  • I'm living proof that a normal women can go through and come out of ppd.
  • I'm open and honest about what I went through.
  • I have personally talked to women in my life who are going though what I did, and I'm able to reassure them that they will be OK. And NO, they are not crazy.
  • I now know where to look for help, whether its me in the future, or for a friend who needs resources.
  • I'm willing to stand up, admit, and volunteer to help any women out there feel less alone.
 What I wish...I wish that someone would have recognized what I was going through. I wish that counselor would have had a special person to refer me to that specialized in postpartum mood disorders. It wasn't her fault, she just wasn't the right person for that topic. I wish there would have been more information given to new moms about ppmood disorders, and what to do, who to call if she felt like she needed the help. I wish there were more support groups for moms here in Jackson.

 Postpartum Progress was a light in the dark woods for me. For the first time, I found a community of women who were going through the same situations, feelings, guilt, struggles as I was. Since then, I have been following her blog.

 This year I have decided to take on a Climb Out of The Darkness event right here in Jackson. I'm still working on all the fine details. I'm hoping to raise $2000, but more importantly raise awareness. Here are my pages for the event, which will be held on June 21st.

Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/COTDJACKSON14
Crowdrise donation page - http://www.crowdrise.com/sarahhalsey-COTD2014/fundraiser/sarahhalsey


  1. You are amazing woman, I have always been so in awe of what a great mother and how organized you are. I am so happy you are feeling better and stronger I just wish you would have had more help when you needed it. {{Hugs}}

  2. Thank you so much for being part of our Climb and for bravely sharing your story Sarah! I know it will help others. ~ K

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