Chat With a Mormon Online
Four years ago, my youngest daughter was born. I knew something was wrong within the first month of life, but it took ten months to get anyone to listen. When she was 7 months it proved too much. Of course there were many other factors but not being heard by doctors, family, or friends was the painful lion's share. I was hospitalized for a postpartum mental illness for a few days. My daughter and I lost many things those months afterward. My sanity was carefully rebuilt while her progress flatlined and eventually plummeted as she regressed into her genetic condition. Between the loss of her sweet voice saying, "Mama" and my lost sense of identity and confidence, I found myself in the deepest darkest abyss I've ever experienced. Slowly, we rebuilt. I wrote, and found myself rising from my own words with a new identity. One with the old battered and broken me valued and treasured just as much as the fragile sense of self that has come afterward. My daughter is a joy to watch and be with. I'm not just saying that. She is one of my best friends, along with my oldest daughter, middle son and haute husband.
After being hospitalized for a postpartum mental condition, I realized that I had a very real choice to make. Because of the nature of my condition, my brain played embarrassing and haunting tricks on me. My brain mimicked many special and sacred experiences from my past-or at least the way that I identified spiritual truth-and presented radical new ideas in a way that I accepted because of my mental state. I am educated with an associates degree and a bachelors degree. I did more prevention than anybody I'd ever talked to. I did not view myself as crazy, and felt that mental illness could not touch me because of my preparedness. It did. That fact was harder to cope with and bear than watching my daughter disintegrate into her spontaneous genetic mutation (your daughter is just as likely as mine was to get it) and lose her ability to walk, talk, use her hands, and eat. I felt that I no longer had any way to be spiritual. I felt dead inside. I wasn't suicidal, what I felt I now dread even more. It hurt to open my eyes, take a breath, and just live. Being alive was painful and agonizing. I wish that I could tell you I was enveloped in Christ's love and was cured after some hours fervent prayer. I wasn't. What did happen was better for me. I talked to mental health professionals. I took the right medicines, and slowly we found a new way to live. I'm a Mormon today because I realized in that deep dark hour, that I could not deny my testimony of Jesus Christ. It did not even bring me comfort in the abyss, but it did decide whether or not I would turn away. My testimony that Jesus Christ knows who I am and loves me is more deeply in my bones than even my sanity. It is who I am. To turn away from that would leave me nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Hope is the intangible aura of pink at the top of the horizon, when light finally wins. I hope for continued bonds to be strengthened to my children and husband.
I believe that prayer was the biggest tool in making my way back from spiritual black out after a postpartum mental illness. It seems so simple, but it is so real. He is there. He cares.
For me, this has taken the form of stepping back from the social media that pulled me out of my depression. It was scary to do. But, facebook, blogging, and twitter all were taking me away from very important interactions with my children and husband. Even though I usually stopped what I was doing, the pull back to the social sites was interfering with my interactions with my family. So, this summer I took the opportunity presented by circumstances and just enveloped myself in the moment. I fell in love with my children again, and my husband remembered that I love him too.
I teach the women's group class once a month about the things our leaders taught us in our church-wide general conference. I also work with the children's leaders to co-ordinate communication with my special needs daughter. I often sit in for the aide that my church has put into her class to help her be a part of her peers as a substitute. I keep track of two ladies from church every month and make sure to report any problems that they need help from the church to the appropriate person. I get to do this with another lady who happens to be a very good friend of mine. I've blogged for two years, and freely incorporate my faith into my writing. I've been able to document my journey back from feeling next to nothing. I'm thankful that I've been able to do that with the support of a community. I prioritize my life to take care of my family.