Monday, February 13, 2012

Part II: In which I run away from home

Before I continue my story, I would like to note that I have Chris’s full support and encouragement in writing down and publishing my story for so many people to read. It is a very personal story that goes far beyond myself alone, with many details that greatly affect our family life—our home, our children, and especially the relationship between Chris and myself. I would not write this if he was uncomfortable about it in any way.

Love you, Christopher.

It probably goes without saying, but I would also like to mention that this story is mine. I know that many people have struggled with depression, postpartum depression, and trauma—even if they didn’t know it at the time. Many of the details will sound familiar. I don’t proclaim to know all there is to know about PPD or PTSD, however. I have no college degree or professional training to give me any kind of authority on the subject. This is not the writing of an expert. Please don’t take it as such. It’s just my story.

In my experience, there are two very difficult aspects of dealing with PPD:

1. How you feel
2. What you think about how you feel

Honestly, it’s a toss-up on which has actually been harder to work through for me.

How I felt…

This is one of the harder things for me to write about. Not necessarily because I have a hard time describing the feelings, but more to the point, I have a hard time remembering the feelings. I was so far down, I did not have a clear perspective of myself or anything going on around me. This is one part of the story that Chris was more aware of than me, I think.

Looking back now, I know how bad it really was. I managed to get up every day, but I only got dressed because I didn’t want to walk around in my underwear all day. I only showered every once in a while—it didn’t matter to me because I never left the house. 95% of my day was spent sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the computer or mindlessly watching PBS with the kids. Hour upon hour upon hour, I never moved more than a few feet—from one end of the couch to the other and back. Every few hours, I might make it as far as the kitchen or bathroom. Maybe.

My mind was completely numb. I had moments of lucidity in which I realized how unhappy I felt and how out of control of my life I was, but for the most part, I just didn’t even notice. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I was really angry, but when I could manage it, I didn’t think or feel anything. I just existed—it was too hard to do anything else.

This time was obviously hardest on Chris and the kids. My poor kids! Jane was essentially responsible for feeding her and Megan all day. They lived on bread or toast, goldfish crackers, and whatever fruit Megan managed to dig out of the drawers of the fridge. On good days, I would microwave some chicken nuggets or corn dogs. On bad days, I have no idea what they ate.

There finally came a point—I have no idea when, really—that I could no longer stand being in my house. I would suddenly have an intense and insatiable need to be gone. With no warning, I would fly into a fury of packing, loading up a diaper bag, making a bottle, finding shoes and coats. Within moments, my kids and I would all be loaded in the van and we would drive away.

It’s not that I had anywhere to go. I just drove. No one could get into any trouble if they were securely buckled into the five-point harnesses of the car seats. If I turned the radio up loud enough I couldn’t hear them talking to me. And, if I was lucky, they would all fall asleep anyway.

Interstate 215 through the Salt Lake Valley is a wonderful thing. I could drive and drive and drive without ever getting more than 10 or 15 miles away from home. I once detoured to Park City, and another time we actually made it as far as Logan. In four months, I single-handedly put over 1,000 miles on my van having only left the valley twice. That car was my sanctuary when I had no escape.

This could only go on so long, though. There were other, much darker and stronger, emotions at work. I refer, of course, to the trauma. This is not that post, however; those details must wait still. But suffice now to say that there came a day when I could no longer guarantee the safety of my children when left solely in my care.

Do you have any idea how terrifying such a realization is? The honest acknowledgment that your children, your own children, would be better cared for by someone else? That they truly are not safe with their mother?

Enter Amy.


Jen said...

Hey Laura- I just wanted to say "Thank you for sharing." I also wanted to say, "I get it." I obviously have different experiences than you, but I understand the realness of what you are saying in these posts about your PPD. I absolutely get it. I can't share my experiences on a public blog, because of the offense it could cause to those I love, but I'm glad that you can write about it (very efficiently I might add). You have inspired me. So, thank you!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh Laura - that hurts my heart. I wish I lived closer and I could have been there/could be there for you during this time.

You are amazing. I should know that.

Megan said...

Laura you are an amazingly strong woman!

Nancy Hicks said...

I enjoy your blog so much...thanks for being so open and honest, your amazing!! I love you.

Liz, Karl, Madison, Brooklyn and Aubrey said...

:( I still wish I would have known this was all going on. I could have taken your kids from you! I mean not forever but to help you get a break. :)

Janneke said...

I am so glad you have Christopher's support, Laura! What an amazing blessing to have a wonderful husband by your side. You are strong and you are amazing for sharing your journey.

Cindy St. Clair said...

Laura, you've got both my husband and I reading your journey! Thank you for sharing. I'm sure it's not an easy thing to be this open, but had I not heard your story, I don't think I ever would truly know what PPD is. If you ever need anything, I don't live far!

Keep being the strong woman you are! You are still the glue that holds your family tight. :)

Rebecca said...

Oh this breaks my heart, Laura. One because I had no idea and two because there's probably other friends of mine who are going through/went through this without me ever even knowing. Thanks for sharing this journey. You are an amazing person. I hope you know that!

Meghann said...

Sweet friend of mine, I have no words. I just want you to know I'm reading. (((hugs)))