I used to be vibrant. I used to be fearless. I used to be up for any adventure. I used to be the first to introduce myself, to find the good in everything, to welcome everyone in… to sit in the sun, until I didn’t, and everything changed.

There were four other perfect babies that I brought home and none brought with them Postpartum Depression (PPD). Four other babies, and I felt nothing more than a little tired, looking for new confidence as we welcomed the new member. I had heard of PPD, I knew what it was, I even have friends that had suffered with it. After four babies I didn’t think it would ever be something I would encounter.

Everything came crashing down in the middle of one night four weeks after another perfect baby boy was placed in my arms. He was crying again, and nothing I could do would calm him. Our tears flowed together as I cried with him at a loss for what to do. Then something happened. I stopped crying, and the voices started speaking, “If you put him outside you won’t hear him cry,” “If you put a pillow over his head the house will be quiet.” I looked around in a panic to see who was talking to me. I put him down on the couch and looked at the pillows that surrounded us.

For a moment I was brought back to reality, panicking when I looked down and saw the pillow in my hand. Time stopped just long enough to take him upstairs and away from me. I paced the floor, arguing with the voices in my head, trying to understand what was going on. As his crying got louder so did the voices. That night the dog saved me when I tripped over him. I was laying on the floor and in that moment the voices stopped. I walked back upstairs to my sleeping husband and asked him to save both me and the baby.

When I woke up the next morning my world had changed. Something flipped. All I felt was darkness and depression. It was like being shoved in a box; and the more I tried to crawl out the harder I was being shoved in. My once adventuresome soul now preferred to sit at a window watching everything pass by. Meeting new people now scared me; the anxiety I felt was too much to bear. There was a time when I would take my children out every day to enjoy and explore the world around us; now I found comfort in the dark of my closet, where no one else knew of the monster that was in my head. I stopped doing the things that I once loved: writing, photography, running, baking, and blogging. I found solace behind the mask that I wore to hide from the world.

It wasn’t suppose to be like this! I was a good person. I went to church every week, fulfilled my callings, and attended every meeting faithfully. I went to the temple as often as I could. I prayed every night, and I made an effort at reading scriptures between sleeping and feeding a baby. I was doing everything I was ‘suppose’ to but the darkness was ever present.

I thought about writing; something that I had once loved, but the thoughts in my head were angry. The voices were not there, but the negative thoughts and darkness where plentiful. I was so afraid if I talked, or wrote, or even whispered about PPD that the voices would come back. I would shy away from events in fear of having to talk to anyone, fearing that anything I might say would reveal the ugliness that lingered inside me.

The darkness lingered for many months, until a cross country move with my family pushed me out into the light. That light was the beginning of my healing. Slowly, I started forcing myself to leave my house, stepping out of the darkness and embracing the good that is in this world. Being in the sun helped me to see that good is all around. I was given church callings that forced me to talk to people. People were placed in my life that needed me to talk to them, to get to know them. Little by little, I started finding time to do things that had brought me joy, hoping the darkness would continue to lessen. Going on a hike would encourage me to take my camera and start taking pictures again. Inviting someone to our house meant that I had to start cooking again. Step by small step, I kept walking toward the good things; each step into the light was one more step out of the darkness.

As the light continued to shine, I found that a new person was emerging, one that is now shy around people, and would prefer to sit in the back of a room to avoid the crowds. I have a new love of reading, it is something that can be done in solitude. Meeting new people is really hard, but I am slowly allowing myself to open up again.

As this new person continues to step into the light there are things that I am fighting for. After years of being terrified to write, a bishop gave me what I needed; permission to let the darkness out, to write what was being pushed down out of fear that others would know of the darkness that laid dormant inside me. I found writing to be the key to my healing. Letting all the darkness out has been the most freeing thing I have done. I am no longer bound by the thoughts in my head.

Over the years I have changed, but the effects of PPD still linger. I fight to keep the parts of me that I used to like, and I have embraced the new things that have come into my life. I write often to make sense of my life, I take pictures to remind me that I am still here, and I work daily to keep my soul in the sunshine where I thrive.

 

Leah is a Domestic CEO, she has 6 crazy employees that usually are being written up for one thing or another…often times for engaging in warfare with nerf guns during prayers, washing clean clothes because they don’t want to put them away, and eating an entire box of the good cereal in one shot. She has been married to her husband for 17 years and they have been blessed with 5 amazing boys {14, 12, 11, 7, 5}, and a sweet/fierce little girl {3} that brings up the tail end of their crew.

Her day is pretty busy with getting 2 boys to school, homeschooling another 2 boys, taking her 3 year old to preschool, and her daughter is her little shadow every day. She cooks, cleans, entertains and taxis all day. In the quiet moments that she has to myself, she reads, she loves researching things, she is working on improving her photography skills, and trying new recipes…usually deserts.

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