Ocean Waves - An Open Diary
“Save me...someone please save me. I can’t do this anymore.” Those words, specifically that sentence, comes to me more times than I would like them to. It’s depression. My depression. In fact, it’s postpartum depression on top of depression. It. Is. Depression. It’s sneaky, it’s deceiving, it’s a monster. If Satan were to take an emotional form I’m certain this would be it. I’ve never felt so lost in my life; it feels like I’m drowning in my own sorrow, and yet I feel like the act of drowning itself would be so much better. The thought of suffocating in water sounds easier than suffocating in the darkness that engulfs my mind.
My name is Marina Brown. I’m twenty years old, and I've suffered from depression since I was a sophomore in high school. I've always felt sad and lonely for different reasons at different times. Depression is hard because it never goes away. It's always there in the back of your mind waiting for a day when things get too hard. I got married almost two years ago to a really good man. We had our first son three months ago. They both mean the world to me and yet at times it feels like my depression was heightened when they came into my life. It feels like the more blessings I receive from God, the harder Satan tries to take them away from me. I miss out on a lot of things. I cancel a lot of plans. I cry most of the time. Most times it feels like this trial will never end, that no one understands, and I'm doing this all on my own. Most times I can't feel the spirit, and I feel really far away from my Heavenly Father. Most times it feels like I'm not important. Most times it feels like life would be better for everyone without me. You can tell me that those things aren't true. I can tell me that those things aren't true, but to my mind they will most likely always be true. I have a fear of people thinking bad things about me. Things like I'm a mean and terrible person. Or I'm selfish and I only care about myself. That is depression. That is my depression.
The first time I overcame depression was when I was seventeen. The only way that I did overcome it was with God’s help, but now it feels like my depression has consumed me. After giving birth, your hormones get out of balance and if your body can’t balance them on it’s own then you can be in some serious trouble. That’s where postpartum depression comes from, and, for me, it feels like I've been swallowed whole by a darkness and it’s so dark that there’s no room for the light to come through. How can I overcome this unyielding trial when right now it feels like I am somewhere where God can't find me and most importantly where I can't find me. I have a hard time looking forward to fun events because of the panic attacks that I know are waiting just around the corner. Although panic attacks can be expected, they are very hard to control. They take over everything, and they tell you lies. As if someone were lurking in the corner whispering lies right into your ear, but you can’t make them disappear because it's coming from your mind. It becomes exhausting to fight back, and, therefore, I never make it to the events that I wanted to attend. Not only do I become exhausted, but I don't have the desire to go anymore. It feels like I don't deserve to go. It feels like I don't deserve to be happy. You can tell me that you're here for me; you can tell me that I'm not in this alone, but that doesn't change the way I feel. I'll still be scared to reach out to anyone and ask for help. I'll still be scared that I'm not allowed to have help. That is depression. That is my postpartum depression.
* * *
My son is four months old now. That means I’ve been battling postpartum depression for four months now. It’s hard. It is so hard that I actually ended up in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I was in the hospital for two nights and three days. That was a very scary and hard time. Instead of being surrounded by people who love me and want to try and understand me, I was stripped away of that luxury and was locked away in a place that felt like a prison, like I had gone crazy, like I was only there to be laughed at. And the most excruciating part was that I couldn’t see my son. Infants were not allowed into the part of the hospital that I was in. To be separated from the person that I was fighting this battle for broke my heart. I was separated from my family and surrounded by strangers. How could any of these people understand me or even help me? I couldn’t be more far from the truth.
I had so much anxiety when I had first arrived, but it was there that I was able to connect with people just like me. I could finally share my thoughts with people who understood. There were no distractions either. All the time I spent there was for me and only me. A place where I could figure out what was wrong and finally, finally, get the help that I had been longing for. God had certainly answered my prayers. Since then, I’ve started a medication and made certain that I still have therapy every week, but even now it feels like I’m slipping. I am stronger, yes, but I am still frightened. I’m frightened at the thought that the waves of that darkness are pulling me back out to the middle of the sea, coercing, creeping, dwelling on any small, fragile, unkind feeling that slips into my mind.
Depression can be like being caught in an ocean's most fiercest waves. They can slam down on you and push you hard against the seafloor, bruising you, hurting you. You try to come up for air but they keep coming, and coming, and coming. They push you so hard that you either end up being taken by the sea or you get knocked out and slowly float back to the shores of safety. Depression is like the ocean waves.
* * *
My son is nine months old, which means I’ve been battling my postpartum depression for nine months. It’s three in the morning and I just got done feeding my son. He woke up like he usually does, screaming and being a little over-dramatic waiting for me to get his bottle ready. Instead of making his bottle the minute I wake up, I go to the bathroom and take a minute to free my bladder of its fullness because it gets pretty uncomfortable if you hold it while feeding him. After my bladder is free and my mind and my stomach are at ease, I go back in the room to grab the bottle and make it as quickly as I can—but not feeling the urge to panic, just to get the bottle made. Rohan is basically screaming and I gently pick him up and try to calm his cries with soft cooing noises all at the while changing his diaper. He is crying but I change his diaper very swiftly, and then I finally get the bottle to his mouth and he becomes the most content baby you could ever see at three in the morning. I’m feeding him and feeling well rested because I had gotten four hours of sleep in a row and the night before I had only gotten two. I’m sitting there, feeding my baby and feeling relaxed. He finishes his bottle. I set it down and look at him. I look down at my handsome little baby boy. My beautiful son. He’s fast asleep and his lips are pursed just a little from holding the bottle between his lips. His eyelashes stretch to what seems like his cheekbones because they’re so long. His wrists are crossed gently over each other, and I just smile. His eyes are still closed but he gets a huge smile on his face. He must be dreaming of happy things. In that moment, that small but so special moment, I am looking at my son and feeling this overwhelming gratitude for him. I looked at him, and I immediately thought I love my job. For a mom, especially a new mom, I feel like that is one of our goals. To get to the point in motherhood where we can finally look at our children and think to ourselves how wonderful it is to be a mother. For me, that moment was life-changing and wonderful and beautiful and all of the sweet things in between. After dealing with months of anxiety, panic attacks, shaky feelings, and unhappy, dark thoughts, it felt so freeing to not only say those words, but also feel them deep in my heart and having it radiate through my whole body. It cleansed me. It freed me. It saved me. It feels like my savior came up from his bed and looked out on my sea, and calmed it.
I was given a hard trial. A trial so hard that it almost won. But that’s the key word—almost. My trial almost won me. But it didn’t. And for that I am thankful—oh so thankful. I have gotten an appreciation not only for myself and for the task that I took on of becoming a mother. But I have gained a new form of respect for all the mothers out there who have given not only their body to a precious child, but also given their mind, their thoughts, their actions—literally everything. I have gained a side to me that can relate and have an understanding of how hard depression can be for someone else. I have gained a respect and admiration to those who keep on fighting their battle because, unfortunately, I am not the only one who endures this long, hard journey. There are many out there just like me who have been out at sea too long, and who have been engulfed in the stormy waves of the ocean.
For those I have something to say: You are not alone. You have the strength to get through this. If you feel like you can’t and your trial is just too hard, DON’T GIVE UP! Let the Savior in. Go to Him, and He will surely calm your seas. He can bring you home. He can keep you safe. Sometimes it feels like we cannot control our oceans—the storms that oftentimes wipe us out—but He can. Our Savior can. It’s time to calm the sea that has been raging on for far too long.