Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Life Changed...

…the day I told my husband that I had thought about killing myself.

I don’t write this to alarm anyone, I promise that I am okay now.

I am told all the time how “strong” I am. People don’t understand how I juggle so many things and do it well. What no one understood is that underneath all the balls I had in the air, I was crumbling. I never felt like I could talk about how I was feeling, because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. So, I let it pile up so high, that I crashed.

A friend of mine has blogged about her depression for quite some time and I’ve told her how much I admire her for putting it all out there. She encouraged me to write about mine, too, but I just couldn’t. I debated, even now, about putting all this on my blog. I know that many of my family and friends read it and I didn’t want to cause anyone to worry. However, I also know that other people read my blog. I have received emails from people that have told me that they have found a connection to me, through something in my blog. Whether it’s just my funny motherhood stories, the emotional rollercoaster of my miscarriage or the pain of losing Mom…they have found something to connect to. If I can share my story to let another woman know that she isn’t alone in her feelings and it saves her from getting to where I was…then I have succeeded.

I want to stress again, that I am okay. I have a few wonderful people in my life that know now, what has happened and I know that I can talk to them if things ever feel overwhelming again.

Now…for my story.

I have battled depression on and off for as long as I can remember. It’s been worse at certain times and better at other times. I’ve been on medication a few times and for a while it helps…but then I would start feeling so different, that I would stop taking it. I hated the “numb” feeling that it gave me. I wasn’t sad anymore, but I wasn’t happy, either.

My first really bad time was after Luke was born. Looking back, I now know that I had some major post-partum depression. I cried a lot. I slept a lot. I honestly don’t know how I took care of my kids during that time. We had just move to a new area and I really felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt like I had lost all my friends, even though I had only moved a mere ten minutes away. I felt isolated, alone and incredibly sad. Finally, after going on medication again, things picked up for a while and I did fine.

About a year later (so, about two years ago), things started getting really bad again. Some people knew a little bit of what was going on, but most didn’t. Josh and I were having a lot of problems. It’s not something I will get into specifically, but things have been incredibly tense for the last two years. There were times that things would be tolerable, but then the issues would surface again. There were a few times that Josh moved out, while we tried to give each other some space. The “D” word was mentioned more than once, over the last couple years.

During that time is when I was dealing with the custody issues of my niece and also had my miscarriage. That, of course, did not help my depression and the issues between Josh and I came to a head again, right around that time. I just kept spiraling down and letting things get worse and worse. Somehow, right after that, we found out that I was pregnant with Presley. (Contrary to popular belief I do know how I got pregnant with her. Go ahead. Laugh. That was meant to be funny. People love to ask me if I know “what causes that” when they find out how many kids I have.) Let me tell you, it really does only take “just once”. :)

About five months into her pregnancy, I could feel myself sliding back, again. I talked to my doctor and he agreed that going back on medication was a good idea. He told me that if I was already feeling depressed, that the chances of having post-partum depression again was quite high, so it was better to start treating it now.

Being put on bed rest, then in and out of the hospital, trying to be a Mommy to four other kids, having to take a break from school mid-semester, worrying about money from all the missed work, watching Mom’s health decline and then having a premature baby, felt like being punched over and over, from every side. Forget trying to tread water, I couldn’t even find the surface.

I’m not someone who feels comfortable asking for help. I don’t like feeling like I’m putting someone out or making their life more difficult. Thankfully, I have some people in my life who don’t ask if I need help, they just do it, taking away my chance of turning them away. One person in particular has done that several times over the last couple years. She’d randomly show up with dinner on one of “those” nights. She’d call me “out of the blue” to see how I was doing…like someone had magically whispered to her that I need someone to talk to. She watched my kids and cleaned my house, when Mom passed away. She’s like an angel that shows up when I need her, never asking for anything in return.

Mom passing away…that was another blow that hurt like hell. It wasn’t only the pain that I felt, but the pain that I watched my children suffer. It didn’t help that Josh and I were still having problems, so we didn’t even have each other to lean on during that time. One of my best friends was gone and our family dynamic really changed.

Other things have transpired since that time, that again, I won’t specifically get into, that have sent my life through a whirlwind of emotions. Then, we got the notice that Josh was getting laid off. I had had enough. I felt like the whole world was on my shoulders and it was breaking me. I was trying to be a good Mom, working full time, trying to deal with a semester of tough classes, crying over my failed marriage and now this. I was so busy trying to be everything to everyone else…that I forgot about myself.

I know there is a popular phrase, “Fake it, till you make it”, but I had done all the faking that I could. The fake smile that I had plastered on my face for so long, was gone. I actually found myself sitting in my office, reading my life insurance papers, to make sure that the kids would be taken care of.

That same day, I tried to go to school. I must have looked like a mess, because the instant my professor saw me, he asked what was going on. I just told him that it had been “one of those weeks”. A few minutes later one of my fellow classmates saw me and he too, asked me what was going on. About 20 minutes into class, I just couldn’t take sitting there anymore and I quickly packed up my stuff and left. I had hit bottom and I had hit it hard. I was crying and contemplating and just wanted all of my pain to end.

Thankfully, after some time, something made me go home. I knew that I was in big trouble and that these thoughts I was having wasn’t normal. Quite honestly, I was scared. I told Josh everything that I had done and had thought about doing. Two hours later, as I was still crying, I realized that he was still there, holding me. It was like a light switched on and I realized that no matter what we were going through…he was still there and always would be. It was like an instantaneous healing occurred and I said something to him that I haven’t said in well over a year.

“I love you.”

I won’t say that everything is 100% better. Unfortunately, things don’t get better that fast and I know that all of my stress will never go away. However, things have improved a lot. Josh and I have opened the lines of communication, forgiven each other for our past mistakes and are healing our marriage and our family.

I feel so much better, knowing that I have shared my burdens with him and some close friends. I don’t have to do this alone.

I realize now…that I never did.


Wendy said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Leeann. I'm proud of you.

Anonymous said...

I have severe depression and go to a counselor one or two times a month. Life is hard, I am proud of you for taking steps to make it better. You are a strong person!

suebug said...

#1 I knew you were suffering, I didn't know how much, for that I am ETERNALLY sorry that I wasn't more observant.
#2 I am a horrid, awful, terrible friend..I know that know (if you'd even CALL me a friend.)
#3..Thank God you DIDN'T do it, thank God you had friends to TALK to and friends that were THERE for you...and thank God for your love for Josh and his love for you..
#4...I am sorry 1,000 times over, I am sorry for my failure to YOU as a friend.

Andrea said...

You did it! It's hard putting it all out there, but it's even harder pretending that everything is okay.

Healing will come. Like you said, it's already happening. Words can not express how proud I am of you Leeann. You have just opened the door for someone else to come forward with their own pain and to start seeking for healing too.

Know that you are loved. Know that you are valued. Know that you are going to be okay!


Erin said...

im sorry u r going thru all this. hoping 4 brighter days 4 u.


The Lord works in mysterious ways.. Im glad that you didn't do anything. And Im sorry things are so crappy.. But I know they will continue to get better. Now I feel like a boob for whining about being away from Mike for a mere few months.. I am really sorry for all the bad times, but your in my thoughts and prayers ALWAYS.

Jen said...

Leeann, the tears are flowing. You put this all out here and I am beyond amazed at your strength and courage and faith. Yes, I am saying that after reading this. You are an incredible woman and I admire you!

Sharon said...

Leeann, I am so grateful for your life. Your life has touched mine. You have become a good friend of mine, although I doubt that we've ever said more than two words face to face.

Thank you for opening up. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for sharing your secrets. And thank you, thank you, thank you for staying here.

Keep talking. Keep posting. Keep going.

Pam said...

I'm not really sure I know the words to say right now- I' not even sure there are 'right' words. But, I'm going to try.

First- I'm so sorry for all that life has thrown at you. I had no idea you were hurting so much! That saying really is true- 'be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle'. I have read your blog, I have followed you on FB, and I still had no idea. I'm sorry I have been around to comment more or support you more. It was so brave of you to put this out there. I still think you are amazing and I am praying for you and thinking about you!

Mom said...

I sat alone and cried for you Leeann. Just know that I do love you and I'm here for you.

The Dixie Millers said...

All I'm going to say is we love you so so much. If you ever need to vent. I'm always here for you.

Stacy said...

I admire you so much Leeann! I've always admired the honesty in your blog. You're a good example to us all! Thank you and good luck!

Rachel said...

Oh, my dear Leeann....I'm so, so grateful you have such amazing friends who have been there for you. This world would be so gray without you in it.

Please know that I really do love you. ♥

mickey said...

you know me and you know that the tears are a plenty. i knew only what you were comfortable sharing with me and i am grateful to be your friend. i hope you remember our conversation a while back...i told you to wait and the sun would shine again. sometimes the clouds are thick and we have to embrace ever ray of light, until we are bathed in it's warmth.

i too am so grateful you have been blessed with so many wonderful friends and a most wonderful husband who has always been there waiting to cradle you in his arms. the Lord too has cradled you in His's just that we can not always see that, but i hope as you look back you can see His influence in your life.

i love you, nothing will change that. i want you to know i thank the Lord you drove home, thank you for listening. i am so glad you are here with me still. you know how i've suffered thru the years, i am more public about it, and i too have found healing in sharing. thank you my dear friend, thank you.

i love you.

McKell Anderson said...

Leeann, you are an amazing woman. At times, amazing woman need help too. It doesn't make you any less amazing. It makes you human. I am so proud of you for opening up, letting everything out, and for sharing it with your family and the world. I am so grateful you didn't hurt yourself. I am sorry too, I didn't realize how badly you were hurting. I am so sorry. I knew life was getting stressful but I didn't have any idea you were feeling like it was crumbling on top of you. Please do share more about how you are truly feeling. True feelings are way better than fake smiles anyway. Please know that you have a TON of people that love and care for you and your family. Right now I am thinking of the biggest, tightest hug I would be giving you if I were standing at your front door. At the same time I am thanking God and that little angel that helped you realize these feelings aren't healthy. Good for you for letting it all out.

Whitney said...

I won't say that I know exactly what you are going through because I don't, but I have been there. Chris and I have issues that we are constantly ironing out but if things get bad I find myself sliding down the quick slide to depression. I'm proud of you for opening up and talking about it... that is one thing I haven't exactly done yet. I'm glad that things are getting worked out. I love ya!

Nannette said...

Ok Sweetgirl, Are you feeling the love in these comments? You have so many people who care about you so much. You have such impact on everyone's lifes and you don't even realize it. It is a compliment to have someone you love reach out and give you an opportunity to help. You need to give those compliments to the people that love you and there are many. Reach out to all of us when you are in need. You are amazing, but not one of us is invincible. We all need assistance some time. How brave of you to put it down in writing and share it. Some days you just need to do enough - not everything. And, enough is variable day to day. The sun comes up. Keep up the good work and reach out to all of us and allow the LeeAnn Fan Club to do a little to help.

Bethany said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I've had bouts of depression and have also thought about killing myself...I know where you're coming from. I've never attempted to blog about it though, I'm not sure I could do that. I'm grateful to you for sharing.

bequi said...

I'm so glad you didn't kill yourself. Believe me, I know how you've felt. Probably better than a lot of people. But I also know what it's like for the other people when someone commits suicide. As hard as it can be, it's never worth it to make your family suffer like they would.

If you ever need to vent to someone who is unrelated to your everyday life, shoot me a line.