How I Confronted My Depression Head On

Image via Flickr/ Michael Summers

I believe it was around the one month mark of Jackson's stay in the NICU when I finally broke down.

Up until that point, I had been bottling up all of my emotions. Because of his aspiration issues, all of his feeds had to be given via his feeding tube, which meant no breastfeeding, so I was pumping like a mad woman, and getting practically nothing. That was incredibly frustrating, since it was the one thing I should have been able to do, as a mother, to help him deal with his medical issues.

In addition, I was getting no sleep. Either I was at the hospital with my son, missing my daughter, or I was at my parents house with my daughter, missing my son. The guilt: wow. The guilt was overpowering. 

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My husband and I would see each other for 20 minutes at most as we switched off shifts in the hospital lobby. A quick update on the kids, a long hug, and a peck on the lips; that was the extent of our relationship at that point.

Each day they seemed to find new things wrong with him: a malfunctioning airway, a small nerve causing slight paralysis of his face … the list kept getting longer and longer, and my capacity to handle everything grew weaker and weaker.

One afternoon, after my husband had kissed me goodbye in the lobby, I trudged through the parking garage to my car. As the door swung shut, and I was alone, out it came. All of it. All of my fears, my guilt, my anxiety, my frustration, my exhaustion; it came tumbling out of me in one giant sob-fest. I was ugly crying, and it wasn't because I was reading The Fault In Our Stars.

My own life was causing me to ugly cry.

I sat in my car for nearly an hour and let the tears pour out of me. I came to a stopping point and sat there, catching my breath, before putting the car in reverse. When I reached the parking attendant booth to pay, she asked, in a deeply concerned voice, “Are you okay?”

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror, and my image shocked me. Mascara darkened my cheeks, and my eyes were puffy, red and round. I looked like someone had just given me a beating, and, to be honest, I felt like it, too.

That's the moment I decided to seek help. Clearly, this was too much to handle on my own, and I couldn't continue on like this. Both of my kids needed me to be strong, and that wasn't something I couldn't do anymore.

So, yes, I saw a doctor and was prescribed a combination depression/anti-anxiety medication. It took a few weeks, but I slowly began to feel more balanced, and less roller coaster-like.

That's not to say I still didn't have rough days, or that I didn't cry. The medication didn't numb me; it just helped me get up each day knowing that I would be able to push through whatever came our way.

Last week, my Jackson had open heart surgery, and, I won't lie, it was the roughest day of my life– and my husband has been to combat zones three times, so that's saying a lot. I cried, I was anxious, and I thought those torturous hours while he was under anesthesia, his chest open and exposed, would never end.

But, I kept it together, and my husband and I, as a team, stood hand in hand as they wheeled him past us to the cardiac ICU after surgery. We had made it.

All I needed was a little bit of help to get my emotions to a place where I could manage them.

And, there is absolutely no shame in that.

What do you think?

How I Confronted My Depression Head On

Rachel is a stay-at-home-mom to her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and her 18-month-old son, Jackson. Her writing can be found all over the web, mostly detailing her own parenting struggles and triumphs, as well as her life as the military spouse of an active-duty airman. She also writes about her life as as a special needs parent on her blog, Tales From the Plastic Crib, and spends an unnecessary amount of time on Twitter. ... More

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