Love and Marriage, Week 2

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 23 Comments A+ a-

This week we’re talking about trials we’ve dealt with in/during our marriages.

LoveMarriage4Jon and I have dealt with many trials throughout our marriage.  Some short-term, those that had a beginning and an end.  Some of those included: dealing with Jon’s parents divorce during our first years of marriage, living with roommates, the death of my grandmother, extended family fights, our own fights that couldn't be resolved in a day, etc. 

We’ve dealt with ongoing trials, such as our finances.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re both spenders, and it can lead to some lean times.  I won’t even bore you with some of the more hair-raising financial decisions from our earlier years, but one thing you won’t find here, financial advice.  My sister jokes that we’re the poster children for what NOT to do with finances, and she’d be right.  We’ve gotten better, but still have a long way to go.

But there is something I need to talk about this week.  Its not pretty, its seldom discussed, and I knew the minute this came to mind that I needed to write about this… post partum depression. 

(Side note.  I’d intended to write about post-partum depression all along.  But with the recent, tragic death of Rick Warren’s son, and beautiful posts by Beth Moore and Ann Voskamp, this seems most timely.)

Before I jump in with my story, I’d like to preface with a few bullet points:

  • Post partum depression is not baby blues.  As your hormones start to even out after giving birth, some will experience the highs and lows called baby blues.  It can last up to a month, but this is not post partum depression.
  • Post partum depression does not look the same for everyone, or look the same after every child.
  • Post partum depression does not make you less of a mother, a woman, or a Christian.
  • Post partum depression does not make you weak.
  • Post partum depression doesn’t make you ungrateful.  I was still very aware of the blessings of my beautiful babes in the midst of the depression.

When Devyn was six months old, I started sleeping all the time.  ALL the time.  I chalked it up to having a baby and being awakened several times a night for feedings.  I honestly didn’t see anything wrong with my behavior, I was genuinely tired.  But Jon felt there was something wrong and he approached me with concern in his eyes.

“Jenn, something’s not right.  I think you need to go to the doctor.”

I was startled but agreed to go see my doctor.  Jon went with me.  As the doctor asked me question after question, my eyes started glazing over and Jon stepped in to answer the questions for me.  Her diagnosis?  Post-partum depression.  I was given a low dose of antidepressants and Jon was charged with watching me closely over the next few weeks.  Within a matter of about 10 days, I started feeling like my old self again.  I had energy and I was ready to tackle my to-do lists.  I was ME.  My doctor weaned me off the meds soon after Devyn turned a year old and I was doing well! 

About six months later, I got pregnant with Hudson and my doctor and I came up with a plan of action for my post-partum depression.  I started on the same low dose in the hospital after he was born.  And for six months, the meds did their job.

Then I got cocky.   Since I was feeling so good “I must not need them any longer,” I thought to myself.  And I took myself off the meds.

BAD IDEA.  I highly, highly suggest never doing this.  It quickly became apparent that it had been a bad decision and I started taking them again.

However, the damage had been done.  And this is where things went from bad to worse.

I’ve never been in such a dark place as I was during this time.  Every single task took so much energy, I felt overwhelmed, anxious, under qualified, and that I was a complete failure.  Life took too much work and I didn’t have the motivation or desire to do it.  I would sit and stare off into space, simply incapable of putting one foot in front of the other.  Little hands would be pulling at my legs and arms, desperate for attention or help, but there were hours/days when I was only capable of taking care of basic needs.  It was dark.  And painful.

Jon noticed and did his best to help, but my biggest mistake was keeping the darkest part of it from him.  I don’t know if I didn’t want to burden him with it, or if I was unwilling to admit just how bad it was, but regardless, he had no idea just how bad it had gotten.

Then one morning, I laid in bed during the early morning hours and contemplated killing myself.  I had Devyn on one side of me, Hudson on the other, and Jon had left for work.  I had to get up, get myself ready for work and the Littles ready to go to my parents.  And suddenly, I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I’d thought about killing myself numerous times (side note, I never once thought of hurting my babes, just myself) and for the first time, I was seconds away of following through with my plan.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  I knew if I didn’t show up with the kids, my mom would come looking for us and the kids wouldn’t be alone for long.  Instead of following through with my plan, I called my mom and in-between sobs explained she needed to get to my house.  Now.

It was the single most terrifying moment of my life.

What followed was an intense debate of being admitted to a local mental health hospital, or an increase/changing of meds and counseling.  We chose the latter.

Jon shed many tears, the vulnerability of his need for me, his fear, his inability to take it away for me, his love, left an indefinite mark on my soul.  He was an unshakeable foundation for me during this time.  Never did I feel judgment or ridicule, just unwavering support.  He held me up when I couldn’t stand, and for that I will be forever thankful.

I’d like to say my story ends here, but it doesn’t. 

About four months after the new meds/increase in meds, Jon started noticing that I was “off” again.  I distinctly remember Christmas shopping with Jon and as he held a toy in each hand, asking which one Devyn would like better, I couldn’t formulate a single thought or opinion.  I simply stared at him.  At which point, Jon came over and shook my shoulders lightly, bringing me back to reality.  The next day we were in the doctor’s office getting my meds changed again.  It turns out that I’d been overmedicated and on the new meds, I was soon myself again.

Since both Reagan and Ashlynn were surprises, I was still taking anti-depressants when I found I was pregnant with them.  Both times, I was weaned off the meds for the majority of the pregnancies, then put back on during the last weeks of the pregnancies.

Post partum followed me after the births of Reagan, then Ashlynn.  But it never got as bad as it did with Hudson.  It just looked different…  I got spacey, easily distracted, unable to concentrate, easily overwhelmed, anxious, unable to deal with the day to day, etc.  My go-to coping mechanism is to bury my head in the sand.  However NOT dealing with things, catches up with you eventually.  Ha!

A few things to note about post-partum depression:

  • I am NOT advocating medication as the only answer to post-partum depression.  I AM advocating talking to your doctor and figuring out the best solution for YOU.  Sometimes a change in exercise and diet is all a woman needs.  But please, PLEASE don’t think that taking meds is a weakness.  I liken it to being a diabetic… you wouldn’t deny your body insulin if it needed it.  The same is true of anti-depressants.
  • Find a support system.  I have an amazing network in my husband, family, and friends.  But I know not all women are so lucky.  In fact, I’ve had a number of women reach out to me whose husbands would not support them taking meds.  I don’t have answers for these situations… But I beg you to find a girlfriend, a confidant, a therapist, someone who can support you through this difficult time.
  • You are NOT less of a Christian if you’re struggling with depression.  During this time in my life, I actually had people in my church, of the church, tell me that if I truly believed Jesus was my savior, then I wouldn’t be struggling like this.  This is simply NOT true.  God is close to the broken-hearted!  Psalm 34:18
  • I know people shake their heads and utter, “Suicide is so selfish!”  And it is incredibly selfish.  But after my experience, I won’t dare speak those works out loud again.  Simply because I was there… and at some point, the pain is so bad, so unbearable, that you just want it to stop.  And you’ll do whatever it takes to make it stop hurting.  Instead of passing judgment, perhaps we can start looking at those around us and seeing how we can reach out to someone who might be hurting.

Now that I’ve written a book…  I’ve said before, and I’ll say it until my dying day…  I believe that it’s the hard times, the dark times, the valleys that make a marriage stronger.  There’s something reassuring about reaching out your hand in the night and feeling his hand clasp yours.  It says “I’m here.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m here.” 

Jon David, I don’t know if I’ve ever said the words publicly but I need to do so here.  Thank you!  Thank you for your unwavering support in my pain.  Thank you for standing by my side, thank you for being willing to be whatever I needed in each moment.  Thank you for loving me, for believing that I could conquer something as big and deep as this.  Thank you for helping me realize that depression didn’t define me, that my old self was still inside.  I couldn’t have made it these past eight years without you.  You were Jesus with skin to me, and I am better for having you as my partner.

Please head over and visit the other ladies participating in this marriage series with me. Mandy, Jenna, Shay, Lindsey, and Megan.  Please feel free to link your stories too!


I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

23 comments

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6:20 AM delete

Such a great post. I struggled with post-partum for 18 months after Evan was born. I never went to the doctor and I never got medicated. I simply didn't know what was going on. Why I felt that way. I feel so bad not looking back on that time in my life and what I put my family through and missed out on. I'm so thankful that was the only time I struggled with it but I completely feel your pain. I'm so glad it's becoming a more talked about subject. More women need to understand that it's totally normal and it's ok to get help.

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Jackie
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6:20 AM delete

Thank you for sharing your story! More women need to start talking about this and understand that it's ok to get help for PPD.

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Lauren
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6:33 AM delete

Oh, Jen!! This post is just so raw and honest. I have no doubt this is going to be a blessing and help for someone reading this!!!!!

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6:49 AM delete

Oh Jenn. What a beautiful, honest post. I have tears in my eyes. I actually lived with a family one summer during college and was a nanny to their children. At the time, she was writing a book about PPD. I don't think you are weaker for sharing this, I think you are STRONGER. It takes a lot to talk about our difficulties, and you did so with such grace. I love love love this comment and agree wholeheartedly! " Instead of passing judgment, perhaps we can start looking at those around us and seeing how we can reach out to someone who might be hurting."

Love you, sweet friend.

Here is the book my friend wrote!! http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Postpartum-Psychosis-Temporary-Madness/dp/0313353468/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365597895&sr=8-1&keywords=teresa+twomey

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Cheryl Enlow
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6:56 AM delete

What an amazing post from an amazing woman! Thank you so much for sharing this. You keep amazing me at your strength! :)

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thefogg7
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7:07 AM delete

Thank you. I have struggled with the last 3 babies and I am currently taking meds still 10 months after Sophie's birth. For me, this may well be a permanent way of life. Thank you for writing this and sharing with others. Sharing is part of healing, I truly believe that.

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Kat
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7:14 AM delete

what a terrifying experience. you are so strong to have taken all the right steps and admitting what was going on. and your marriage sounds like it is one of the strongest ive ever heard of.

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Dareth
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7:28 AM delete

Such an honest and vulnerable post. Very courageous, Jenn. Way to live out your 2013 word for all of us to see. So very proud of you, Jenn and Jon. Your love is courageous. Love you.

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Jodi
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7:40 AM delete

Wow. Thank you for sharing. You are so brave to admit this. I think it will help so many women to know they aren't alone. More people need to talk about this and normalize it. So glad you are doing better!!

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Neely
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7:52 AM delete

Wow Jenn what a powerful and amazing post. As you know I am not a mother but I have dealt with depression and I got cocky a few months back thinking I didnt need it and things got SO BAD. I totally understand. You are so brave for writing this. I bet this will help so many people. Love you!

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Courtney
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8:03 AM delete

Ah, I remember that morning. Scary day for all of us. Great post Jenn, I'm proud of you for writing about it.

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Mandy Rose
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8:19 AM delete

Tears Jenn! So many tears reading this friend. You are so real and so genuine and I can only imagine how many people will find hope in your story. So many women who go through this same thing will read this and say..."I can do this too". You are such a wonderful example of a Godly woman and I am glad to be your friend! If I could give Jon a big hug (or side hug as we call it at my church)...I would squeeze him and thank him for being such a great man for you!

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Alyssa
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9:29 AM delete

Amazing Jenn. You delt with a tremendous trial and more women need to know that it is OK. Depression doesn't make you a bad person, and it is an opportunity for God's work to be done as those who love you step up to help, love, and support you. Your story is incredibly inspirational.

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10:04 AM delete

Jenn! What a raw an honest post! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing so much of yourself. What a blessing you will be to so many today.

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Linds
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12:00 PM delete

I love your honesty. So much. Looking back I probably had some sort of PPD and depression after Connor was born. I just never got diagnosed. My blog posts are dark, and I think I just couldn't handle all of the stresses of mommy hood, family drama, housing problems and Drew barely being at home. One of Drew's biggest concerns when we decided to have another child was him losing me... the me that he normally knew. I think we're both afraid of that somewhat still, but I am in a way better place emotionally now than I was 2.5 yrs ago.

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Jenna
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12:32 PM delete

Oh Jenn, I am so thankful you shared this post. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will be uplifting and encouraging to so many women who silently struggle with depression. Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I'm so honored to call you my friend.

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Meagan
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2:41 PM delete

Your note to Jon made me tear up. Thank you for sharing this today.

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Andie
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2:45 PM delete

Thank you for being so candid and honest about this, because I, too, struggled- with PPD/PPA (more anxiety than depression) and it was HARD. It was one of the darker moments in my life and my husband, like yours, was so supportive and I'm so grateful for that.

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6:17 PM delete

Beautifully written. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Christians need to understand that those dealing with depression or other mental illnesses are NOT lacking spiritually. I have walked in your shoes and the judgment about being unspiritual has hurt me more deeply than the depression, at times. We are COMPLETE in Christ.

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Paula
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6:41 PM delete

Jenn~Beautiful post. I have silently (most of the time) followed you before Hudson joined your family. You have always been honest. It is so helpful. Brave. Thank you!

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Christine
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8:58 PM delete

Beautiful post Jenn. I do not want to relive those days with you, especially that one, scary morning. I am so thankful to Jon for all he has been to you over the years. You found a great man that loves you to the core. Thanks to Mom and her support of you over the years too. We all love you and are glad you made it to the other side. :)

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Sonya
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7:19 AM delete

OH MY!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I struggled with post partum depression after I had Lauren and no one took me seriously. I am so thankful that you had Jon to look out for you. I have had some deep deep struggles in the five years since I became a mom and when others share their stories of those same struggles it lets me know I am not alone.

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Brooke
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8:26 AM delete

Jenn, this post brought tears to my eyes. I'm not married and don't have children, but how encouraging some of your words have been! So glad you have a great support system around you!

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