The family betting pool as to how quickly we would fall pregnant started to get going pretty soon after Donald and I were married. It wasn’t really a secret that we wanted to extend our family with children as soon as the Lord saw fit to do so. And so, I stand under correction, but I think it was my sister Liesl who won the bet, when we took our family out 3 months before our first wedding anniversary to announce that we were pregnant!
You can imagine the excitement! We were the first of our generation on both sides of our family to get married and now we were going to be the first to start the next generation.
This baby caused a huge amount of excitement and activity! The best part for me was how I was regularly reassured that I would be a natural mom… we were going to make such great parents… they could see me with a baby already… So, what on earth did I have to worry about? This was going to be a breeze!
Teagan Elizabeth Evans arrived at around midday on the 27 March, 2008. We were beside ourselves with happiness, greatfulness and joy! The only challenge was that she didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual and, given that I was supposed to be this “natural mom”, I had just assumed I would figure things out. I mean it can’t be that difficult, right?
Ummmm, so maybe it can!
I look back now and I would say that after the initial settling in period, there were certain things that just weren’t going as they should have…not with Teagan mind you, but with me! My emotions were constantly raw and I walked around with this feeling of being a live wire that, if you touched the wrong way, I would spark. But this wasn’t how it was meant to be, was it? I’m supposed to be a natural! So, then why was I wanting to cry about the silly things, why did everything feel so overwhelming, why did my anxiety and irritation always seem so close to the surface and ready to explode?
It’s easy looking back now and “seeing the signs”. But when you’re in it and living it daily, trying to look after a new baby and trying to live up to a self inflicted expectation that you should be able to “get this” – you start making excuses! This will pass, I just need to push forward, the haze will clear and the tummy-aching anxiety will go away, surely? Oh and the crying… that’s just hormones right?
This went on… and on… and on.
I went back to work when Teagan was 6 months old. If you recall, in 2008 the economy wasn’t exactly performing and so I went back to a challenging work environment, where things were also not running smoothly. This just compunded the problem. I had my work situation to deal with, plus all the other hormonal, emotional messy stuff that I was still wanting to get over. It wasn’t pretty.
I spoke to some friends about seeking help and there were mixed reactions. I started to feel guilty for wanting to seek help, like maybe I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I thought, get over it already, Ros! There are people out there with much bigger problems than you. Pull yourself towards yourself! You have an amazing husband, a beautiful baby girl and a job… what on earth are you feeling all anxious and irritated about?
When Teagan was 8 months old, my mom finally took me aside and told me about a family friend who had suffered from something called Postnatal Depression. Sorry what? Depression you say? No, I’m sure that’s not my problem at all! She made me listen, she contacted the family friend and this amazing women managed to get me an appointment with her doctor.
Depression is not a disease, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing that I had done wrong
I remember driving to the doctor for my first appointment and thinking that she was going to tell me I was over reacting and maybe being slightly dramatic about things. You have no idea the relief I felt when she told me that what I was going through was normal – and that I wasn’t the only one to go through this! She told me she couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to seek help. I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression. This was not a disease, nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I had done wrong, nothing that meant I wasn’t a good mom or wife… a chemical imbalance that meant I just wasn’t able to be the best version of me.
I remember telling the doctor that for the past 8 months, I was essentially going through life having these manifestations of emotions that in the past I had been able to control. My irritability was over the top – boiling, heat infused, irrational irritation. My anxiety was all consuming – stuck in a black hole, I could see the light but couldn’t reach it kind of anxiety. And here the doctor was telling me she could help me!
The break through was when Donald told me I was acting like ‘me’ again!
I went onto anti-depressant medication. It took about 9 to 11 days to “kick in” and I found myself counting down the days! It was a slow journey and, I’m no poet, but I could really feel a heaviness lifting off of me – slowly. I could feel my emotions almost being reeled back into control. The break through though, was when Donald told me I was acting like ‘me’ again!
I’ve got tears in my eyes now thinking about it. I had been blessed with the most amazing man to call my husband and he went through this journey as well! That was a big moment for me – realising that it wasn’t just me going through this, he was as well and, with my healing, there was healing for him.
Am I now cured? Over it? Goodbye! Never see you again depression! Got you covered! Umm, not quite! At one point I thought I could go it alone and went off my meds, at that stage I was pregnant with my second child. That didn’t work out so well. But hey, I’m not ashamed of it, its just my journey and my journey includes something called depression.
I’m not ashamed of it, its just my journey and my journey includes something called depression.
Do I have bad days and dark days? Yes, I do and it’s not easy because sometimes it feels like I’m being pulled back to a dark place, but I’ve got to fight it! The best part is, that I don’t have to do it alone. It helps that I love to talk and the Lord has blessed me with amazingly supportive family and friends, who are great listeners. This support system means that I know I’m not alone. They listen to me, talk with me and most importantly pray with me, when I sometimes feel like I just don’t have the energy or words needed to cry out to God.
The Lord has used my journey for His glory! I now have such a passion for expectant and new moms and it is here that the Lord has allowed me to work for Him. I get to talk with them, encourage them, share with them and sometimes I get the privilege of being able to tell them “what you are feeling is normal, there is nothing wrong with you and I have faith that you are going to be ok!”
Thank you God for your promise that when I “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, I would be able to acknowledge Him in all of my ways and He would direct my paths” Proverbs 3:5-6