weekly workouts: best month ever

I promise I didn’t disappear on you after last week.  Just dealing with some internet issues Sunday night so I ended up not being able to post.  But, I figured I needed to be posting some happier posts, right?!

As I finished my long run Sunday evening, I checked my email to see this…

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That’s right.  My most miles in a month.  Well, at least according to RunKeeper.  I have a feeling I have logged more at one time (prior to becoming pregnant with Miles, I was running 30+ miles a week), but just didn’t track it in RunKeeper.  However, this is by far the most miles I have logged in a month since I had Miles.  (Hmm, that sounds funny…)

I finally feel like I’m back.  Like I’m back to my old running self.  My paces have been hanging around the 8-minute-mile mark and I haven’t been dealing with too many nagging issues lately.  (I think I finally got my foot figured out for now.)  I don’t know if it’s being dedicated to my training plan and actually getting in my speed workouts, or if it’s that I’m running in the afternoons, which seems to really work well for me.  Either way, I’ll take it!

Monday:  20-30 minute easy run (2.97 miles @ 8:01/mile) + #FromFlattoAllThat Week 2 Day 1

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Tuesday:  30-40 minute easy run (4 miles @ 7:55/mile) + #FromFlattoAllThat Week 2 Day 2

Wednesday:  35-45 minute easy run (5.15 miles @ 7:58/mile)

Thursday:  10 x hill sprints (5.09 miles @ 7:53/mile) + #FromFlattoAllThat Week 2 Day 1

Friday:  10-20 minute easy run (1.45 miles @ 8:05/mile) + #FromFlattoAllThat Week 2 Day 2

Saturday:  OFF

Sunday:  8 mile run with last 2 miles fast (@ 7:54/mile)

Total:  26.66 miles

Posted in running, training plan, workouts | 1 Comment

postpartum depression follow-up

First of all, thank you so much for all of the comments, messages, emails, texts, shares, etc. I know many of you were moved to tears (sorry!), which quite honestly, I couldn’t believe my story would evoke such strong emotions, since it was so therapeutic for me to write (no tears were shed on this side of the computer screen – I’ve met my crying quota for the year I think).  I am sort of amazed with the response it had because it certainly was much more than I had ever anticipated.  I have read each and every one of your comments and messages, and I cannot possibly tell you how you all made me feel.  So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I wanted to address a few other points/questions that I didn’t include in my story.  Some of the questions are self-imposed ones, while others are ones that individuals have messaged me about.  I will do my best to address each one as much as possible, but please know that there are some aspects of the story I am choosing to keep private, to not only protect myself, but others as well.

Why did I wait so long to get help?  I have been asking myself that question for the last month.  If I would have known back in January that I could feel as good as I do now, I would never have hesitated in getting help.  But, like I said the other day, I just didn’t feel like it was “that bad”.  And really, at first it wasn’t.  While I certainly didn’t feel like myself, I also really didn’t feel like anything was wrong.  I thought it was just part of being a mother, and it was the same stress I would feel with anything else.

I also really had no idea who to talk to.  Do I go to my OBGYN?  My GP?  A counselor?  I had looked up counselors in my area and was prepared to call, but I kept putting it off, thinking that it would get better.  That my situation would change and I wouldn’t feel this way anymore.  (I also was worried about my insurance, but have more recently learned that my life insurance through my employer covers 5 mental health visits for free.  So, definitely look into that!)  Oh, and ANY of those people are a good place to start.

In addition, I was embarrassed.  I tend to get embarrassed easily anyway, but how do you go about telling someone that you want to get out, but that you still love your family?  How do you tell your spouse that you don’t want to live anymore and that you dread being left alone with your children?  How do you tell someone that you feel completely crazy, when you go about daily life as if nothing is wrong?  I wanted people to believe me, to believe that I simply just felt crazy and couldn’t control my emotions, but I was scared I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.  Don’t be ashamed to tell someone your feelings.  I struggle with this constantly.  But, you have to tell someone if you want to get better.  That’s the first step.  You’ll be amazed how much better you feel just because of that.  I instantly felt relief once I opened up to Matt – and he already knew that something was not right.  So, I’m pretty sure he was relieved as well.

What antidepressant am I taking?  This is one thing that I have had a few questions about but would like to keep the details fairly private.  Medication is a very individual experience.  What worked for me may not work for you.  In addition, there are A LOT of opinions about antidepressants, so I’d rather just avoid that for the most part.  Luckily, I have not had any side effects with my medication and am only taking enough to “take the edge off” as my doctor put it.

How long did it take for me to feel relief?  After telling Matt and my doctor, almost instantly.  After starting my antidepressant, I could tell a difference within a few days.  I commented to Matt how great I was feeling the next day, but that it might just be a placebo effect.  His response, “Who cares?!”  Seriously.  I felt better – I didn’t care what was making me feel better!

Am I still breastfeeding?  Thankfully, I am on the lowest dose of medication so that I can still breastfeed.  I can up my dosage a little more if I needed to, but luckily, this feels like it is enough for now.  I went in knowing that if I had to stop breastfeeding in order to take an antidepressant, I would just wait it out until I was done breastfeeding.  I am so happy that it has worked out to continue breastfeeding.  We kept a careful eye on Miles behavior for the first few days, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him at all, which is great!

What do I want my kids to know about my experience?  I honestly don’t know if I will ever tell them, and I am very thankful that MacKenna is young enough that she is not going to remember much of how I treated her for those several awful months.  It breaks my heart to think I “lost” that time with her, because I honestly felt like I just did not love her like I used to.  But, those euphoric feelings I had for her since the day she was born are back and I am enjoying spending so much time with her now.

I also want them to know that this was not their fault.  That I love them unconditionally – I always have and I always will.  And hopefully, I can share this with them when they are old enough to understand so they feel comfortable enough to confide in me should they have the same feelings.

So, why did I decide to share my experience and story?   Many of you commented my bravery.  Honestly, that was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was so lost and alone that I just wanted to know that I was normal.  That what I was feeling wasn’t crazy.  That other moms go through this.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified to share.  I know many of my coworkers read my blog and the thought of them knowing my “secret” terrified me.  I was tempted to delete the post from publishing to my personal Facebook page, but I thought that would defeat the purpose.

I have a platform through this blog.  I have seen so many people hurt from depression and suicide – those who are experiencing it personally and those who have loved ones suffering from it.  After losing a high school classmate this week to bipolar disorder, I knew I needed to use this platform to speak up.  To maybe do something to change the stigma that goes along with depression and suicide.

I want others to know that they’re NOT alone.  I want them to be able to Google postpartum depression and see other moms’ stories.  Because they need to know that postpartum depression takes several forms.  It’s not just the emotional, crying experience we think of.  The “I can’t get out of bed” or function normally experience.  Mine was far from that, which is why it took me so long to get help.  Postpartum depression can manifest itself in intense rage, anger, anxiety, and yes, sadness.  I was fully capable of taking care of my newborn, but everything else was completely overwhelming.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, lost, alone, like you just can’t go on any longer, please get help.  Please talk to someone.  A spouse, a parent, a friend, a doctor.  I even accept emails and messages if you just need to tell someone who will have an unbiased opinion.  Like I said the other day, I finally realized that it was in fact PPD when I looked at my symptoms on Postpartum Progress.

Please get help.  You are not alone.  You are not crazy.  You are not weak.  It is not your fault.  Motherhood is overwhelming.  If you are too overwhelmed, please get help.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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my semicolon

“A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to.  The sentence is your life and the author is you.” – Project Semicolon

This is the story about my semicolon.  It is not an easy one to tell, nor was it an easy one to get help for.  I am still struggling to find the words and feelings that I have experienced for the past 8 months, but I am going to do my best to tell you my whole story, regardless of how difficult it is for me to express this.  I am hoping that by sharing my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety, other women will find the help that they need and know that they are not alone.

I have postpartum depression.  Or maybe I should say, I had postpartum depression.  I feel like I can confidently use the past tense now because I finally got the help I needed after many, many months of struggling.  However, I can also now confidently tell you that this was not my first experience with depression.  Many of the feelings I have felt in the past 8 months are similar to the ones I experienced in high school and college.  Thankfully, these experiences were situational and once the difficult time was over, the depression and anxiety were not nearly as difficult to manage.

I think I knew almost immediately that things were just not right after Miles was born.  While I was absolutely in love with my new baby, I was struggling with every other aspect of being the mom of two children.  MacKenna was no longer the sweet little girl I had been so in love with before.  I didn’t want to spend time with her like I used to and every little thing she did bothered me.  I was moody and impatient, and when things got overwhelming (crying, whining, etc.), I would blow up at her – something that I had never done before ever.

I had very similar feelings toward Matt.  Every little thing that he did annoyed me, and I would be so overwhelmed and exhausted by the time that he got home, that I just needed to get out of the house.  I felt like my life had been turned upside down, while he was just happily spending his day away from the kids, enjoying all this time by himself.  I was jealous and bitter, and I’m sure you can understand how our relationship would struggle because of that.

Many of these feelings were very similar to how I felt right after I had MacKenna, so I told myself to give it 6 weeks.  Well, 6 weeks came and went and the same feelings were still there.  Then I told myself that maybe it would be better when I went back to work.  While things did improve, I still was impatient and angry most of the time.  MacKenna was on my last nerve constantly and, well, so was Matt.  If Miles started screaming, you could find me in the closet crying because I just couldn’t handle it.

Once the summer hit, things continued to get worse.  Most of the time, I was able to handle it because Matt was home with me.  But, on several occasions when Matt was gone leaving me with the kids by myself (something I came to dread), I would break down and just cry.  I felt overwhelmed.  I felt like a terrible mother.  I felt that I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was to the point where I knew that if something didn’t change, I was going to reach my breaking point.

This is where it gets really hard for me.  Thoughts of suicide and running away started to flood my mind.  I didn’t know how I could survive parenting anymore, how I could survive my life anymore and I just wanted out.  While I didn’t necessarily want to die, I knew that I just didn’t want to be around anymore.  But, I knew deep down that I loved my kids and my husband, and I knew that if I left, I would never get them back.

I went through most of the summer hiding all of these feelings to everyone.  Faking happiness and continuing to try to just deal when things got overwhelming.  I felt that all I needed was a break.  A break from the kids and some time for myself.  Our trip to Chicago seemed like that perfect getaway.  And while it was an incredible weekend with Matt, once we were back with the kids, the overwhelming feelings came back.  Feelings that I just couldn’t handle motherhood anymore.

One afternoon while we were vacationing in Branson, I reached the point where I knew something was wrong with me and that I absolutely had to do something.  I was sitting in bed with a baby who just wanted to be held and I was sobbing.  I was praying for God to help me, to take me away from everything because I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  I was starting to lose sleep, scared that I was going to hurt myself or someone else while I was sleeping.

That’s when I began researching.  Thankfully, Postpartum Progress was brought to my attention.  I began looking at the symptoms and finally realized that I needed to get help.  I was terrified.  I was terrified that I would tell someone my feelings and they would either put me in the hospital or that they would tell me that it’s just not that bad.  After seeing someone I love go through a similar experience just a few months before then, I knew that I didn’t want to end up like that, but that I also didn’t feel like my situation was as bad as that.  I was lost.  Confused.  And terrified.

I was finally to the point where I knew I needed to tell someone.  I was tempted to call a counselor but again, I didn’t want to be laughed at.  I went to my OBGYN for a checkup and had to fill out a questionnaire.  There were the words:  “depression” and “thoughts of suicide.”  I felt a tightness in my chest as I circled them and then waited for my doctor to bring them up.  But, she didn’t.  I was relieved but also knew that I was at a dead end.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang.  My doctor wanted to talk about some of the things I circled.  At the time, I was in the car with Matt and the kids on the way to the zoo, and I finally broke down and told Matt how I was feeling.  I knew I loved this man for a reason because he did not judge me one bit.  He held my hand and told me that he couldn’t do this without me.  That he needed me and he wanted me to get help (heck, he was tired of having to walk on egg shells around me all the time).

The next day, I went in to the doctor and told her everything.  How overwhelmed I was feeling.  How I just wanted a way out.  She hugged me and told me that I wasn’t alone.  That so many other moms feel the exact same way.  And that yes, I needed help.

It’s been 1 month since that doctor’s visit.  While I am now taking antidepressants to treat my postpartum depression, I can honestly say that this is the happiest I have felt in a very long time.  I feel like myself again.  I feel like I can be a good mother to my children again.  I want to spend time with my family again.  I don’t feel rage and anger over tiny little things anymore.  I am finally the person I always knew that I was.  And you know what?  I’ve seen MacKenna begin to act differently too because she is around someone who is relaxed and is enjoying spending time with her.  I’ve seen Matt’s attitude change and he can come home and talk to me without getting his head chewed off.

I am me again.  I chose not to put a period.  I chose to put a semicolon and continue my sentence.  Because I love my family, and thankfully I can love myself again.

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This was taken one week after I began getting help for postpartum depression.  It was the happiest I had been in a very long time.

(If you have not heard of Project Semicolon, I highly suggest you check it out, especially if you have experienced depression or suicidal thoughts before.  Also, if you are a mom with similar feelings or wondering if what you are experiencing is normal, please checkout Postpartum Progress.  I am thankful I found it when I did, because had I not, I would still be battling postpartum depression.)

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