I think there’s power in sharing the stuff we think will change how people see us. We can sometimes think if we’re really honest, we’ll no longer be accepted. If they really knew me, they’d leave me. I’m gonna challenge that thought today. The following story is the rock bottom point in my life. Deep breath. Here goes…
In January of 2013, I wanted to stay at home with my then six-month old son. Financially, I couldn’t. I was mad, scared and lonely. I’d cry when I dropped him off at daycare and again after he went to bed at night because I knew I’d have to leave him again the next day. And slowly, this darkness entered my life. I began to believe if I couldn’t stay at home with my son, this whole life thing wasn’t worth it.
For months, I struggled to get up in the morning and rarely showered before rushing Ian to daycare. I had zero motivation to do much of anything. I lived in this detached haze. And because my life was so foggy, it’s hard to even remember what exactly happened. But finally, I’d had enough. And one Friday morning, I attempted to dull the pain with tons of extra-strength Tylenol. I was done.
I told my husband what happened, but my words were detached and matter of fact. But, I knew he’d want to know. And I think deep down, I wanted to live. Moments after I got off the phone with my husband, he called back to tell me he was on the way to get me and we were heading to the doctor’s office. “We need to get you help,” he said. My heart started pounding and things began to come into focus a little more. So as Nick drove closer, I spent the time coming up with a solid excuse to keep my secret from my company.
I lied to my work, telling them something was wrong with Ian, my baby, and I needed to take him to the doctor. I could barely speak through the tears streaming down my face. The tears made the excuse seem much more authentic. But I wasn’t faking these tears. Maybe Nick was right, I did need help.
At the gynecologist’s office, my doctor sat me down and gently said, “Becca, this is postpartum depression. Lots of women struggle with this, probably more than you realize. And you’re going to be ok.”
I couldn’t completely process this. This was postpartum depression?! I had no clue.
My doctor sent me to the ER to get my stomach pumped. Yes, I’d taken that many pills. And while I was there, I was asked over and over again if I was deliberately trying to hurt myself. Over and over I lied, knowing things would get much worse if I told them the truth. I said I didn’t realize what I was doing, I just had a bad headache and didn’t know how many pills to take. It was a super flimsy excuse. I didn’t want therapy, I just wanted to get through this and go home.
I spent the night in the hospital. And the next morning, my mom suggested if the thought of hurting myself was even slightly in my head, I needed to tell someone. Gathering my courage, I told a nurse the truth. And so, I had to wait for a psychiatric evaluation before I could leave the hospital. And at this hospital, those didn’t happen on the weekend. I needed to be transferred to another hospital nearby so I didn’t have to wait until Monday.
They strapped me to a gurney, (yes, that actually happened), and transported me in an ambulance. I remember chatting with the EMTs, a guy and a girl, they were super nice. And when they pushed me through the doors and I entered the psych ward, the guy looked at me cautiously and said, “Watch out and take care of yourself, ok?” I wasn’t sure why he said that. But it didn’t take me long to realize what he meant.
The scene was straight out of Girl, Interrupted. The psych ward in Ohio was a place that could make anyone question their sanity. It was a dreary old building with cream walls, cold lighting and bars over the windows. It was terrifying. I’d arrived late on a Saturday night and didn’t leave my room. I was allowed to pump because Ian was still breastfeeding. However, I was only allowed to have my pump with me for the few minutes it took to pump. Otherwise it was stored behind the desk because the plastic tubes were considered a suicide risk.
My room was made of cold gray concrete, with only a sink, toilet, bed and small closet without hangers. I was so scared in there. I didn’t want to see anyone. I laid in bed in a fetal position for what seemed like hours, trying to force myself to sleep. I knew the sooner I could sleep, the sooner I could meet with the psychiatrist, convince him I was not crazy enough to be in this place, and finally go home.
My husband rushed to see me in the morning, and told me I was getting an evaluation after lunch. I was forced to be in the common area for breakfast, since that was the only place they served food. I spent a ton of time journaling and attended an art therapy class to pass the time. I kept to myself and refused to interact with the other
The psychiatrist talked with me and thankfully decided it was ok for me to go home. I spent the next week off work, finally explaining the truth of what happened, and my mom-in-law and sister-in-law came to town to spend time with me that week.
I wish I could tell you the hospital was the punch I needed to get better. It took a lot of time. I went to see a counselor, committed to being honest with some close friends, got tons of prayer and eventually, the dark cloud slowly lifted. But it took a lot of time.
This post feels risky, you guys. It’s my rock bottom. It’s the thing I’m most embarrassed of in my life. It’s my biggest source of shame. So if that’s the case, why am I sharing this with you? It’s because I think we all need to know our stories have power. Our stories matter. Our stories of rock-bottom fear and failure can change someone’s life.
If you’re feeling lonely, sad, or just need someone to talk to, don’t be alone. Don’t let fear keep you from telling someone what’s really going on. I think that’s what evil likes to do. It likes to be in the dark because if it’s not exposed, it can still have its way. But darkness always has to run from light. You can never turn on a light and have the darkness stay. Light always wins. So turn on the light and run with me into the freedom of living life fully, and knowing you are truly not in this alone. Authenticity, I believe, is the key to freedom. We’ll never be perfect, but we can be perfectly alive and honest today.