As a veteran mother of three I gave little thought to laying my then three month old down for his nap, blanket in tow. It was a normal day for me, I had successfully run the morning gamete to completion and the house was minutes away, twenty in fact, from being quiet. Josh and I let our children “cry it out” during nap and bed time, checking on them in twenty minute intervals, so I was fully expecting Jude to fight the good fight but eventually give in to his exhaustion.
Jude was not having it. He fought sleep aggressively, pleading through cries and shrills to escape the crib but calmed his campaign when I checked in on him to heavy breathing and whimpering. We did this dance a few times and each time I left the room feeling confident that my quiet afternoon was minutes away.
He rallied, one last time, and Beckett and I sat on the couch listening to his cries, loosely chatting about the game of SORRY we were beginning to play. To say I wasn’t annoyed at this point would be a lie. The charade had gone on long enough. Jude let out a soft, final cry and then made a very odd noise. It wasn’t a whimper or scream, just a small noise. The noise didn’t sit right with me so I returned to surrender and forfeit nap time.
My beautiful baby boy, in his persistence to fight sleep, had wrapped his baby blanket around his head two times. He was suffocating. His little hands were clawing at the blanket but the strength to move the blanket he had not found. I pulled the blanket off his head and he exhaled deeply and then inhaled, trying to catch the breath that minutes before he was fighting for. His sweet face was blood red, eyes exhausted and glossy from crying, lips blue, and hair soaked with sweat. I screamed, because the sight of him scared me, and then cried, out of thankfulness.
I was thinking of this story the other day and thought; what if he wouldn’t have made that final noise? What if he wouldn’t have fought to breathe, or be heard, or for his life? I know it was instinctual for him, but what if he decided to give up under that blanket? Thank God for that final sound.
I have never been suffocated by an object, however I can relate to the panic of suffocation while in the confines of depression. Some days, no matter how hard I clawed at the blanket around my face, it would not move nor could I breathe.
Post-partum depression found a target in me, divided itself between the first years of both Liam and Jude’s life and conquered it’s mission of taking me out. In the beginning I couldn’t identify the actual root of my hopelessness outside of the third pregnancy. I know the ones who loved me whispered about it in conversations over the phone, and checked in regularly to hear me say “I am doing fine.” I couldn’t breathe though. The weight on my chest pressed harder and deeper with each unorganized, emotional and chaotic thought that ran through my mind. There was no order. No validation. No said reason for the endless tears. No power. Just chaos. The chaos birthed someone hard to live with and a mind hard to live in.
Depression defined for me is exhaustion. Not only was I physically and mentally tired, I was exhausted with myself. I exhausted my husband. I exhausted my children. If you are reading this and are fighting this battle you probably know that you are exhausting the ones who love you the most, because the depression has you lock and key. You want them to understand. They don’t. Because you don’t. Some may have tried to fix you but they didn’t. They can’t. Because only you can. You have to pull the blanket off your face. Besides, you’re not broken. Just misplaced and misguided.
Jude will be two this August and only recently I have felt the pressure begin to release in my chest. With the return of clarity also came the realization of the damage I left behind in my hopelessness and anger. This is what I have learned; the fall was easier than the recovery.
During the fall I could blame everyone else. During recovery, I had to own it.
Dear reader, you probably know someone who is tackling this beast alone or with support. You are letting them cry it out. You are letting and listening to them fight for their sanity. Perhaps you check in on them every twenty minutes, or days, to see if they are finally peaceful. Thank you for trying. If you are exhausted by someone you love, forgive them. They are trying. It may not seem so, but some days the very act of getting dressed is trying. Don’t stop listening for their cries.
They we need you.
To the reader that is overwhelmed by a grocery list, and most definitely the trip that follows, I know. Your days are long, you house a wreck, your loneliness suffocating. If loved ones are exhausted with you, forgive them. They are trying. If you have been hurt by others in this black hole, forgive them. The hurt is magnified by the chains you are in. Don’t stop fighting to pull the blanket off your face. Don’t stop crying out, even if it is the slightest of sound. Don’t give up. No matter the circumstance that brought you to the cave you are in, it is you, and only you, that needs to muster the strength to walk out. You can. The world is not waiting for you to get better. Only the people who love you. Even the people who have hurt you. I know they don’t call anymore. But really, would you call yourself? It’s go time. You can do this. I know you can’t breathe. Please, please don’t stop fighting.
Jesus is listening. Jesus is waiting. Jesus is praying for you. (Romans 8:34-yeah boy) Stop believing the lies you are telling yourself. One of the most damning things about depression is it’s ability to make you so self absorbed that you become blinded to the richness around you. Jesus wants to tear that down. Get ready, it hurts.
Inhale….Exhale. You can do this. Inhale….Exhale. Don’t give up under the blanket.
You can stand up. You can find the strength. Jesus will help you. So will this hymn.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
In Christ Alone~Stuart Townend~perfomed by Kristian Stanfill
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
I give my life, I give my all
I sing my song to Christ alone
The King of kings, the Lord I love
All heaven signs to Christ alone
To Christ alone
To Christ alone
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Here in the power of Christ we stand
If you need resources, ideas, just want to chat about what you are going through..email me! I would be happy to listen and share what has helped me fight off this monster! You’ve got people!