About/ Happiness/ Pregnancy

You’re Not Alone, My Battle with Anxiety and Depression #BellLetsTalk

* MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.

First off I want to begin by saying that this is not a sponsored post, I was not asked by anyone to discuss Bell Let’s Talk Day or mental health.  These are my honest thoughts about a topic near and dear to my heart, that I feel need to be talked about and shared.  

(Originally published in January 2015 – I will republish this post every #BellLetsTalk day).

In June of 2005, my oldest daughter suddenly entered our lives. My water broke a month before my due date.  Just over four hours later I was holding a very small (but strong) 5lb 0oz baby in my arms. We were totally unprepared emotionally for this – we still had a month until she was due.  Looking back now it was very traumatic.

A journey through mental illness, let's end the stigma by talking and sharing. http://fitnesscheerleader.com/happiness/my-journey-through-mental-illness/

Life was supposed to be blissful and awesome.  Motherhood was supposed to be this amazing thing.  Babies are cute and wonderful right?  

I struggled to breastfeed – her mouth was so small, she was so small. Every Lactation expert I saw commented on how small she was.  Everyone told me how small she was. I felt guilty – it was my fault she was premature.  It was my fault she was so small. I pumped, we tried nipple shields, and a whole pile of weird contraptions, tubes, supplementary nursing systems (SNS) and methods to get her to eat and grow.  She was a sleepy baby. We tried everything we could to keep her awake during a feed. She also had jaundice. I felt like it was all my fault.

A journey through mental illness, let's end the stigma by talking and sharing. http://fitnesscheerleader.com/happiness/my-journey-through-mental-illness/

It was my fault.  I worked out every day during my pregnancy – even the day she was born. I ate the wrong things – I loved deli meat and ate a smoked meat sandwich for lunch every day during my pregnancy.  I loved diet soda. In my head the reasons my daughter was early and small and struggled to breastfeed were all my fault.  I was determined to make it up to her.  I didn’t let anyone else care for her.  I failed in growing her properly so I wasn’t going to fail her again.  I became stressed, overtired, anxious etc… This was the beginning of my battle with post-partum dpression. 

A month of pumping later she finally latched!  I could breastfeed!  I threw out the bottles – everything that could possibly interfere with our nursing relationship. Because that’s the best thing to do for baby right?  I had to do the best things I could for her. It was my fault she was so small.  I was still stressed and anxious.  I couldn’t sleep – it took forever to fall asleep.  As soon as I was asleep she was up and ready for another feed.  It would take hours to fall back asleep.  I couldn’t relax and stop worrying about her enough to sleep.  the cycle went on and on. I couldn’t stop my anxiety or brain.  I was exhausted. I couldn’t think straight. 

My daughter started crying at 6 weeks for HOURS a day.  She was colicky. It was my fault. It was my fault, and no one else should be put out by it – I took ownership and responsibility for my actions, I wouldn’t let anyone else care for her, or for me. She wouldn’t take a bottle anyways, so there was no way I could leave her. My husband would come home from work and find the two of us crying on the steps in front of the house waiting for him.  He began staying later and later at work.  I felt so alone. I had no friends in our new-to-us town.

I didn’t realise it at the time but all of those things are signs of depression.  The anxiety, the crying, the sleeplessness, the feelings of overwhelming responsibility.  I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through because I didn’t realise what was happening.  I didn’t realise that how I felt wasn’t normal.  I retreated from people more and more.  I was in a new town anyways and didn’t have very many friends.  Every one in my family had jobs so they couldn’t help.  There was no one around.  Hubby was travelling a lot for work leaving me home alone for weeks at a time. Days would go by and no one would call or email to check on me.  

Time went on.  I tried my best to lead a normal life despite the fatigue, anxiety and foggy brain.  Though I honestly don’t know how I did it because I couldn’t remember anything.  It took the utmost motivation to get dressed and brush my teeth.  

I went back to work when my daughter was 10 months old.  More guilt set in. I had been laid off from the job I held while I was pregnant with her.  In Canada, new mom’s get 12 months off of work for maternity leave.  But because I was laid off I needed to find a new job and I successfully accomplished that when she was only 10 months old.  I had to leave her in daycare.  I continued to pump milk for her.  I cried about leaving her.  Again – it was my fault that I wasn’t home with her for the full 12 months.  More anxiety, stress and guilt ensued.  I cried nearly every day.

A journey through mental illness, let's end the stigma by talking and sharing. http://fitnesscheerleader.com/happiness/my-journey-through-mental-illness/

I missed her learning to walk.  I felt guilty.  Everything I missed made me feel guilty.

Time went on, we moved to a new house, we had another daughter (almost full term – born at 38 weeks!).  I was still exhausted.  Neither child slept. Hubby started travelling for work even more. 2-3 weeks in Ireland, then two weeks in Canada… for 18 months this went on. He was dealing with jetlag, a demanding job, long work hours and I was dealing with motherhood, loneliness, anxiety and depression.  I went back to work when daughter number two was a year old.  I had to juggle solo parenting with work and depression. How we survived I’ll never know.  

I almost got fired from that job – I didn’t tell anyone what I was dealing with. I was ashamed. I missed a lot of work to catch up on sleep.  I got sick a lot. The kids got sick a lot.  It was just me, home alone – I had to take the time off to care for them and myself.  My employer made work hard for me – I felt like they were squeezing me out.  

One day I hit my rock bottom.  I called my hubby who was in Ireland in the middle of the night.  I was screaming at him. He was a jerk for abandoning me.  I hated him.  I hated life. I wanted to die.  I couldn’t go on like this anymore.  I needed him home. NOW!  Get on a flight, RIGHT NOW and come home.  I needed him more than the project he was working on needed him.  

That was about several years ago, shortly before I became pregnant with daughter number three.  I talked to my doctor finally.  With his help I returned to running. I started eating less processed foods.  I found a much more understanding job. I found people to run with during my lunch breaks. I started this blog to motivate myself to be active and eat healthy… for my own mental health.  I slowly began to feel better.  It’s taken years to be myself again.  It hasn’t been a smooth road – there are still good days and bad days.  I still battle seasonal affective disorder.

I decided to finally share my story here with you today because it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day.  This is an important discussion and I feel that we all need to talk and share our thoughts and feelings so that others going through the same thing will not feel alone.  I was so alone and my wish is that my story will help someone talk to a friend, family, a doctor etc. We do not need to feel alone and bear the burden of depression ourselves.  There are lots of people who care about us, people that will listen if you need to talk.   Today, for every tweet using , Bell will donate 5¢ more to initiatives. Learn more here: .

Please take a moment to tweet and share one of the stats I’ve shared with you.
Let’s help to #EndTheStigma.

— Bell Let’s Talk (@Bell_LetsTalk) January 28, 2015

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  • Morgan @ Wildly Fit
    January 28, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing and talking about mental health. I will share your story today because I don’t feel brave enough yet to share my own. I <3 you!

    • Janice
      January 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Every year on Bell Let’s Talk Day I’ve thought about sharing but I just wasn’t ready. It was hard to write and it’s taken me several years to finally feel brave enough. I <3 you too Morgan!

  • Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC
    January 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    wow. so powerful. thank you for sharing your story – too often no one talks about this stuff and that leads to making it worse.

  • CathyV
    January 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Janice, what an amazingly brave, courageous and honest post. Kudos to you for recognizing and asking for help and making some amazing changes in your life. You are an inspiration on a day that needs to get the message across that it is okay to need and ask for help.

  • Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails
    January 28, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Janice. I have had several friends that have struggled with post partum depression. It’s NOT easy and it IS real. I’m glad that you finally got help. I hope your story inspires more people to seek out the help they need.

  • Wendy
    January 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I’m so glad things are better for you. Motherhood is so hard. It’s not Pinterest puppies and rainbows. I’m proud of you for speaking out. This was a thoughtful and helpful post.

  • Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
    January 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes to read. My daughter had colic and reflux almost 18 years ago. It was the hardest most stressful time in my life. I cried, she cried. Well you know how that goes. I didn’t have FB or google to find support. I also felt guilty and thought it must have been my fault. It wasn’t your fault or mine it just happens. I hope your post makes someone else feel better that may be going through this.

  • Roz Batson
    January 28, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks Janice, Well done for sharing. You are definitely not alone. I started running to deal with my depression. I was diagnosed with ante natal depression during my pregnancy with my second child. Looking back, I was obviously suffering PND after my first and just kept going. Running saved me, my mental state and my marriage. Thanks again for sharing your story. We are stronger women for it and better mothers, better friends. xxxxx

  • Victoria @ Smiles 'n' Snuggles
    January 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I can totally relate. A had a lot of trouble breast feeding my first. My post partum depression showed up as rage though. I had many days where I was angry at the boys and I couldn’t figure out why. If I ever have a third I will definitely be looking for help. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jen @ pretty little grub
    January 28, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I think it’s great you are sharing this. I bet sooo many people can relate to your story. We need to talk about all mental health issues. Love that Bell is sponsoring this promotion.

  • Lucie Palka
    January 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Janice. It made me teary because I can identify with some of your story. My son was born 4 days late and under 5 lbs and felt guilt and wondered what I did that caused him to be so small. I also felt grey and sad for a long time. Motherhood isn’t easy although sometimes that’s how we want people to see it.

  • Kim
    January 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Oh, Janice – your story is incredible!! I had no idea that you had suffered so much. When you wrote about calling your husband in the middle of the night I cried because I totally get that – my husband travels to and I remember how hard those days were.
    I’m so glad that you got help!!!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks Kim! We’re now in the midst of hubby travelling for work for 8 weeks but thankfully his employer has agreed to fly him home on weekends to be with us – it’s such a huge help!

  • Abby @ BackAtSquareZero
    January 28, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for sharing such an honest story.

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks Abby, it’s taken me years to have the courage to share.

  • stacy @ Sweating Tulipz
    January 28, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    This was a touching story that I am sure all too many moms experience. I am so glad you found your happy again and realized that you are not to blame for any of this!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks Stacy!

  • Toni @runninglovingliving
    January 28, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing Janice. Post partum depression is so hard and I think as mothers in general we feel we need to do everything. This is an illness that requires help and your story will help others get the help they need. I am glad you are better now!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks Toni!

  • Launna
    January 28, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Janice this was amazing and honest… more women should be honest, it is hard to be a first time mama and then add a second, a job and basically being a single mom while your husband worked away … wow

    You never know what another person dealt with, this is why we should NEVER judge each other, we all have battles to deal with at one time or another.

    I am SO glad to hear that exercise and eating right has been helping you… I find it is starting to help me… I do miss my sleep though… that is really hard to go without…

    I tweeted a couple of these stats… more people should be aware and open the conversation, thank you so much for sharing xox

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks Launna! I am so glad to hear that your movement and nutritional changes are starting to help you. Cheers!

  • katie
    January 28, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you for being so open and honest!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks Katie!

  • MCM Mama
    January 29, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I was “lucky” with my postpartum depression – it hard and it hit fast and my mom recognized it for what it was, so while I felt many of the same feelings you did, I dealt with it for a much shorter time.

    But so much of what you wrote rang so true for me. And more people should be this open about it so that the symptoms are recognized.

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      You have a great mom! By sharing our stories hopefully more women will learn that it’s ok to ask for help. Cheers!

  • RFC
    January 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Oh I want to hug you. I can relate more than I can begin to describe. It’s a shame that mental health is so taboo, but even more so with post partum depression. We are MOMS, we are supposed to be able to handle ANYTHING…and thus we try to pretend everything is OK when it isn’t. Again, like I said, I can relate more than I can begin to describe. Thank you for this post <3

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Heather! By sharing our stories hopefully more women will learn that it’s ok to ask for help. Cheers!

  • Erica G
    January 29, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I feel your pain. I suffered through postpartum depression as well and my first visits to the doctor for exhaustion, pains, etc. all ended with you are a new mom. Of course you will be tired. Things worsened and I still remember the day I sat down by the changing table with my daughter by my legs. She was smiling and all I could think was I should feel happier in this moment. I broke down and called a therapist. Ironically, the appointment fell on the morning just a few hours after I received a call that my Dad had an aneurism and was unresponsive. I went into the appointment and told the therapist I was having a bad day and couldn’t talk. I was about to walk out and she said, perhaps that means today is the best day to talk. I told her my story and she was smart enough to go beyond what I said about my dad. She pinpointed the ongoing depression and said if I ever get pregnant again be sure to tell them about this case of postpartum depression. Things got better. I found my happiness again but I still feel “losing that happiness” and running daily helps me stay at peace.

    Thank you for sharing. If you are like me, I am sure you shed many tears during your post as I did during this comment.

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      I certainly did, thanks Erica! By sharing our stories hopefully more women will learn that it’s ok to ask for help. Cheers!

  • Kate @KateMovingForward
    January 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Janice thank you so much for sharing. I can’t imagine going what you went through; my first postnatal weeks were very hard and I remember at about 6 weeks feeling like I finally came out of a fog. I wish there was more transparency about how tough parenthood is and places to connect for encouragement, help and hope. I’m grateful for a supportive family. My sister came up in her Senior year of college whenever I needed her help and I’ll always be thankful for that.

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Awwwww what an amazing sister! I sure hope that my girls help each other the way your sister helped you. Cheers!

  • Stephanie (@FitMomTraining)
    January 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Hugs to you! What a heartbreaking story that mirrors my own and that of soooooo many women so closely. PPD and any mental illness should never be dealt with alone and yet so many of us have journeyed exactly like that. Thank you for bringing awareness to such an important issue!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      It makes me wonder – how can we reach new moms to tell them that it’s ok to ask for help? Our parents generation were told that it was “just the baby blues” and that it was normal, so they passed that down to us. I really can’t wait to be there for my children when they have kids, I don’t want them to experience what we have. Cheers!

  • Jillian @ Baby Doodah!
    January 30, 2015 at 5:30 am

    You are SO brave!

    Thank you for sharing your story. You’re right,so many people don’t realize the struggle that many new mothers go through. Making our stories heard is so very important, so that other new moms, who may be going through the same thing are able to see there is a resolution.

    My new mom story is so very similar. I suffered with depression for a long time, never wanting to admit it. When I finally did, things started getting better. I had more help, saw that I wasn’t the one at fault for everything, and realized that people really do love and support me.

    Thanks again for sharing your story!

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks Jillian! By sharing our stories hopefully more women will learn that it’s ok to ask for help. Cheers!

  • Erica
    January 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Good for you for putting this out there! I had PPD after my youngest daughter was born and went through many of the same things. It was such a tough time in my life! Its too bad so many of us suffer in silence, thinking we are alone.

    • Janice
      January 31, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks Erica! By sharing our stories hopefully more women will learn that it’s ok to ask for help. Cheers!

  • Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry
    February 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Janice, reading your story made my heart grow even more for you. From what I can tell via this vast world of internet and blogging connections, I already think you are amazing. Now, I know you are truly one of the bravest women I know {virtually}. The connection you have made with your story and fellow moms and women is beyond words. Thank you so much for this, I am so happy to be following and see the progress you have made and how wonderful you are doing and how your life is just glowing…Your happiness, your running, your family and the blogging.
    Cheers to you my friend 🙂

    • Janice
      February 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you so much Lynda!!

  • Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
    January 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Janice I hope sharing your story will help other new moms deal with the same feelings of helplessness and depression. My daughter also had colic and reflux and I did lots of self blaming and had many of the same thoughts that you did. Thanks for bringing awareness out there

  • Ange @ Cowgirl Runs
    January 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I know how difficult it can be to share our stories. Thank you for being brave enough to share yours.
    <3

  • Anna @ Piper's Run
    January 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Thank you for sharing! WOW!!!! You a a strong women.
    We have so many similarities; our first was born 4 weeks early and struggled to latch. I pumped for 2 months and she finally latched on; postpartum depression was questioned but never decided that was what was going on. I had raynauds with my second (born at 38 weeks) so nursing was painful again. My husband works away and I’ve had a few of those calls to him as well. I’ve talked to my Doctors a lot and they are on top of everything. Though I wasn’t diagnosed with PPD or anxiety….my body sure feels the stress and that’s why I run as well.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
    January 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s not easy to talk about depression or mental illness, but it helps to know that you aren’t the only one who struggled with it. I share my struggle with anxiety and depression on my blog as well–running has really helped me cope with it.

  • Elle
    February 2, 2016 at 12:00 am

    think there are so many other women out there who are suffering from postpartum depression but aren’t able to admit it to others or maybe even themselves. I think you sharing your story will help others understand that they aren’t alone in this. Thank you!

  • THANKS FOR SHARING!