I wrote this post on September 8-10, 2012. Please note, I have expanded some of my thoughts and corrected my own misperceptions here after Sasha Hettich committed suicide in 2015. Do not read this post individually. (Link also at the end.)
After climbing into the trenches and literally laying down beside Sasha, I felt as if I was looking into a time portal. And as much as my heart is breaking for her and her family right now, I feel as if I am forced to look in the mirror and see myself for what I was only 8 months ago. I have been focusing all of my energy over these past few months on getting better, and now that I am, it’s time to go back and dissect everything that I went through.
Laying next to Sasha, I felt stripped naked, even as she was physically undressed. Raw and exposed. Now they too can see me for what I truly am. Or was.
I’m making good progress in the mourning process. Maybe it seems odd to mourn my PPD journey, but it perfectly describes what I am experiencing. I experienced a terrible loss. Many terrible losses. I lost the first year of Becca’s life. I lost control of mind. I lost the will to fight, to live another day. At least in this case, healing and mourning are nearly interchangeable.
For the time being, I feel accepting of the loss of the first year of Becca’s life, but that took a lot of time to get to that point. Now I am trying to wrap my mind around, well, losing my mind. I understand now why PPD (or any depression) is considered a mental ILLNESS. My brain was not functioning correctly. I am a relatively content person. I laugh hard and I laugh frequently. (My husband never knows what I’m even laughing at half the time.) So how is it even possible for me to come to a place where I honestly thought that suicide was the best solution?
One of you wrote an excellent post about the selfishness of a mother who commits suicide. That’s the funny thing about depression. It is horrifically selfish—at least in the sense that you can’t get outside yourself. My brain was not capable of seeing the big picture. I was stuck inside myself, stuck in the present, a present that felt like a permanent past and future; it had always been this way and would always be this way. I was stuck on the fact that I was a burden to my family. And I was. No one can tell me that PPD is not a burden on the entire family. I felt like a burden, and that I would always be a burden.
But here’s the unexpected part. Suicide did not become an option in my mind for selfish reasons, not because I was so desperate to end the pain. In fact, suicide did not feel selfish at all; it felt… merciful. For my family. I felt like I would be doing them a favor by relieving them of their burden. Me. Yes, they’d mourn my death but secretly they’d be relieved, the way family members often feel relief after watching a loved one die of cancer. My husband could remarry, someone who would love him better than I could and someone who would love our children better than I could. They’d look back with time and see God’s providence in all of it, that I made the best decision for my family by freeing them from me. Suicide felt selfless, like putting my own family’s well-being before my own.
They didn’t need me; they needed to be rid of me.
I spent all day everyday fantasizing about it.
By the grace of God, I am now on the other side of the story. But I am struggling to figure out what to “do” with this, with everything I just wrote. What do you “do” with something this awful, with that deep, dark secret place in your heart that even you are ashamed to disclose?
I don’t really know the answer to that. For now, I’m simply staring it in the face. Uncovering every stone and trying to accept that it happened. It was real, and it was me. And it was awful.
But I did it. And I am really proud of myself. I almost feel childish in how very proud of myself I am, like a school girl running home from the bus waving her aced math test in the air before eagerly sticking it on the fridge.
Postpartum depression was the most difficult test I have ever encountered in my entire life.
But I passed.
Head here next. It’s important.