Apr 16, 2012

22 Weeks

I've been remiss in posting belly pictures. The last update I posted was 16 weeks, so here's what I've looked like over the last 6 weeks:
18 weeks
20 weeks
22 weeks
Stop reading here if you just wanted to see belly pictures.

I have to admit that these three pictures were the only times I put on clothes, besides church. Otherwise, I've been wearing pj's exclusively. I know I've mentioned briefly my stint with PPD after Lily, but as I've looked back through my blog, I haven't been very open with my struggle with depression through the rest of my life. It's not that I try to hide it - I really try to be open about my struggle so I can share the resources I've found - I think I fell into the trap of "let's make everyone think our life is perfect online so nothing I say can come back to haunt me".

Before I start, you'll have to excuse me for not recalling exact dates, numbers, and experiences. For me, being depressed was like living in a fog, and I can't remember much of anything from that time in my life - even the times while I was medicated and felt I had a handle on the depression. It hurts my heart that I can't remember important events in my life because of it - specifically, I feel like my courtship with Mike and our wedding have been stolen from me because I can only remember them when looking at pictures.
I started to deal with chronic depression when I was about 14 or 15. My mom had also suffered with depression from the time she was a teenager, and recognized what was happening. I don't remember exactly when or how, but I started taking anti-depressants. I had to try a few different medications before we found one that worked for me. It wasn't until I was about 18 that a doctor diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. I was on an anti-psychotic and an anti-depressant from that point (again having to cycle through several different combinations of medications to find the right fit) until I was 25ish. Several different times during high school my mom had taken me to a group called Recovery International, but they didn't seem to do very much for me and I didn't attend it with any regularity.

By the time I was about 21, I had pretty much hit rock bottom in my life. I don't want to go into specifics on my blog, but I've talked about that period of my life with people when I feel prompted to. Suffice it to say I had moved away from home, abandoned the Gospel, racked up a huge amount of credit card debt, and wound up losing almost every friend that I had because of the foolish choices I was making. Once I had literally nothing to lose, and everything to gain (and with enormous faith and love from my parents) I moved back in with my parents and started going to the Recovery groups three times a week. I learned some great coping skills and continued to go to groups after Mike and I got married.
I knew that before I had kids, I wanted to know that I had my depression under control. I wanted all the tools available so that I could be a good mom. When I was about 25, I worked with my doctor to go off of all my medication. I knew that if things got bad, I could always go back on the medication. What I forgot (and still constantly forget) is that when you are depressed, you don't always see it. I can go through months of just feeling off, down, out of control, but not realize where I was until I'm coming out of it. I'm lucky that Mike and my mom were often willing to gently suggest, "Maybe you ought to see about going back on meds."
I've been able to use Zoloft as a part of my post-partum recovery with both pregnancies (it's safe for nursing mothers), as well as the last trimester while I was pregnant with James. Going back on the Zoloft was a hard decision while I was pregnant with James. While I wasn't crying, sleeping away the day, letting the house get out of control (at least not more than any other pregnant mother of a toddler), I wasn't "me". It took a couple of months of feeling "off" before I realized I needed a little help. I remember telling my doctor that instead of having a really hard day every week or so, it felt like I was only able to cope for one day every week or so. For me, the turn-around is almost immediate. Days after I started back up on Zoloft, I was feeling competent and more able to handle every day stresses. I stayed on the meds until James was about 3 months old.
That brings us to today, and why I'm even telling you all of this. This pregnancy has been different than the other two - I feel physically so much worse than before; I haven't been as excited, no matter how I try to "fake it till I make it"; I don't have a solid support system here (moves are hard). But of course, it isn't until I'm almost out of the woods that I realize how deep in it I've been. I can look back and see "Ah, taking pictures started feeling like more effort than it was worth", or "I've only been showering on Saturdays because I know I have to go to church", or "I've been locking the kids in their room to play alone for 3 and 4 hours every day so I can lay in bed pretending to sleep", or "Every effort I make is to convince anyone on the outside that I'm fine". It's taken a little break in the fog to realize I need to get some help. Instead of feeling sorry for my kids, or for myself, for not getting better 6 weeks ago, I'm trying to feel really thankful for the ray of light that hit me last night and helped me see where I am and where I need to be.


  1. I wish you still lived here and we had this conversation then :( I was stubborn and refused the bipolar diagnosis when I was 19, but I worked hard while Josh and I were dating to get off the meds and find the real "Jen". The one that can handle everyday situations and not feel completely out of place. Also not get so angry (that is always my sign...Its safe to say I have anger issues :( Its tough, even tougher when you dont have that solid support system that is so essential to maintaining a healty lifestyle with depression. Good thing our spouses are aware and a great source of support.

    On a side note...I have been blog stalking waiting to see what you are having :) Always feel free to email me if you feel like typing :) jsongster@sbcglobal.net.

  2. I too, wished you lived closer!!!! One of the many things I love about you, is that you do not put up a front. :) I think it's wonderful, that you're sharing your experiences with others. No matter who you are or what circumstance your in. Everyone has vices! Good for you for overcoming so much, and continuing to do so! Love ya!!!

  3. Love you Jessi! You are brave and beautiful and honest. <3

  4. Loved this post! You are amazing. Dealing with depression/anxiety is not easy. From someone who knows how much of an achievement getting showered and dressed in the morning can be, lots of love and prayers are being sent your way.

  5. {{{HUGS!}}} You are so loved, Jessi! I have had PPD before and I know what a deep, dark place it is. You are such a strong lady with so much talent and spark. What you are doing is amazing!!!

    I am so inspired and humbled by your beautiful post. I had no idea you were dealing with so much! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that so many are pulling for you!


  6. Thank you for sharing Jess. I was diagnosed with severe depression when I was 18 and was really, really worried about PPD. I was blessed to not have it, but I've been finding myself in that fog the last couple of months, also not wanting to admit it to myself. You really helped me have an ah-ha moment.

    Love you.

  7. It's hard to see it when you're in it. It's great that you've been able to realize the funk you've been in. Now it can only go up from here. I know what you mean about the pressures of looking perfect online. I've struggled with that and have tried to be more real on my blog so I can look back and remember the hard times and what we overcame. A support system is so important, so know that Hal and I are here for you, and we're ready to skype anytime you are!

  8. You are so REAL!! I love that you don't try to be something you are not. My family has the huge problem of making sure everyone thinks we're okay. I hate it!! My parents need alot of help, but won't ask for it. My sister takes advantage of the fact that they won't let anyone know that anything is wrong. Anyway, I admire you for being you! Love you!

  9. I just read this installment of your blog and am both sad and happy. I'm so sad you struggle with depression and feeling in a fog -- you know that I do know how that feels. But I'm happy that you're recognizing the "hole" you're in and taking steps to climb out. Remember the "bug in a cup" analogy -- when you're depressed, it's like being a bug in a cup--and the things to remember about being a bug in a cup are:
    1) What you see is not all there is. You can beat yourself against the walls of the cup, telling yourself that it's always been like this and it will always be like this. But that's not the truth. There is a world outside of the cup. You just can't see it right now.

    2) You will need some help getting out of the cup. Whether that is medication, counseling, Priesthood blessings (or all of them), there IS help available...take advantage of it!

    Hang in there! I love you and am so proud of you.