This post is part of a series on sharing individuals stories to help others realize, they are not alone. If you haven’t read the introduction to this series, please start here. This week’s post is from Criselle. When I read through her story, I cried because it resonated so deeply with me. If her story is familiar to your own, please know you can ask for help just like Criselle.
Tears were streaming down my face; I was sobbing and couldn’t control my breaths. “I can’t. None of it matters. We live and die, and that’s it. None of it matters, there’s no point.”“It’ll be okay Criselle, living life and being there for your boys is what matters.”
I was sitting in my car in a Target parking lot, 34.5 weeks pregnant with my second child, and I was in the midst of a mental breakdown, a severe panic attack, plagued with existential thoughts. My little sister, 24 at the time, on the other line, trying with all her might to help me get through the several months of anguish, anxiety and depression that I had been experiencing through a majority of my pregnancy. I had finally filled the prescription for Zoloft that my OBGYN had given me eight weeks prior. I told him two months ago I had been experiencing dark, suicidal thoughts. He explained that Mom comes first in pregnancy, and that the Zoloft could offer me the help I needed; then he also wrote down the number of a therapist I could call and set an appointment up with.
I took only one Zoloft while pregnant, while sitting in the car, crying to my sister, feeling all the pains of my diagnosed anxiety and depression. On top of that, the guilt I felt for possibly hindering the breathing development of my son; that’s a side effect of Zoloft while pregnant. I only took one because the next morning my water broke, most likely due to the panic attack. My son, Clayton, was born 27 hours after that. He was premature and weighed 4 pounds 11 ounces. And, of course, I blamed myself.
Fast forward two months later, Clayton is still a tiny, little thing, but he’s gained about two pounds. I was finally feeling better mentally, two months worth of Zoloft and the endorphins of breastfeeding will do that to a person.
I didn’t realize it then, but I HAD to take that medicine to not only help myself, but to help my unborn son, too. To help my four year old son. To help my husband. They were losing their mom and wife to a sickening hormonal imbalance, and I HAD to take medicine for all of us. Without it, I may not have made it past that day in the Target parking lot.
Once out of the fog that is mental illness, I began to see how all the people around me were fighting in my corner with me. My sister, talking it out with me over the phone. My doctor, letting me know that I had to help myself and giving me resources to do so. My doula, who would check in on me during pregnancy and postpartum. My family, for understanding that I wasn’t able to fulfill my duties as a mom and helped me until I could. My friends and acquaintances, who after reading my post on social media regarding my mental health and early birth of my son, reached out to me with kind words and love.
It’s been almost 2 years since that day in the Target parking lot. I have always known I would do anything for my children, but the most important thing I can do for them as a mother is to be mentally healthy.