Where to go...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The 3rd Floor

My windows looked out onto a small parking lot. The building across from me was nondescript; maybe an apartment building. At night, I would see a patchwork of windows lit up and wonder if anyone was inside, peering back at me. I could close my blinds whenever I wanted of course, a set of shades incased between two panels of thick glass. There was no cord. Instead, a small dial affixed to the outside of the window frame. It matched the window on the door into my room, where the dial was set outside so my nursing staff could look in whenever they wanted or needed. Which was often. Every fifteen minutes to be exact. And at night, the door would remain open.

I checked into Swedish Hospital Psychiatric Unit, located on the 3rd floor, on a Monday night close to 8:00pm. My eyes burned at the fluorescent lights and I could barely feel my legs as the lead nurse walked me around like we were touring a home for sale.

"Do you need this?" She asked, pulling the drawstring out of my sweatpants that had been hastily packed into my luggage. We were rummaging through my belongings, item by item, and removing things that could have been used to harm myself or others. I shook my head and she snipped the drawstring with a pair of safety scissors.

"I don't think I need to be here," I choked out through a cascade of tears.

"Well, 24 hours ago you wanted to kill yourself. So I say you're in the right place."

And she was right.

Postpartum depression snuck up on me silently and suddenly. Like a quick rolling fog, before I had noticed it, it was there. And it was thick and deep and terrifying. I had my daughter just two weeks before. Two weeks before I sat on my couch while tears flowed. And flowed and flowed. They rarely stopped and I was always some level of frightened, suffocating in fear. I reached out to my doctor, but it was too late. The Zoloft he prescribed either didn't work or cursed me with a severe set of side effects. The fear and sadness violently increased, a weight dropping onto my chest and settling into my lungs, strangling me. And with every thud of my heavy heart, a voice reverberated within my bones, keeping me awake at night...

You are not good enough.

You are a burden to your husband.

You are unfit to care for your baby.

Life would be easier for them if you weren't in it.

Just die.

I convinced myself that the voice was right and true. It was then that I knew I needed help.

Walking into the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan was the most terrifying moment of my life. Hard sobs racked my chest and I could barely get the words out. Would they take my baby away? I wondered over and over, rationally knowing that they would not. I had read about postpartum. I am sure every woman has, at some point. So it is no secret that it happens, or could happen. What they don't tell you is how deep and sharp it hits. And how horrific it is. And how you want to tear your own skin off. And run away. And just not be anymore.


The help came. Immediately. Once I spit out the poison, I began to heal.

That very night, a tiny speck of light began to show up at the end of the tunnel. The hospital social worker interviewed me and deemed me unsafe to return home. She advocated for a bed for me at the closest psychiatric facility that would benefit me the most. (And yes, Seattle was the closest. The lack of proper psychiatric care in Pierce County is astounding). Logistics aside, I was checked in and settling into my bare-walled room at Swedish 16 hours later. It was there that my medical team (nurse, psychiatrist, medical doctor and social worker) decided to change my prescription to another, lower dose antidepressant. That, coupled with a routine of group and occupational therapies, is what started me on the path back to normalcy. A week later, I returned home and wept as I held my baby daughter.

But hear this:

The apex of my healing lay within my support system. My husband, my M2, my mom, and my friends. Equally holding me along the way, allowing me to lean on them harder than I ever knew I would need to. They carried me across the finish line.

Actually, they may still be carrying me a little bit. The finish line is damn close though.

(If you're experiencing postpartum depression, or think you might be, you are not alone. Don't be scared. You will get help, I promise).



If you, or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#  (1.800.273.8255)

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