My Journey Through Depression

This is a story about depression. And how I’ve journeyed through it. Please don’t turn away. I want you to read it.

My son was born in January 2007. I had read all the books and had done my preparation but I truly had no clue how one little person could change your life so much.

I was a full-time hard-working stay-up-late-and-get-it-done kind of person. You could always reach me by phone or email (this was before Twitter was around). I never said no. And then everything came to screeching halt.

My son was born and although I knew he was an incredible miracle, I didn’t feel instantly bonded to him. I just didn’t feel like a mom. It was a bit surreal and I was hoping that after I recovered from my  C-section and returned to the comforts of home, everything would feel like bliss.

We got home and everything just felt different. It was clear to me that nothing would ever be the same again. Part of me, almost right away, just wanted to go back to the way things were. Why had I complicated such a good life?

My husband made a wonderful celebratory dinner the night we came home. My mother was there and we sat around trying to eat steaks off the grill. I remember my son crying as soon as I sat down, something that every mother knows just seem to happen at every mealtime. I felt stressed. I wanted to eat. I wanted to relax and this baby was interrupting that.

I sat at the table finally for dinner and felt like the odd man out. Felt so different than my mom and husband. There was a new baby to be happy about. But my life was completely different.

Then the waterworks started. I sat there crying at the dinner table. When they asked me why, I could only say “I don’t know.” I felt embarrassed and weak.

I put my newborn on the floor under his Baby Einstein discovery mat. He was a few days old. He didn’t need to be on the floor. I had no clue what I was doing. I felt embarrassed and stupid.

Here I was, this career woman, that was now staying at home temporarily and I felt like a failure. I wasn’t enjoying my time. I hated every minute of breastfeeding. I was stressed out from that and from the lack of sleep. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s more times than I can count simply because it was on. I don’t think I had the energy to figure out what else I should be doing with myself.

I really didn’t know anything about the baby blues but I was pretty sure I should be feeling a lot happier. I started searching online for parenting support groups. I just needed someone to help me. To make me feel like I wasn’t the only one that felt like this. All I could find were postpartum depression groups.

I wasn’t depressed. I just needed help, guidance, and reassurance. I was pretty sure I didn’t belong in one of those groups since I didn’t want to throw my baby against the wall. I loved him. I wanted to be a good mom. I just felt stressed out all the time because I didn’t know what to expect and I couldn’t control the situation.

Thank God I found a local group called Baby Steps, a parenting support group sponsored by WakeMed Health & Hospitals. It was there I met Sue and three other women.

My lifeline and thankfully, still good friends

We were from all walks of life but we clearly needed each other. They became my lifeline and also my baseline. I loved having a support group to socialize with and get advice from. But I also found myself constantly comparing my baby to theirs. My mothering to theirs. It was ridiculous.

After four months at home, I was ready to return to work. I was going to miss my life and my lunches and my support with these women. It turned out that going back to work was a good thing for me. I felt like a smart, somewhat attractive human being again. I could go out to lunch and not worry about bottle feedings. I could have intelligent conversation.

I was only working part-time and certainly felt my share of guilt over not being with my baby and jealousy at not living the free and easy life of my friends. Life continued on anyway and when I did get to see my friends, we always talked about one thing: when to have another.

When I got pregnant, my husband immediately started talking about having two kids. What? He said, and I quote, “if we’re having one, we’re having two.” He wanted to make sure our child had siblings like we both did. I agreed. Nobody wants a miserable, lonely only child who turns into a spoiled brat and acts like a little adult.

Since I’m no spring chicken, I planned to have my kids one right after the another so they would be about 2 years apart. As we started nearing my son’s first birthday, I felt the dread. It was getting close to the time to start trying to have another. I wasn’t ready. I felt stressed about work, about the holidays (it was December), about having to go through this joyous and extremely difficult first year all over again.

I will admit that much of the stress was self-imposed. I had to be in control on everything, which of course is nearly impossible. And then depression reared it’s ugly head in the most unexpected way.

I had family come to town for the holidays and pretty much everyone in my household was suffering from some sort of coughing ailment. And I would hear it. All. Night. Long. I’m pretty noise-averse. When I was pregnant, it was noise, not smell, that made me nauseous.

The coughing would keep me up. Or wake me up and then keep me up. Then I started running on empty. I got into the habit of not sleeping. I could fall asleep at 10pm – no problem. A glass of wine was my best friend. But when 2am rolled around, I was wide awake. Like, insomnia awake. I didn’t stir. I bolted awake and couldn’t go back to sleep.

After a week of this schedule, I decided to see a doctor. It was a new doctor and I was primarily going to him to get some antibiotics for my dreadful cough. While I was there, I mentioned that I was having trouble sleeping, described the pattern, and asked for some Xanax.

I don’t like taking medications, especially those that mess with my state of mind. It took a lot for me to ask but my sister assured me that a very small dose of Xanax had done wonders to take the edge off of her anxiety.

It did nothing for me. Neither did Lunesta, Ambien, Ambien CR, and Restoril. I was never going to sleep again. I was going insane. I had that rare disease of fatal insomnia.

My doctor had asked me if I had had any significant changes in my life. I told him no. Well, not really. I mean, I had a baby but that was a year ago. I had to put one of my precious Lhasa Apsos to sleep. I had reunited with my father after 7 years. No, nothing really.

He mentioned that I might be suffering from “the Big D” as he put it. Poppycock. I wasn’t depressed I was simply tired.

I had to hit rock bottom, which involved an all-nighter, a frantic visit to the doctor, and a megadose of intravenous valium in his office, to really understand that I was depressed. It turns out insomnia, especially the type I was suffering, was a classic hallmark of depression. I agreed and admitted I needed help.

I spent time seeing a therapist and finally finding something to help me sleep (heavy dose of Klonopin, in case you were wondering). Turns out that after I started sleeping again, the classic symptoms of depression presented themselves. I couldn’t care for my son. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t be alone (thank God for my mother who dropped everything to spend a month with me). I couldn’t leave the house. I just wanted to sit on the couch.

This is the face of depression. Often faking it.

I cried for the wife I had become. I cried for the mother I wasn’t. It was my baby’s first birthday and I had failed him. I still hosted his birthday party at my house. Most people will tell you that I was there physically but that’s about it.

This is what the camera captured when I wasn't looking.

I continued to work with my doctor.  We found the right dose of Zoloft and I slowly started feeling like myself again. My therapist didn’t really need to see me. She said I had my head screwed on straight but that my body had become chemically out of whack.

It took about 3 months before I was back at work and people were treating me normally. I confided in a few co-workers because nobody really had understood what had happened. Much to my surprise, they were all on something. They all took anti-depressants. They all took something to help them sleep. Is this destined to become the plight of mothers everywhere?

Looking back, I was never diagnosed with post-partum depression. I know that I clearly suffered from the baby blues. It took about 3 weeks before I literally snapped out of that. But looking back on what led to my “episode,” I can’t help but think I was suffering since the day my son was born. I loved his milestones. He was an adorable baby. But I always felt like there was something under the surface that left me looking at every mother I met wondering “how is it so easy for them and so difficult for me?”

It’s been 2 1/2 years since I went through my bout with insomnia and depression. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. I still take very small doses of both my anti-depressant and something to help me sleep. I’ve come a long way. I’m proud of myself. But in my own true style, it’s never enough.

I can’t get pregnant while I am on these medications. And I have spent 2 years wondering how I would get off of them so that we could have that second child. Now I am at a place where I understand these medications make me a better mother to the wonderful son I have. And would it be fair to him to have another child if he lost a piece of his mother again in the process?

This is the face after depression.

For now, he is my one and only. I am finally in a place of acceptance and understand that this is my journey through depression. I’m on the other side of it and I don’t ever want to go back.

Thank you for reading my (rather long) journey. My hope is that my story might make at least one person feel like they are not alone. PPD is not a nice neat box that you can be put in and taken out of. I believe strongly in raising awareness and reaching out to other women in need.

  • Erin

    I think you are going to see in your comments a whole lot of women saying they know exactly how you felt, especially with the first child, it is so very different with the second…or at least it was for me. Congrats on taking the steps you needed and thank you for sharing with all your readers.

    • Fadra

      It’s funny how we never meet those mothers who feel exactly like us *while* we’re going through it. Or else we just don’t open ourselves up to it. Thanks for reading. Seriously!

  • Paige

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I have a three month old and was diagnosed at 6 weeks with PPD. In retrospect, I think I may have had it after my first son and never recovered as a year later I was hit with a miscarriage and then another before finally conceiving my second one. I also had the middle of the night insomnia and went on Ambien twice which was absolutely terrible coming off of. It is great that you are getting help and being thankful for the family you do have now. I didn’t want to be on meds either, but I finally saw taking care of myself as part of being a good mom.

    • Fadra

      That’s great that you had it diagnosed. I’m wondering if you really knew it and the diagnosis was just a confirmation. So sorry about your Ambien experience. I’ve heard some bad stories and I know it can be tough. But look at where you are now! Thanks for reading.

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  • Glamamom

    What a beautiful and honest post, Fadra. I’m so happy to read your perspective and that you’ve found a way to manage. I don’t think anyone can be fully prepared for all the changes that motherhood brings and we all cope differently.

    It was a pleasure to meet you at BBC Philly and share lunch with you! I still haven’t figured out how to make a Twitter list but I’ll be working on it 😉

    • Fadra

      Somehow other people DEFINITELY seemed more prepared than I did. Why did I think having dogs would help?

      As for the list – yes – go to your Twitter profile page on On the right hand site, you’ll see the list header and then you *should* be able to click on New List

  • Carabee

    I think far more moms go through this sort of thing than anyone wants to admit. I’m pretty sure I suffered from it, but out of pride or fear or I don’t know what, I didn’t seek help. I wish I had because my god were those first months hard. Kudos to you for getting what you needed and for sharing your story.

    • Fadra

      I think sometimes it’s simply out of not knowing. A lot of people have a picture of what depression is, myself included. Motherhood is HARD. And isn’t is awesome that we are all surrounded by som many women that get that? I just wish I had blogs and Twitter 3 years ago.

  • Brandi

    Thank you for sharing your story! I think that it was very brave of you to be so honest with yourself about how you were feeling and what you were going through. You were able to make life better for your whole family because you were willing to acknowledge, genuinely acknowledge, your feelings. We all can learn from this! -Brandi

    • Fadra

      Brandi – I am fortunately (or unfortunately) one of those women who doesn’t live in a state of denial. I don’t know how to not be honest with myself. My main motivation was wanting to get better and thank God for the women I knew that had been through and assured me I would. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Cyndi

    I never had official PPD, but I sure spent a lot of time crying in those early months after my son was born and can commiserate with the post c-section difficulties. When my daughter was born 2.5 years later (another c-section), it was still hard, but better in so many ways. I’ve told a lot of people that going from 0-1 was much harder than 1-2 because you’ve already wrecked your whole life at that point. And I don’t mean that I wish I hadn’t had my son — but nothing about my life looked the same after he arrived and that made me sad. It took time to find that the “new me” and “new life” as a mom was different, but wasn’t worse than what I’d had before. So glad that you found good resources for support and help!

    • Fadra

      I think you said that so well. Everything changed and not really for the better. It’s not until now and even later that we start seeing the smiles and laughs and really reaping the benefits of being a mom. Just in time for the eye rolling and attitude. Hope your “new me” is here to stay!

  • Coma Girl

    Of course I am going to comment 😉

    Thank you for sharing. And good for you for seeking help and finding good friends. I should have done that. I can completely relate to how you felt the day you came home from the hospital. I cried when my parents left after my daughter was born (and I am NOT that type of person at all!).

    I didn’t even think to turn to the internet – go figure.

    • Fadra

      It’s funny because I just thought I would want everyone to leave me alone so I could do things with the baby MY WAY. And like you, I cried when my mom left. Then my sister came to visit. And I sobbed when she left. I felt scared to be alone. And knowing what I know now, it’s hard to fathom why I felt that way.

      And P.S.? We have a very different internet than we did 4 years ago.

  • lynn @ Maven of Savin

    Beautifully written and bravely shared in order to help others… Fadra- you are a strong woman and mother and I am so glad to have met you.

    Though I have never had PPD, I know how devastating it can be. Continue your journey with the strength, style and grace you have shown to us here.

    • Fadra

      Wow, Lynn. That was such an awesome thing to say. I guess the one thing about blogging is you get to know people pretty quickly. Hi. I’m Fadra. I have a blog. I just poured my heart out about PPD.

      Thanks for reading. Glad I met you too!

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  • Dianna

    Like in my response to Sue, no words of wisdom, but merely a thank you.

    I’m always impressed when people share such an intimate, deeply personal and private part of their lives. Thanks for the reminder that for those of us on the ‘depression spectrum’, we all look a little different, and all handle things differently. For some, medication is crucial, for others (me), it’s weekly therapy that gets us through.

    I completely agree with you about having more children — if we add another baby to the mix, and all I do is scream and cry, where is the joy and love in that?

    • Fadra

      I wish it had just been therapy for me. I could sit on someone’s couch and talk all day long! In some ways, though, therapy is harder. The work is unknown. At least with medication, I could really feel myself getting better.

      As for more kids, wish I could have gone with one more. Who knows? Maybe there are twins in my future 😉

  • Amy O.

    Good for you for confronting the issue rather than avoiding it – and sharing your experience instead of burying it. I also applaud your decision to put the health of you and your existing family ahead of the uncertainty of having & dealing with more kids. You know yourself better than any book or website does.

    • Fadra

      Amy – I loved the way you put that:
      “put the health of you and your existing family ahead of the uncertainty of having & dealing with more kids”

      Besides, when I surrounded by so many friends with kids, why do I need any more of my own? 😉

  • Melissa {adventuroo}

    While I’ve never had PPD, I know so many people who have and it affects every person in a different way. I cried reading your story, both for you and for all the other women who have NO idea where to turn when it happens to them. With two kids, I was NEVER asked by any of my doctors questions that would help diagnose PPD. It was more of a casual “you doing okay?” that’s too bad because I’m sure PPD could be caught so much sooner if doctors were more vigilant.

    Thanks for sharing your story. (hugs)

    • Fadra

      You know, I didn’t cry at all while writing it. It wasn’t until I read it that I could really see the picture of who I was. I can tell that depression is a can of worms most doctors don’t want to touch. Thank God my doctor was confident that he had helped lots of people and that I would get through. Although I do still think that he thinks I’m nuts.

  • Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things)

    Thanks so much for writing Fadra! I can definitely relate to some of your story and feeling so blank at times. Looking back I also think I had some form of “baby blues” and while I didn’t end up needing meds, I absolutely clung to the people closest to me to get me through. I spend a lot of time on my blog writing about the transition to motherhood as I truly believe it is an ongoing and sometimes painful process. Good for you, getting the help you needed to get back on track!

    • Fadra

      When you say “transition to motherhood,” it sounds like a nicer version of what Cyndi said. Some women feel their lives are totally complete and the rest of us are left wondering “what happened to my life?” Thank God I’m past that and I love every precious, adorable, and annoying moment with my son.

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  • Robin

    I’m glad that I read your post. I only knew a little bit about what you went through b/c it was when I was just getting to know you. I hope you know that if you are ever in need of a friend I am here with open arms!

    • Fadra

      Robin – that made me cry. Thank you for saying that. I forget that you didn’t really know crazy Fadra. But thank you for that and let me make sure that I reciprocate that right back to you!

  • Sue Robinson

    I was there and I was worried. We fought after and made our way through it even closer than before. I am so glad you made it out of your tunnel. Watching you and listening to you is always an insipration.

    love u…

    • Fadra

      Sue – that’s why I used the word “through.” There is an other side to depression and you will get there. Maybe I needed to go through it to show that.

  • suzanne @ pretty*swell

    So much about your story rings true for me, down to the steak dinner on the night the baby came home from the hospital (all I wanted to do was eat!). You are an amazing woman and mother, Fadra. I consider myself blessed to know you and Sue … and I’m so glad you two found each other when you needed it most. Thank you for telling your story. I can only imagine how much it will help other women who might be experiencing some of the same things. You are wonderful!

    • Fadra

      Well, thank YOU, Suzanne for inspiring me to write it. I’m pretty much an open book but never really thought about writing my story. I’m really glad I did and I hope maybe it might shed some light for somebody out there.

      Keep up your work with PPD! It matters!!

  • Andrea

    I thank you for sharing your story. PPD is a serious thing. I love that so many bloggers and tweeters and women out there are sharing their stories in support of other mothers. We’re all in this together, and those of us who have been through it, PPD, PPA and other postpartum illnesses – at any level – know that support is one thing that pulls you through. I, for one, appreciate your openness with respect to what helped you get better. I had that insomnia WHILE I was at the end of my pregnancy. Thank goodness for Zoloft – that’s what I always say. Thanks again for opening up this way!

    • Fadra

      You know, I have never heard the term PPA. But that makes a lot of sense to me. I’m sure I had some weird combo of things going on in my body. And it is amazing how many people know that one word: Zoloft.

      I will say that one thing that always stuck with me came from a Zoloft email newsletter. It had a quote that said:

      “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”

      Simple words like that helped me so much.

  • Grace @ Arms Wide Open

    i feel like i could have written this post! my story is sooo similar. i obsessed about a red eye flight one night early january 2009 (5 months postpartum) and that spiraled into months of insomnia and taking a benzo to sleep for about 6 months. i’m now 25 mos postpartum and have all the same questions as you … wanting another baby but not knowing how or if it’s crazy of me, etc.

    heavy sigh.

    • Fadra

      Grace – I am so glad, believe it or not, to have someone echo the same type of story. Seriously, it really helps. I would say (easier said than done) to try to let go of the planning and anxiety. Things have a way of turning out the way they should. I’ve been waiting for the right time and realize now there may never be. I’m at peace with that yet I still never say ABSOLUTELY NOT. Take it one day at a time and don’t let your questions keep you from enjoying those terrible twos 😉

  • Kristiina


    Wonderful post….really honest and open, and I’m sure that you will reach many women who are suffering through the same type of thing. I’m so glad that you have made your way through and are now thriving!

    • Fadra

      I know you have had your challenges and yet somehow you always seem to keep it together. You have such strong family support and maybe if we all had more of that, it wouldn’t be so tough for so many. Thanks Kristiina!!

  • Stephanie

    This was a great post Fadra. I feel like I know you better now and I wish I had known you when you were struggling so I could have at least given you a hug! You are a cool person and I hope we can hang out again soon. :)

  • Melisa

    This post resonated so much with me, so much that I’m crying. When we brought Spencer home I felt like I should be feeling this overwhelming sense of love and bonding and instead I felt trapped. I think the questions that doctor’s ask after need to be more than “how are you doing?” Because when I answered with “just tired” that was normal to them. The thing is I had family ask if I was ppd and I thought they were crazy, cause I too wasn’t depressed, just anxious and tired. Something I never did anything about. Am I depressed now? I finally admitted that yes, I believe I am. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband and online friends that I can turn too.

    • Fadra

      Melisa – I think you bring up a good point. I think that doctors and family may not be able to recognize the symptoms beyond “tired” but women should be aware of what’s normal and what isn’t. I think if women have more confidence in that, they would feel more confident in seeking help if they need.

  • Audra

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know those feelings well. I was TERRIFIED of getting pregnant again. TERRIFIED. We were surprised to find out 2 days before my son’s first birthday that we were expecting again. I was just finally feeling well (mine was a result of a crazy thyroid – no other meds to worry about though looking back, I probably should have talked to the doctor about some). After my second son was born 4 months ago, I really struggled with my relationship with my older son. I began to realize all I had missed with him. I felt so guilty. Thankfully, I haven’t struggled with full-blown PPD/PPA this time around. There have been a few bumps in the road, but nothing like last time.

    Thank you for being so open and honest.

    • Fadra

      Audra – guilt can/will eat you alive. Take today by the horns and live each moment because it’s everything from this point forward that matters. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Linda

    Hi Fadra,

    What you wrote totally reminds me of me. I gave birth to my daughter in October ’09, and am a mother of a 4 year old as well. Everything was fine in the begining but I did have many struggles with breastfeeding and feeling guilty of leaving out my older daughter many times. I also was running an online business while caring for 2 kids and taking care of a home and in March of this year I was starting to feel worn out. In June I had some major panic and then boom, a big painc attack one night after a nursing session that turned into bad insomnia. I am still struggling with my sleep as I have been in Zoloft now for about 5 weeks and am also taking Klopin. I am starting to feel better, but am also so tired as I am still not sleeping right and that to me is the scariest part of all of this. It all started with the dreaded insomnia and then I got anxiety which turned into depressed feelings. Your article is very encouraging and I pray everyday that things will get better. If you don’t mind me asking what do you take to help you sleep and how was it weaning off the Zoloft? How high of a dose did you have to go to? Again, your post was so well written!

    • Fadra

      Linda – things CAN and WILL get better. But it is a process. I know the cycle all too well. You suffer from insomnia. Then the anxiety sets in because you fear you won’t be able to sleep. Then it worsens because you know how you will feel if you don’t sleep. And then depression is the dark cloud that descends on you over time.

      I would love for you to email me and I’d be happy to share my personal experience with my meds!


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  • Ramblings of a Woman

    Awesome sharing Fadra!
    As my children are all grown, my depression is not PPD, although my doctor thinks it oculd be PTSD. Regardless, I went through a bad year this past year and basically had a breakdown in July. And preceeding that time, I felt like I had to hold it all together, to be perfect. I think it is just so important that we learn to be real and open with one another as women.
    I can so relate with your photos, the one posed and the one where you didn’t realize anyone was watching.

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  • Kelly

    Thank you for sharing your story Fadra. Your self awareness and candor is amazing.

  • Leahsthoughts

    Thank you for sharing your journey with depression. You’re so brave to do so. It’s amazing — I’ve had nearly identical feelings that you’ve had. I felt the same way when I brought my daughter home. Everyone said you instantly love your baby. I did not and I did grieve for the life I didn’t have anymore. I think I went through a huge mourning period of mourning control of my life. And like you, I’ve struggled with feelings of anxiety and depression since she was born. I’m finally in a better place now and want to write more about my experiences. Because I know we’re not alone and others need to know they aren’t alone either. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Misssrobin

    I struggle with chronic, recurring depression (although never PPD, which I thought was weird).  I also fight insomnia and have for years.  I can find things that help me sleep, but if I’m on them for more than a week they send me into a deep depression.  If I could find an anti-depressant that helped me I would take it and shout it from the rooftops.

    I wish we could get to a place where mental illness was accepted like other illnesses.  Talking about it helps.  Thank you for sharing your story and best wishes with your continued healing.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for reading and sharing. In looking back, I’ve always been a bit prone to anxiety and depression. It was only after my son that I reached a point of clinical depression. I’m still in a good place now but I find as I get older, the changes in my hormones affect my mental state as well. I just take it day by day and make sure I have doctors who are my advocates! Sending love and light…

  • Kimberly Connolly

    Thank you for sharing your story!  It sounds so similar to what I went through after the birth of my first son.  I wish I had looked online for more support when I was going through these things-that’s why these blogs are so important!  I appreciate your honesty and so happy you are feeling better-me too! 

    • FadraN

      Kimberly – thanks for sharing that with me. People often don’t realize that having a baby changes your body forever, both physically and mentally. I had no idea about blogs either and it would have been a much different experience for me if I had. The important thing is that we are both on the right path!

    • FadraN

      Kimberly – thanks for sharing that with me. People often don’t realize that having a baby changes your body forever, both physically and mentally. I had no idea about blogs either and it would have been a much different experience for me if I had. The important thing is that we are both on the right path!

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