Archive for July, 2008

by Diane

Here is the conclusion to my letter. I plan to drop it in the mail very soon. I don’t expect Brenda to respond well to the letter at all. I have been told that it is well written, but Brenda does not think rationally. If she had, I don’t think she would have done what she did. I think she blames me and feels mostly that her  behavior is justified. I completely disagree, and outside of the couple things I apologized for, I can’t imagine what she has to be upset about. Unfortunately, I think she will get mad about the letter and think it is just junk. I am trying to prepare for this response, acknowledging that I can only do my part. I cannot control her response. I do feel good about standing up for myself, though. I will keep you posted on what happens. 

Before I go any farther, I want to tell you that in this letter I am not exaggerating my feelings or experiences in any way. When I refer to intense anxiety, etc., please know that was absolutely my reality, and I am not trying to get you to feel sorry for me. I know you can’t understand completely, and that’s ok. Understanding someone else’s perspective can be difficult.

The next topic I want to address is more difficult, this past Christmas. Due to previous events, the thought of attending a family gathering sent me spiraling into tremendous feelings of anxiety and fear. I was so afraid to face that day that Lee and I decided it would be best for our immediate family if we stayed home. I knew the family would not be pleased, but we had to make this decision for my emotional health. I do not regret this decision as I was just not ready to go. I am sorry that people were hurt and that we missed out. I know you do not agree, and that’s ok. We will not always agree. What is not ok with me is the letter you sent me in response, specifically the nasty ending. It hurts me to know that you would send me a letter with such hurtful words. To me that says you tried to hurt me or knew it would and did not care. I don’t understand this and do not deserve to be treated this way.

I was also upset by your putting Ashlyn’s middle name on her gifts. I appreciate the clothes, and she has worn them, but I don’t understand why you would put her middle name on the packages. I know this was done after we did not come to the gathering, so it seems to me that you did this as a way to hurt me. I understand that you were upset with me, but it bothers me that you brought Ashlyn into it. I would ask that you please leave my daughter out of any disagreements we might have, and I will not involve your children either.

I have gotten to the point in my journey where I would like to move on from this conflict. It has haunted me and caused me more pain than I can express. I want to be free of this hurt, and I’m sure you do too. As I said before, I am still healing from past events and am almost there. With this behind us, I can look forward to family gatherings, and hopefully, our friendship can begin to heal. With that in mind, here are a couple of things I would ask of you:

1) Mutual respect and love – I think we disagree more than we agree, but that’s ok. I believe that any conflict can be worked out with carefully spoken words and a commitment to loving respect. You are always welcome to disagree with me; I would only ask that your expressions of your feelings be respectful, and I will, too, do the same for you. To me that does not mean repressing the things that are hard to say but saying them very carefully.

2) Respect for boundaries and needs – What Lee, Ashlyn, and I need might not always coincide with what the family wishes, but I would like to be respected for my decisions even if you don’t agree. I know myself quite well and can differentiate between a true need and a feeling. I, too, will respect the boundaries you have established and know that you know what you need better than anyone else does.

3) Acknowledgement of my experiences and deep hurts – Ultimately, I would really like an apology, but I can’t expect one. I cannot, nor do I wish to impose certain feelings upon you. All I can ask is that you acknowledge my perspective and my hurt.

Well, there it is. I have poured out myself onto these sheets of paper. Know that I have tried to choose my words carefully because I don’t want to be hurtful, and know that it took me a long time to write this letter. I do not have expectations for your response. Do what you need to process this letter. I know it is heavy, but these things needed to be said in order for us to move forward.

Take care,



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by Diane

Here is the second part to my letter. There is another part still to come. This section starts to get into more difficult topics and begins to address the actions of this family member. It is a bit lengthy, but I am a person of many words, especially when I am pouring out my heart.

When Lee, Ashlyn, and I got over the hurdle of the onset of my postpartum depression, other struggles began to hit us. I don’t need or want to re-hash all the family struggles, especially since most of them have been resolved. I will say that the family conflicts have left me in an intense, gripping panic that causes me to fear seeing the family. I know that I am not the only person who has been hurt by the struggles, but the impact of it for me has been very real and very big. I can only speak for my own reality and the impact on my life.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Ashlyn’s illness was an intensely painful and stressful time. I know you understand that because you were very supportive. I don’t think I will ever get over the fact that my baby nearly starved to death, and I don’t know how to forgive myself for shutting the door and walking away from her screams for food. I didn’t know, and I was doing everything I could, but that doesn’t matter. The fact is that I almost lost my baby, and I have to deal with the deep feelings surrounding this period.

Even though the intensity of my struggles slowed after this difficult period, the difficulties were far from over. Slowly, I healed enough that I could care for Ashlyn and myself, but that was all. I could not care for my house or cook dinner. The mess at home stressed me out, and I couldn’t deal with it, so Ashlyn and I would go places to escape. Also, Ashlyn was not a good napper, and that was very difficult for me. I know other moms deal with babies who don’t want to nap either, but it was a real challenge for me. I needed her to sleep because I desperately needed those quiet breaks, but she would have stayed up all day if I had let her. Finally, after many hours of sleep training and tears (mine), Ashlyn began taking the naps we both needed. I realize now that I was not thinking clearly enough to implement a consistent sleep routine for the first few months and that if I had, sleeping probably would not have been so difficult.

In general, everyday life was a challenge. Some days were great, and I could do some chores and make dinner, and other days were filled with anxiety, feeling down, and feeling like a failure. Often, Lee would be nervous to come home, not knowing what he was coming home to. He dealt with intense stress and chaos both at home and at work. He has been my faithful support, but he does not understand what I have felt.

Finally, 9 months postpartum, the fog lifted. Ashlyn began eating more food, so I was nursing her less. This allowed my hormones to level a great deal, which resulted in my feeling much better. I began to be able to think clearly, and the irrational thinking was not as prevalent. The stimulus issues I had were gone. (I had immense trouble with auditory and visual stimulus. I would get overloaded very easily, like being in the stereo section of a store with all the radios turned up, and I would panic. It took me a long time to be able to shop and have a normal experience.) I stopped having down days, except for the days immediately preceding my period. It was good to feel like me again. I was even able to reduce my medication a couple months ago, which has been a great victory.

Since I have been feeling better, I have begun the painful process of going back through the last year or so to deal with the losses I have faced. I am trying to face my experiences so I can grow and move on. That is why I am writing this letter. What has happened between us has very much been a loss for me, and I have experienced an astronomical amount of anxiety, fear, and sadness. I know that you too have experienced sadness, hurt, and loss. It is not my desire that you hurt. You have been through many tough times as well, and I wish for you to be healthy, happy, and whole. I do not understand some of the things that have taken place. It seems that you have deliberately tried to hurt me, and I don’t understand why. I know you have not known or understood my perspective, but I just can’t understand why you would want to hurt me. I know it didn’t start out that way, but the gap between us has brought that about. I don’t think in your heart of hearts that you have set out to cause me pain but allowed things to occur that you knew would upset me. 

Last July, I was shocked that you didn’t want to talk to me. I was nervous to see you, but I wanted to try to make an effort toward you. I don’t know what else was going on for you that day, but I was hurt when you didn’t want to look at me or have a conversation with me. I still don’t know what brought that on. I know for me that was an immensely hard day because I was anxious about seeing the family.

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by Diane

I am in the process of writing a very difficult letter to a family member with whom I have an estranged relationship. We used to be good friends, but the events occuring since my daughter’s birth have ripped that relationship in two. I truly believe that this is not my fault and that we would still be friends if it were not for the destructive behaviors that this family member has directed at me.

This letter has taken months to write because it is not fun. When I get a quiet moment to myself, I generally prefer to do something enjoyable. I am almost finished with this letter, though, and am anxious to be done with it. I am very nervous to send it and don’t think it will go over well, but I feel like I need to stand up for myself. Otherwise, I feel as though I am just sitting back and taking all the crap that is being given to me. Because the letter is long, I will be publishing it in parts. Please feel free to comment, as your comments are very meaningful to me.  Here is the first part:

        Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent.

Dear Brenda, 

First, I would like to apologize for the ways I have hurt you. When Ashlyn was sick last year, you kindly called me and offered to come help. Looking back, I realize what a sacrifice that would have been for you, especially with taking time off work and losing pay. You would have done that for me, I know, and I’m sorry for the hurt you must have experienced when I turned down your offer. I didn’t intend to hurt you.

More recently, I know that my behavior at the funeral home visitation for Mary’s father was hurtful to you. I was unprepared to see you, so I panicked and fled. I realized that standing in the hallway was not a good choice, so I headed back and was going to come in. By then, Jon and Mary had parted with you, and I ran into them in the hallway. It got worse standing there talking to them because you walked by, and I realized you probably thought I was giving you the cold shoulder. I wasn’t, and I do apologize for my behavior.

Second, I would like to try to explain my perspective. I will not be able to do this well because there are no words to adequately explain what I have experienced. Please know that my words are not intended to hurt you, but I know you will not like everything I have to say.

The past year and a half has been a tremendous journey. Some parts have been beautiful, but a large portion has been intensely painful. I have experienced hurt, anxiety, and grief like I never have before. I am not asking you to feel sorry for me, only to “listen” and try to understand.

After Ashlyn was born, my world crashed very intently. The first two weeks of Ashlyn’s life were hell for us. I wish I could explain them to you. Bits and pieces are etched in my mind, and other parts I do not recall. I can tell you that all I could do was survive. Until I received the right medication, I could not eat, sleep, or focus. I could not care for Ashlyn or myself. All I could do was nurse Ashlyn and sit on the couch, trying to survive from one hour to the next. I was battling intense panic attacks and was lost inside my illness. I tried to be normal, but even simple things like the berry tree outside were too much for my senses. Hearing the phone ring and having visitors launched me into panic like I’d never experienced before.

I am still dealing with deep hurt and shame from that time period especially and from the days that followed. Cognitively, I know that I could not control what I said or did and that all that happened to me was not my fault. Emotionally, however, I have had to deal with shame, embarassment, and visual reminders of what I experienced. I have made great progress, but the journey is not over yet.

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Location of Ethiopia

So, what’s next?

Well, we are currently in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia.

Yes. We probably are crazy. Everyone’s thinking it, but most of you are too kind to say it to our expectant faces.

We’re blogging about our adoption journey, but there might be relevant overlap for LAB as well.

For instance:

  • some countries (China, for instance) will not let you adopt their children if you have or have ever suffered from any form of mental illness (PPD counts)
  • in our adoption literature, our agency ‘warns’ us that we may suffer from post-adoption depression (PAD)–interesting, huh?

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//www.graduationandprom.com/Graduation_and_Prom/images/graduation_cap_felt_black.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I haven’t written here a lot lately.

I’m in a tight and prickly spot.

You see, I’m ready to “graduate” from being a PPD survivor to attempting a ‘normal’ life.

It’s a wonderful feeling, riddled with guilt at leaving friends and friendships ‘behind’. Namely any of you reading this that aren’t where I am right now. Maybe hurting your feelings (unwittingly) in the process of going and growing.

I need to see if I can handle being a healthy mom. Part of that for me means putting my PPD past behind me and moving on. Healing. Sealing. Sailing.

Not writing on LAB every single day. Not attending support groups until I’m ready to come back to them after having a few years of successful “normalcy” under my belt.

Taking a big step back from my responsibilities with LAB. Stepping into a weekly Bible study that I desperately need and have no idea whether I’ll be able to ‘handle’ in the weekly homework department.

I want to try to live out what I wish for each LAB mommy friend I’ve met and made. To see you flourish as you get healthy, and seek new growth.

So, that’s why it’s been so quiet on the LAB scene. At least from my perspective.

But on a lighter note, I’m also afraid that every PPD friend I make will up and move to a new state out of the blue (Bobbie, Lisa, who’s next? You?)

So forgive me if you feel it’s been a long while since you’ve heard from me. It’s on purpose, but not in a bad way. I’ve been busy basking in health that’s not been marred by a “bad day” or “funk” for months. And figuring out what’s next for me and my family.

And boy, howdy, wait ’til I tell you what “what’s next” is…

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