Suzanne shares her Struggle with PDD and to “Stop the Silent Suffering”

Suzanne with her 3 boys.

Suzanne with her 3 boys.

I have many things in common with Mica Breeden Martin. We share a hometown, Bolivar, a modern-day Mayberry in rural West Tennessee, and we both experienced and battled mental illness. Although Mica and I didn’t know each other well (I was several years ahead of her in school), everyone in Bolivar knew and loved Mica. She was beautiful, fun to be around, and an all-around great gal. I was honored to have the opportunity to write here on the Team Mica Fund blog to share about my experience with mental illness, specifically postpartum depression. I pray that my story will be used to encourage others and the caregivers of those experiencing mental illness. 

In April of this year, there was much swirling in the media concerning mental illness. Much of the chatter stemmed from the news of the suicide of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew. Rick Warren is a well-known pastor (Saddleback Church) and author of New York Times best seller, The Purpose Driven Life. Following Matthew’s death, Warren made a public statement to the media and bravely shared of his son’s lifelong battle with mental illness, depression. As I read those words, my heart was filled with grief for the Warrens, yet my heart also ached as the all-to-familiar memories of my own struggles with depression resurfaced.  I am a pastor’s wife, and I’ve taken anti-depressants. Yes, you read that correctly.

When our first son was born in 2005, we experienced almost every major life stressor–except death and divorce–in a span of 3 weeks. I quit a job I loved, we moved to a new town for my husband’s job on a church staff, we left a strong community of family and friends, and our first child was born. Whew! Having never experienced any of those things previously, I wasn’t aware of the stress I was walking through. I was just rolling with the punches and moving forward. All of these changes were positive so there was much excitement on my husband’s and my part.

However, once our sweet baby boy arrived, I plummeted. I didn’t realize it at the time; neither did my husband. Both of us had very limited experience with babies (as in–NONE!) previously, so we were trying to figure things out as all first-time parents do. Having a newborn can be challenging, so we just chalked it up to our first-time-parents-know-nothing-about-babies reality. Yet as we moved forward, my Dr. Jekyll personality reared its ugly head all too often in the days and weeks following our arrival home as a family of three. I would have moments of peace and serenity holding our son (enter Mr. Hyde). Within 5 minutes of elapsed time, though, Dr. Jekyll appeared. There were fits of rage, ANGER, screaming, hair pulling, uncontrollable crying, reclusive-never-leave-the-house behavior. It was not pleasant nor pretty. This roller coaster of good moments-followed by bad moments-back to good moments continued for weeks, which turned to months.

Finally after 8 months, I hit an all-time low. I remember the day very vividly, March 8, 2006; it was my younger brother’s birthday. I called my husband at work, and I had just had it with our son. (And now, having had 2 more sons after him, I realize that he was our easiest baby. You would never have convinced me of that at the time.) I was at my wit’s end, so I told Jamie that we needed to give our son to someone. Yes, I was ready to give him away. In my mind, I had the perfect plan. I said, “Jamie, let’s just give him to my parents or your parents because they love and enjoy him. Or, if that doesn’t work out, I know we could find someone else who would love him.” Yes, those were my words. (It’s almost too painful to even write this.)

A few hours later, an amazing, godly counselor, who also attended our church, showed up at the door with my husband. I love this dear saint, and I’ve told her on more than one occasion that she saved my life. Well, the more accurate depiction is that the Lord used her to save my life. After talking with her for a couple of hours, she helped me see that there was a problem and that what I was experiencing was not normal. With her experience and expertise, she revealed to me that postpartum depression was what I had been experiencing, battling through for 8 long months.

Before being diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD), I had never met a single woman who had experienced it. After my battle through postpartum depression, I vowed that I would be open with my personal experience with it. I had suffered silently for months, and I did not want that for any other woman. My husband and I both believe that we would have acted sooner to seek help if we had known more about PPD or known someone who had PPD. It’s still somewhat taboo to discuss, which saddens me.  I never want other women to suffer silently as I did due to a lack of knowledge about PPD, its symptoms, and how to get help. My new mantra is, “Stop the silent suffering.” If you know of someone experiencing mental illness, please love them enough to help them get the assistance they need.

To read a more about my postpartum depression journey, click here.

 About Suzanne Mosley
Suzanne Mosley lives in Middle Tennessee is married to Jamie, pastor of Redeemer Church and mother to 3 rambuncious boys. She blogs at Suzanne Shares.