Today I’m honored to share my lovely friend (and fellow Texan!) Jessica Escobar’s story with you. Jess is a proud Latina and Texas girl who grew up on the border in El Paso, but currently lives in Austin with her husband and two beautiful girls. She’s a lawyer, avid runner, and the woman loves her some Starbucks, y’all. She’s also a PPA survivor and one of the fiercest Warrior Moms I know. She’s one of my favorite people and I’m honored she decided to put on her brave and share her experience with you.
I’ve always been in charge of everything. I’m a typical Type A, first child. Growing up on the border, I’ve always served everyone around me before I think about myself.
I am literally incapable of relaxing or giving up control. It’s a coping mechanism, I think.
I didn’t know anything about postpartum depression when I had my first daughter in 2005. No one told me about it–not my doctor, not my family, no one.
In 2011, there was the internet. Blogs. That’s the only way I knew what PPD was and how women suffered. My doctor still didn’t warn me. I was my own advocate.
When I had my second daughter, I knew I could handle being a working mom of 2, a wife, and still be everything to everyone. I’m superwoman, and I’d get back into my normal life, no big.
When I told my doctor about a few incidents I’d had after she was born, he chocked them up to bad days. He literally called it the baby blues. For the record, “baby blues” is the stupidest name ever. Anyone who has ever been depressed knows that it is so much deeper than “feeling blue.”
But it wasn’t depression. I had felt depression before, and this wasn’t it. Looking back, the symptoms would soon add up.
I remember being desperate to find the perfect outfits for family pictures. I was literally obsessed and not finding them made me depressed. It was all I could think of. One lunch I went to Target for retail therapy to help me relax and I was standing in the food aisle thinking I would get my husband and daughter some goodies. I could make them happy. I froze, with no clue what to buy; I was freaked out and didn’t know why. I called my husband to have him talk me down. Why couldn’t I figure something out that should have been so easy?
I told my husband I wasn’t ok. I needed help but I didn’t know how.
Shortly after, I was reading this post by Katherine about postpartum anxiety and sat at my desk knowing I had an answer. I didn’t have PPD, I had postpartum anxiety. It was a thing.
- I couldn’t stay still. I always had to be doing something. I’d clean into the night, even though I was exhausted after a long day.
- I constantly had to be checking and rechecking things. I would turn back at least a couple times a week to be sure I’d turn off appliances and locked the door.
- I panicked. I worried. If I was in a long line, I became like a trapped animal and wanted to escape.
I printed out the article and took it to my doctor so he would know PPA was a thing. He brushed it off and said I had PPD, which I’m not sure he fully believed, and only prescribed me some low dose pills because I told him I would see a counselor. Which I did.
That wasn’t the hard part about getting help. That was just a room with him, me and my husband. Thank God for my husband’s support.
No one knew. I didn’t have to announce to anyone that anything was wrong.
I was raised to work hard and do my best. Men have machismo, I had whatever is the Mexican woman’s opposite. I had to do everything for everyone and I wasn’t satisfied till it was. I would never abandon my work; I would never accept help. I’d just put on my face when I needed to deal with people and go into my hole when I didn’t.
Until I couldn’t anymore.
The face wasn’t working. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I knew it and so did my boss. Thank God for her, though. She knew, even before I did, I needed to a break.
I still remember the day I left my psychiatrist’s office and she told me it was time to take a break. From work. I cried because it meant I was officially broken since nothing else was working. I was that bad. I knew I was no longer in control and I couldn’t pretend I was.
I took the time off of work and was so embarrassed knowing that people would talk. But I was at the point where it was so bad, I couldn’t even care. I needed help. I needed the time for myself. I’m lucky I have insurance and a good job that enabled me to take the time off. The break was what I needed.
To this day, most of my family-and pretty much the world-doesn’t know what happened. Not my extended family anyway. I knew how some of them treated others with depression and infuriated me. A couple mocked them and wrote them off as pill poppers. How could I share such a deep battle as mine? They didn’t deserve to know.
I’m better. I’m not fixed and I never will be. It’s an ongoing battle. I don’t think I’ll ever be off meds. Which makes me sad to say. But I’ve mostly accepted it.
I am terrified and proud to write this.
I’m still scared to share my struggles with “my real world” because that would mean coming out from behind the mask, la máscara. Be judged by people who know me.
But I’m proud to share this if it might help someone in my shoes see herself and ask for help.