I Was Strong Enough to Ask For Help

For years I suffered from anxiety and depression. Once I had kids it became almost debilitating. I was ready to escape my life as a wife and mom and get the hell out of here. I got help, though. I was STRONG enough to ask for help for my depression and anxiety. And you are strong enough, too. Please seek help if you need it. It is NOT a sign of weakness. You can do this. And it will get better.

A couple weeks ago I went a little crazy.

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. What I once thought was merely teenage angst stuff turned out to be just a part of me. I’d get into funks, be sad for a few weeks, and would always manage to find my way back towards the light. For years I chalked up the anxiety aspect to just being a worrier. Friends and family would constantly tell me to just relax, that I couldn’t control whatever situation I was obsessing over, that I just needed a good night’s sleep.

And while all of that is true, it didn’t make the anxiety go away.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve noticed an increase in both my negative emotions as well as my anxiety. Slowly the feelings worsened and deepened and soon I was becoming unable to think rationally about the day’s events let alone big life decisions. Everything was overwhelming, overpowering, and becoming too much to handle.

I couldn’t sleep. I would get anxious while getting ready for bed, fearing what tomorrow would bring, what it wouldn’t bring, if I’d be able to sleep, what I would do if I couldn’t sleep, and what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t sleep. Over the counter sleeping pills were of no use to me and the less I slept, the worse everything got.

I began yelling at my kids for offenses that were not at all yell-worthy. I started to hide in their room while they watched T.V. because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t deal with two toddlers. The stress over what to do with them all day to keep them happy and healthy was too heavy a burden to bear and I was becoming incapable of carrying it.

A couple weeks ago, I hit my breaking point. My husband had to work on a Saturday and there I was with two toddlers who were refusing to take a nap. Had I been thinking logically, I would’ve let them just whine and cry and throw their fits until they finally gave into their tiredness. But instead I almost gave up. I was fully prepared to close my bedroom door and let them have the house while I slept. I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t take it anymore, couldn’t take them anymore; I just wanted to hide in bed and let them take over. I was done. Finished. My panic had reached such a level that I was losing it.

Thank God, and I mean that sincerely, I had just enough of a grip on the reality of the situation that I called my husband and asked him to call his mom. I was too embarrassed to do it myself; too ashamed of the fact I was suddenly unable to take care of my kids. I needed my mother-in-law to come take the kids for a night or two because I couldn’t take care of them anymore. It was in everyone’s best interest and health that I not be in charge of them for a little while.

Luckily she was more than happy to oblige and I was able to rest for a few days. I asked for help then, and I also asked for help from my doctor who prescribed me a couple medications to get me through this rough patch I find myself in. They are helping immensely and just last week I found myself genuinely enjoying time with my kids–something I had not felt in quite a long time.

I’m slowly beginning to feel like me again. I don’t plan on taking medications for the rest of my life, but at this time, I know I need them to allow me to get back to the mental place where I can think about things in a realistic way. Where my kids refusing to nap doesn’t send me into a dark, spiraling tunnel of despair.

I say all this to encourage any of you that may be struggling to ask for help. It does not mean you’re weak. It means you are strong. You are strong enough to make a phone call and ask someone to give you the tools you need to be the best parent you can be. It means you are strong enough to admit you can’t do it on your own and no one should expect you to. It means you are strong enough to do what is best for you and your family.

I was strong enough to ask for help and I hope you are too.

20 Comments on I Was Strong Enough to Ask For Help

  1. Christy Landefeld
    December 19, 2014 at 7:56 am (2 years ago)

    I have been there. In that place, with the door closed, kid crying on one side, me crying on the other. Asking for help is so hard and humbling, but good things happen when you open yourself up to that need. Thank you for sharing Toni. There is strength in vulnerability and being honest enough to discuss it. Sending you love from a fellow medicated Mama.

    Reply
    • Kimberly
      December 19, 2014 at 8:47 am (2 years ago)

      So well said, Christy. Asking for help is so.hard. and your story resonates with me so well. I struggled with post partum after my first baby last year and it was very scary. Finally asking for help from family and my doctor was the best thing I could’ve done for our family. I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long (2+ months!). I am now 28 weeks pregnant with #2 and the thought of going back to that dark place lingers in the back of mind, but at least I know what to do and what my options are and, most importantly, I don’t have to do it alone. Realizing that this does not make me a weak person or a bad mom was something I harbored for a while as well – but not any more. This is my motherhood journey…and I just want to love my kids, hubby and myself and be the best person I can for our family. No matter what that looks like.

      I enjoy your blog and Facebook posts. It is refreshing to meet this side of you – while I think you are hilarious, I love when people are just – REAL. Thank you for sharing. Sending you love and prayers on your journey.

      Reply
      • Toni Hammer
        December 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm (2 years ago)

        Sending love and prayers right back at ya, Kimberley. I’m so glad you got the help you needed. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

        Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm (2 years ago)

      Sending love back to you, Christy. Thanks for sharing your story with me.

      Reply
  2. Sandi
    December 19, 2014 at 10:31 am (2 years ago)

    My daughter sent me your link awhile ago and I’ve been following ever since. Yes, my daughter – she’s now a mommy as is her sister – so, I’m old-er.

    I appreciate reading your honest and whimsical posts.

    What you experience seems to be more common these days – but, maybe it’s more because women like yourself are opening up and being honest as young moms.

    We are made for relationship. My mother often had the over-the-picket-fence friends and the across-the-street-coffee-friends. She was involved with neighbors, church and school. She and her friends looked out for each other – and, us kids growing up. This life-example wasn’t lost on me…

    I couldn’t have got through those years of raising six children without my community of moms. I, too, “lost it” and felt guilt when my “together” mom friends didn’t seem to get my emotional reactions.

    It was often those friends – single and married – who pitched in for me when I couldn’t take another minute – this was rich. They knew to help me take care of myself. Something we too often forget while cleaning up messes, and kissing owwies.

    What a blessing for Grandma who gladly takes the children for a day or two. What joy for her to give to you in this way!

    All this to say – thank you for sharing so transparently. It is healing and supportive for those who are journeying with you.

    Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight with me, Sandi. I really, really appreciate it.

      Reply
    • Laura Quackenbush Hammer
      December 21, 2014 at 10:40 am (2 years ago)

      As your mother in law I have to say, I’m so proud of you Toni for asking for help. Yes, drug therapy is fairly new to all our life’s. But if it works, how is that a bad thing! For some reason the mentally ill fell guilty for taking a drug that can elp them. It’s been proven again and again. Just enjoy your peaceful mind, and your family!

      Reply
  3. Caley Clinton
    December 19, 2014 at 11:11 am (2 years ago)

    Way to go! Not only for asking for help when you needed it, but for writing this great piece sharing your story. So many mothers will need to read this. Hope things continue to feel better!

    Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. scarymommy
    December 19, 2014 at 11:41 am (2 years ago)

    Is it odd to say that I’m proud of you? Because I am.

    Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Jill. I’m proud of me, too.

      Reply
  5. Diana Jones
    December 19, 2014 at 11:59 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for this. I too go through the exact same things. It’s good to know there are others like me. I am not alone.

    Reply
    • Heidi
      December 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm (2 years ago)

      I’ve been there too, today in fact.

      Reply
      • Toni Hammer
        December 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm (2 years ago)

        Sending good thoughts your way.

        Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm (2 years ago)

      You are most definitely not alone. Sending good thoughts your way.

      Reply
  6. T
    December 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for voicing your journey! What you wrote is me, right now, struggling, low, and overwhelmed with life at home with 2 babies. So thank you for sharing so that I know its time for help and that maybe I am not totally broken

    Reply
    • Toni Hammer
      December 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm (2 years ago)

      You are NOT broken. Sending good thoughts your way.

      Reply
  7. Christina Mayer
    December 22, 2014 at 8:46 am (2 years ago)

    So proud of you for asking for help. Sometimes all you can do is reach out a hand in the dark. Find someone to hold on to until you can see the light again. Asking for help with two toddlers is nothing to be ashamed of. The littles are turning 2 next week, I am cringing in anticipation and they are not even my primary responsibility. You do a great job with your kids and will do a better job if you take care of yourself too. You are a light and hope to many. Thank you for sharing your hard times as well as the fun times.

    Reply
  8. Tamra
    January 6, 2015 at 10:48 am (2 years ago)

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and this post really was meaningful to me! Thank you!

    I am a new mom to a 13 month old, angel of a baby. And even though he’s been such an easy baby, some days I just feel like it’s all too much and I question whether I’m really cut out for this. My anxiety is sky high and I obsess over the most ridiculous things…Is he warm/cool enough?; Should I put the fan on 1,2,or 3?; Is it okay if I fill the bottle to 180 or 190 ml?; should I put this outfit on him, or that one?… It’s just mindless nonsense that I fill my head with in an effort to seek some control, and its causing me major stress which I have no option but to seek help with. The moments of depression creep in here and there too…especially when I question and feel lost in the meaning of what it is to be a mother and where I will end up in the end.

    I think your honesty about how it can be to be a mother is so valuable. There’s such pressure to be a motherhood-loving, all-perfect, beautifully contained mom that you can feel so alone in it all. I’m learning that it’s okay to get it wrong sometimes….after all I am only a 1yr old mommy! That it really doesn’t matter if I put 10 ml extra water into the bottle! I’m learning that to seek counselling and sometimes the help of a pill or two is also fine and doesn’t mean that you’re bat-sh*t crazy. That motherhood is a constant navigation through the mist, but that when that mist breaks along the way, that it’s a beautiful thing. And those Moms that seem to be “all-perfect and contained” are also probably having rough days, but don’t feel safe enough to share it with anyone.

    So thank you for being wonderfully real. I’m sure it means SO much to so many mommies out there!

    Reply
  9. scidoll5000
    April 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm (2 months ago)

    I think you may have Asperger’s Syndrome. Do your feelings of stress and anxiety often not make sense. Have you had problems dealing with people?

    “I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. What I once thought was merely teenage angst stuff turned out to be just a part of me. I’d get into funks, be sad for a few weeks, and would always manage to find my way back towards the light. For years I chalked up the anxiety aspect to just being a worrier. Friends and family would constantly tell me to just relax, that I couldn’t control whatever situation I was obsessing over, that I just needed a good night’s sleep.”

    This sounds like a female manifestation of autistic traits.

    Here is a paper to read about it: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-016-2872-8

    Reply

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