Sometimes when I reflect on motherhood, the Coldplay lyrics come to mind, “Nobody said it was easy… No one ever said it would be this hard.” But what happens when it gets to be too much? This was the feeling Eileen Wolter had after the birth of her second child and, when exhaustion and depression sunk in, she realized she needed mental health help and headed to rehab. Here is her story:
At what point did you realize that you needed to be in rehab?
When I couldn’t sleep or stop crying and I started to feel like I didn’t like my children anymore. I was suffering from severe post-partum depression and exhaustion.
Was your husband and other family members supportive?
Once he realized the severity of the situation, he was. No one in my family has ever actually spoken about it with me aside from my mother. I’d had other emotional issues in my life – anorexia – but I did not come from a family in which feelings were explored or admitted.
How old were your children at the time?
My youngest was 6 months old and my oldest was nearly 4.
How did the 4 year old cope with mommy gone?
The baby had no idea and the older one was told mommy had gone away for a rest. He got to see more of his dad and grandparents and I think was kind of okay with that.
How long were you in rehab for?
4 nights, 5 days.
Did you find it beneficial?
Very much so.
It allowed me to press pause. To admit to myself I needed care. To be able to get away and stabilize and prioritize. And spend the time looking for solutions rather than just managing to get by.
What do you recommend as a first step to other women who find themselves needing mental health help?
Admit it to yourself. Speak it out loud to someone who won’t judge you. Write it down. Get past any stigma or shame or anything you may feel is holding you back from needing and wanting help. And if you can, plan for it rather than make it an emergency case as I did.
What is your advice if the woman doesn’t recognize it, but her family and friends do — what is the best way they can help her?
Offer to seek out and or drive her to a meeting with a mental health professional. Come at it from a place of love and acceptance. Intervene if need be, especially if self-harm or self-medication is an issue.
What can women expect from rehab?
A time out in the best sense of the word. Someone to listen. To be there for you to help you get well and figure out ways to help you live your life in a more healthy manner.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve never felt suicidal, only that I wanted to be loved a way I never have. To be accepted. Don’t be afraid to try non-traditional forms of therapy – pilates has been a mood-stabilizer for me. Eat well, drink water. Be kind to yourself.
If you are on medication, make sure you also have someone with whom to talk and work things out.
Fight with your insurance company if need be to get the coverage you need.
About Eileen Wolter:
East Coast born and bred, Eileen spent several happy years out West after studying Art History and film at Vassar. Now, she’s a “digital age mom” raising 2 sons and using music as a means to make sense of my suburban life.
To read her blog, visit: http://www.asuburbanstateofmom.com