Pregnancy is a beautiful thing!!! Postpartum is just a stage and parenting is bittersweet. But, you come out of each one a little bit stronger, laced with a lot more wisdom. -Anna
Anna describes her battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts and psychotic symptoms in a journey to wellness and advocacy.
Meet Anna: Mom of 3, married 9 years this September, as of August 31st, 2021 I became a stay-at-home mom. I have my bachelors in psychology, I am currently a volunteer with PPSM & through my church ministry a mentor for young/single moms. I simply love being with my family; but when I am not with them or allowing myself some “selfcare,” you will usually see me outside in my garden.
PPSM Involvement: Volunteer with PPSM, help host the Thursday night virtual support group, also mentoring through my church’s ministry ’Embrace,’ coming alongside young/single mothers.
Hello listeners and welcome to baby brain. I'm Samantha Huga your host. And with me tonight is Anna Tyler. She is not only a PMA survivor, but she also is a volunteer with P PSM and hosts their Thursday night support group, and is involved with an embrace program through her local church. Hi, Anna. Welcome.Speaker 2:
Hi Samantha. Thank you for having me.Speaker 1:
What is your involvement with PSI and P PSM?Speaker 2:
I have been volunteering with P PSM since 2018. Started off volunteering through the Facebook page and monitoring that, uh, hosting the Thursday night virtual support group that they hold. I also was a mentor for their one to one mentoring program, but have since, uh, that and have transitioned into a mentoringship through my church's ministry called embrace was actually looking in 2018 for avenues for my church to open up to women in the perinatal stages of life. And I found PSI through that. Uh, I actually signed up to do their two day program where you get certified and everything. So I got a ticket to Raleigh, North Carolina, and set off and did the two day training there. And I learned a lot, a lot great information and resources. And I actually learned a about what I had gone through as well, 13 years ago.Speaker 1:
Tell us a little bit about your journey. What brought you to that being an area of interest and what you went through?Speaker 2:
Yeah, so I am a mom of three. I have a 13 year old, a seven year old, a soon to be six year old. And it was my 13 year old that I actually of what I say now. I journeyed through whole slew of perinatal illnesses. Um, I, when I was pregnant with her, I did not have a good pregnancy. I was sick the entire time and I was in and out of the hospital, uh, you know, just getting IVs and stuff. And I eventually had her not to say that my labor was easy. It was very hard and it, which ended up in an emergency C-section her little hand was actually cutting off her jugular. So her heart rate was dropping. And so they were like, we need to get her out, which was scary as a first time mom, because I never discussed with my physician about C-sections. And so I had no clue what those were all about. So it was an emergency C-section and I had her February of 2009 immediately after I had her, I had immense abdominal pain. This went on for days and I was eventually discharged from the hospital with nothing more than, you know, a healthy bill. They sent me on my way and the pain was still there. The pain was so unbearable that I actually fell to my knees holding my newborn. Uh, my mom rushed me to the emergency room in my temp was climbing. The doctors kind of just pushed it up. They chalked it up to C-section pain that they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, but they did notice my white blood cell count was elevated where I had my child was a very small hospital, so they didn't have the means to figure out what was wrong with me. So I was rushed by ambulance to mail in Rochester, Minnesota, and they had no idea what was wrong with me. I had a newborn with me in the room the entire time I could not feed her. I lost all of my milk supply. They wouldn't let me eat. They wouldn't let me drink anything. In case I needed surgery, blood clots in my left over vein 13 years ago at the time I was too in Mayo clinic history to have this, they call it left septic ovarian vein thrombosis, and they have no idea how it happens. By the time I was discharged out of Mayo clinic, skin and bones. I had bruises all up and down my abdomens and my arms from the shot I was discharged with. No talk about what could possibly happen just after having a baby, like here are possible resources, different emotions. You know, here's some things that you can look out for. None of that was told to me, they discovered what was wrong with me and it was out the door. I truly believe that because of that one instance of me sick and almost dying and them discharging me without any recollection to my mental health. After I was discharged, my perinatal illnesses skyrocketed, I felt deep, deep into depression. My anxiety was so high. I did not wanna sleep, but I also did not want to be awake. It got to a point where I started to believe that my child was possessed by the devil, uh, because I did not seek any help. This was 13 years ago. Okay. And resources were not there again. I'm from a very small town. And so they didn't know anything about it. I did seek out help very quickly, but they, there was nothing there that was giving me satisfaction that I was headed in the right direction, comfort at all. I truly felt like I was alone in all of it. My own mother bless her heart couldn't even help me. And she's had six kids. She had no idea what was wrong with me. The intrusive thoughts started to take a whole old very quickly because of my anxiety level. I had no idea what any of this was. I literally thought I was going mentally insane. The intrusive thoughts were horrific. Mine were definitely harm based and they were solely focused on my newborn. I would imagine her all bloodied. I apologize if this gets graphic, but I feel like me sharing what I experienced is going to help. They were definitely harm based. She was bloody. Most of the time, it was her hanging from a tree and I could not do anything about. And I would see these images day in and day out. I dreamt about them. I would wake up and they would immediately flood my mind and they were making me go insane because I'm sitting here thinking what the heck is wrong with me. Be, am I gonna hurt my kid? See, am I gonna hurt myself? Like I had no idea what was happening. I was dealing with all of that. It got to a point like when I would do dishes at home, I would leave all of the silverware. I wouldn't touch the silverware because I had a fear that somehow they would manage slip outta my hand and land in my child. And it would kill her. I never carried her over cement. I barely carried her. Like if I did hold her, most of the pictures that you see of me with her, you know, when she was little is either of me sitting on the ground with her or in a chair or on the couch because I was deathly afraid of dropping, hurting her in some way, dealing with all of these emotions, the, the intrusive thought I went to a psychologist. I literally went two times to her because the second time that I went to see her, I started to talk about these images. I did not get her, know what I was talking about. I, I, I felt it right away. I shut down. I closed my mouth. I stopped talking because I was so afraid that my child would be taken from me for fear, that they thought that I would kill her or something, which was far from it. I would never hurt her. My illness took a turn for the worst. I started to hear voices in my head to kill my child. I started to, um, believe that my child was possessed by the devil. I remember one time sitting in my kitchen, feeding her. And she was sitting in her high chair to her mouth. Her face went into a demon face. Like this is stuff that I was physically seeing. And I remember I pushed myself away from her and I got on the phone and I called my mom and I, I was crying and I'm like, you need to come over. You need to come over right now. And she's like, what is wrong? What's wrong. And I'm like, my, you know, Ilie, that's my daughter's name. I said, she is possessed by of the devil. That was, I think the first real red flag that my mom knew something was severely wrong. It wasn't her first red flag. Her first red flag, that was something was wrong with me was actually the day I was discharged from having her, my bedroom holding her. And I remember my dad coming in and he doesn't normally do that. And he came in and he was asking me how I was doing. And I said, fine, I'm good. But they knew right then and there, the day after I was discharged from having her, that something was up with me. But I didn't notice anything. Little did they know that I was already reeling with all of these emotions? You know, I'm sobbing and I'm crying and I'm like, what is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? I she's like, I have no idea. What's wrong with you, Anna. I'm I'm so sorry. I don't know what you're going through. I was just crying. And I remember screaming to her. I just want one person to tell me I'm okay. That the only person dealing with this right now, because I, I feel so alone and in such a dark spot right now, even though this was 13 years ago, it still brings tears to my eyes. And it's very emotional because I hold onto that these feelings, because it helps drive my passion for what I do. Now. I remember screaming to her that I just want one person. I just want one person to tell me I'm okay. And that I'm gonna be okay. Well, um, I never found that one person, I never found a single person to empathize with me or really, to me in any way, shape or form. I was Anna was on an island by herself. After that, I started to really believe that I was possessed by the double because I see the number 6 66, everywhere, like license plates, um, where I worked at the time, I would see it on machinery. I would see it in books. I would see it everywhere. Um, you know, I told my mom because we got really close during this time. She was my only person that I could turn to, even though she could not relate to me. And I told her, I don't wanna go to sleep at night because all I see are these horrific images of Eley. I dream about it. And I also don't wanna be awake. I don't wanna, I don't wanna be awake anymore because all I do is think about this stuff and think about how horrible of a mother I already am. And child, you know, she's about Eisley at the time was about six months. So I had been dealing with all of this for six months and I never sought help because I, like I said, I was afraid of getting my baby taken away from me. So I just went through the motions. I suffered through it. And when I suffered, I truly suffered through it. I was at a point of, um, you know, wondering, I know I won't ever hurt my baby, but I, to a point of, uh, I'm ready to take my own life because obviously I'm not meant to be this baby's mother. If I'm thinking these horrific things about her, and I can't find anybody to relate to me. So I must be the only person in the world experiencing this. And so it did get to a point where I never attempted suicide, but I definitely thought about it when, and I would do it. And that's something that has never crossed my mind in my entire life. You know, I grew up Catholic. So obviously I was taught that you don't end up in a good place. If you do stuff like that. I really fought my demons. Like I really did. And, and this went on for almost a year. And by a, a time turned a year, I had a mental breakdown at work. I was at work one day and it was the last and final straw. I had looked up up on my machine that I was working on, on the monitor and the number 6 66 were there. And I literally got up and I screamed and I ran into the bathroom and my mom, I worked with my mom of time and she had, she followed me in there and she's like, what is wrong? And I'm like, mom, I'm, there's something wrong with me. And the words that blurted out of my mouth were, and it's hard for me to even say it today because it's not true. And it's not something that I ever, it was ever true in the first place. But the words I was like, I hate Ilie. I hate, like I hate my daughter. Like those were the words that came outta my mouth. She just went white, like a ghost. And I could tell that I scared her Samantha. I was going through all of these emotions. And so I literally just taught myself and told myself and myself that I must hate my child. If this is why, you know, I'm going through this and why I'm thinking these things, I must hate my child. Did I think that way? Absolutely not. She was my first born and I would never think like that, but that is what I convinced myself of. After that point. I, you know, I ended up in the emergency room room, um, that night. And, um, there was not much the doctors could do for me because not believe I was going through perinatal illnesses. They said that perinatal illnesses do not last this long, that it's only in the first three weeks. And anything after that, mark is through severe depression and anxiety. They were wrong. I was put medication, made my symptoms 10 times worse. I jumped off a medication for me. It was God pulling me out of that darkness because I basically gave up to a point of wanting to take my own life. And it wasn't until I did that two day training through PSI that I figured out that it was intrusive thoughts that I Dean to be in that and listen to these women, talk about intrusive thought. I busted out in tears. It was something that lifted a burden off of my shoulders because I wasn't the only one I realized at that point that I was never alone, that there are unfortunately thousands of women who go through this whole purpose is to never, I never, ever, ever want another woman to feel the way that I felt.Speaker 1:
So what would your message be to support people? The family members, for friends, partners of women who are suffering and they can tell what would your message be to them to help'em connect to help.Speaker 2:
And I've had so many people ask me that and I say, gently, gently remind them why they are a parent. Like they are meant to be a parent, first of all, but also that you, as significant other have become a little bit worried about what is happening. It's hard to not come across as judgmental, especially with a new parent, hormones are flying everywhere just to let them know you as their significant other are noticing something and bringing it up to them in a gentle manner that doesn't always happen. You don't even have to say something to your spouse. You can go directly to call a doctor's office, but seek out somebody in the perinatal realm who knows something about this, make sure that if you are looking into it, that you're seeking out somebody who they special, because there you're gonna get the best resources and you're gonna get the best answers, and you're gonna get the best wisdom and knowledge on how to address this.Speaker 1:
And unfortunately, in 2009, the helpline and the PSI hotline, those things weren't available yet. But for people listening today, postpartum support international actually has a hotline that is, is answered by therapist and will connect people to resources locally. And I feel like I am hoping as an advocate strongly also of making sure that the professional providers are educated on what PMA S perinatal mental illnesses are and how they're different and how to treat them in a way that's going to keep mom and baby together and to promote that bonding and wellbeing without frightening people so that we normalize it. And there isn't a fear of being separated from baby or having them taken away. There's such a strong, impactful story. Anna, thank you so much for being raw and sharing that with us. Tell me, what was it drew you to that very first PSI training cause that like isn't on something that usually comes through everyone's Facebook feed for<laugh> Hey, what are you doing this weekend? Let's go to a PSI training. How did you get connected to that?Speaker 2:
Right. In 2018, I had joined my family and I joined our church that we're at right now. It's grace, um, church in<affirmative>. And I was just looking at all the ministries and the programs that they have available. And I noticed that they're anything related to like perinatal stuff. So I brought that up to my pastor. He was all for it. So I went home, I got on the internet, entered in postpartum, depression on Google. And the first thing that came up was postpartum support international. I scrolled down and I saw the volunteer aspect of, I clicked on that and I said, I need to volunteer. I don't know what I'm gonna do, how I'm gonna help, but that is how I got started. And it, they told me about the chapter in Minnesota, which is PSM.Speaker 1:
Anna. How long before you would say you felt like yourself again,Speaker 2:
Till I felt like myself again, years, forgive myself for the things that I went through. It was years. And not saying that I had the negative intrusive thoughts the entire time, but the depression and the anxiety were there. And the negative thoughts about me being a bad mom were still there. And again, that is because I did not communicate with anybody and I did not seek out helpSpeaker 1:
Anna now being a mom of three. How do you think your relationship with your kids differed both in that perinatal time and now as they're older,Speaker 2:
Big difference between my first child and my last two children, my first child, I was young. I was UN married. I lived with my parents. I didn't have a very good relationship with her dad. And then I had a horrible pregnancy with her. All of these things added up. And then what happened afterwards with her versus my other two? I was in a much better with both of them. I'm married. I am financially stable. I have a lot more wisdom, definitely big differences between my first and my last two. I believe in present time right now that what I went through 13 years ago has impact my relationship with her. I'm closer to her. Now, whether that negatively impacts her in any way, shape or form, I don't believe so. I've had conversations with her, but you never know she's a teenager so they can hide their emotions really well. But I believe my relationship with her is very strong now because of what I would through. It may not have been strong back, you know, years ago, but today I believe that it it's bonded us very closeSpeaker 1:
Again. That is an amazing journey. And I am so thankful for the people at PSI and P PSM to have you as an advocate and a leader in the volunteer world and continuing to advocate for other moms so that they don't have that same prolonged struggle so that they have the recognition.Speaker 2:
The pregnant was partum. If you like you're off in any way, shape or form seeking help is okay. As long as you're taking that step in the right direction, you're never gonna be alone.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much for joining our conversation today. For more information about Anna, the causes that she is supporting both at Grace Church and her work with P PSM and PSI. See the description of the podcast below.