“… Yad Rachel saved my life…”
I always assumed I was a “normal, healthy” Lakewood mother.
Not for long…
Three weeks after my third child was born, I began having panic attacks. They were terrifying, and I never knew when the next one would occur. Each time I felt that I would not survive it. I started being afraid to be left alone; I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and couldn’t function as a mother, since the simplest tasks would overwhelm me. The emotional pain, and the loneliness, were horrible. I felt like I was dying a slow death of despair. I wasn’t the only one suffering. It was as if my family didn’t have a mother. My husband no longer had a wife.

Someone suggested we call Yad Rachel. The moment they answered my call, I felt relief. I was no longer alone. They understood. They had compassion. They had hope. They had treatment options. They understood the effects it had on my family. They had experience. They had success with other women like me. Under their trained and experienced care, I began to slowly heal. With their warmth, patience, and guidance, I recovered. Yad Rachel saved my life. They healed me, and rescued my family from the brink of despair.

My husband and I will be eternally grateful……..

“…it felt like I would never smile again…”
From when I was a little girl, I was pretty much always happy. I guess I was blessed with an easy going personality.  I looked at life with rose colored glasses and a “glass half- full” attitude. I loved to laugh and I loved life! So imagine my surprise when after my first baby, I fell into a serious depression! It came out of nowhere, fast and furious. Ever the optimist, I thought it would pass… but it didn’t. It just progressed until I had lost all interest in EVERYTHING. Food had no taste, friends seemed pointless, jokes lost their humor, even my children seemed unappealing, and that scared me… but it wasn’t enough to get out of it. I was overwhelmed with the agony of this darkness. I saw no end. The only effective relief from this pain was sleep. I spent my days in bed, away from my family, life, and responsibilities.

One day my sister came to visit. She had a name for what I was going through, an explanation. “Postpartum mood disorder.” She insisted I call Yad Rachel. Eventually I did. I was hesitant and pessimistic at first. They promised me that if I take the next tiny step and go for help, I would get better. I actually laughed the first time in weeks, it seemed so ridiculous! But they were right. With knowledge and confidence they guided me to amazing, experienced professionals, holding my hand throughout. They supported and encouraged me. It was like I had my own personal cheerleading team! I started medication and therapy, and in about three weeks’ time I started to feel better. Life started to seem worth living once more. I was so relieved that I cried from joy!

…Now I laugh all the time again! Now life is even sweeter than before…because I no longer take my happiness for granted. I thought I would never smile again…but Yad Rachel made sure I did!

…I am a 35 year old mother of five healthy and active boys. I am a wife to a devoted husband. I am the owner of a successful small business that I run out of my own home. I am an involved and active member of my community. AND I AM A PPD SURVIVOR…
My story starts after the birth of my fifth child. Thanks to the recent awareness of PPD, I made all the necessary arrangements to ensure that my postpartum time would be as stress-free as possible. Being that I know that my mother has a history of PPD, I realized that that increases my chances of having it as well. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game and prevent a possible episode.  So while the baby nurse was with me for the first two weeks, I allowed myself to be pampered and relaxed. Once she left, and all the responsibilities fell on my shoulders, I felt a slight change.

Dark thoughts started niggling in my mind. Statements like, “you’re not fit to be a mom’, and “your children don’t deserve someone like you” would randomly pop up during the day. At first, I was able to talk my way through them, telling myself to ignore these messages of self-doubt. I even scheduled a session with a therapist who  tried to give me some tools on how to reframe my thoughts! It helped somewhat, but honestly, I was too tired  and too busy to do all that self-soothing. And when my little baby boy was about six weeks old, it really got out of control. One night, while feeding him, I had a terrifying experience. I had a series of thoughts, one after another, about harming him, and harming myself. It was horrible. I was so alarmed and scared, that I had a full blown panic attack. I woke my husband, and insisted that he take the baby and the children to my sister; I didn’t feel they would be safe around me. I called my doctor ,who insisted that I admit myself to the ER for immediate psychiatric help.

During all this, the thoughts kept coming, an alarming pace, getting darker and more sinister. What was happening to me? I truly felt that I was losing it, that I would be admitted, and never released, because how can a mom have such thoughts about her own children?! I was about to leave to the hospital, when I remembered Yad Rachel. I had a friend who volunteered there, and she had mentioned a hotline which they have. I called frantically, and hysterically shared with the mentor my thought process. The woman on the other line listened, and didn’t tell me I was nuts, insane, or needed to be committed! She reassured me that what I had was normal; that my being frightened by the “voices” I was hearing was a sure sign that I was stable. She explained to me what postpartum OCD was, and how common it was for women to have obsessive thoughts after birth. She stayed on the phone with me while she instructed my husband to call my doctor .While he prescribed anti-anxiety medication, and while we had the pharmacy deliver it SHE STAYED on the phone the entire time!!

Once I took the medication, I felt immediate relief, and she helped me take the necessary steps to get myself an appointment with a proper clinician specializing in reproductive psychiatry. She called me twice a day after that, to see how I was faring, and to listen objectively to my recovery and the struggles that came with it.

Today my baby is a year old. We are a happy, healthy family. It’s still hard for me to look back at that dark night. It still at times pains me. But I’m able to move past the horrific memories when I think about the lovely YAD RACHEL volunteer who gave me her time, knowledge, care and reassurance that I will get past the pain, and survive. And I did!  I am a PPD survivor, and that is my story.

"I had already been in contact with Yad Rachel for a little while, and one time I decided to take a look at their website. It was very nicely done, and gave a comforting feeling with the images and information presented. I read through the testimonials page and thought about the different people’s stories I had just read. That’s when I decided that I needed to write them another story, my story, to add to that page. Specifically because my story is NOT so dramatic… "

People should NOT feel that they can only ask for help if they find themselves in one of those dramatic stories. Because I called and said “I’m not sure if I really need your help, if I am a borderline case or not, but I need to find out.” And I feel that Yad Rachel has a tremendous zechus in what they did for me and my home.

I was overwhelmed at home and stressed at work. I was crying often and couldn’t unwind after a stressful day. I was constantly afraid of what my toddler would do next, and could not deal with more than one person or activity at once. And now, life is so different. When things get really hectic at home or work, I feel like the stress is outside of me and I can consciously deal with it. It is no longer totally overtaking me to the breaking point.

Yad Rachel made me feel so much better about calling for help, I was so comfortable speaking to them, and everything was so much less scary. Like they told me at Yad Rachel, they believe that “suffering is optional.” My husband and I are so glad today that we took the step to reach out for help when we did. Because now instead of full of tension and sadness, my home is a calm (as much as normal kids allow!) and happy place to be.

Women of every age, income level and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

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