PADS: One Mama’s Journey
I talked about exercising a while ago in a post (you can read here) where I made fun of myself for trying to be a runner. I am happy to say that I am still attempting to conquer that treadmill as often as I can.
I discussed a few reasons for exercising but omitted one of the most important ones so I could talk about it now. So here it is…
I run to help conquer depression.
I am wondering if you know me if you are shocked right now (or maybe not??). Here is some dirt on me…
A little over one year ago (it was June 2011) I finally admitted to myself and a few others that I was depressed. I have always been a bit of a melancholy personality by nature, but I instinctively knew that I was dealing with a monster of a different kind. I was suffering from what I now know is referred to as PADS (Post Adoption Depression Syndrome). Statistics show that PADS affects over half of mothers who adopt (adoptionissues.org). It is similar to post-partum depression, even though there were no hormonal changes within my physical body. The symptoms are similar.
Adoption rocked my world.
Adoption threatened my parenting.
Adoption threatened my marriage.
Adoption threatened my finances.
Adoption threatened my self-esteem and the person who I thought I was…
and the list could go on.
I knew that I was on a downhill spiral and that I needed help. I still felt close to God, but I also knew that there were some tangible things that needed to change and I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want them to think that I couldn’t handle my life. But the truth is, I was at a point where I felt like I couldn’t handle my life. I never got to a place where I didn’t want to keep trying, but I did get to a place where I felt like I had ruined any chances of ever feeling like my head would be above water again.
I was angry.
I decided to get help.
I cried out to God and begged him to remind me how I had gotten to this place. I prayed that He would get me through what felt like the hardest trial I had ever found myself in the middle of. Then I began taking steps to slowly walk out of my depression.
First, I talked with my husband (as if he didn’t already know that I was close to my breaking point!).
Second, I made an appointment to talk with someone.
Third, I took both of their advice.
Fourth, I decided that I was going to do everything I could to beat this thing and not let it define me.
The options to manage PADS are different for everyone. In my case, I decided to not pursue a prescription medication. Instead I opted for a source of amino acid (in tablet form) that naturally increases the body’s level of seratonin (the chemical messenger that affects emotions). I also agreed to write/journal more often, have daily quiet study/prayer time, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
In the past 14 months, I have worked harder at taking time for myself without feeling too guilty. I have kept my commitments to all of these things and I am feeling pretty good. I am learning to let myself off the hook, and I am even working on learning to relax when my surroundings are chaotic.
In our adoption classes we discussed skimmed PADS, but there was no one to offer any personal experience. I was completely blind-sided when it happened to me. I felt like a failure as I began to listen to the enemy’s lies telling me that I should have never adopted in the first place. I was even starting to believe that I must have been a very selfish person and now did I not only ruin my life, but I had ruined the lives of my entire family. Looking back with a clear mind now I can see that these were lies, and that because we had rescued two children from the grip of helplessness and victimization the devil was going to work overtime to make me believe I had failed. It worked, temporarily.
I write this to be an honest voice in the world of adoption. My goal is not to disuade anyone from the miracle of adoption. Sometimes media can make adoption look like a warm fuzzy thing and when you bring a hurting child into your home they will run into your arms and thank you for doing so. If God is leading you into the world of adoption, then He will see you through. Very often, God’s paths can be the hardest to walk. Yet at the same time, God’s plan is the only plan for your life that will be accompanied by true peace and His blessing.
I am not cured from PADS, nor am I far enough beyond it that I don’t feel it creeping up on me every once in awhile. The important thing is now I know the signs and I have the resources to reach out for when I find myself slipping down that familiar slope. If you want to learn more about our adoption story, please go to this link where you can read about it. To learn more about our family and our adopted children, click here.
Christina is a proud wife to an amazing man named Brandon and mama to six beautiful children ages 9, 7, 4, 3, 2, & 1. After getting her degree and teaching junior high for a couple of years, she had four sons. When her youngest boy was 13 months old, they completed their family by adopting a brother and sister from foster care. She blogs as a way to document her family’s growth, as well as an outlet which she hopes will encourage others. She feels truly called to her lifestyle and knows that she is incredibly blessed to fulfill that calling. Their family life is entwined by selfless faith and together learning daily how to live missionally. They recently moved from California to their new forever home in Arizona. She absolutely loves her life as a stay-at-home/frequently found warehouse shopping/carpooling/football mom.