My name is Rachael. I am 22 years old. I live in Utah, and I’m a mother, a daughter, a wife, and a medical assistant. I have depression, and this is my story.
In high school I struggled with depression and anxiety. While it was difficult, it never reached a point where I was contemplating suicide. Over time I felt the symptoms of my depression and anxiety lessen as I started a family of my own, first getting married and then getting pregnant. As the pregnancy developed, the depression came back. It was difficult to look myself in the mirror I felt out of place in my own body and really struggled to love myself as I was. As we neared my daughter’s due date, I began to feel excitement and look forward to meeting her again.
After I gave birth to my daughter, however, it was like a switch flipped, and the darkness that had been encroaching on my world previously now filled my view entirely, blocking all light and positivity from my view. I felt numb most days. I didn’t care for myself, and I didn’t care about life going on around me. Or the world around me I remember hearing my beautiful daughter giggle and feeling no joy. I felt like I was living wrapped in bubble wrap and nothing could reach me, including my own emotions—except for anger and sadness.
Amid the devastation I felt from my postpartum depression, there was one day when my husband and I got in an argument. It was nothing out of the ordinary, but I felt so overwhelmed and hopeless that I just felt I could not bear it. I barricaded myself in the bathroom, the door locked and blocked so my husband couldn’t get in, and without comprehending what I was doing, I self-harmed. When my mind cleared again, I heard my husband on the other side of the door trying to remind me that I was loved and needed. His words fell on deaf ears. Although that night I went no further, I didn’t see how my existence mattered through the haze of my depression. My mind remained fixated on escaping this existence the only way I believed would truly change things— by taking own my life.
The next night however, I remember vividly, which was uncharacteristic for me, as my days had been blurring together in a depressed fog for weeks on end. My mom and I were laying on the bed with my daughter and as we rested there together, my mother looked into my eyes, her eyes welling with tears, and in a voice choked with emotion she told me, “I need you back. I need my daughter back!” Up until that point, nothing had been able to penetrate the dense shroud of depression, but it hit me then that something wasn’t right, and I needed to do something about it.
Motivating myself to improve was easier said than done. Although I reached out the next day to schedule an appointment with one of the mental health nurse practitioners at the office where I worked, a part of me still didn’t want to admit I needed help. The nurse practitioner recommended I go to Serenity, which I had heard of before at work and even referred others to, but hadn’t considered for myself because I didn’t consider myself in a severe enough situation to go to a mental health clinic. It took a while, but it became more and more evident to me that if I didn’t seek additional help, I wouldn’t be around to watch my daughter grow up. That thought alone was too painful for me to imagine, so I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Nyberg.
In that appointment and several appointments after, he discussed various options to help me improve. Once again I was hesitant to try them, but eventually, after talking through my concerns with Dr. Nyberg, I expressed interest in TMS. Unfortunately, my insurance refused to cover it unless other treatment options failed. Knowing that I needed to get better soon before my suicidal thoughts progressed further, and with reassurance and support from Dr. Nyberg I agreed to try ketamine.
They scheduled my first appointment for Friday, and by the Saturday after, I could feel a noticeable difference, and my suicidal thoughts were gone. I could still feel the depression, but it was much more manageable. The second treatment I didn’t notice much of a difference, but after the third treatment, I was an entirely different person. I smiled often and easily, and people were noticing a visible difference in my demeanor. After my sixth and final treatment, I remember going in and meeting with Jodi, the patient care advocate, and she smiled as I entered the room and told me that she could “see the happy.”, and I knew that the difference was real because this person, who had only known me for three weeks, could visibly tell I was doing better. I cried happy tears that day.
It’s been a few weeks now, but I still feel amazing. I can enjoy every moment with my daughter, even the ones when she is screaming until my ears ring. I’m truly a different person and it’s amazing to see the positive in life again. If you’re feeling depressed and hopeless, please know that you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out! There is hope for you.