So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I wouldn’t be a mother without modern medicine. This has a different meaning for me than you might be guessing. I didn’t face challenges getting pregnant with my three children, but I faced other challenges in getting them here. Those challenges were inside my own mind, and I truly believe I am alive today because of modern medicine.

I experienced perinatal depression during my first pregnancy. I felt fatigued, sad, and unable to do many normal activities. I waited for each day to pass with pangs of anguish. I couldn’t see a future where I could be happy. I wasn’t myself.

RELATED: “I Know How Hard She Fought.” Postpartum Depression Claimed Her Life—But Not Her Legacy

My husband convinced me to talk to my doctor about my symptoms and after a lot of resistance, I finally did. She listened and validated my feelings, and we came up with a plan to get me feeling better which included prescribing antidepressants. Slowly, I started to feel better.

But what if that interaction never occurred?

So many times I have wondered how my life may have been different if I was born in a different time period or even just a different decade. Would my doctor have listened? If so, what treatment would have been available to me? Would I have had any support? Would I even be alive?

That last question sounds extreme, but in reality, it’s not. Many people with mental illness, myself included, have thought about suicide (suicidal ideation). Some of these thoughts are fleeting and the person has no intention of acting on them. Other thoughts are more extensive. And sadly some thoughts go even further to lead the person to develop a plan to end their life.

RELATED: New Mom Takes Her Own Life After Silent Battle With Postpartum Depression: Why All Of Us Must Share Her Friend’s Plea

What would have happened if I did not receive medical treatment and intervention at the time I did? How bad would this disease have become? Would I have survived?

These haunting thoughts come to my mind each time I hear stories of mothers ending their lives or read articles about how mental illnesses were handled in generations past. So many mothers were overlooked or given treatments that made them worse. Some former treatments had such severe side effects that negatively affected the health of these mothers or left them with no quality of life. Some survived, but some did not.

That could have been me. I may not have survived to become a mother.

If I did, I doubt I would have been able to go on to have two more children while I continued to suffer depression. My third pregnancy was by far the worst; I was barely hanging on during that time. It gives me chills to think about what might have happened without medical intervention.

The risks of untreated depression and other mental illnesses are real. And they are dire. What starts as symptoms of fatigue, low mood, and avoiding everyday life can progress to hopelessness, never-ending thoughts of being a burden to your family, and a mental pain so deep and real that it feels like physical pain. The pain combined with a broken record of negative thoughts makes you feel like the only way out, the only way to make it stop, is suicide.

RELATED: I Made PB&J Sandwiches, Then Got in the Car to Die

Maybe I would have gotten through depression without any support. But maybe not. I am grateful to not know the answer to that question. I feel like modern medicine saved my life in more ways than one.

Not only am I physically here to be a mother, but I have the mental clarity to enjoy it (most of the time).

Some mothers are not so lucky. Whether they were born before the time of adequate mental health treatment or lived in circumstances that prevented them from seeking help, I mourn the loss of these women. I have felt some of what they felt. I know why they did what they did.

Depression is still a part of my life, but now I have the proper tools to live a full life. I live to fight another day. And I will never forget that is a privilege that some do not have.

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Kristen Gardiner

Kristen recently moved to the Dallas area with her husband and three wild and crazy boys, ages 9, 7, and 4. She is a stay-at-home mom who loves Whataburger, Real Housewives, Diet Coke and being an active member of the LDS Church. Kristen has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from Texas A&M and an M.B.A. from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Kristen is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and has a passion for contributing hands-on car seat education to the community. You can read more car seat tips on her blog: Driving Mom Crazy.

My Grandma Doesn’t Remember Me but I Visit Anyway

In: Living
Elderly woman embracing young bride

Today I went to see my grandma in the memory care facility she now calls home. Visits now are nothing like they used to be at her house. There is no kitchen stocked with my favorite snacks or comfortable room of my own with a fold-out bed stacked with hand-sewn quilts. It’s just her, an armchair, and a twin-sized bed that creaks up and down with a remote control so she can be bathed and dressed in the optimal position. But her face lights up when she sees me and her small body relaxes into me when I hug her. ...

Keep Reading

“Yours From the First Moment I Saw You.” Read the Tributes To Olivia Newton-John That Have Us Tearing Up

In: News
Olivia Newton-John Instagram photo

“Tell me about it . . . stud.” I’ll never forget the iconic ending scene of “Grease” when the camera pans from the shocked face of John Travolta as bad-boy Danny Zuko to his high school sweetheart, Sandy, who has literally transformed from an innocent transfer student into a leather-clad cool chick, complete with massive perm and sky-high heels. In the starring role of one of the most successful movie musicals ever made, beauty icon Olivia Newton-John stole America’s heart and never looked back over the course of an awe-inspiring five-decade career, which included both movies and musical hits like...

Keep Reading

The Rollercoaster of Foster Care and Adoption

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother daughter photo on beach

After spending most of their childhoods in foster care, Addy and her brother Dominick had never been to a birthday party or down a water slide. They missed out on many childhood staples, but it was the least of their concerns. Addy was riddled with anxiety and panic attacks—crippled with fear that she would age out of the system before getting adopted. She carried a backpack full of anxiety fidgets to cope with her uncertain years in foster care. She had such a bad case of TMJ that the kids at school mocked her for adjusting her jaw every ten...

Keep Reading

While I Wait for Another Door to Open, I’ll Hold One For Someone Else

In: Faith, Living
Woman teaching another woman by computer

I’m waiting for another door. All my life, I’ve been told that when God closes one door, He opens another. And here I am, staring at the imminent end of the business I’ve built from nothing. Closing down what I started up from sheer willpower, too much caffeine, and the bold determination to work for myself. Scratching out what I made from scratch . . . and it feels horrible. God didn’t just close this door. He slammed it shut, boarded the whole thing up, and hammered the nails in where I cannot pry them open. Believe me. I’ve tried....

Keep Reading

The Pain of Loving an Addict and the Power of Love

In: Living
Couple embracing in hallway

Mental health is no joke. Addiction is no joke. In my experience, these things go hand in hand. People often turn to things like alcohol and drugs when they are looking for an escape from reality. And people with certain mental health struggles are more prone to addictions than people without. These behaviors are a cry for help. They are not attention seeking. They are not purposely trying to hurt the people in their life. They are saying in the only way they can they are drowning and they need a lifeboat. And it is hard on everyone involved. Having...

Keep Reading

Chrissy Teigen Announces She’s Pregnant With Rainbow Baby

In: Living, News
Chrissy Teigen pregnant

Hip, hip, hooray! “1 billion shots later . . . we have another on the way.” In a surprising, but much anticipated Instagram post, Chrissy Teigen delivered the exciting news: she and celebrity musician husband John Legend are officially expecting their third baby! Endeared to millions through her genuine and unfiltered approach to sharing her life on social media, Chrissy’s announcement was quickly met with an outpouring of love and support from fans, many of whom had been following since the model shared the absolutely devastating loss of her third pregnancy back in 2020. RELATED: Chrissy Teigen Opens Up About Her...

Keep Reading

Meeting the One Who Says “I Believe in You” Changes Everything

In: Living
Man and woman hold hands

“I want to major in journalism. I love writing. I want to be an author,” I said. “You can’t do that,” you said. “You’ll never make any money writing. You have to change your major,” you said. I heard the sad, sorrowful flutter of wings of a caged bird. And then silence.  Year after year, I allowed you to belittle me, to make me feel ashamed, and to see myself as unintelligent and worthless. When I was small, you felt big. I didn’t know any better because you were supposed to be a safe person. Unconditional love and support? Only...

Keep Reading

It’s Lonely Feeling Invisible

In: Friendship, Living
Woman standing in kitchen

I’ve never known what’s wrong with me. From such a young age, I’ve never had friends. I was never the girl who was invited to the birthday parties let alone the sleepover after the birthday party.  Now as an adult, I’m not the girl invited for drinks, moms’ nights out, play dates, or even to listen to a pyramid scheme.  RELATED: It’s Lonely Being the B-List Friend I’m not the coworker everyone loves. Or the classmate everyone envies because of her skill. I’m not making waves anywhere I go.  Not even with my own family. No aunt, uncle, cousin, or...

Keep Reading

I Left a Piece of My Heart in Room 208

In: Living, Motherhood
Classroom of empty desks, color photo

I walked down the hall, past the rows of bright orange lockers. Past the U.S. history classroom and the eighth-grade science room.  The next door was mine. Room 208. As I slipped the key into the lock, I noted the “Bring it on” poster my students fist bump on the way into the room (a fun class routine we started a few years ago). Without thinking, I softly kicked the door open as I turned the knob, knowing the door sticks when it’s hot. I walked inside, scanning the room, taking in objects that have been a part of my...

Keep Reading

They Just Played Dolls: Making Foster Children Feel Welcome

In: Living, Motherhood
Man and girl play dolls on the floor

“Mom,” my daughter whined, “I give up. I can’t do this anymore. She is driving me crazy.” I knew the feeling. It was a familiar one. We were doing a few days of respite care for a girl half our daughter’s age—seven years old—the same age my daughter was when she came to us as a foster child herself. My daughter, now 13, has grown so much in the past six years. When I asked for her help with this foster child, she was eager to take on the responsibility, but it quickly proved a trying task. “Mom, she’s just...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.