Today, something REALLY special happened. The first episode of our podcast, The Good Grief Podcast went live!
Each week, as we drop episodes, we will link the Show Notes here on the blog!
Within the Show Notes, we will share a transcription of the podcast episode and any links, discount codes or information from the episode that YOU need to know about!
Because this was our first episode, we'll just get right down to the nitty gritty of the transcription!
TRIGGER WARNING: This episode discusses: panic attacks, perinatal depression and anxiety and postpartum depression and anxiety. It also has mentions of suicide and suicidal ideation and emotional abuse. Please listen at your own discretion.
I wanted to start off the Good Grief podcast with a little introduction episode because I want YOU to understand where I’m coming from and HOW Good Grief came to be. My name is Sadie Banks and I am no stranger to grief.
Grief has been a unique friend of mine over the course of my life. At times grief has overwhelmed me and overtaken me with her presence and other times, she’s taught me great lessons.
As I’ve looked back on my life, I can almost pinpoint the first time I became acquainted with Grief.
I was in the fourth grade. It was a day almost like any other, until it wasn’t. I was getting ready for school when the phone rang. My mom took the call and disappeared into her bedroom. When she didn’t come back out, I was confused. I walked down the hall to her bedroom and pushed open the door. Both, she and my dad were sitting on her bed and my mom was crying. And not just a few tears. She was REALLY crying. I remember climbing onto her bed and asking her what was wrong. And that’s when she told me that her little brother had passed away.
Nobody ever actually SAID the word suicide. Or that he took his own life. But years later, as I was talking about his passing with a friend, it hit me like a ton of bricks that THAT was what happened. And all of a sudden, in that moment, mental health issues became really personal to me.
That first experience with grief was in watching OTHERS experience the pain of loss. At that point, I was too young to understand the gravity of what had happened and too young to comprehend and process the feelings of sadness that I DID feel. It wouldn’t be for a few more years that Grief would be a bigger part of my life.
The day my freshman year of high school ended, so did my ideation that I was invincible. That afternoon, I was involved in a freak accident where I would break several teeth and end up needing multiple surgeries and procedures and sets of flippers (aka retainers with teeth on them) to have a “normal” smile again.
While this accident shaped my adolescence. It also brought lots of teasing, bullying and a hoard of self-consciousness ON TOP of the regular teenage stuff you have to go through.
See, I didn’t just break a few teeth… I broke my FRONT teeth. The ones you use to eat, smile and TALK with.
My name is SADIE. If you weren’t aware, you use your front teeth to correctly form words. And if you don’t use them properly (or like in my case, you simply don’t have them to use), you have a lisp.
Like I was saying, my name is Sadie. And people caught on REAL QUICK that if I didn’t have my teeth in, I pronounced my own name as THADIE. Plus I just looked like an absolute goon without my teeth in. So requests to “take out your teeth” and “say Sadie” or “six” or “stake conference” became a regular game for a lot of my peers (and even some adults). I quickly found that if I protested in any way, that the taunts only became more severe and louder. So the quicker I took out my teeth and said the words they requested, the quicker they would laugh and HOPEFULLY move on.
Thankfully, after two and a half years, I was able to get faux braces that held my false teeth on instead of flippers so people couldn’t ask me to take out my teeth anymore.
But the damage was done. The girl who once was OVERFLOWING with confidence and self-esteem was now self-conscious and anything BUT confident.
I wouldn’t recognize this as trauma and bullying until years later, but it most certainly was. I spent countless nights crying because I felt ugly and ridiculous because I couldn’t even say my own name correctly. I remember feeling crushed as I would try to stand up for myself and try to tell people that I didn’t want to take out my teeth or I didn’t want to say anymore words because them laughing hurt my feelings only to be told that they were “just teasing” or “just having a little fun!!”
It wouldn’t be until YEARS later that I would recognize the stressed breathing and sudden, but unstoppable, tears that accompanied or followed those moments as panic attacks. But that’s what they were and those experiences compiled my first set of memories of meeting Grief on a personal level.
But after high school (and after getting my teeth fixed), Grief kind of came in and out of my life less frequently. It was like she was on vacation or something. Because for a year or two, things just seemed to go right for me.
And then one day it came to a crashing halt in the form of perfectionism and strict obedience. In 2013, I had the opportunity to go on an 18 month mission trip for my church. I left home and left behind everything I knew to embark on this new journey with a new set of rules and regs that I wasn’t quite accustomed to. I knew what they were and I had planned to follow them to the exact letter of the law. And that worked REALLY well for me… until it didn’t.
On our mission trips we are put into pairs and told to follow the rules together. However, about halfway through my mission, I was paired with someone who simply COULDN’T follow ALL of the rules for health reasons.
My mental health took a real toll as I was quickly seen as “disobedient” to onlookers. I tried my best to follow every rule I could, but day after day and week after week, I continued to fail.
It all came crashing down months later when I had a full-blown panic attack and mental breakdown in my apartment after being paired with a different missionary. It was in that moment, that I realized that my OWN mental health MATTERED. That being perfect was unattainable and that my best was all I could offer and that NEEDED to be enough.
After completing my mission trip and returning home, I had MAJOR culture shock and experienced loneliness like never before. I had to do a LOT of soul searching to figure out who I even was and what my purpose was.
And then I reunited with my (now) husband, Parker. We started dating and quickly fell in love and got married. And shortly after getting married, we started trying to grow our little family.
This is the part where infertility BUSTS through the door without knocking and DEFINITELY without being invited in. She’s rude and honestly, no one likes her.
But back to the story. Month after month, we tried. We tracked EVERYTHING. We tried all sorts of weird ideas that were given to us. We sought out medical help (only to be told to come back in a few months when we would medically be considered infertile…) and month after month, my hope diminished. My faith weaned and my trust in God and His plan for me all but disappeared. See, I grew up thinking and believing that my SOUL purpose in life was to get married and have lots of babies and be a mother.
And while I had completed step one, I was physically incapable of step two and with each month and each negative, that reality was settling in quite easily.
I would go to church and hear lesson after lesson after lesson about how families are central to God’s plan. And how Motherhood was the most noble of all callings and how it gave women purpose.
And pretty soon, I felt as though I had no worth and no purpose because I couldn’t fulfill the ONE thing I was created to do.
I PLEAD with God to just give me a baby so I could have purpose.
And month after month; negative after negative, i dug deeper and deeper into the pit of despair.
SIDE NOTE: it is also important to note that WHILE we were in the trenches of infertility, I was also experiencing serious emotional abuse from extended family members. The relationships became so toxic and so detrimental to my mental health that I had to cut them out of my life.
Okay. Back to the pit of despair. One evening, we had a moment of emotional abuse that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and Parker and I decided that it would be best if we removed ourselves from the situation entirely. We ended up renting a townhome in a completely new city and just kind of started over.
However, shortly after moving into our new home, all of the emotions of infertility, worthlessness, feeling purposeless and the emotional abuse hit me at once.
I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on my closet floor, thinking of all of the ways that I could end the pain that I was feeling.
I begged God to just let me die.
I didn’t want to live anymore.
But I didn’t ACTUALLY want to die. I just wanted the pain to end.
Thankfully, I picked myself up off of the ground and told Parker how I was feeling. We sought out help for me and decided that taking a break from trying to grow our family was in our best interests at that point in time.
I had always been a journal writer, but this was when journaling became a BIG part of my life. One of my saving graces during previous months was that I had an idea to create a guided journal to help me navigate my experiences of infertility. And I had actually followed through with that idea and had the Infertility Journal by Good Grief Journals to help me as I worked to sort out my mental health mess.
And that break for my mental health ended up being exactly what we both needed. And through a series of events after close to a year long break, we were able to do IVF to try to grow our family.
Our IVF cycle was successful and soon I was experiencing pregnancy for the first time. It was a whirlwind. It was terrifying. I held my breath at every appointment as I waited to hear her heartbeat.
Things were going great! And then a few weeks into my second trimester, mania set in. I was paranoid. I was making irrational decisions. I was CONVINCED that my husband was cheating on me. And there was no rational thinking or argument that could convince me otherwise. I didn’t know at the time that there was such a thing as perinatal anxiety. Or, in other words, prenatal anxiety. I had only ever heard of postpartum anxiety or depression. So I didn’t seek help. And honestly, by the grace of God, Parker held on and didn’t divorce me.
By the third trimester, things had calmed down enough for us to get excited for our baby girl that was coming and prepare for her arrival.
When, at 36 weeks, my water broke spontaneously (in a parking lot) and our little girl came quickly and all at once! We were elated!! She was the sweetest little surprise and miracle of our lives and we were so excited that she was finally earth side with us!
But the magic of having a baby fresh from Heaven would quickly shift as she struggled to breathe on her own. She spent her first night on earth in Special Care and then early the next morning she was life flighted to the nearest NICU.
And let me tell you, there is NOTHING like watching your husband and your brand new baby get into a helicopter and leave you to go to another hospital while you have to go back to your own hospital bed and attempt to recover and also get discharged so you can go see your baby again.
Our sweet baby spent 8 days in the NICU learning to breathe and eat on her own. And when she FINALLY came home and my parents went back home, the PPD set in quickly. I was so afraid that she would have trouble breathing again that I spent hours upon hours simply holding her. I would stay awake into the early hours of the morning watching her sleep and checking on her after every tiny noise that she made. I didn’t shower. I didn’t eat. I didn’t leave my bed. I just held my baby and fed her and held her some more. All the while, making sure that she was breathing.
I remember the morning of my six week appointment, I was laying in my bed, debating with myself about whether or not I should just cancel or reschedule the appointment. I KNEW my doctor would ask me how I was feeling and I KNEW I wasn’t feeling good. In the end, I made the decision to go, but decided that I would just lie and say everything was going great!
I walked into my appointment, confident that I could just lie my way through it and just power through this little “tough time” I was experiencing. But the second my doctor asked me how I was feeling, I burst into tears. I couldn’t even help it. As I explained my fears and worries, she listened kindly and then recommended a medication for me that would be safe for me to take while breastfeeding.
I was hesitant, but ended up taking the medication. And after a few weeks, I started to feel more and more comfortable and like myself. I was able to put my baby down and do things to take care of myself. And I started to feel hopeful and joyful again.
I know that my experience with Grief isn’t over yet. I’m fully aware that she’s not going anywhere and she’s a part of my life. But through my experiences with Grief thus far, I’ve learned to recognize her when she shows up unannounced. I have learned to manage her presence. I have learned to seek help when She’s a little more than I can handle on my own. And I’ve learned to transform her into a force for good. Grief has a purpose in our lives. It teaches us. It changes us. It makes us more empathetic. It shapes us.
But we have to put in the work to transform our grief into a force for good. And that’s exactly what Good Grief was created to do. To help you transform your grief into a force for good in your life.