I always thought that postpartum depression sounded a little bit off...like what was it anyway? Was the mom sad that she wasn't pregnant anymore? Was she struggling with the fact that her baby is getting all of the attention instead of her now that she isn't pregnant? Was it the hormones? What really is it?
I'm not a doctor, nor do I know very much about depression, but I can tell you my experience. I am a mom of 4 beautiful children. Dahlia is 3, Selah is 2, Atticus is 17 months, and Elias is almost 8 weeks. We are a foster to adopt family, so at one point--I had 4 kids under 5 (Selah was the 4th at that point) so since I had already had 4 under 5 before without any issues, I knew that I could handle it...as long as those dang hormones didn't get in the way.
I actually struggled with anxiety and depression during my pregnancy, and from other blogs and articles I have read--I've noticed a trend that there is a higher chance of ppd if you are struggling with those while pregnant. Whether or not that is true-- I don't know, but I told Tony going into the end of my pregnancy that if I didn't start feeling better after Elias was born, then I was going to talk to my doctor.
By my 6 week check up, I kinda felt like I was on the edge of a cliff. If something didn't get better soon, I was really starting to get scared.
I didn't want to be around my kids. Any of them. At all. I wanted to run away and never come back. I wanted to crawl in a hole far away. I wanted to stay in bed and never get out. I cried for no reason more often than I didn't. Sometimes I could fake that I was ok...sometimes I couldn't even fake it. I was mean to Tony, my mom, my kids, and I felt like I couldn't control myself. My patience was completely gone, and I kinda felt like I was losing my grip with reality. I couldn't laugh and feel real joy, and the only thing that really made me happy was taking pictures....I think it was as if capturing a family's joy on camera would make me feel it for a few minutes too.
I felt guilty for leaving to take pictures (because Selah would cry every time I left)
I felt guilty for wanting to leave as much as possible.
I felt guilty for not being able to keep up with the laundry, dishes, or basic housework.
I felt guilty that I was struggling to work my health and fitness business as much and my income went down, and my challengers didn't get as much attention.
I felt guilty that I couldn't connect with my kids.
I felt guilty that I didn't want to be around anyone, including my husband, yet I was scared to be alone.
My doctor had me fill out a questionnaire when I went in for my appointment, and I knew what he was going to say as soon as he read it. He glanced up at me, and I just started to cry.
"I'm guessing you know already that You are struggling with postpartum depression." he asked.
I wasn't in denial, though I have heard and seen that that is very common.
"Yes, and I need help."
Some people have a hard time admitting it...but I didn't. I knew I couldn't live my life this way anymore. I knew that I really loved my life, loved my children, and loved my husband...and if I wasn't feeling it--something out of my control was very wrong, and I would do anything to make it right.
After asking me a few questions, he decided which medicine he thought would be a better fit, one that I could still take while breastfeeding--and sent me on my way.
I had to go take pictures in Springfield that night and didn't get a chance to pick up my subscription till afterwards. During my last session, my camera hit the ground, and knocked the shutter out (or something??) With 20 more sessions in October, I was in a slight panic. I went to best buy in hopes they could point me in the right direction.
In the parking lot, I had so many irrational thoughts that I couldn't control--probably one of the worst anxiety attacks of my entire life. I had a hard time even breathing. Somehow I mustered up the strength to go inside and ask them where I should go or what I should do. They pointed me in the right direction to get my camera fixed, and I headed the hour drive home. I knew that starting medicine was the best decision I could make because I knew if I didn't, these episodes would happen more often and get stronger.
The doctor had shared with me, this isn't something you can just pull yourself up from your bootstraps and "get over," and I might even feel relief within a few days.
I could tell that Tony has been walking on eggshells--trying to sweetly ask how I am doing, fearful that I will be in "crazy mode," and he won't know what to do or how to make it better.
Just as the doctor said, even within a few days, I could tell it was a little easier to get up in the morning, that it was a little easier to have my kids sit on my lap, that I had less of a desire to run away. I realized last night that I was laughing...for real laughing. Not just faking it. I genuinely laughed.
Tony and I had a conversation on Saturday, and he said that he doesn't know how to take me now. At first I thought it was a bad thing, but he went on. He said he has felt like he has been trying to put out the fires before they start or as fast he can after they get started to try and help me for so many months that he doesn't know how to act when there are no fires. He has had to go above and beyond for our kids since I couldn't do as much...including just simple things like playing with them or cuddling them.
Since I started medicine, I can tell that Tony and I are going to be back to normal before we know it. I know that we can get through anything together. I have been able to play with my kids, laugh with them, tickle them, and have more patience. I have been able to snuggle Elias and enjoy his sweet newborn smell.
I feel like even though it is probably a big hill I still have to climb...I'm fighting to get my life back. I don't want to miss out on any second with my kids because I'm stuck in a depression I can't get out of.
If you or anyone else you know is struggling with ppd. Please go talk to your doctor right now. It doesn't mean that you are a bad mom. 1 in 4 women struggle with ppd, and there is something you can do: 1. Get help from your doctor or therapist 2. Raise awareness so more people get help.
I'm always here to talk if you need too.