This is Part Two of my experience with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression.
I originally published this story months back on Medium, though thought it needed to be on my blog also. There is so much stigma associated around PPD that we really need to be vocal about this. Mother’s are taking their own lives, sometimes their babies along with them. This needs to end, we need more support ❤️
I am not a mental health specialist nor have I ever studied mental health, I am a mom of four who has been through postpartum depression and anxiety and felt the need to bring light to this subject for the stigma associated around Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and/or Psychosis is terrible. Moms shouldn’t be afraid to speak out, for there is nothing they have done wrong to cause this, unfortunately this isn’t the case.
If you haven’t read Part One, I encourage you to do so first here.
When I ended Part One, I talked about how I believe my Postpartum Anxiety and Depression started during my pregnancy with my fourth child. My son, surprisingly born early and unexpectedly fast, caught my husband and I off guard. This was never the case with my other 3 pregnancies.
As my husband and I were preparing to leave the hospital with our baby he ended up developing a slight temperature. Being he was close to a month early, the nurses and doctors wanted to keep an eye on him to make sure he was ok and ultimately was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (as know as the NICU) for further observation. I was discharged from the hospital this very same day. With my other children, my husband , I and the baby would all go home together and I honestly never really thought of what it would be like to come home empty handed.
I now realize the impact and have the upmost respect for families with babies in the NICU, some there far longer then my son ever was. This is the most heart wrenching, empty feeling I have ever felt, I never understood the feeling of this moment, arriving home without the baby I just birthed. On top of the empty, pit of your stomach feeling, your hormones are already all over the place after birth. Now I can see how postpartum depression is really likely after a situation like this arises.
I thought I knew everything there was to know about what postpartum depression looks like, though I wrong. You don’t really understand the severity of PPD until you have either experienced it first hand or have had a loved one who has gone through it. So please, if you have a spouse or loved one going through some kind of perinatal mood disorder, support her, love her, but please don’t tell her to snap out of it. Most crucially, please don’t tell her its all in her head and that she’s making this up. She can not control what is happening to herself or her thoughts. Just imagine how scared she is, every second, every hour, every day. It’s a horrendous feeling inside and she doesn’t need judgement.
My symptoms weren’t your typical sleeping all day, staying in bed or even crying for that matter that most would associate with depression. My symptoms consisted of severe agitation, not sleeping or eating and obsessive thoughts. I cut all communication off to everyone, even my parents whom I went to for everything. And trust me, my dad and I would talk 10 times a day. I even stopped posting pictures of the kids to Facebook or even going on Facebook at all, except to interact with one planner community that I had grown close with.
Being that particular community is active 24/7, someone was always posting something any time of the night or day, I could interact or I would plan while scrolling PGW (since I was up most the night) then post a picture of my planner in Planners Gone Wild on Facebook. I isolated myself and the truth of the matter is, if it wasn’t for that one very Facebook group, I am not sure I would be here today to share my story. I know this sounds dramatic- that was how bad my state of mind was at that point in time.
In the beginning I hadn’t the slightest clue, neither did anyone else around me, until there was no way to hide it anymore. With that being said, I had no other option then to drop the mask and seek help. The reason I am writing this post is not for sympathy, it’s to spread awareness because there are far more woman out there then you know suffering in silence.
When Patrick was 9 months old I finally sought help, I was prescribed a SSRI ( Zoloft ) and it worked fairly quickly though 4 years later I miss the woman I once was. Even though Zoloft has brought me out of the darkness, I haven’t been the same but maybe that’s ok. I just have to learn to embrace this new phase of life.
The constant searching for answers of why my productivity was high and when it was I felt as if I could take on the world. But when I crash, boy do I crash. That’s when the old feelings creep back on me taking that motivation and productivity away and feeling worthless and unfit. I couldn’t figure out why these episodes were so drastic and I almost could feel them coming to a head.
That is the moment when I heard about the book “ The Birth Of A New Brain” Healing From Postpartum Bipolar written by Dyane Harwood. The book was mentioned and the author was interviewed on an episode from a podcast I listen to frequently called “Adventures With PPD”.
Right there, in that very moment everything started to make sense, why I wasn’t the same, and most likely never will be again. I would have to learn to live with this new addition to my life. It’s insane because you never really think of how your life can change so drastically after the birth of a child. You think that you are giving birth to a baby, unfortunately though sometimes you get much more than you ever anticipated.
When you start on antidepressants, there can be many side effects, sometimes medication is switched due to extremely unpleasant side effects or the opposite, the medication just doesn’t work. Fortunately for me and my family, I got better from my very first medication, it isn’t always that cut and dry most of the time. When I started my medication I was placed on 25 msg and told to increase my dose every two weeks (per my doctors instructions) until I reached my therapeutic dosage. My therapeutic dose ended up being the max dosage of Zoloft (which is 200 mg) before I finally felt relief.
However, after the initial diagnosis and going on medication, some still did not see the severity or the suffering I was experiencing. In fact I was accused of being on drugs because I wasn’t sleeping nor eating. I was literally discussed with my appearance and body. Being small to begin with I was only 95 pounds and people would comment, well you lost the weight rather quickly! People do not realize the way your body looks after drastically losing 60 pounds shortly after giving birth. I wouldn’t want to shower because the way I thought my body looked was horrific.
Then came a knock at my front door. Hi name is Mrs. …… from child protective services. I‘m here following up on a anonymous call we had received pertaining to your children being neglected. My heart sank, I began thinking, why in the world would someone do this. I was already suffering enough, thinking my family was better off without me, why not just push that knife deeper into my heart.
Why not come to me directly and ask if I needed help?
I was accused of being a unfit mother, being on drugs and locking my baby in the basement while I left and went out during the day. More so, I was acussed of nodding out on my front patio while my children ran around in dirty diapers. Other stuff also was said, personal accounts about my children only someone close would know. This went on for months before this case was actually closed. They came in and started photographing my children. You can only imagine how uncomfortable it was for them, the older children.
It’s no wonder that woman are afraid to come forward when they are struggling. Why can’t we offer help instead of judgement?
In a struggling mother’s head, they are thinking that their thoughts are real, and if they say out loud the horrible thoughts they are thinking, they will be labeled a bad mother and/or unfit to be a mother at all, ultimately thinking the baby will be taken away. So the cycle continues because they are afraid, they do not want to chance that what if.
I just can’t imagine that it’s almost 2019 and there is not more support in place for mothers struggling with perinatal mood disorders. Woman are taking their lives due to feeling inadequate and guilty because they are scared of the stigma associated around this disorder.
For myself, everyday is still a constant battle within my mind, the racing thoughts that pop up and the drastic productivity and motivation struggles. However I am learning to try and live with this new me.
If you or anyone you know are struggling , here are some support numbers you can call if you are all alone in this battle. Reach out for help. There is hope. Like I mentioned in part one, please do not hesitate to email me personally if you feel lost and don’t know where to turn. I’m here if you are alone, I know what you are going through , I know your feelings of failure and most importantly know you are doing the best you physically can.