There has been a lot of talk of postpartum depression in the mom blogosphere of late. I had asked for some blog topic suggestions on LiL’s Facebook page and Sheba had suggested a post about PPD. I haven’t talked about this topic very much with friends in real life. There are a few people who know, but I would prefer not to think about that rough time in my life. Reading about other moms going through it to varying degrees and at different times postpartum has made me feel a little better about coming forward with my experience.
D and I took some pretty intensive Bradley birthing classes before E was born. In one of the classes, a mom came in to talk about her battle with postpartum psychosis. She really left an impression on us. I made D promise to tell me if I was showing signs of PPD after having the baby. It’s kind of funny I made him promise to do that. I returned to work 12 weeks after E was born and that’s when things seemed to go south.
This is why I only wear waterproof mascara
I had a great deal of anxiety about something bad happening to the baby while I wasn’t around. I would talk to D about these things, but he would reassure me that everything would be fine and occasionally chalk it up to being a first time mom. In the evenings after E went to bed, I would sit on my computer all night, barely saying a word to him. I’d stare at Facebook or just look at random things on the internet. I’d respond to him with one word answers because I was so distracted. My libido had disappeared and our sex life was non-existent. I had trouble sleeping and started to become the girl who ate her feelings. I thought I was just having a hard time adjusting to being a working mom and trying desperately to find a new normal.
Things got progressively worse: I had a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning and I had started to lose interest in things I normally loved, including going out and socializing. I would lash out at D over small, insignificant things. He kept telling me that I was not acting like my normal self and that I needed to go talk to someone. I kept brushing him off. I’m not sure what I was afraid of. I finally realized that something wasn’t right and that I needed help. D seemed relieved and supported my decision to go to therapy. I got in touch with a therapist close by with the help of my doula.
The therapist laid it out for me: I have PPD and anxiety issues and could possibly need medication. She felt my issues had a lot to do with post partum hormones not regulating correctly. I wanted to use meds as a last resort, but preferred to try talk therapy, coping mechanisms, and modifications to diet and exercise first. A big reason for this was that both she and I felt my hormones would regulate eventually and to try and let that happen by itself before introducing any medications. I also did not want to do anything to jeopardize nursing E. I know there are many BF friendly meds out there, but that was not a path I wanted to go down immediately. I wanted to pursue it only if therapy and lifestyle changes did not work for me. Note: I’m not judging anyone who has ever taken meds. That is the right choice for that person in their situation. I was making the right choice for me, in my situation.
I went to therapy weekly for most of last year. It helped a lot. I mean, a lot. The coping mechanisms she suggested came in handy multiple times a day. Towards the end of the fall, I was able to go to therapy every other week rather than every week. Eventually, I stopped going because I felt more like me. I suppose my case of PPD was not as severe as others. I never had thoughts of harming myself or E. I felt the opposite – I didn’t want to leave the safety zone of my house because my son or I could get hurt.
I’ve been doing pretty well the past few months. I actually started this blog around the time I started going to therapy. It was originally started to so that I could integrate who I was with who I was becoming. I really didn’t want to be one of those moms that loses their sense of self once they had children. You know, basically the moms that end up on “What Not to Wear”. I’m thankful to have a husband that holds me accountable and will call me out on my behavior, as I have asked him to do.
I don’t think I’m “cured” – I think that things are under control most of the time. Every now and then I’ll start to get those same panicky feelings again. I go back to using the coping mechanisms my therapist taught me or go on a run to blow off some steam. If none of those do the trick, I have no problem calling and making an appointment for therapy.