The Struggle is Real - Getting Through Post Partum Depression and Forgiving Oneself

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.

I have been very blessed in life.  Is my life perfect?  No, not by a long shot.  Have I suffered from depression for the vast majority of my life?  Yes.  Had I thought that I had gained control of it by 35?
  Yes, I did. 
I was finally functioning like a "normal" person.  I was married, we were happy, and we were starting to try and make a family.

Then, no matter what we tried, I was not getting pregnant. So, we talked to my OBGYN and she recommended us to a local fertility clinic that was supposed to be one of the best in town.  At this point, I was really wondering if something was wrong with me.  Although I had been on the pill since I was 17, there had never been an accident or anything.  Twenty years of luck (while during that time, great) was starting to seem like it might be a real internal issue.  Of course, I got all of the stereotypical advice.  It will happen when you don't think about it.  Just get drunk and have lots of sex with your husband.
It makes you doubt your abilities as a woman and it made me feel like I was letting not only myself but my husband down.  After going through all of these motions and emotions, I was not in a good place.  I knew my attitude had to change or we really were never going to get pregnant.  Not that being a mom was my only life goal, but it was a major one.  I had been dreaming of my little girl since I was 10 years old just like my wedding.  So, I began affirmations.  I literally read and wrote EVERY DAY "I have a healthy pregnancy".  I wrote it in the present tense and really started to believe it in my soul.  You gotta fake it until you make it, right?  The entire time I felt stupid and hokey.  Like this can't possibly work.  This isn't going to work.  What am I doing?  Why am I wasting my time?  But I CONTINUED TO DO IT EVERYDAY.  I figured it couldn't hurt.

Memorial Day weekend of 2016 we were at the lake with some dear friends and I finally relaxed, had some cocktails, and actually looked forward to just being with my husband and friends.  And it happened.  I told myself I am having a little girl NOW.  2 weeks later, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough it was positive.  I texted my hubs pictures of the 5 tests I took.  I know I should've called; he continues to give me a hard time about that.  Now, some may say it was the various steps we took with the fertility clinic and I'm sure that helped.  I also know it was my attitude that ultimately paved the way.  I also know that there were times of deep sorrow in thinking it wasn't going to happen for me.  It was total despair with lots of tears.

Fast forward through 8 months of pregnancy.  Not the greatest of times of my life, but I had a goal:  to have this beautiful baby girl.  At the end of January 2017, LB arrived and it was one of the most beautiful amazing moments.  Then, we brought her home and I kind of thought well now what?  I'm a mom and have no idea of what I'm supposed to do.  I knew to feed, change, establish a routine, and love her but what else?

Then, I started crying.

I felt so overwhelmed with my house, my marriage, my child, and felt intensely alone despite having a multitude of friends that were new moms and had kids.  I couldn't open up to my husband; I couldn't open up to my friends.  For the most part, this was somewhat contained as I was on maternity leave.  It made life at home rough, but at least no one else could see.  I continued to cry and cry.  I would watch movies about motherhood and be in a total state of shame.  Why was I feeling this way?  Why was I acting this way?  What was wrong with me?

Yep - these became the texts I was sending to friends.  I had never really experienced guilt in any sort of real way I realized.  Now, I was consumed by it.  I didn't hold her enough.  I wanted to love her to pieces and throw her out with the bath water.  Nothing I did was good enough despite people telling me I was fine.  Throughout this, I went to my GP and my current antidepressants were increased.  Then we added in another antidepressant.  Still, nothing was changing.  There was one day, actually May 4th, 2017 based on the text, that I was in Five Guys (I know not feeding my body well) and I really started to cry.  I came back to worked and tried to work still crying.  Finally, I had to go home.  It was too much and I was sobbing hysterically in my office with people walking by.  MORTIFYING.  I called my husband and he was understandably really concerned cause he couldn't understand what I was saying I was crying so hard. He came home.  I started crying at noon and I didn't stop crying until I passed out at 11pm that night.

Logically, I knew what I was feeling was not real. I felt everything was my fault.  I couldn't do anything right.  I was guilty of being a bad mother.  Even though, in my head, I knew it.  My heart certainly didn't feel that way.  I was also no longer doing my daily affirmations or looking at my vision board or journaling or doing any kind of self care.  I could barely make it through the day.  Mind you (again very blessed), my LB started sleeping through the night at 6 or 7 weeks.  I also truly believe she knew if she didn't, there were going to be bad consequences for all of us.

I continued to struggle through and kept taking and switching up drugs based on my GP's advice.  The second major low point was when my wonderful sister through a Sip N See for LB and I.  I started crying at 6am the day of the Sip N See and could not stop again.  I cried while my husband was driving us there.  I cried walking into the party and her house.  I continued to have to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and blow my nose from still crying.  My mom did not know what to do.  Although I had tried to explain the extent of my PPD, I managed to fake it pretty well around her.  She's rather tough, nothing flusters her, and she has a suck it type attitude which I do tend to have myself as well.  But I couldn't simply suck it up - all of these tears and crazy thoughts were having a tornado party in my head.  Finally, the Sip N See was over and I sort of pulled it together but not really.

My husband was amazing and lord knows he listened to me rant, rave, cry, explode, and everything in between.  He also kept telling me to go to the real head doctor, but I was convinced I was doing enough with the GP and the drugs she prescribed.

I was also VERY WRONG.

So, I went to a therapist that specialized in PPD.  Oh boy, that didn't go well.  She kept telling I needed to ground myself.  Put my feet on the ground and push in.  Hug myself and all other sorts of stuff that sounded ridiculous.  This type of therapy might work on some, but I was way past hugging myself.  I hated myself; I didn't want to be in my own body much less try to tell myself I loved me.

On to the next doctor, oh wait, there's a 2-month waiting list.  Ok, I'm ready to off myself but I'll wait.  I did go to a therapist in the same clinic who I liked and was able to talk to.  I also told her if she told me to hug myself, I would run away fast.  For months, I went in and cried and said over and over I'm not good enough.  I'm not good enough.  She told me I needed to start back up with the affirmation I am enough.  I am enough.  Anything to shift my negative internal focus.

Then, I got to see the shrink in September or October.  We took me off Effexor which has to be a staged process apparently.  I wondered why at my brother's birthday in July I was hearing things and seeing things that weren't there.  I forgot my EFFEXOR and was literally having withdrawals.  Super fun, right?  Ultimately, after a month a and half, I was no longer on Effexor and had fully transitioned to Wellbutrin and Zoloft.  Guess what - a few weeks after that in November - I started to sort of feel like myself again.  No more raging crying or days of not being able to get out of bed.

Relief Finally!

It's been awesome to feel normal again.  The tragedy is I don't really remember much of the first year of my daughter's life.  It like a haze is covering 2017.  That still makes me really sad, but no use crying after spilled milk I suppose.

My recommendations if you are depressed or struggling with PPD

  1. Don't rely on your GP - it's not their specialty
  2. Get a recommendation from them for a Pyschiatrist and/or Therapist
  3. Write out positive thoughts and affirmations daily even if you don't believe them - just do it
  4. Let those around you help you and don't take it all on yourself (still struggling with this one)
  5. The buzz word lately is "SELF-CARE"; I don't personally like this word, but do engage in things you love and feel good.  Whether it be journaling, vegging watching TV, exercise, a bath, it doesn't matter if you really like doing it.
  6. Last, if you need drugs, take them and don't be ashamed about it.  I would not be writing this today if I hadn't gotten something to get my mind back from the tornado.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I got chills reading this. I struggled with post partum depression after my first baby was born. I ignored it for a long time and continued hating myself and shutting people out. It didn’t go away and after 7 months of struggling alone, I knew my relationship with my fiancĂ© (now my husband) would never last unless I got help. Getting help was the best thing I ever did. Not just for myself but for my husband, my step-kids, and my baby. No one should be ashamed of getting help or taking medication.

I’m so glad you’re doing better now!! For me, I still have bad times... weeks when my depression overwhelms me and I cry non stop, but mostly things have been good. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel when the depression sets in and it helps me get through it.