Depression, PPD, and Decades of Living Through It: When Postpartum Strikes

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Depression and PPD

This will hopefully be the last chapter I have to write on suffering through depression. In case you missed the first installments in the series, you can find them here.

The trial was over - yippee! We could finally focus on the goodness we had going on. Our little LB was coming soon.

I was due to deliver on February 22.  By the first of January, I was the size of a house and little LB wasn't even that big (only about 4+lbs).  I had already been super uncomfortable though I didn't have what most would consider a "bad" pregnancy.  No morning sickness and what not.  However, in December, I started getting acid reflux.  I'm not talking it uncomfortable if I eat pizza.  I mean every time I laid down to go to sleep, I would end up running to the bathroom and inevitably I never made it before I threw up all over the floor.  Yep, every time, I tried to sleep I puked.  Not only did that lead to some serious sleep deprivation (hello the baby wasn't even here yet), but I also had to try and sleep sitting up.  Ugh.  I felt sick; I was tired; I just wanted to have my little bundle of joy and get my body BACK.

Then, on January 22nd, one month before I was due I started to itch.  I'm not talking I have some dry skin and need to put some moisturizer on.  I mean taking off all of my clothes, rocking in a chair, raking my skin off.  My hubs walked into this that morning and said, "Um, we have to call the doctor NOW.  This is not normal."  If you google extreme itching and pregnancy, some really bad stuff pops up like you might have a still born.  WTF!!!  Google is great until it's not.  We go to the doctor, take the liver test, and fortunately, it was nothing.  I had another appointment scheduled for that Thursday, January 26th which we also went to.  At that appointment, I begged my doctor - can we please go ahead and induce me?  I really need to have this baby now.  When she checked, I was already an inch dilated.  She also said that I could continue to dilate for another month.  Guess what happened though on January 27th at 430am, my water broke!  This baby was coming!

Many women will hate me when I say this but giving birth was the easiest part of my pregnancy.  After the epidural at 930am or so, I napped until 345pm when I was fully dilated and started some practice pushes.  My husband made me laugh and I almost laughed the baby out before the doctor even arrived.  It was fantastic.  

We came home and at first, I thought I was fine, just overly tired (duh getting up every few hours) which was making me overly sensitive, sad, and not quite myself. I 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? It was such a different beast from the my “normal” depression. It was crying at any time for no particular reason and for hours on end”

Crying for 12 hours was the worst.  It started at lunch when I was texting my best friend.  I was sitting at Five Guys trying to kill the sadness with a greasy hamburger and the guilt overcame me.
“I felt guilt about not being a good mom, not being a good wife, not being perfect enough, not doing enough, not holding the baby enough. There were so many not enoughs spinning through my head I couldn’t keep up.”
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.

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:

Elaine said...

Thank you for opening up about this, Lee. My husband and I are considering starting a family in the next few years, so I'm trying to absorb everything I can about what might happen before, during, and after a baby. I'm so sorry you had such a rough go during your baby's first year, but I am glad you found what worked for you eventually. That's the most important part.