PPD and Me

by - August 30, 2010

For the sake of learning to be more transparent and hopefully so that other new mamas don't feel alone in their struggle to adjust to a new "normal", I'm going to keep journaling my experiences with postpartum depression.

Newborns don't give a mama much sleep. I knew this, I'd done it before. I probably could have used some help last time as well, but the difference is that with the second baby, you don't have the luxury of napping when they nap. There is another kid that demands attention as well. My best hope was to go to sleep at 8:30 and try to find several hours of sleep between then at 7 or so when the morning craziness began.

Around the fourth week, I quit being able to fall back asleep between feedings. The baby wanted to eat every two hours, and some nights I was only getting three or four hours of sleep. My anxiety was heightened. One night I fumed for FOUR HOURS over a missed call from my dad, which turned out to only be a butt dial. Another night I panicked for FOUR HOURS over having let Scooby take a bottle of milk to bed and how he was going to get cavities and all his teeth would rot out. After awhile, the sleep deprivation escalated leaving me sobbing in the shower at 5:30AM while the rest of the house was peacefully dreaming.

During the day my outlook on life was much improved but my fuse was very short and I hid behind my laptop as much as possible. I got weird muscle twitches in my legs. My vision was sometimes blurry. At night, the thoughts in my head were brutal - Why did I ever think I would make a good mom? Why did I have kids? Why did I even get married? I hate myself. I was angry at God. I was angry at my kids. I felt alone and hopeless. I longed to find some sort of escapism that wouldn't negatively affect my kids and husband.

I shared this with my OBGYN, the one who is normally very funny and sassy, but he became quite serious and concerned. He said by six weeks the babies usually begin having at least one longer stretch at night (longer than 2.5 hours) and if I didn't get help and get more sleep I was going to crash. He explained how PPD is different than normal depression because all the chemical and hormonal changes can cause a much more rapid and dangerous onset of depression than a person normally experiences. He also asserted that this wasn't my fault and that it wasn't permanent.

Because I got medical help at six weeks and I am feeling so much better, I feel like there's not a struggle to write through. However, even if I feel okay now, I still experienced some very raw emotions for several weeks that would likely return if I tried to handle this phase on my own. It took me about a week and a half into seeking treatment to accept that I indeed needed help. For a couple days I was paranoid that my doctor, mom and husband were all pushing me towards medical treatment because they thought I was crazy. I felt out of control and embarrassed that I couldn't handle motherhood.

However, even I began to notice changes. I felt emotionally more connected to my kids. I didn't let things get to me. Eventually I started being able to sleep again. The OBGYN encouraged me to seek counseling as well, which I mentioned in my post "My Therapy is to Quit Being Your Therapy". I still have mixed feelings about taking medication, but for now I am thankful to be able to function!

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5 comments

  1. I am SO thankful you listened to your Dr! Asking for help is never easy on the front end but you sound so much happier! You are one brave mama.

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  2. Thanks for your honesty! It is always so refreshing and encouraging! Meds for depression are nothing to be ashamed about. I was on various meds for depression for almost 5 years and felt bad about it at first too. But you'd take antibiotics if the Dr prescribed them, and this isn't that different. You will get through this- it will get better!!

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  3. I did the opposite from you and went "crazy" WHILE I was pregnant. I was so paranoid that someone was going to cut me open and take my baby or steal my older two kids, that I would hide them behind furniture after they went to sleep. I would get a max of 2 hours of sleep a night. I cried constantly and would call my husband and cry and beg him to come home a good 20 times a day. I tied bells everywhere, due to being CONVINCED that someone was lurking outside. And as my husband left for work the kids and I would just drive around aimlessly til he got home, I was so unable to cope in my house. I have much empathy for you and hope things continue to improve.

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  4. I also appreciate your willingness to talk about your experiences so that other women will know that they aren't alone. It's something we should talk about!

    I am glad you are feeling better - and it will not last forever.

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing so honestly! Each week I do a weekly round-up highlighting blogs about ppd and other perinatal mood disorders (pmds), and this I'll be highlighting yours. My hope is that women who are struggling with ppd and other pmds can find one another and offer each other support and hope. Peace to you as you continue to recover!

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