postpartum depression follow-up

First of all, thank you so much for all of the comments, messages, emails, texts, shares, etc. I know many of you were moved to tears (sorry!), which quite honestly, I couldn’t believe my story would evoke such strong emotions, since it was so therapeutic for me to write (no tears were shed on this side of the computer screen – I’ve met my crying quota for the year I think).  I am sort of amazed with the response it had because it certainly was much more than I had ever anticipated.  I have read each and every one of your comments and messages, and I cannot possibly tell you how you all made me feel.  So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I wanted to address a few other points/questions that I didn’t include in my story.  Some of the questions are self-imposed ones, while others are ones that individuals have messaged me about.  I will do my best to address each one as much as possible, but please know that there are some aspects of the story I am choosing to keep private, to not only protect myself, but others as well.

Why did I wait so long to get help?  I have been asking myself that question for the last month.  If I would have known back in January that I could feel as good as I do now, I would never have hesitated in getting help.  But, like I said the other day, I just didn’t feel like it was “that bad”.  And really, at first it wasn’t.  While I certainly didn’t feel like myself, I also really didn’t feel like anything was wrong.  I thought it was just part of being a mother, and it was the same stress I would feel with anything else.

I also really had no idea who to talk to.  Do I go to my OBGYN?  My GP?  A counselor?  I had looked up counselors in my area and was prepared to call, but I kept putting it off, thinking that it would get better.  That my situation would change and I wouldn’t feel this way anymore.  (I also was worried about my insurance, but have more recently learned that my life insurance through my employer covers 5 mental health visits for free.  So, definitely look into that!)  Oh, and ANY of those people are a good place to start.

In addition, I was embarrassed.  I tend to get embarrassed easily anyway, but how do you go about telling someone that you want to get out, but that you still love your family?  How do you tell your spouse that you don’t want to live anymore and that you dread being left alone with your children?  How do you tell someone that you feel completely crazy, when you go about daily life as if nothing is wrong?  I wanted people to believe me, to believe that I simply just felt crazy and couldn’t control my emotions, but I was scared I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.  Don’t be ashamed to tell someone your feelings.  I struggle with this constantly.  But, you have to tell someone if you want to get better.  That’s the first step.  You’ll be amazed how much better you feel just because of that.  I instantly felt relief once I opened up to Matt – and he already knew that something was not right.  So, I’m pretty sure he was relieved as well.

What antidepressant am I taking?  This is one thing that I have had a few questions about but would like to keep the details fairly private.  Medication is a very individual experience.  What worked for me may not work for you.  In addition, there are A LOT of opinions about antidepressants, so I’d rather just avoid that for the most part.  Luckily, I have not had any side effects with my medication and am only taking enough to “take the edge off” as my doctor put it.

How long did it take for me to feel relief?  After telling Matt and my doctor, almost instantly.  After starting my antidepressant, I could tell a difference within a few days.  I commented to Matt how great I was feeling the next day, but that it might just be a placebo effect.  His response, “Who cares?!”  Seriously.  I felt better – I didn’t care what was making me feel better!

Am I still breastfeeding?  Thankfully, I am on the lowest dose of medication so that I can still breastfeed.  I can up my dosage a little more if I needed to, but luckily, this feels like it is enough for now.  I went in knowing that if I had to stop breastfeeding in order to take an antidepressant, I would just wait it out until I was done breastfeeding.  I am so happy that it has worked out to continue breastfeeding.  We kept a careful eye on Miles behavior for the first few days, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him at all, which is great!

What do I want my kids to know about my experience?  I honestly don’t know if I will ever tell them, and I am very thankful that MacKenna is young enough that she is not going to remember much of how I treated her for those several awful months.  It breaks my heart to think I “lost” that time with her, because I honestly felt like I just did not love her like I used to.  But, those euphoric feelings I had for her since the day she was born are back and I am enjoying spending so much time with her now.

I also want them to know that this was not their fault.  That I love them unconditionally – I always have and I always will.  And hopefully, I can share this with them when they are old enough to understand so they feel comfortable enough to confide in me should they have the same feelings.

So, why did I decide to share my experience and story?   Many of you commented my bravery.  Honestly, that was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was so lost and alone that I just wanted to know that I was normal.  That what I was feeling wasn’t crazy.  That other moms go through this.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified to share.  I know many of my coworkers read my blog and the thought of them knowing my “secret” terrified me.  I was tempted to delete the post from publishing to my personal Facebook page, but I thought that would defeat the purpose.

I have a platform through this blog.  I have seen so many people hurt from depression and suicide – those who are experiencing it personally and those who have loved ones suffering from it.  After losing a high school classmate this week to bipolar disorder, I knew I needed to use this platform to speak up.  To maybe do something to change the stigma that goes along with depression and suicide.

I want others to know that they’re NOT alone.  I want them to be able to Google postpartum depression and see other moms’ stories.  Because they need to know that postpartum depression takes several forms.  It’s not just the emotional, crying experience we think of.  The “I can’t get out of bed” or function normally experience.  Mine was far from that, which is why it took me so long to get help.  Postpartum depression can manifest itself in intense rage, anger, anxiety, and yes, sadness.  I was fully capable of taking care of my newborn, but everything else was completely overwhelming.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, lost, alone, like you just can’t go on any longer, please get help.  Please talk to someone.  A spouse, a parent, a friend, a doctor.  I even accept emails and messages if you just need to tell someone who will have an unbiased opinion.  Like I said the other day, I finally realized that it was in fact PPD when I looked at my symptoms on Postpartum Progress.

Please get help.  You are not alone.  You are not crazy.  You are not weak.  It is not your fault.  Motherhood is overwhelming.  If you are too overwhelmed, please get help.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Katie D

    I love that quote by MLK jr! I worked in behavioral health for 10 years and frequently used it when encouraging people to advocate for themselves and share their stories.