This might be one of the hardest posts I have had to write yet, but it is one that I NEED to write, especially right now with the spotlight on depression and mental illnesses. So here we go…
I have post postpartum depression.
I am one of the lucky ones, though. I never felt like I wanted to hurt myself or my girls, I was able to admit I needed help, and I was able to take care of it before I got to an extreme low. The weird part is, I was fine after I had AJ. When I said I was rocking this 2 under 2 thing in my post about adjusting to life with 2 under 2, I meant it. I was doing awesome! Then things started to change around 4-5 weeks. Even at my 6 week appointment after filling out the PPD evaluation sheet they give you, my midwife mentioned I scored a little high and I needed to keep an eye on it. But I thought I was handling it okay and it would go away. But it just got worse…
I was extremely overwhelmed, I always wanted to cry, I felt like a complete failure as a mom and a wife, and I had no motivation to do anything. DJ would get home from work, and I would immediately leave and find some errand I had to run because I needed to get away. Even just a couple hours with the girls became completely overwhelming. I was snapping at SJ for the smallest things, and we usually both ended up in tears. That’s not the mom I am, but that was the mom I was being.
I knew I had PPD in my head, but I couldn’t admit it out loud. Even though I am such an advocate for getting help if something is wrong, I thought I could handle it on my own. Luckily, one of my friends who experienced PPD picked up on everything I was saying and encouraged me to get help. This is why if you believe a friend might be suffering from PPD or any other mental illness, ask them! My friend straight up asked me, “Do you think you have postpartum depression?” Even someone you think would be able to admit it probably won’t be able to. I couldn’t.
But then I had a breaking point where I cried all day. I couldn’t stop, I have never felt that awful, even though I knew everything was fine, and there was nothing to be upset about, my mind created these awful problems in my head. My mind told me that everything was terrible, that I was terrible, that I was the cause of every problem, even though I knew that wasn’t true. I felt like a prisoner in my own body because I couldn’t control anything. That is why telling someone with depression or anxiety to “just focus on the good” or “get over it” doesn’t work. Because if I could, I would have. No one wants to feel that way.
The first step I had to take was admitting out loud to DJ that I knew I had PPD. Even though it was talked about in a round about way, I needed to actually say, “I have postpartum depression.” I messaged my cousin who works with an OB and asked if she knew of any good counselors in the are that could help. But she told me that the doctor she works for said with PPD, since it is hormonal and usually more short term, medicines tend to work better. The next day I called my doctors office and made an appointment. I’m surprised when I told them why I needed to make the appointment they could even understand me I said it so fast and quiet. So even though I wanted to just hang up, I made the appointment. Then I went to the appointment. Then I sat in the exam room. And then I thought to myself, “I’m fine I should just leave and tell them I was wrong and I’m fine.” I wanted to run out of that room. Then my midwife walked in and asked in the sweetest way what all was going on and I just started crying. She agreed that I had some PPD going on and asked if I wanted to start a low dose of Lexapro, and I said yes.
They say it takes about a week to start feeling better on this medicine, but the next day I felt like a brand new person. I felt like ME! Not only me, but the me I WANTED to be. Happy. Laid back. Motivated. I could smile at every little thing the girls did. I was being the mom I wanted to be. The crazy part is, SJ was beyond well behaved those first few days I was on the medicine. It was like she had been feeding off of my bad energy. DJ came home and asked how I was and I just smiled. I hadn’t been able to smile like that in weeks.
I have the misfortune of knowing just how detrimental depression and mental illnesses can be. My grandfather committed suicide when my mom was 7 and I have many other family members that have suffered from mental illnesses. Most recently though, my step-dad came out to tell that he suffers from PTSD. He is a police officer and he was beyond fearless in not only admitting this and getting help, but helping others in law enforcement going through the same situation admit and get help. If he could do this, then I sure as heck should be able to. Ever since he got the help he needed, he is a completely different person! It just goes to show that getting the help you need can be hard, but oh so worth it in the end. Or rather, a new beginning.
If you think you might be suffering from PPD, please call your doctor. Talk to your spouse, a friend, a therapist, you don’t have to do it alone.
If you feel like you want to hurt yourself or others, please call your doctor immediately. You can always call the suicide lifeline in addition to calling your doctor, 1-800-273-8255.
Now, my letter to the other mamas out there who are struggling with PPD…
Right now you feel alone, but you aren’t. There are millions of other women going through exactly what you are going through. But don’t worry, you won’t be lost in the sea of today’s problems, I see you. I see you struggling, I see you wishing to be a better mom, I see you wanting to do better for your husband, I see you wondering what in the world is going on in your head. It is okay. It is okay to be sad, upset, angry. But it is not okay to hide it in fear of what others will think. You come first, put yourself first. You are stronger than you believe and you can get the help you need. Get the help you need so you can be the mom you want to be, be the loving wife, and be able to control the thoughts in your head. You will smile again, you will feel self love again, you will feel strength again. If you don’t have the courage right now to get the help , then take some of my courage, because I believe in you.