Archives for the month of: June, 2013
c sabianmaggy

© sabianmaggy

This post is one I have been thinking about writing for a few days. I quite honestly don’t know where to start. After giving birth, your body changes. Fast. Drastically. In a big way. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. It’s depressing.

After I gave birth to Nick, Hubs went right back to work. He wasn’t going to take any parental leave. I could handle two kids on my own. It couldn’t be that different from having just Alex. I was wrong. Within a month Hubs was home with us. I couldn’t do it. (It takes a lot to admit this) Anytime the kids cried, I had anxiety attacks. If only one of them cried, no problem. But put them together and I shut down. Hubs came home one day to find the three of us sitting on the floor in the playroom crying. He’d noticed that there was something off with me since I had the baby, he just wasn’t sure what. He went on parental the next morning to give me the support I obviously needed at home, and sent me into my Dr to talk about what was happening. The Dr diagnosed me with mild postpartum depression and moderate postpartum anxiety. Hubs and I did some research, we talked, and we coped with it. I started taking birth control to help regulate my hormones. I started going out once a week to interact with people. I had an amazing photographer take boudoir photos of me (amazingly it helped. A lot. I started feeling better. Then we decided we wanted another baby.

When we made the decision to have a third baby, I was excited. I couldn’t wait. Things were going so great with our family, but I felt like something was missing in our lives. Once we made the decision we wanted another baby, we knew that we needed to talk about what we could do differently this time around to make the postpartum period easier. We talked for a long time about the circumstances around Nick’s birth. We realized we had a lot of negative people in our lives. I decided I needed to get those people out of my life. So I did. Anytime someone was super negative about our situation (for example, criticizing our choice to have a third baby) I removed them from my Facebook. I got my friends list down from over 200 people to 70 people. We were excited to be expecting Zoey and my pregnancy progressed.

Throughout my pregnancy, there were a few ‘episodes’ when I would have anxiety attacks, but overall I was controlling it well and I was optimistic that things were going to be better. I was over it. It went away. Turns out depression and anxiety don’t really just ‘go away’ they are always there. In the background. Watching. Waiting. For the opportunity to present itself. When I had Zoey, I felt great. The delivery was easy compared to the boys, my recovery was fast. But my body. It was so so so so so different. Even more different then when I had the boys. The stretch marks. The saggy-ness. It was depressing. I know that it won’t look like this forever, rationally. But my rational self is on a shelf that I can’t reach right now. Leaving me very irrational. Leaving me feeling anxious about things I shouldn’t feel anxious about. I know I don’t need to worry about what my body looks like. Stretch marks and saggy-ness is to be expecting after having a baby, especially after having 3 back to back babies. I mean, I’ve already lost 30 lbs. I am doing good for having just had Zoey 3 weeks ago.

My body isn’t the only thing causing me anxiety. There are other things too. Things that, rationally, I don’t need to be anxious about. But I can’t control it. At all. It consumes me. So it’s all I can think about. But I don’t doubt my parenting. I know I am a good Momma. I doubt how great of a wife I am being lately. I doubt a lot of things about myself. But never my role as a Mother. That’s gotta be an improvement right?

I am going to see the Dr later this week. I know there is something wrong and that I need help. Hubs and I have talked about it. And now I have made it even more real by writing it here. The reason I wanted to write this, is because after I had Nick and was going through this originally, I felt alone. Anxiety and depression seem to be taboo topics to talk about. They shouldn’t be. They are real. And the people who feel them are real too. And we all deserve to be listened to. I don’t feel so alone now, I have found a support system. And that helps. A lot.

Read more from Lynn at her blog: Momma Needs Coffee

The Jordan Collective Photgraphy

© The Jordan Collective Photography

I remember the day that we all realized I needed help.  My daughter was almost three months old, and, after a day spent obsessing over every minute of her sleep and every ounce that she ate and both of us crying every second in between, I dared to ask aloud: “Will I ever be happy again?”

Thoughts like this weren’t new to me.  I had been having them since my baby girl was about six weeks old.  And even though my family and friends knew I was having a tough time, no one, not even me, really understood what a dark place I was in.

I was wracked with anxiety.  I became obsessed with reading every piece of research ever written on having a newborn, even though all it did was increase my anxiety.  I was afraid to be alone with my daughter. I was afraid to let anyone else even hold her.  I was afraid she wasn’t getting enough sleep, and that an hour lost here or there would cause her developmental delays for the rest of her life. I was afraid that her incessant crying was a sign that she knew I was unhappy, and that she would be emotionally scarred for the rest of her life as a result.

Everyone kept telling me that it was normal.  That the first few months are hard and, coupled with sleep deprivation, every new mom feels this way.  Totally normal.

Except it’s not.  I felt trapped.  I felt resentful.  I felt hopeless.  I felt like I had been robbed of any and all joy in my life.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I could barely get out of bed.  The smallest decisions, like what to have for dinner, felt like they had unforeseeable, life- altering ramifications, and I couldn’t make them.

Unintentionally, my friends and family tried to silence me. Told me to wait it out a couple more weeks. Told me it was just the baby blues and hormones.  Told me I just needed to get out of the house for a few hours.  I could have listened.  I could have just waited for it to get better. But I didn’t.  Which is a good thing, because post-partum depression/anxiety isn’t something that just goes away if you ignore it.  It gets worse.

We live in a society that tells us that women can do it all. Which is true.  To an extent.  Because this also translates into women thinking they have to do it all.  And they have to do it alone.  Getting help makes you weak.  Makes you less than.

They’re wrong.  Getting help makes you brave.  Getting help makes you smart.  Getting help makes you better.

People still try to silence me.  My truth makes people uncomfortable.  I have gotten e-mails from readers of my blog telling me that they feel bad for my daughter, that I should give her up for adoption, that I am not capable of being a good mom.

I could listen.  Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I let the depression and the anxiety take these words and make me believe them. Those are not good days.  But then I realize: what if I had never spoken up?  What if I had never gotten help?  It’s not just me that would have suffered.  Or my husband.  My daughter would have suffered.  And I’m her whole world.  I can’t change the fact that I have post-partum depression/anxiety anymore than someone can change the fact that they have the flu or shingles or cancer.  But I can do something about it.

I will not be silenced. When I say the things that make people uncomfortable, like the fact that I felt resentful, I am able to see those thoughts for what they really are: separate from myself. When I give voice to my anxious, negative, self-critical thoughts, I set them free.  I release myself from their hold. I get better.

And when my daughter is old enough to read my blog and to understand how I felt, she will not, as the people who try to silence me tell me, hate me and try to emancipate herself.  It is my hope that she will say, “Momma was in trouble, and she got help.  When I’m in trouble, I should ask for help.  And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

I’ve been seeing a therapist for over two months now.  She has helped me to see that my depression/anxiety is not me.  It’s not even a part of me.  It is an illness, and I am getting better.  While I still experience anxiety and obsess over little details of my baby’s life, I am no longer bitter.  I am no longer resentful.  I am never crying when I hold my baby close.  I am able to see her, and me, for what we really are.  Now we laugh and play and generally adore one another. Don’t get me wrong, there are dark days.  It’s not all rainbows and sunshine and butterflies. But most of the time, I actually love being a mom. Which two months ago, I honestly thought would never be true. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like now if I had stayed silent.  Thankfully, that’s one less thing I have to worry about.  And when you worry about as many things as I do, one less thing is a big deal.

Don’t be silenced.  Don’t stay silent.  And you will get better.

Read more from Beth at her blog: Tales from the Trenches

 

kabils

© kabils

All This Mental Health Business

It’s an interesting thing, mental health.

I’ve always felt like I’m on the fence. I straddle the place between happy, normal, sanity and that place just on the other side of sanity, which feels impatient and angry and frustrated with my kids for doing what normal 4.5 and 2.5 and almost .5 year olds do. I don’t like that place. And because in any given month I spend 3 weeks in the normal place and one in the quick-to-anger I watch myself act crazy, know its crazy and yet somehow can’t stop myself place. I have PPD postpartum depression, or really PMDD.

Really, it’s PMDD, but because Maggie is only 4 months old it’s exacerbated by the chaos of having a new baby.

Which is to say that once a month for a week I am uncharacteristically moody, short tempered with my kids, self conscious, and a wee bit neurotic. Okay, a wee bit EXTRA neurotic.

Two weeks ago I noticed a shift in my mood. It was subtle to those on the outside. It’s easy to hide when I feel like this. It’s not easy to hide from my husband. He’s a sharp one. Monday I felt extra bitchy. And bitchy would be fine, but taking it out on my kids by yelling at them is NOT fine. Tuesday I was also not fine. Wednesday was more of the same. Thursday morning I called my midwives and asked for Zoloft.

Oddly, it was not a big deal at all. It wasn’t a decision I agonized over. I felt no guilt about “needing help”. When I made the call I explained to the receptionist that I wasn’t feeling like myself. I wanted to talk to the midwives and see about some Zoloft. The receptionist asked me if I was with my kids. Did I feel okay to be with them? Was I thinking about hurting them or myself.

It’s protocol for her to ask. I’m not offended by the questions. I don’t think, “What mother could ever hurt her baby?” I only think “I’m glad I called right away. I’m glad I made this easy on myself. I’m glad it hasn’t gotten that far. I’m fortunate it’s never been that bad.”

And then I realized something. Something I know but often forget. It doesn’t have to be that bad to be worth fixing.

It never really even felt broken. It just felt like it could be better.

It’s starting to be better already.

From Emily’s blog: Tales of Fruit and Cake