Archives for posts with tag: Depression

I thought the weight of my 6lb 12oz daughter could have crushed my chest. Literally, I felt the weight of the world was now on me. This tiny human with her entire world in my hands, and I wasn’t interested or up to the challenge. I changed my mind about being a mommy but it was too late. I was tired and just wanted to sleep.

They told me I would be in love her the instant I saw her and that simply wasn’t the case. I loved her but I didn’t feel the bond.

The next few weeks were filled with terror, tears and loneliness. Had my mother not been there to help me I’m really not sure how I would have even gotten out of bed. I couldn’t eat, and I certainly wasn’t sleeping.  I lay in my bed crying and cold for days. I felt despaired. I felt I had lost my husband. For so many years it had been us.  Now this little baby had thrown my world upside down.

The pressure on my chest didn’t seem to lift even when I wasn’t holding her. It seemed to be there 24/7 and I couldn’t breathe.

Mommy friends would ask to meet her but I couldn’t be seen by them. I felt alone and ashamed. After all, what kind of mother feels this way about their infant daughter? She was helpless and needy and crying. Everyone said it would get better someday. And it did.

She became my world, my sweet loving little angel that I thank God for everyday.

3 years later I got up the courage to have another baby. This time When they placed him on my chest I was elated. I DID love him and I COULD do this!

24 short hours passed and the depression hit like a ton of bricks. It came fast and furious.
How could I handle two children?? Bella needs me so Tom will have to take are of the baby. I don’t have time for him, I would think.

Once again I couldn’t eat or sleep and spent my days crying. Holding Bella in my arms rocking her like a baby.

I found myself at the doctors office after 2 weeks of this. As the doctor wrote my prescription for Valium she placed her hand on my knee. I looked at her through my red swollen eyes and she said “Are you going to be alone with the baby? Is there someone who can watch him for you?”
I knew then that she felt I might harm my child and I will never forget that moment. I felt like a monster.

Slowly time began to heal my anxiety. I slept a little more, ate a little more and life moved forward. With the help of Zoloft, Valium, a postpartum therapist and loving family unit eventually I pulled out of my very lonely dark place.

My beautiful angels are now 5 and 1 and I am the happiest mother I could ever dream to be. They are the most wonderful joys of my life. People ask me all the time if I’m going to have another baby, and I tell them the truth. I tell them about my postpartum depression because no one really talks about it. I tell them I won’t have another baby because I don’t believe my family can go though that pain again, I know I can’t.

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I thank God everyday for those 2 little blessings and now when I feel their warm little bodies against mine I know I’m right where I should be. Home.

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I became a reluctant mother five years ago this month. I was never someone who wanted children and when my husband and I first got together, neither did he. After living together for four years, about when he turned 35, something shifted for him. He began to want to have children. To really want children. This posed a serious issue for our marriage, by far the most serious we’ve ever faced.

We argued, we fought and I cried many tears. I absolutely could not envision myself as a mother. I am very close to my own mother and I had a very happy childhood so it’s not as if I had a negative view of mothers in general. It just was not something I saw fitting into my already very full life.

Needless to say, I eventually changed my mind. I love my husband very much and I’ve known since the first time I met him that we could build a very happy and fulfilling life together. I could not imagine my life without him and I came to the conclusion that our marriage was not going to withstand a life without children. So, very slowly, I changed my mind.

And of course, I became pregnant almost immediately. I was completely in shock. Even though I was having unprotected sex, I just assumed it would take a long time. My mother had a terrible time getting pregnant with me and I somehow imagined that my hesitance to become a mother would play into my biology. Nope.

Physically, my pregnancy was simple and straightforward. I was never sick. I am a runner and I continued to run until I was about 5 months pregnant, then I hiked and did yoga. I was tired, like every pregnant woman, but all that clean living gave me glowing skin, thick, shiny hair and a radiance that I always thought was a myth about pregnant women. However, I really hated being pregnant. I didn’t really feel like I could say that, not in such strong words, because at 30 I was surrounded by friends trying desperately to get pregnant without success. And since I felt so good physically, it seemed petty to complain about being sad all the time.

Looking back, I think it was much more than just “being sad.” I think I was clinically depressed. I had never heard the term prenatal depression. My midwife, who was wonderful in all ways, kept telling me that it normal to feel blue or listless when pregnant but I was not fully sharing the extent of my misery with her or anyone else. It was a grueling, day in day out, feeling of hopelessness and emptiness. And, it was completely out of character for me. I’ve always been full of energy and life. I’ve always been the one who wants to do more, do it again, do it better. Until I got pregnant.

My husband was very supportive and I know it was a long year for him too. We joked about my overwhelming sadness when we could and he just let me be sad, without trying to cajole me into feeling things I was not feeling. I lived with a weight and a level of fear and paranoia I have never known. I felt unsafe all the time. I felt like someone, usually the strange man I would encounter while hiking, was going to attack me at any moment. The fear and anxiety took away all my pleasures in life, namely being outside alone, and left me feeling like a mere shell of the person I had been just months earlier.

Still, the baby grew and I grew and I just counted the days until I would be longer be pregnant. I knew, even then, that I would be an OK mother if I could just get to the other side of the darkness that engulfed me. And as if the universe just wanted to twist that knife a little more, I went 15 days past my due date before I went into labor.

I had my daughter at home at 12:30pm on January 16, 2009 on the coldest day of that winter. It was -25 when the second midwife showed up around 2am. I labored hard from about 2am until 6am when I started pushing. And, as if a physical manifestation of my reluctance to be a mom, I pushed for six hours. Yep. Six whole hours. I could actually see her head for about 4 of those hours but I could not make any progress. It was beyond maddening and it was exhausting. At the time, I kept refusing to think what I could not help but think…that the birth was slow because I was reluctant. That it was my fault.

Once she was finally born, I learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped many times around her neck and that it was preventing her from coming out. In fact, the cord tore on the inside once she finally did emerge and it was then that I understood why it felt like a part of my insides were being slowly torn apart. They were.

But, this is a postpartum blog and here’s my postpartum story. It all got better. Almost immediately. My spirits lifted and I kid you not, within hours of giving birth, I felt great! Sure, I had the issues that every new mom has. I was tired. I was learning all sorts of new things. I was getting to know my daughter and how she sometimes cried for no reason at all. But, the crushing sadness of pregnancy was completely gone. I was overjoyed to have my life back.

My journey into parenthood has been remarkably easy and smooth ever since. My daughter is strong and healthy and was an “easy” baby, compared to some. My husband and I settled into our new roles as parents and we are probably happier than we’ve ever been. I have seen no glimpses of that darkness and since we don’t plan to have another baby (No, really this time. He got a vasectomy) I hope to never encounter depression like that again.

There’s a lot of pressure to be a happy pregnant woman, especially when everything about the pregnancy seem right. We were happily married. We owned a house. We had good jobs and lots of support from our friends and families. I was healthy and the baby was healthy. But, I now believe that prenatal depression is a very real thing. Had I known, I may have reached out for help. I may have been more honest about the extent of my misery and the depths of my pain. I may have found relief, through medication or therapy or something. But instead, like so many people who battle depression, I just
suffered through it.

My daughter will turn five in just a few weeks and I love being her mother. When she is older, I will talk to her about how depression can come upon you, even when you are not expecting it, and that it’s OK to talk about it and ask for help. Then, I will hug her and think how lucky I am to have had the experience I did and to have emerged on the other side.

                                                                      mabel sledding

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

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What I never wanted to say…

“These last two weeks have been the most miserable of my entire life”

I was holding my two week old son, swaddled up like a burrito, turned on his side, jiggling him madly as per ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’.  My husband was aghast at my words.  He looked a little disgusted.  I couldn’t look at him, I was ashamed to have said them, those horrible words, made all the more horrible by being so true.

My Postpartum Depression began instantly after the baby was born. Instantly.  And it was never depression, not in the typical sense.  I didn’t feel down, I didn’t feel detached from the baby, and thank god, I never had any urges to harm him.  It began as irritation. Really, really intense irritation.  I remember hearing the footsteps of a nurse crossing the delivery room floor just minutes after the birth and it was tantamount to fingernails on a blackboard to my ears.  I desperately wanted everyone, including the baby, to go away and leave me alone.  I chocked it up to exhaustion, and to some degree it certainly was, but something else had begun inside of me, something that has robbed so many mothers of the joy of birth and of new motherhood.  I expected sleep deprivation, I expected to feel the loss of my free-wheeling childless days.  I had been prepared for all the possible complications during pregnancy and all the possible complications of delivery.  I knew what terrible disorders and diseases could befall my baby and me, but no one told me to prepare for PPD, didn’t even mention it in my childbirth class.  I was told how difficult it might be to recover from a C- Section or an Episiotomy.  I knew that I might pee my pants for awhile, have stretch marks, a squishy belly, painful intercourse etc, etc… no one told me that I might fall into the darkest, saddest period of my life. No one really talks about it.  So I’m going to talk about it.  Heck, Gwyenth Paltrow did, and I always say, ”Whatever Gwyneth Paltrow can do, I can do”. Minus the movie career, and the rock star husband, and the tallness, the yoga toned body, the Oscar, and the cookbooks.

It began in earnest the day I left the hospital.  My sister, brother-in-law and niece had accompanied me home.  I had been excited to come home, felt happy and hopeful, but as the time of their visit began to dwindle away and I knew that they would soon be gone, I started to feel….dread?  That isn’t the best word, or the most accurate word to describe the feeling, there is no word. I had never felt it before, but for the next few weeks, it was all I felt.   Suffice to say, it was terrible and I felt very, very alone.  Soon after, the anxiety set in. Now, no one has ever mistaken me for an easygoing, laid-back kinda gal, but this was very different.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, I was consumed with anxiety about the baby, about myself, about my husband.  I missed him, so badly, as if he was away at war and yet I saw him every day.  I became obsessed with the baby’s sleep schedule. Why wasn’t he sleeping longer?  When would he sleep more?  Why did he need to be held to sleep?  Would I have to hold him to sleep forever? I remember my sister saying to me, ”he’s only two weeks old, Heather”.  I could hear it in her voice, she thought I was a freak.  These might seem like standard new mother worries, but I promise you, they were far worse.  I cried hysterically when he wouldn’t take a nap, sobbing to my husband that something was wrong with him.  I called my husband at work crying every day, but I couldn’t put into words what was wrong.  I was so overwhelmed, I eagerly took weekend trips away without the baby, I was relieved to leave him with caretakers that I felt were better for him than I was.  He was the innocent recipient of my stress and it broke my heart to know I was burdening him with it.

And then, there were the visions. Every time I closed my eyes I saw my baby fall.  I tripped on the stairs and dropped him.  I slipped on the hardwood floor and dropped him.  I stood with him on our balcony, lost my balance and watched him fall into the water below and drift away from me. It was torture.  I don’t use that word lightly, it was truly unbearable.  The images were vivid.  I could see it happening so clearly.  I heard every sound.   Every time I closed my eyes, he fell, he fell, he fell.

Thanks to the interwebs, I’ve since learned that in fact, most women who suffer from PPD actually experience more anxiety or obsessive compulsive thoughts/actions, than they do depression.  It’s heartbreaking to think of all the women, throughout the world and throughout history that suffered this way.  I don’t want to get all up on a soapbox, but there is no PPD support group in our community.  There are support groups for mothers of multiples, for women breastfeeding, for parents who have lost children.  All good and necessary, no doubt about it, but not one group for PPD?  None that I can find anyway.  Why?  Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d be happy to know it.

There is medication though, and you better believe I jumped on that wagon.  I didn’t even think about going natural.  Hell no.  And it worked. That, and a part-time nanny.  My husband’s 60+ hour a week job was not helping matters. By the time my son was two months old, I was feeling pretty much back to normal.  Don’t. Wait. To. Get. Help.  Whatever kind of help you seek, get it immediately.  So much precious time is wasted otherwise.

Should I really be admitting all this, I’ve worried?  Even now, I still feel the shame. I’ve cringed at every word I’ve written.   But why shouldn’t I admit it? The fact is, it was no more in my control than morning sickness, craving ground beef or having sore boobs; all products of the hormones rising and falling and swirling around in my pregnant body.  I want to shout it out for all the women who never could, when there was no solution, no support and no name for the affliction. Talk about it.  Tell your friends about it.  And tell a new mother.

Read more from Heather at her blog: 6:30 and a Glass of Wine