My story of postpartum depression
Of all the topics that come up among new moms — sleep, feeding, exhaustion — there is one that doesn’t get talked about nearly as often as it should: postpartum depression or PPD. So to help normalize the conversation about PPD, I want to tell my story. Hopefully, it will help at least one person out there to know that they are not alone; that PPD is way more common than most people realize and that it is something you can talk about.
After my second child was born, I remember being very tired — over-the-top, exhausted. He had some food allergies that gave him severe acid reflux, which kept him from gaining weight and sleeping well at night. His pediatrician diagnosed him with “failure to thrive.” It took a couple of months to figure out what exactly was going on and how to help him.
During that time, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either. I lived in a state of complete exhaustion but couldn’t sleep at night even when the kids were sleeping. At first, I chalked it up to being tired and having a difficult baby. But even after we figured out Judah’s medical issues, I was still not feeling like myself. I made a doctor’s appointment, and after 30 seconds of listening to me, she gave me a prescription for Prozac. I promptly had an allergic reaction to it and stopped taking it.
Fast-forward 8 months and I was pregnant again, and feeling even worse. My emotions were so neutral. I struggled to get through every day. After my 3rd child was born, I had several health issues. The issues were major enough that I saw 5 different doctors in one week, followed by a trip to the emergency room.
Then, on a Saturday, I made an appointment with the on-call doctor because my blood pressure was so high my head felt like it was going to explode. I will never forget how defeated I felt sitting in that office. I wasn’t sure I was going to ever be normal again. At that appointment, I was finally able to deal with my physical health issues, but the doctor sat down in front of me and asked how I was doing emotionally. I didn’t think I could even answer him; I was such a mess.
I will be eternally grateful that he asked that question and took the time to really hear me, or more realistically observe that I was very obviously not OK. I left the office with prescriptions for 2 blood pressure medications, and one for depression.
I can’t really describe my PPD very well, but I can tell you that I didn’t have a clue how bad I was until I started to feel better. It was like coming out of dark cave. Once I began to feel like myself, I was astounded by how bad I had felt, and I hadn’t even realized the extent at the time.
Two years later, after Titus was born, I was so much more prepared. I knew what to look for; I knew how to better take care of myself; I knew that I would call my doctor if I needed to before it got out of control. It was such a different experience.
I don’t have a bunch of solutions to offer anyone, although I would love to talk to you if this is something you are struggling with. What I want is for you to know that you are not alone. There is hope. Find someone to talk to — your spouse, a friend, your doctor. Don’t try to do it on your own.