Exposed • Life with Postpartum Depression

         For a long time I’ve had the urge to share my story of Postpartum Depression but have struggled with opening myself up in this way. To admit being depressed feels like I am failing somehow. For as long as I can remember, people have always commented on how happy I am, how energetic and joyful. I think this is one of the reasons I find it so difficult to concede.

 

It has been one year and 6 months since I was diagnosed with PPD and said yes to medication. This journey has been filled with ups and downs but now I am ready to take back my life, my headspace and the joy i have always had from within and no longer let it define me. I had never been medicated before and was hesitant and frightened of the mere idea of having to take something daily in order to feel like myself. But, looking back,  I believe it saved me and am grateful for my doctors, friends and family for their unwavering support. As I taper off the 18 months of medication I have been on, my hope is that in finding the courage to share the story of this journey, I will be freed from the secrecy and shame I have been harboring.

 

Brene Brown says; “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”  (if you aren’t familiar with Brene and her work, i encourage you to watch her TED talk about vulnerability)

 

            So here I am, navigating my own path and clearing the mess out of my way as I go.
I am not really sure where to begin, so I will just start at the beginning.
I have three beautiful and healthy little girls. Though, healing from each c-section took an awful lot of time, energy, strength and patience, I would say that all three of my experiences were pretty standard. #nocomplaints
I had ample help and support upon their arrivals and all my children slept through the night by around 8 weeks old. (Lucky me, I know… )
This depression hit me like an anvil hits a cartoon character. Almost as if I had been pushing it down deep and one day it finally got the best of me. I guess part of my skepticism stemmed from not knowing that it was still possible to experience after having two children and coming out relatively unscathed. Although, I hardly recall too much in the early months with Taylor, I do remember feeling foggy all the time, being in a constant state of overwhelm and never being able to start the day off right. My body felt foreign to me and I had highly doubted I would ever be back to my pre-baby body.  I felt resent towards motherhood and then guilt for this resentment. My mind raced all the time about everything that could possibly go wrong and all of the responsibilities I had to keep up with and I simply couldn’t catch my breath. At the time, my best friend was living with us and told me she would often find me crying in my dining room on the floor or sobbing while unloading the dishwasher. I don’t remember that but I know I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone enjoy time with my baby.

 

I couldn’t wrap my head around daily life in general. If we ran out of milk, I cried. If someone had a cough or cold, they might as well have had pneumonia.  Being emotional is part of post pregnancy so this never struck me as something to be concerned about. My tipping point was my rage. The fact that my middle child knocked over the cup of water I told her to beware of and instead of telling her “not to cry over spilled milk”, I lost my temper and control over my own emotions and overreacted to the 10th degree.
Mothers know that in order to survive and thrive as a parent, you CANNOT sweat the small stuff. I was totally incapable of doing this and with my kids around me all the time, I felt like I was quite literally losing my mind.

 

Thanks to my friends and family, I picked myself up and went to see my OB. I remember sitting on the familiar table in the quiet purple room, waiting anxiously for him to politely knock and enter. I remember looking around and thinking to myself, maybe I am totally fine and this is all just going to pass. Then the knock came, he walked in and said “Hi! How are you?” and I turned into a puddle. I couldn’t control the tears, the sounds coming out of my body or the fact that I realized I was a totally lost soul.
My sadness was around my inability to parent three kids.I didn’t feel worthy of these three healthy children whom I couldn’t handle.  How could I keep them all alive and take care of myself at the same time? It felt like an impossible mountain to climb suddenly.
I was too embarrassed to really share what was happening to me with anyone on a super personal level. I still find it difficult to talk about now. How could I, “the happiest girl in the room”, be a weeping, sad and shameful mess. How could I go into people’s homes and be my happy-go-lucky self?  How could I capture their beautiful moments when I couldn’t appreciate my own?
So I reluctantly said yes to an antidepressant called Lexipro.
After about a month, the room felt like it was coming back into focus.  It no longer hurt my face to smile. I could watch my kids play and not feel guilt or shame but instead I wanted to be more involved. When my children asked me questions while I was cooking or cleaning, I was able to answer and not snap at them for no reason. Instead of feeling totally discouraged by Instagram and all the beautiful and talented artists there are in the world, creating began to fuel my soul again.

It was great…. I was coming back!
I just could no longer cry.
Like, at all….
I called it “Botox on the inside”

 

*This is the first of a series of posts charting my experiences with Postpartum depression.

 

 

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