Was there a moment where it dawned on you that you may have PPD or did someone else diagnose it?
I was about 8 weeks postpartum when it hit me like a ton of bricks. After a 41 hr natural water birth, mastitis, thrush, trips out-of-state to a breast-feeding md, post partum insomnia and returning to work at 7 weeks, I was grieving the traumatic delivery and all the mothering difficulties I was facing and my emotional health was declining. That moment 8 weeks out is when it occurred to me. I was having a late night discussion with my rock of a husband and I got really angry. That was unlike me. [pullquote_right]I slammed a pillow down onto the couch with such force that I startled myself![/pullquote_right] I looked up and literally said out loud in a moment of enlightenment, “I think I have postpartum depression”.
Before you got help what was it like suffering from PPD?
My postpartum was very serious and debilitating. I went through a postpartum anxiety period for about the first three months which consisted of obsessing over my sons schedule and insomnia. I couldn’t sleep for anything!! At nap times and bedtime I would just lay there and could not sleep. 3 months of sleep deprivation does terrible things to a new mothers brain. Around the three-month mark I fell hard into a full-blown depression. Which consisted of constant haunting thoughts of harming my son and eventually myself. The thoughts of harming him were very detailed, disturbing, and constant. My mother in law was with me at all times because I was aware enough to know that I wasn’t well. She would stay with me on the weekends and week days and my son would stay the night at my moms during the week. I loved my son deeply. I felt I was bonding with him. I wanted to be with him. I just didn’t want to be alone because the harmful thoughts were too constant. After my light bulb moment of realizing I was experiencing PPD, I googled it.
What do you think causes PPD?
Postpartum depression is a complex mixture of biological, emotional, and behavioral changes. The exact cause of this condition is still unknown. I believe for me it was a combo of pre-existing undiagnosed anxiety, birth trauma ( I labored two full nights with no sleep, I totally pushed my body passed its limit), The connection between antibiotics killing good bacteria in gut and the gut brain connection… I had 4 rounds of antibiotics in hospital during labor for GBS (2 required but my labor was so long they kept it going) and then another round at week 1 pp with mastitis.The sleep deprivation was a beast, and I know there were underlying spiritual connections.
What did you do to treat it?
After confirming that was what I was facing I immediately contacted my midwife. She asked me some specific questions about how I was feeling and called me in the antidepressant Zoloft. At this point I hadn’t fallen into to lowest point of my depression and I wasn’t ready to go the prescription route just yet. In the weeks following that conversation I tried every natural remedy possible. My mother and I were both uncomfortable with the prescription route so we exhausted our natural/homeopathic pursuits. I was consuming so much fish oil I was surprised my infant didn’t sprout gills! But it wasn’t working. I was getting worse, not better and it was time to move on to a doctor’s care. Under my psychiatrists care I started to get better but it took a while. About 2 months. The one month prior to seeing the doctor and the two months it took to get me semi well were the darkest period in my life.My husband and I spent every night on our faces praying for help from God. I was just in such an emotional pit that it was going to take time and counseling to get out.
How did friends/family respond to your situation?
I kept things private. I only shared what was going on with immediate family and a few friends. Everyone handled me lovingly. They were very tender and compassionate.
What are some PPD myths you would like to clear up?
I would like to clear up the difference between PPD and psychosis. Because I personally know the difference and was misdiagnosed by a doctor. After getting better care my second doctor assured me that what I experienced was not psychosis. Not everyone who experiences PPD experiences thoughts of harming their child or themselves. But for those who do experience those harmful thoughts let me clear up the difference between PPD and postpartum psychosis. Through my personal experience and under the supervision of my doctors I’ve been made aware that the difference is that when a PPD mom has these thoughts she is very afraid of them and does all she can to keep this from happening. A postpartum psychosis mom has harmful thoughts, and believes these thoughts should be carried out. One thing I would also like to share is- if you or anyone you know ever goes through this and turns to you, please help them to see a psychiatrist and not just their OB or family doctor. Mental health needs are complex. Certain drugs do not work appropriately for certain people. After many months of care I found out that the most commonly prescribed PPD drug Zoloft actually has the reverse effect on me. Instead of calming anxiety and lifting mood it causes me to go into a state of mania. I read a story of this very thing happening to a woman in my hometown. She saw her ob for PPD, was prescribed Zoloft, and in a manic episode took the life of her child. Simply because she was given the wrong drug.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m really crunchy, but us crunchy moms have got to remember that there comes a point when further measures may need to be taken and that’s ok.
If you or someone you know are suffering from PPD, click HERE for more info.