I have postpartum depression and anxiety. Just like with “regular” depression, there are good days and bad days, easier weeks, and harder ones. It took me four months to accept that this was even my reality, and there are a couple reasons for that.
One is that I feared that if I admitted it, it meant I had to go back on the drugs, which is something I really didn’t/don’t want. The other is that this isn’t hormones, it’s based on real circumstances that are breaking my heart and discouraging me, and sapping my joy, so it can’t or PPD, right? Reality is that this condition comes in many forms, with varying symptoms and causes, and maybe my pain is real, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worsened by the hormones that are still raging.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about why and what this looks like for me:
Why: the biggest factor has been breastfeeding. I wrote about that journey here ( http://sweetmaeb.blogspot.com/2015/07/our-breastfeeding-journeyso-far.html?m=1) , and I’d encourage you to read it. Nursing another baby was one of the biggest parts of my dream of another baby, and as one of my friends put it, I’m mourning the loss of what I dreamed it would be. That’s been really hard, on top of just the physical work and toll of all the nursing and pumping. Another friend asked if what was weighing me down was juggling two kids, or just the nursing. I emphatically answered “just the nursing.” And for the most part, that’s true. Another factor is my frustration with the fact that dating back to when I was 21 weeks pregnant with him, there have been doctors (not my OB) with manufactured worries about him, that have turned out to be entirely nothing, and since I’m a naturally anxious person, I don’t need that crap. I don’t want to get into this, because it will make me cry and angry. Suffice it to say Declan is great and developing at his own pace in beautiful ways. The third factor springs off the nursing-my productivity is so far less than I’d like it to be that it brings me to tears, because of the time and energy stolen by pumping. Add to all that my frustration with slow progress in shrinking my body -again because of breastfeeding, and a huge dose of hormones, and you get PPDA Mae.
PPDA Mae looks like this:
Some days I am a bundle of energy and productivity and hope and excitement-basically myself. I cook, I organize, I plan, I roll with the plans changing. Many days though, all I can manage is to feed, pump, cuddle kids, and work out, and nothing else. I stay up way too late, get up to pump, and struggle to fall asleep again. The worst days also include tears, angry outbursts, a couple walls punched (that only resulted in a jacked up hand), and the desire not to do any of this anymore because what’s the point when all I do is fail?
I know I have many people who love me, but I’m sick of being needy, so I wade through this feeling very alone. I know it’s partly my fault for isolating myself, and maybe people don’t know, though I don’t try to hide it. I’ve only been to church twice since Christmas and it feels like nobody notices. That’s not an accusation, just something I wrestle with. I don’t have a close girlfriend who I talk to regularly. I am thankful beyond words for Scott and all the ways he cares for me, has stepped up to share the load, and the ways he’s pampering me. Max has also been incredible and I’m overwhelmed by his care too.
I’m not taking meds, and I don’t plan to. Historically I’ve only needed to treat my depression with medication when I’m not exercising consistently-which can be a crazy cycle. I can’t make myself exercise because I’m depressed, even though it would make all the difference. I have been exercising fairly regularly since Declan was 2 weeks old in some form, and now I’m basically back to my ore-pregnancy schedule, if not fitness level/intensity, so if I stay in this healthy pattern, I should be able to continue improving without pharmaceutical aid
Here’s what I am doing: if you’ve read what I wrote about self care awhile back, you’re familiar with most of it, but I’ll share again, because it’s looking different in practice than in theory.
I am using my essential oils. There is power in aromatherapy, and I’ve seen it in instant rescue from panic attacks.
I am making personal prettification part of my routine.
Working on improving sleep with magnesium and going to bed earlier.
Massage-treat yo self! Or let your hubby do it.
I’m being really open with Scott.
I’m celebrating what I accomplish each day.
Hope this encourages you. PPD is not a character flaw, and it is real.