Hey guys. This post has been on my heart for a while now, and even though it isn’t an easy one to write, I feel like I need to share my experience just in case one of you out there can resonate with my story.
I struggled with postpartum depression, and I overcame it.
If you’ve had a baby, then you know that those first few weeks after giving birth are CAH-RAZY. Hormones and emotions are all over the place, and you find yourself acting in ways that you really can’t control. After I had my firstborn, every evening between 5 – 6pm I sobbed uncontrollably. For no reason other than my body was freaking out because of all the physical and emotional changes it was dealing with. The weight of thinking ahead to how the heck I was going to muster up enough energy to make it through another sleepless night overwhelmed me, and there I sat balling my eyes out. I’ll never forget one night when we decided it’d be best to just get out of the house around that time hoping that a change of scenery would help. We headed over to Noodles to grab a quick bite to eat (since you know, you basically have about a 20 minute window before you need to be back for the next feeding), and as we were eating our Wisconsin Mac & Cheese the water works came and I put on quite a show for the rest of the patrons. Aye yai yai…I’m so glad I can look back now and think that was funny. In the moment, let me assure you, I was a wreck.
Thankfully, after a few weeks I felt much more like myself again, and eventually started making it days at a time without tears. Motherhood became my new normal and I adapted into my new role nicely.
After I had the twins, my postpartum experience was much more intense. I went through the same phase I did with my firstborn, but it didn’t end when I expected it to. Honestly though, I didn’t think too much of it. I figured I was probably just exhausted. Twins was so different than a singleton. When I got more sleep I was sure I’d feel better. Then the girls started sleeping through the night, and I still felt like I was seeing the world in gray. Next I told myself it was probably just the fact that my body was so depleted from producing milk for two. Surely when I stopped pumping I’d feel better. When the girls were seven months old I had completely weaned them off of breast milk and onto formula, in hopes that if I took care of myself I’d be able to take better care of them. While it certainly helped me to become healthier in some ways, I still didn’t feel like myself.
I wasn’t able to enjoy the everyday moments with my kids. I was just going through the motions, without really feeling much of anything. I wanted so badly for my days to be filled with joy, but no matter how hard I tried to change my perspective I just couldn’t flip the switch. I wasn’t able to enjoy the presence of others like I used to either. When people would visit I felt like I didn’t have much to encourage them with, so often I would just choose not to say much at all. I felt emotionless. I could make it through my days and I wouldn’t say I had the most severe case in the world, but it was distractedly inconvenient.
One day I decided I needed to do something about it. I’m not sure why I waited as long as I did. Probably because I was ashamed and prideful. It also didn’t help that someone who wasn’t invested in my life flippantly accused me of having postpartum depression which made me more upset than I’ve been in my entire life. You just don’t do that.
I called my doctor’s office. I made an appointment with my OB and told her what was going on. Oh my goodness, naming the reality that had been going on in my mind gave me freedom that led to my first step of relief. She reassured me that so many women deal with this. It was an imbalance of the chemicals in my brain and it was completely normal. Normal? Then why did I feel SO alone in this? We chatted about treatment options, and I walked out the door with a prescription in hand.
Over the course of the next few days, I prayed about next steps. The medicine sat in my cupboard, unopened. It felt like such a big deal to start taking it. In Christian circles, I think taking medicine for mental disorders feels like it can come with a certain stigma attached. In my opinion, it’s really unfortunate, and in a lot of instances I would guess that it probably prevents people from getting the appropriate help they need. I’ve heard comments like, “What sin in your life aren’t you dealing with to make you feel like that?” among others. Let me tell you, until you’ve experienced your own case of anxiety or depression, you have no right to pretend you know what someone else is dealing with. And even then, every case is so unique.
I’m certainly no expert in this, but I do know that for me, taking medicine was the best decision I could have made. For others, perhaps it’s therapy or counseling.
I love how God’s timing works. After feeling so alone and confident that none of my other friends dealt with this, I randomly happened to have two different conversations within two days of meeting with my doctor. I respect and admire these friends dearly and learned that they too had battled anxiety and/or depression and had success taking medicine. Normalizing anti-depressants made me feel supported and encouraged to know that there was hope.
I started taking my pills, which I quickly started calling my happy drugs, and within about four weeks I felt loads better. There was a week when I started to see light again and my world became more colorful. I genuinely laughed with my kids and found JOY in the little things. I felt like myself! I wasn’t snapping at my husband like I had been, and I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my little family.
I praise God for medicine. It makes sense to me. I’d use it if I was having other medical conditions, so I don’t see mental issues being any different. After a few months, I felt it was time to wean myself off. It was like my brain had been reset, and my mind relearned the behaviors that made me feel happy. I’ve had great success since being off of it, but if I feel the need to get back on someday, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.
If you think you might be dealing with postpartum depression, please don’t wait as long as I did. Seek out help. Tell someone how you’re feeling. You aren’t crazy, and you aren’t any less of a mom if you’re struggling with it. What you’re dealing with is very real and very normal. Do what you need to do. I certainly don’t think everyone needs to be on medicine. Do what makes sense to you. Maybe that’s finding a counselor. Maybe it’s surrounding yourself with a team of prayer warriors. But please, know that you aren’t alone in this, and you don’t have to keep feeling like you do. There IS hope.
We’re we’re weak, HE is strong.
If you’d like to learn more about my experience, I’d be happy to chat with you. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The opinions expressed in this post are my own from personal experience. Please consult a doctor or other healthcare professional to decide what is best for you.