How I Overcame Postpartum Depression

bay-mam-lovin-extra-depthHey 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 ambermkuiper@gmail.com.

XOXO,

Amber

*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. 

 

 

 

 

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19 comments

  1. Lexy Stark

    Amber, I praise God for your willingness to share your story! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing- and for doing it with such authenticity and bravery.

  2. Jenna Pannkuk

    Awesome post, Amber. As someone who developed anxiety and ocd after a miscarriage, I really found hope in blog posts like this that showed there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is a really long tunnel and when you are in it alone, it seems hopeless. Reading/hearing it is okay(especially from a Christian) to seek help and take medication took a huge weight off my shoulders and made me realize I am not a failure but that I was doing something to help myself that would therefore help my son and my husband. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope it can reach women who are searching for help.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Jenna thank you so much for sharing your story. It really is so helpful to know that I’m not alone in this. It’s crazy how many women actually struggle now that I’ve started to open up about it. You are so right about being able to be a better mom and wife when we take care of ourselves. Thanks for listening to my story!

  3. Nicole

    Perfect post! It is so hard, isn’t it. And we women don’t talk about it enough; it takes these kinds of posts and conversations to “break the ice” because none of us are alone! we were shocked and sidelined by my post partum experience and the flood of emotions that came with it – after a glorious pregnancy we weren’t all prepared for it. uff dah. these stories are important ones to tell. thank you for sharing.

    • MommysMeTime

      Thank you for your sweet comment Nicole. Yes, it really is so hard, especially when you don’t see it coming! I was the same way, never would have expected it to happen. Thank you for your support – it helps to know I’m not alone!

  4. Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome

    I think it’s so wonderful that you are sharing your story. I’ve seen so many women go through struggles similar to yours and can say I was pretty close myself. I’m so happy that you were able to take that step and get help as I know that can be very hard to do :-)

  5. Mallory

    Thank you for your honest post! When I had my baby, NO ONE talked to me about ppd. I felt so alone. I was afraid to tell even my mom because what if people thought I was a bad mom for feeling that way? I cried for about two straight hours in the evening like you. I kept telling my husband that something was wrong with me, but he kept saying the doctor said this was normal (which she did…)Thankfully after the longest three weeks in history, I started feeling better. That’s probably the only part I dread about having another baby. I’m so afraid to feel that way again. I always felt the same way about medicine, but it’s good to know there are others out there who have found success with it if it’s necessary. And sometimes, it just is. :) Thanks again.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Mallory…I hear you. We would love to have one more child, but it is scary to think about going through it again. If it happens next time though, I am confident that I’ll get on medicine right away. It makes SUCH a difference and I’m so glad to know there is help to get out of the pit! Thanks for your encouragement and support. It is a real thing and more moms need to know they are not alone!

  6. Urban Wife

    Oh, Amber. Thank you for sharing this post, which I’m sure was difficult to write. I’m so grateful that God (and medicine) has given you the strength to get back to feeling normal again. I appreciate your voice and words encouragement, always! xoxo

  7. Jessi Stucke

    I am so surprised at that comment about some sinful part of our lives being the cause of our suffering. Wow that is so Old Testament:) Jesus specifically addressed that concept to His disciples. I have a permanent chemical imbalance, so it was very shocking to me that you went through all this fear and shame – maybe because I went through it so long ago that I don’t remember. But mostly because it’s a chemical imbalance – a disease essentially, for some of us when it doesn’t go away. Somewhat hereditary…like having bad teeth or near-sightedness coming from somewhere in the family tree – not everyone has it, and not to the same degree. The only attitude that has never really been put aside in my mind was a comment from a friend several years ago to the effect that people should “tough up” and get over it. I’m so happy for that person that she obviously never had the experience, but very sad that she probably did (who hasn’t) or still does and won’t get help. You are exactly right – if you were sick in some other way, of course you’d take medicine if it made you better. I’m glad it was a temporary issue for you though, and glad you’re sharing, especially for other people who may encounter the stigma for the first time as you did.

  8. Laurel

    Hi Amber,
    Thank you so much for this post. It is your most important one, I believe.
    If you are able to convince one struggling mom and her family to seek help for this condition, you will have served a great purpose.
    You are living an amazing, beautiful life!

  9. Julia

    I haven’t written my story yet, but I definitely dealt with PPD for about the first 8 months. I really wasn’t surprised though because it is something I have battled my whole life. I stopped taking medicine when I was pregnant because I didn’t want to risk anything. I thought I would be fine but I was very wrong. I’m glad I stopped by from Mommy Moments. It’s nice to know I am not alone in my experience and feelings. I’m glad to read this knowing there is a positive outcome for both of us :)

  10. Katherine

    Thanks for sharing Amber. I know too well the struggles after having twins. I spent 86 days in the hospital on complete bed rest, but those first few weeks with twins was equally as hard. We go through different struggles, and sharing your story can give so many women going through this, hope!
    Katherine

  11. Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives

    SO thankful that you shared your story! You have NO iea how encouraging it is to me. I didn’t battle with this specifically, but have DEF. had my areas of gray in regards to the postpartum hormone craziness. This is just what I needed to read… thank you! God’s timing and provision is Everything! :-)

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