Last year for May, I did a campaign called We are Motherhood. In it, I and a lot of other bloggers shared our stories of postpartum struggle. Some had PPD, others, PPA, still others both. There were several moms who even experienced postpartum psychosis, which can be very scary and sometimes deadly. This year, I decided not to do another month long series (it was a lot of work and with two very active boys and two schooling girls, I just don’t have time!). But, I do want to share my story in case it can help any other mom who is struggling right now.
Excerpt from My Struggle with Postpartum Anxiety:
I had spent the last nine months expecting that this baby was going to pop out and suddenly, I would feel better. I had been banking on it, in fact. So, when I didn’t, I started to panic. I remember going to the doctor for one thing or another and mentioning my sleep and maybe slightly worse than normal baby blues (you see I knew what PPA felt like- remember I have had three babies and had it intensely with one and less so with another but not at all with my last boy- so surely, having another boy- one who breastfeeds perfectly- it couldn’t be that). I got several suggestions for sleep aids but was afraid to take them because I was breastfeeding. The doctor offered me antidepressants but- hadn’t they been listening? I wasn’t depressed! I just couldn’t eat, sleep, or breathe, other than that, I was fine.
Only, I wasn’t.
By the time I made it to four weeks postpartum, I had been in the ER twice. I had an endoscopy (which showed some damage to my esophagus and a precancerous condition which I believe was caused by the PPIs they’d insisted would help). I even went to a specialist to determine if maybe I had vocal chord dysfunction. I was struggling. I couldn’t function. Something was wrong.
Read the full story: I AM THE FACE OF POSTPARTUM ANXIETY: DID YOU KNOW?
So, how am I doing now? My little is almost two so surely I should be cured or at least better. And, I am better. I function really well and rarely have anxiety attacks anymore. I would call my anxiety more based on being overwhelmed these days than full blown uncontrollable panic. I stick pretty strictly to routine these days which helps combat it. One of my lingering anxiety triggers is lack of sleep. For that reason, you won’t find me jetsetting anywhere or even planning overnight trips often. When I was at the height of my anxiety, I was waking almost immediately upon drifting off with my heart pounding out of my chest. It took me a long time to recover from the fear of losing sleep. Even now, I panic a little when I think about being out too late or sleeping somewhere other than my own comfy bed (though I have now gone on several trips). But, it could be worse and has been worse so I’m grateful for the improvements I’ve made.
I’ve also been able to wean down to the lowest possible dose of my medication. I had a hard time with this last decrease and am still struggling a bit but it’s hard to tell if that’s the medication or just life- I have four kids- newsflash, that’s a little overwhelming. I’m also a type A perfectionist who hates clutter, is allergic to dust, and loves projects. These things do not always coexist happily with a busy family life.
The long and short of it is that I’m a mom and I struggle. But, as my shirt says with struggle comes strength and each day I choose to struggle on, I get a little stronger.
To read more stories of women who struggled with PPD head over to We Are Motherhood.
Think you or someone you know may be struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder? Please contact your health provider including your OBGYN or family doctor. Need more information? Visit Postpartum Support International for great information on maternal mental health and more. If you fear you or someone you love may be contemplating suicide or facing a mental health emergency, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline and get to your nearest emergency room.