I cannot tell all of you who commented on my guest post on Post-Partum Depression (PPD) how much all of your comments meant to me. Somehow January always seems to re-share my guest post on days where I am having an extra tough time and just reading your thanks and knowing that I am not alone in this garbage is very helpful, even during my darkest times.
I am happy to report to all of you that beginning in January I have gradually been getting “better” and little by little I feel like someone is turning up a dimmer switch and making my world bright again. I am by no means out of the woods and still have days where I could just explode, but the part of me that has to muster the energy I need to control those emotions is stronger now and I can totally dig it!
The interesting thing about this time around with PPD is how I started to get better. I was prescribed a hormonal oral birth control pills (OBCP) to help control a issue that I have with endometriosis (looong story for another time, whew!) and, well, let’s just say it was not doing its job so I fired it. Within two days of stopping my medication, I felt like someone was lifting the lid to a box I had been locked away in. A heavy, wooden box with a crummy-looking window on the outside, because that’s exactly what my PPD felt like; being locked in a box, shut away from everyone, with the ability to watch all of my horrible reactions and outbursts, but without the power to do anything about them.
I doubt that my OBCP’s were the direct cause of my PPD, but it is obvious now that they were exacerbating the issue. With brighter and clearer eyes, I am finally able to assess my situations with a logical head, when, before, any little thing could potentially cause an upheaval.
It came to mind that it would be good to write an accompanying post about helpful ways to maintain your balance while your body and mind are still healing from PPD. No one gets better overnight and this was something I ended up learning the hard way. I had gone nearly three months without incidence and then – BAM! – An exceptionally AWFUL day hit me like an aluminum bat to the face!
I bawled. No, like, I sobbed! I was so distraught over the idea that I wasn’t better yet, that I could still lose it so quickly. I called my husband at work, rambling like a blubbering mess and just plummeting very quickly over my down mood and unacceptable reactions. He pointed out to me that after almost two years of being extremely unbalanced and dealing with such intense emotions, having one rough day out of almost three months was awesome! Although I did not share his enthusiasm at the time, he was absolutely correct.
Parenting is NOT easy, but hell, life isn’t easy either! Things go wrong in your day to day all the time and kids are just downright unpredictable. I can’t control what other people do around me, but I can try to control how I choose to react in the moment. And when I sat down and really thought about it, there were other ways to take control over various parts in my life that also might add to my stress. I started to go through all the aspects of my life and clear out the negative or stressful elements that were not necessary. I mean, yeah, my children can sometimes be stressful, but I am keeping them! Haha!
People who would inspire an unpleasant environment and who I felt were simply bringing a negative presence into my life were kept at a distance or dropped all together. Not to say that you should only keep people in your life if they benefit it, but you shouldn’t put up with them if they detract from it either.
Foods that would make me unbalanced, such as processed foods or items high in sugar content were no longer purchased, and we have been making a huge effort at keeping just whole, healthy foods in the house. (And really good quality dark chocolate for the times when I want chocolate and only chocolate will do… you know the times I’m talking about!) I also try to drink as much water as possible every day. I bought myself a 20oz. water bottle and do my best to fill it up at least five times a day. Hydration has a great effect on my attitude when I keep up with it and there’s the added bonus that my kids want to drink more water too! I try to get regular chiropractic adjustments and I am a lot more careful about which medications (if any) I will take now.
I started trying to add exercise in where I could in small increments at first (like dances parties while we clean up toys during the day or parking farther away at the grocery store) and then building up to bigger exercises (longer, more complete workouts; such as walking my neighborhood or doing yoga).
The number one thing to help alleviate stress: hugs. Give them to everyone, even people who might not like being touched, and make them count. Not just an obligatory embrace, a real one; squeeze them tight and hold them until they can feel your positive energy and you can feel theirs. Most importantly, hugs your kids. Kids give the best hugs in the world and a really great hug accompanied by a semi-toothed grin can sometimes be that can of spinach you need to get through the rest of the day.
I haven’t shaken this beast yet, but I’m doing whatever I can that is within my control to keep my ass out of that box. Every day I feel just a little bit better and having my old self back has helped my relationships with my husband and children to grow and adapt to be that much stronger, because we have all survived my PPD together. I’m grateful to my family for being there for me and giving me a constant reminder about why I’m working so hard on myself.
If you find that you’re reading this and you’re still trapped in that f***ing box, please know that there is no specified length of time that one might be stuck enduring this horrible illness. Just because you are not there yet does not mean you won’t get there sometime soon. Likely when you least expect it. If you’re reading this story and you are just realizing that you have PPD or are not sure, PLEASE talk to someone TODAY. Please don’t wait. The longer you wait, the longer you will be stuck in the box and not getting back to YOU.
I don’t necessarily mean a therapist or counselor, because maybe that isn’t within your means. Counselors and Therapists are trained to understand the emotions you might explain to them, so they can be quite helpful if that is something within your reach*, but a parent, friend, sibling, or spouse can work great too, don’t discount them! I simply mean to talk to a person that you can feel comfortable enough to open up to, and likely cry in front of (if you’re anything like me). Not everyone gets better with diet and exercise alone and should you find yourself needing the added help of an anti-depressant please understand that it is OKAY!! The most important thing is doing what you need to do to get well!
I say we end this post with a mantra, whether you’re dealing with PPD or not, this is always an excellent reminder: “I am a good mom, a kind person, and I deserve to be happy!”
Say this mantra at least once a day and see if it doesn’t help you to believe it!
*If you are still unsure if you’ve got PPD or maybe you even realize you DO have it but don’t have anyone you feel comfortable speaking with about it (in which case I am very sorry and just want to hug you!) here are some resources specifically for Post-Partum that I hope can help! Remember, you are NOT alone, mama!
( http://www.1800ppdmoms.org/ and http://postpartum.net/ )