I am writing this from a very dark place in my life right now. I am hoping that by getting my story out there for people to hear, they might recognize post postpartum depression in themselves and get the help they need. ALL the help they need. -Amanda
I have two beautiful children. My oldest, Evelyn, was born 2 years ago last October. I had depression as a teenager and told my obstetrician about it from the get go. She recommended that I be put on Zoloft, an anti-depressant, the day after giving birth to my daughter as a precaution. We did just that, I left the hospital with script in hand and took Zoloft for the next year straight. I tried to go off it once in that time frame, and realized I became moody, anxious and angry when I wasn’t on it.
After my daughter turned a year old, my husband and I discussed adding another little member to our family. He is quite a bit older than I and wanted to have his two children before he hit 40. I was quite agreeable as my first pregnancy was very easy and my daughter was wonderful. Sure, she had the normal newborn not sleeping well thing but she was happy, healthy and a very easy baby.
During my pregnancy with my son, my doctor and I discussed again getting on Zoloft right after he was born. My pregnancy was fairly easy but having an almost 2 year old running around at the time did make things a little more difficult than I’d imagined. I started to feel anxious and worried as my due date approached but put faith in the Zoloft working for me this time as it had before.
July 2012. Six months ago. My little boy was born, an easy, fast delivery. However, he was the complete opposite of my daughter, he was as far from an easy going baby as you could possibly get. Now, it wasn’t all his fault. In his first week he was projectile vomiting after every feeding. We saw the pediatrician, she put him on Zantac for acid reflux and sent us for a sonogram to look for something called Pyloric Stenosis. Apparently, he didn’t have that but he continued to vomit.
Our pediatrician said just to wait it out, his digestive system would develop and he would stop. In the meantime, little man was not sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time. I was breastfeeding so my husband could do very little to help in the middle of the night. Two weeks went by without improvement. Back to the doctor, same story… he’s colicky, they said. He’ll grow out of it, they said. 2 ½ months went by. He still wasn’t sleeping. The final straw was when his pediatrician told me that my baby was just ‘high maintenance’. We found a new doctor.
By then, though, the 3 months of constant, never ending crying and lack of sleep had caught up with me. I was a zombie. My husband tried to help the best way he knew how but he worked 55 hours a week and I was growing meaner by the day. I was angry at everything. I was angry at my baby. I was angry at my daughter for acting like a normal 2 year old. I was angry at my husband for not supporting me enough. But most of all I was angry at myself for not being able to cope.
I kept telling myself that I was fine. I was just angry and anxious because I wasn’t sleeping. I was on the Zoloft, clearly my PPD was being handled. I truly had no idea, at the time, how wrong I was. The breakthrough in my mind came in pieces; two different incidents that made me realize that my PPD was not truly controlled. The first was when I took the kids, stormed out of the house, told my husband I was leaving him, and drove my car up the street and parked for 2 hours. I was so angry at him that day. I felt alone and unsupported. I wasn’t sleeping and I didn’t perceive him as being at all helpful to me.
I knew then that something was wrong. I called the doctor and he upped my Zoloft dosage from 50mg to 100mg. I went about my life, not feeling any better really, but telling myself I was fine. My baby boy’s health issues finally started coming to light. The new pediatrician we hired figured out he had a milk allergy and he was put on a no milk, no soy formula. My boy improved immediately, thank goodness. I, however, was still anxious, angry and prone to temper tantrums at the drop of a hat. Here I was, knowing that I had PPD but not realizing how bad I was, and how much the medication was not helping. I had no one to talk to. I wanted to appear to be super mom on the outside so I didn’t let any of my friends in on how I was feeling. Instead I took it all out on my husband… no wonder he decided to seek attention outside of our marriage.
That was the final straw. I found out about my husbands infidelity. An emotional affair with two women because he “just needed someone to be nice to him”. That’s how bad I was. He has moved out of our house now, and I am finally getting the medical help I need. I have started to see a therapist and have appointments lined up with a psychiatrist to get my depression meds figured out. I have hope for the future that perhaps my husband and I can rectify things and I can repair the damage I caused by not recognizing my PPD.
Just because you are on medication doesn’t mean that your depression is under control. Make sure you have friends and family watching you to make sure that the medicine is working. Establish a relationship with a primary care doctor or a psychiatrist so they can monitor your progress. That was my biggest downfall, relying solely on my obstetrician, who I only saw once post postpartum. Be aware that PPD is very normal and it’s not your fault, but you need help to control it.