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/ )
How long does PPD typically stay around? My son is 2, and I feel like I’m still stuck in a rut somedays…
Elizabeth, PPD can stay around indefinitely if it turns into chronic depression. 🙁 But there are many, many ways to treat and heal from both PPD and chronic depression. So that’s a blessing.
I’m sorry you’re still feeling bad. You’re not alone in it! <3
I adore you. I am so so so glad you are finding balance in your life. And you are so right on these changes (though everyone’s changes are different. I do believe ***balance*** in your life is key to peace. Sort of a Buddhist mind set. Life will have heartbreak, appointment’s, stress, etc. The key is in finding a way to find balance with all of that :)))
Knowing what hormonal birth control did to my mental state I decided right then that the most important balance to find, physically, for happiness, was a good hormonal balance. And though you didn’t mention it, dairy products are sort of related, too! Really work to stick to organic dairy products or at least hormone additive free. When I found out that women are seeing a 35% increase in facial hair due to hormones in dairy products I lost any incentive for getting calcium that way. Give me a bowl of broccoli or a spinach salad any day!
How do you know if you have pod?? I mean, I have a 5 month old and most days are good. But he’s my first and some days I’m so anxious about being alone with him, that it’s all I can do not to beg someone to stay with me while my husbands at work. Other days its all I can do to get out of bed and take care of him. I mean I love my son but …. I dunno. I just feel so different and not at all like me..
If anyone feels like they may have ppd the best thing to do is to talk to your care provider. They will be able to discuss some options for the best way to work through it! Don’t keep quiet if you feel you may need help and please know that you are NOT alone!! xoxo
Crystal, you may have postpartum anxiety, which is related to postpartum depression. Definitely talk to your OB or midwife. I had PPD and part of it for me was being desperately anxious when I was left alone with my daughter, not because I thought I would hurt her, but for no real reason at all. I felt totally helpless and almost afraid of her sometimes. Please, please, please contact your caregiver and ask for help. You’re not alone, honey!!
As an PPD ninja also…I choose the word ninja as I am fighting the horrid disease now for close to 2 yrs also. It isn’t something to be ashamed of – its your body and minds way of coping and most times its a huge cry for help without even realising it. Medication was what has helped me and while some days are truly crappy there are now so many days that are as close to diamonds as a person can get. I am so glad that the original post was followed up and THANK YOU for keeping us updated x x Remember ladies: You are free to be you … and that’s all you ever need to be 🙂
I was unsure if what I am suffering with is PPD, but reading this post solidifies for me that it is, in fact, PPD. I had my son April 23rd. Within 5 or so weeks, I was so overwhelmed. I was exploding on my 21 month old daughter for every.single.little.thing. I would be walking through the parking lot at the mall and start crying because I felt so guilty that I was secretly wishing I didn’t have my children. At 7 weeks pp, I finally decided I needed to see my doctor. She prescribed me a medication and I also made sure I could start a vitamin regimen. So, I’ve been taking fish oil, B complex, vitamin D, and vitamin C along with a prenatal. I am feeling SO much better! I have an outburst on occasion, but I am mostly able to think straight and react AFTER assessing the situation. I am very open about having PPD because too many women suffer in silence and that is when really bad things can happen. If more women talk about it, more women WILL talk about it.
Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t remember most of my daughter’s first two years thanks to PPD. I went through a second trimester loss back in ’07 and never got help with the emotional aftermath. That compounded with losing a set of twins we were hoping to adopt the same year, sent me into a depression like I’ve never had before. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, but after my daughter was born in 2010, it went way out of control. But it didn’t start until she was about 4 months old. I wanted to die and was pretty sure no one would care if I did. My husband would have to come home from work some days or work from home. I felt like the crazy, psycho wife that couldn’t handle anything. I had a 2 year old also and felt like the worst mom in the world. After being medicated for over a year, my husband looked at me and said “you’re not yourself on that stuff. I miss the old you”. I missed the old me also but I was TERRIFIED to get off the meds. I gradually weaned off and it was a nightmare. For nearly a month I felt like I had the flu and couldn’t form a complete sentence. Now over a year later, I feel so much more alive than before. I’m not a spectator anymore. I don’t feel useless. PPD is a very real thing and I feel for women who go through it. I’m always encouraged to hear how other women deal with it and how they come through. Blessings to you and all who you are reaching through your story.
To the author: have you heard of NaProTECHNOLOGY? It’s a science that uses NFP methods to track down causes of complications like endometriosis without having to subject the woman to hormonal birth control. I’m afraid I can’t share more than that since I don’t have any menstrual or other health problems, but I have heard many amazing stories from ladies who do in an NFP facebook group I follow. Anyways, whatever you do, I hope you are healing well!