My Journey with PPD/A

*Originally posted on Fall 2014

How would you describe your journey through Postpartum Depression? Use as few or as many words as you’d like.

I want to share with you my journey through Postpartum Depression. It’s the roller coaster ride I’ve been on since April 2014, the month our beautiful son, Ryder, was born.  I had NO idea what PPD was prior to my son being born. I don’t ever remember hearing about it and it was definitely not on my radar.

I can only describe what it is and how it feels to the best of my knowledge and experience so here goes…your body is completely out of control with hormones raging, brain chemistry all out of balance, you’re lacking sleep and you’ve just been through some physical, emotional and mental trauma giving birth to your precious child. Your body takes its sweet time healing and when you’re finally able to move enough to get out of the house you feel anxious when you go anywhere with your new baby. And I don’t mean a little bit of worry…I mean completely debilitated by anxiety and irrational fears that seem completely realistic in  the moment. You’re so obsessed with how the babe is eating, ‘is he starving?!’ you think to yourself over and over and over. A dark cloud hovers over you, you’re exhausted, you’re spent and you have nothing left to give. The irony? You haven’t even gotten out of bed yet.  You are completely overwhelmed. Emotional. You can’t stop crying and you don’t understand why. Lost. Confused. Hopeless. You realize you’d rather die then deal with getting out of bed in the morning. Death. Would I kill myself for sweet relief? No, I couldn’t do that…but an accident would be perfect. Just so I don’t have to deal with all of this anymore.

When did you recognize what you were dealing with?

It took 2-3 months before I became aware that something was dreadfully wrong. After a few nights of not sleeping due to anxiety I started to completely crash. I no longer could get out of bed, nor could I stop crying. My husband had no idea what was going on and did not know how to help me. Thank God for my Mom…she journeyed through depression after my sister was born so she was able to recognize the signs and help me get help.  I would not be here today if it wasn’t for her, or my loyal husband.

How did you get help?

In the beginning I tried to help myself with nutrition, lifestyle changes and lots of rest/sleep. My hubby would take both kids and let me sleep in or let me nap. I would take long hot baths with candles lit, I would go for walks with my Mom, I would eat nutritious meals and take all my vitamins. And yet, nothing changed. I couldn’t sleep when my husband left the house with the kids. I’d lay in bed having panic attacks over nothing. I’d shake, my heart would race and I’d feel so scared. On my worst days I’d involuntarily throw up right after eating or I wouldn’t be able to eat at all. I was losing weight fast.

On a Thursday afternoon in August I realized that I could not do this on my own. I needed more help…more medical and professional help. But I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t pick up the phone. I could only cry. So, my Mom and husband called the nurses and the doctors for me. As soon as the words Postpartum Depression were said I had more help then I knew what to do with. VIHA nurses phoning me and coming by the house, a doctor’s appointment with my GP, blood work and an invitation to group therapy. Then I was referred to an incredible counselor who donates her time to women struggling with PPD and a psychiatrist to help with the medication side of things. Yes, medication. I am on anti-depressants and you know what? I’m so thankful I’m on anti-depressants. I feel like myself again because of the anti-depressants.

What has this journey taught you?

* Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

* It is necessary, and not selfish for me to care for myself before caring for others. If I don’t fill my “well” I will have nothing to give to others. I will be dry and depleted. I must recharge and refill to the point of overflowing.

* I was never meant to do this alone. Ask for help.

* There is always HOPE! Hope in Community, Hope in Love & Hope in Christ.

* “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ I saw this in action. Through my friends, through my family and most of all through my husband. He showed me such selfless love. He served me, he served the children, he worked, he cleaned, he scooped horse manure, he fed animals, he fed the children, he fed me. I kept wondering why he came home, why he didn’t leave me for some other more capable woman…one that could get out of bed, one that could be left alone for more then 5 minutes without having a panic attack. I hope for an opportunity to serve him the way he continues to serve me through this journey. 

How has this experience changed you for the better?

Everything I’ve learned has grown me as a human being. This journey has created a greater depth of character, more understanding, more compassion and an ability to relate to others in an area I never could before.

I’ve learned not to take the little things for granted (like being able to get out of bed, cooking, showering, feeding a baby, changing his diaper etc.). These things are amazing. If this is all I did for the rest of my life I would be a hero.  I am a hero. I am amazing…even in my weakest moments.

What advice would you give other women journeying through PPD/A?

Be gentle with yourself. Recognize all the little things you do and praise yourself for them. Look for moments you can truly be thankful for. Ask for help. Seek support. Recognize how courageous you are for doing so. Do one thing a day that makes you feel beautiful. Spoil yourself. If spoiling yourself means 3 minutes in the bathroom alone, do it. Rest and Receive. Take leaps of faith (for me, taking medication was a huge leap of faith). In the dark times remind yourself that this too shall pass. Remind yourself that you’re amazing. You are strong. You are loved. You are not alone.

Summer 2014 with Avalon, Ryder & our dog Kona

Summer 2014 with Avalon, Ryder & our dog Kona

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