14 December 2009

Part 1 of an incomplete story

I want to share my story about PostPartum Depression in hopes that it will help someone else out there.

I suffer from Post-Partum Depression. I thought at first that the Baby Blues were just passing. It seemed to get a little better but things never completely went back to normal. Then things started to get worse again. I was having trouble sleeping, I was always down, I was irritable, I had no interest in doing anything, and I slowly began to feel more and more trapped. I had nightmares. I was always sluggish and exhausted but I could never sleep at night. I didn't know what was wrong with me and I felt like I would never know what it was like to feel like myself again. I had no interest in sex, my appetite diminished and I hated having to make myself eat for the sake of my milk supply.I felt like I was a horrible mom and wife and I started to feel like I was worthless. At my 6-week post-partum checkup, the care provider I saw didn't ask me anything about how I was feeling. She didn't even look at the questionnaire I filled out, and if she had they probably would have put me on medication then and there. I forgot to ask if what I was feeling was normal.

Finally, I started feeling like I wanted to hurt myself, and I was afraid I was going to hurt my baby. One night it got really bad and I was actually thinking about throwing myself down the stairs or OD'ing on whatever I could find in the house. Several people on an internet forum called MSOS had been telling me that they thought it sounded like I had symptoms of PPD and that I should talk to a doctor but I didn't. I felt like it would be an admission of being a bad mother and I was worried that they would take away my baby or take away my husband's security clearance or cause other problems. The night that it got so bad I posted something under DearSOS (it didn't get approved due to them not approving suicidal messages but Brandi pm'd me to make sure i was okay and I really appreciate it). I finally decided to call the Chaplain. He told me I should probably go to the ER to talk to someone and that if I wanted, he would meet me there so I didn't have to go alone. I did.

I ended up being admitted to the hospital for a little over a week. I was put on medication and went to therapy sessions there at the hospital. Within a few days of starting medication, i started to feel better and my mom and my husband started being able to notice a difference in my voice even just talking to me on the phone. The staff at the hospital reassured me and helped me realize that I was not crazy and that what I was experiencing was normal. I felt so guilty over voluntarily leaving my husband and baby and I thought I was the worst wife and mother ever but they helped me realize I was not, that it made me a good wife and mother and that I was doing what I was to help my baby. Once I started on medication, I had to stop breastfeeding Elizabeth. I also felt guilty about that but I finally realized that it was far better for her and for me and my family that I received the help I needed than to not get what I needed just for the sake of giving her breastmilk.

After I was released, I felt better than I had in a really long time. I finally realized that what I was experiencing was due to a hormonal imbalance in my body and it WASN'T my fault and that I didn't have any reason to feel guilty. I ended up back at the hospital a moth later for suicidal tendencies again, they had to adjust my medication and then I was good to go again.

Since then, things have been far from perfect. I'm still on Ambien to help me sleep, Ativan as needed for anxiety, and they changed me to Celexa for the antidepressant (I was on Lexapro but it's a non-formulary for TriCare). 4 months later I still have yet to see a psychiatrist outside of the hospital I was admitted to, due to the doctor's office yanking me around with scheduling, and other psychiatrist's offices in the area being pretty horrid or booked full or whatever... but things are better. I have interest in activities again, I enjoy getting out of the house and I enjoy (for the most part) taking care of my baby. I'm not perfect and I still have my problems and I've had some downswings lately that make me think my medication may need to be adjusted again, but overall I feel a lot better.

Recently, I found out that I have hypothyroidism. Apparently this can often be brought on after pregnancy as a result of the strain that pregnancy can put on your body. I have been started on a medication called Synthroid that should help regulate my Thyroid. When the nurse called to tell me the news I was so excited that I almost cried. The reason? Hypothyroidism can cause things like PPD (among other symptoms). By getting my thyroid under control, it should make my PPD clear up. To me, it's the light at the end of what has been a very long, very dark tunnel. I feel hopeful about this for the first time in a while. However, to get the answers about my thyroid, I had to keep pushing and advocating for myself. You are always your best advocate.

I tell you my story in hopes that someone out there will benefit from it in some way. If you have a baby and don't feel right, TELL SOMEONE. If you feel like hurting yourself or someone else, get help. Go to the ER if you have to. It's a really hard decision to make and embarrassing at first, but it's the best thing to do. PPD can be treated and you can get help and doing so does not make you a bad person. Suffering from PPD does not make you a bad person or crazy. It is treatable and eventually you should be able to stop taking medication. You can have a normal life again, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can get help. If you know someone who has PPD, let them know you support them. If you know someone who seems to be having problems and you think they need help, talk to them. Sometimes, encouraging them to talk to someone, offering to go to the doctor with them, offering to do whatever you can to help them with babysitting or whatever, can be the encouragement they need to seek the help they need. If they need facts, help them do the research. Above all, support them. Let them know you love them and are there for them no matter what. That is what my family and friends have done for me and it has been one of the most helpful things through this whole experience.

With this blog, I hope to raise more awareness for Post Partum Depression and the women and families who live with this diagnosis. Stay tuned, and if you have any contributions, send them in to me. I'm always interested in hearing others stories. I'm also interested in hearing ideas on how to get involved with raising public awareness about the truth of PPD.

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