The Many Faces of PPD

I realize that I’m opening myself up for a lot of criticism by writing this. But, I simply have to. It has always been my number one goal to keep things real here, so I’m doing it now  – no matter what the cost. I pray that, somehow, this post will be a blessing to you.

When I endured PPD the first time, I experienced deep sadness and feelings of despair and worthlessness. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I held my newborn daughter and wondered if God had made a mistake – not that I thought He really did – but I just couldn’t understand why He made me a mother! I was not worthy of such a task and, moreover, I didn’t feel that I could do the job. I sat and cried in my walk-in closet in the dark. Finally, I tried to take my life.

I am currently battling PPD -Postpartum Depression – again. I have been on the watch for its symptoms with each pregnancy since my first. You see, I didn’t know I had PPD the first time until it was all over. Looking back, I can see that I had symptoms for a year after giving birth. A year! I vowed to myself that I would not make that mistake again – I would be aware of the symptoms, and I would get help.I would do it for my husband, for my children, and I would do it for me.

I was surprised when just recently I realized that I was dealing with this again. This time has been so different. I rise early each day. I don’t feel sad or blue. Instead, I have severe mood swings. I go from being “normal” one minute, to angry the next. I have not hurt anyone or anything, but I have spoken words in anger that I sorely regret. Then, when the emotions are past, I have felt dazed, wondering what just happened. I have  also experienced panic attacks. After my son’s two month checkup, I worried that he had quit breathing in the car seat. I couldn’t see him while driving, so I had to pull over and check him. I experienced the same rush of adrenaline and heart rate increase that one might have if your house was on fire. Only, nothing was happening. Well, nothing was happening for real, anyway. Plenty was happening inside my brain! That day, the day I pulled over to check the baby, was the day I remembered what my nurse told me at my six week follow up visit. “If your emotions begin to affect your life, you have a problem.” I began thinking about the ridiculous heated arguments I was having with my husband. I always apologized and we made up, but why was I even upset? Why the heart palpitations and fear over nothing more than a greasy stove or a pile of laundry to fold? Then, after the panic had subsided, I dealt with immobilizing guilt and sadness. I had to face the facts: I had PPD again, with a different face this time, and it was affecting my life. I walked with the Lord through Bible reading and prayer, so I knew this wasn’t a spiritual problem. I did what I promised I’d do if I ever had this again. I called my doctor.

I made the appointment with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure what to say? “I think I’m losing my mind. Please save me.” Well, that sounded good to me! My wonderful OB/GYN nurse, Lyndsey, knew exactly what I meant. She explained to me that I had a hormonal imbalance that was the root of all my problems. She also informed me that 70% of women have un-medicated depression issues – these are women who should be on medication, but aren’t! I was shocked at that statistic! My doctor prescribed some medication for me to start that very day. It isn’t addictive, it doesn’t affect my nursing the baby, it doesn’t knock me out and it doesn’t make me “high”. It simply returns me to normal – whatever that was. 🙂

I don’t know why I was so afraid to call the doctor and take something. On the way home from my appointment, I had an asthma attack due to the pollen and dust outside. I didn’t hesitate to grab my rescue inhaler and take two puffs. As soon as I did, I could breathe again! Why wouldn’t I want to be free of the hormonal imbalance that was plaguing me? I don’t know – I think the hormones messed with my decision maker, too! lol!

I don’t get an increased heartbeat over a messy kitchen now! I don’t worry that my baby has stopped breathing every hour! I don’t panic over spilled milk! I’m me again! I have gotten upset, but I haven’t lost control since starting the medicine. And that’s so nice – I usually didn’t lose control before getting pregnant. It’s so comforting to be myself again.

I’d really missed me.

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11 thoughts on “The Many Faces of PPD

  1. Your frank honesty about this is in my opinion, very courageous and I stand in awe of it.

    regards, respect and love you

    ~ terry basham, ii the bishops wife's husband.

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  2. My daughter (my fifth) is now 5 months old, but I think I went through some of this for a couple of months after she was born. I was experiencing what you are talking about- the panic attacks. I was paranoid, checking her every minute to make sure she was still breathing. I felt like I was losing my mind! I have never had to deal with that. My hormones were going nuts! I just dealt with it, however. It was a long two/three months, and I still feel like I am not completely back to normal. I completely understand what you are going through. It is a complete mental battle, isn't it? If it would have gone on longer, I might have attempted to seek help. Luckily for me, (and my husband) it has mellowed out! I am glad you are feeling more normal! And thanks for posting this! ~Cassandra

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  3. Oh Valarie
    I had NO idea you were battling issues again. I WILL be praying for you.
    When I went through mine, I had the sadness AND the panic attacks and I think that the panic attacks are what made me so sad. I HATE that panicky feeling and it seemed to never ever go away. It made me so sad to look at my beautiful little baby girl and have anxiety thinking “I can NOT handle four kids” even tho I was.. my mind, let me to believe that I couldnt possibly.
    I am glad that you got help. I never did for fear… Fear of things getting worse.. yah, gotta love how an irrational mind thinks eh?
    <3 ya and my prayers are with you and, if people have a problem with this post then they have never walked a mile or, have and are denial .. being a Christian doesnt mean that we wont be sad or face hardships.. we CAN be depressed... its how we HANDLE that depression that matters.
    David wept… wept daily.. I dont think that it meant him any less of a Christian because of it…
    Having a horomon inbalance is nothing to play around with .. on one hand, I wish it was more “known” on the other hand, I am glad its not, I would never wish anyone to ever go through what I did…
    THanks for your courage to tell your story. I Have been trying or a long time to put mine to words, maybe one day, I actually will
    ((hugs))

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  4. Thank you for being willing to share your experiences with others! You are always such a blessing to me. I also suffered with PPD with my first but unfortunately the hospital or doctor (not sure which) in the state I lived in at the time didn't give medication for it. I do remember going through many of the symptoms that you mentioned. I have also had times that I have felt this way that had nothing to do with pregnancy. I have to admit that I have always been one to look down on taking meds for depression but I have come to realize that there are legitimate cases that medication is needed. I'm glad that you are dealing with this so well and that everything is getting back to the normal YOU! Love and prayers! Tobitha

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  5. I am humbled by your frankness. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when my 8 y/o was 1. I have been off and on various medications since. I always feel better at first with meds but being in pharmacy new there had to be a better way because after awhile I began to mis my creativity which always disappeared when I was on the meds. I discovered a lot of it was my diet. I have been off meds for 3 years but think I may need to go back since I feel the cycle starting again and my diet is horrible. Your post is just the confirmation of God's will in my life. I have been ignoring the signs for too long. Thank you!

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  6. ((((Hugs))) I am one of the fortunate that do not suffer from this after birth, but I do suffer very severely while I am pregnant with the hyperemesis gravidarum which at times I have had some of the dark moments from being so sick that you describe. They were very brief, but they were a challenge. I'm glad that you were able to get help and feel better. I will be praying for you.

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  7. thank you so much for this post. I DEFINITELY suffered from PPD. BUT…. I have always been taught that it is just baby blues and a lot of it is just in my head. My son is now a year old and I have noticed in just the last few months that I am me again. I still have moments so I don't think I am completely well yet but things have mellowed A LOT and I feel like myself again…. but it was a very rough 6-9 months.

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  8. I never had PPD after childbirth, well, I didn't consider it that. I did have mood swings..terrible mood swings. It really wasn't MY fault everyone was bothering me!! I'm convinced it was theirs and they were blaming me!! =D

    I did have PPD BAD after my miscarriages. So bad that I even asked God to kill me. (With the first) I just didn't know if there was life left to live or if God could even love/use me. I didn't want to live life without the blessings of God. Sounds crazy now, but at the time it made complete since. I couldn't describe it and there wasn't anyone to talk to about it…I just cried and prayed and eventually I got back to normal…well, normal for me… =)

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