The Many Faces of PPD
(My Most Recent Battle with PPD , written October 4, 2010)
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 wasaffecting 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.
UPDATE: I took Zoloft for nine months following the birth of my fifth child. I still struggle with depression, as I have written about HERE, but it’s never been as severe as when I have had PPD. If you think you are suffering with a hormone – related depression, please consult a doctor.
Thank you for reading!