There is no other way to bring to the forefront difficult topics other than being just plain upfront and open about them.
I have PPD otherwise known as Postpartum Depression.
I was asked by a past colleague of mine how things were going and I mentioned that after getting the PPD under control and the GI issues of my little guy under control things felt a lot better. Her response was similar to a few others, which was one of surprise, that me of all people, would get postpartum depression. I may just be the happiest PPD individual out there :)
I could leave this blog at this point and just state the mere fact of having PPD, but it would do no justice to others who think it would never happen to them or shouldn't happen to them. Nor would it do justice for purposes of education. The frank matter of the situation is that while some may be predisposed as perhaps I was to PPD, you really have no choice if you are the 1 in 10 statistic that gets PPD.
Baby blues, typical baby blues comes and go usually within the first 3-4 weeks. After that, it could be PPD. For me the crying started on day four post birth. Uncontrolled crying. The crying left me feeling like I had lost all control of my body and mind. By week six I had convinced myself that I had everything in control. That was until the Ob/GYN asked me at my 6 week follow up how I was doing and I couldn't answer, or rather, I answered by crying uncontrollably.
For my and my journey through PPD the crying wasn't the biggest challenge. It was the anxiety that came with it. I don't just mean having a moment of anxiety or panic I am referring to heart stopping, tear producing, thoughts that I had no control over which produced significant at debilitating anxiety. NO, these were not thoughts of harming myself, the baby, or others. It happens like this:
I would be driving over a bridge and all of a sudden my mind would start racing with thoughts like this..., "Oh my goodness, what am I going to do if this bridge collapses? How do I save the baby, myself, and my furbaby? Do I let the dog drown? NO! I can't bear to live without my dog. Ok, I have to have a plan. Ok, grab the leash as you are reaching back to unbuckle the baby at the same time kicking the window of the car out. You have to remember to kick the window out because you won't be able to break it once the car is immersed in water. YOu have to remember ot unbuckle yourself too! Oh man maybe I should just start driving without a seat belt. Oh pheww! We are over the bridge. Then the thought, why'd I just get all working up about that. Statistics would indicate the likelihood of a bridge collapsing as I drive over it is really rare.
I would be sitting in the rocking chair rocking the baby and my mind would race with thoughts about what I would happen if I died or suddenly became deathly ill. The tears would start and then my heart would physically hurt from loving this little one so much. Then further thoughts that I cannot die I have to live because who would protect him in his life if it weren't his mom? And ending thoughts, why'd do I keep getting stuck in thoughts like this? I am not likely to die.
Driving to Target for errands and becoming overwhelmed with anxiety that what would happen if for some odd reason I completely forgot I had a child and I left him in the car? Panic sets in and obsessive checking to make sure the baby is actually with me and not left at home. Fully knowing the baby is in the back seat because I can hear him cooing.
Having just laid the baby down for a nap becoming so overwhelmed with society pressures to be super human and be able to keep a clean house (because after all I'm not at work during the day), have a meal ready when my husband gets home, and have a happy baby; it would all be so debilitating I could do nothing other than sit on the chair and stare into space, cry until the baby woke up, or fall asleep (which I probably should have been doing anyhow).
These are just a few examples of what my journey through PPD looks like. I take medication for it and have no qualms about saying this. If it weren't for medication I'm not sure I would be able to get out of bed each day, nor do I believe that PPD would cure itself with time or just go away. It doesn't people, it just doesn't. I also at times refer to this as functional anxiety. For the simple fact that, I can go about my daily life with a genuine smile on my face and feel completely happy with the exception of times of anxiety/panic. No one knows any different because anxiety can be invisible as can panic.
Often times I wouldn't say anything about these feelings or anxiety producing thoughts because I felt that others would judge me, and perhaps you will after reading this. However, I myself know that there is no one else on the face of this earth that would be a better mother to my little one. At no point in my journey has my ability to care for him disintegrated, in fact if anything he has been cared for more than other babies.
In addition to recognizing early on that I needed assistance and being willing to accept the help when offered to make it though this journey called PPD smoothly, I also have continued to participate in my hobby of photography to help keep me engaged and loving myself so that I can be the best mom I can be. Some photos in which I will include in this blog post.
I am not looking for sympathy and in fact I don't want it. I am hoping to open the doors for others who may be struggling and not sure what to do. I have found embracing the struggles head on, simply acknowledging the anxiety and panic and moving forward without dwelling on it has helped immensely. Further, the one thing I've wanted to do but have felt incapable of doing is getting Thank you cards written out for the baby shower gifts. So if you are reading this and you gifted us, Thank you! It hasn't been for lack of wanting to get the notes out, it's been a balancing act in which thank yous have slid down the priority list because I have to not only take care of little babes but myself as well. I've also come to accept that my house will not be in perfect order in the following year or so and I now request advance notice if you are coming to visit.
As promised here are a few photos I've taken. Photography is not only a hobby but an outlet me for. A creative outlet to express myself in a different way.
-With immense gratitude to my Ob/Gyn who totally gets that first few weeks after giving birth are not necessarily peachy keen and enjoying the small moments is difficult when you have no control over anxiety and panic. -Rachael