My personal experience with depression and anxiety:
This week I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. Something that I had diagnosed myself with years ago. Just like I had done with my anxiety. Which my therapist also confirmed I had. But along with both diagnoses she gave me an unexpected one, depression. After my therapy session I started to think back at all the times that I had this awful feeling that I had never felt before. It would feel like a wave would come crashing over me and I would cry uncontrollably. I always played it off as “I’m just having a bad day” or “ I am just overwhelmed”. Now looking back and thinking about all those times, especially the most recent ones, it all makes sense to me. These are all signs of a postpartum mood disorder.
My therapist says it’s most likely residual postpartum depression from my first pregnancy that has just lingered and not fully gone away; even after almost three years, and now it’s resurfacing at full force. I’m only 5 months postpartum after my second pregnancy but this is different from what I dealt with after my first pregnancy.
After I had Jude I had crippling anxiety. It would make me sick to my stomach from how anxious I would get. I wouldn’t sleep at night because I had to make sure he was breathing. For almost a year I slept with my nightstand lamp on throughout the entire night. I would even sleep with my glasses on so that I wouldn’t waste time putting them on to check on the baby. I had awful intrusive thoughts 24/7. My brain wouldn’t stop and it was so miserable. I still have those intrusive thoughts. Not as often, but just as awful.
With Hope, I was able to turn the lights off and take my glasses off and get as much rest as I could. My anxiety was still there but not nearly as bad. I think that part of the reason why it got so bad when I had Jude was because I was a first time mom. This time around I have a little more knowledge, wisdom, and confidence, so that has helped in tuning down the anxiety just a notch.
This awful crushing feeling I get from time to time is new. I might have had a little bit of depression that has lingered from my first pregnancy but it never felt like what I have felt in the last 5 months. One moment I’ll be fine and the other I feel like I can’t move.
It happened again tonight. I was having a great day. Then all of the sudden it started creeping up like a small wave that grows and grows until it comes crashing down. I just laid in bed on my side crying for no reason; all I felt was overwhelming sadness. If you know me personally you know I am a really happy outgoing person. It’s not like me to feel this way. I feel so out of body and soul. My mind however, is like it’s playing sad roulette and it begins to go through a rolodex of sad moments in my life until it lands on one. Tonight it chose the time when my former supervisor made fun of me about the name I picked for a support group I created at my other former job and him and the little intern we had just mocked me for what felt like forever. It was a stupid scene that just played in my head and at the time that it happened, I didn’t care but when my brain brought it up tonight it felt soul crushing. Something that small and mundane made me just cry and cry until I felt better. My husband asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t even put it into words in the moment because it was hard to talk. So he just held me. I just laid there in his arms while our baby so innocently cooed and giggled laying next to me.
Its been almost three years since my first pregnancy and I am just now seeking help. I wish I had gone sooner. I did try at several points but it led me nowhere. The first time I attempted to get help, my former midwife tried to immediately put me on medication. Something I was not willing to do at the time. Then, she sent me to a counselor. This counselor was not licenced and we were not a good match so after one visit I never went back. A year or so after that, I tried another therapist and after insurance it was still going to be a lot of money per session and we could not afford it at the time so I opted to wait a little longer. And now here we are, I finally was able to seek help and I am so glad I did.
It is so awful how our society immediately tosses mothers to the side once the baby arrives. During a woman’s pregnancy, she is the center of attention. Once the baby is here, all the attention shifts and the mom is not acknowledged as much and oftentimes she’s even shamed. I have attended lots of medical appointments recently, including appointments for the kids and of all the appointments the only doctor who has reached out to me and asked me how I was doing postpartum has been my kids’ pediatrician. She is a phenomenal doctor and I am so thankful to have her. It meant so much to me when she reached out and checked on me. I was very happy to tell her that I was seeing a therapist.
Seeing a therapist has been one of the best decisions I have made. A mother’s life changes in more ways than one after giving birth. Postpartum mood disorders affect all new mothers to some degree. If you are having any sort of postpartum mood disorder, please reach out to someone. You can even go to our contact page and reach out to me; I can be a listening ear and a judgment free zone. If you ever feel like harming yourself or a loved one, seek help immediately, call somebody, call 911 or the suicide prevention life line 800-273-8255. You are loved and you are not alone.
May you be filled with love, light, and happiness. This too shall pass <3