As I sit in our green La-Z-Boy recliner, rocking my third baby, who refuses to nap anywhere but on me, I think about the First Year Journey I took with each of my children.
With G I experienced postpartum depression.
With L I experienced postpartum anxiety.
And with Baby J, I’ve once again entered the world of postpartum depression.
This time it’s been a bit different. I was really proactive this time: making sure my midwife was open to going on meds as soon as I felt I needed it and going on them when it was clear I would need a c-section. I’ve asked for help. I am making sure I carve a little bit of time for myself each day, even if it’s to wash away the day’s spit-up in a five-minute shower.
I did what I could to prevent it, but what I really did was lessen the pain.
Because despite trying, I’m struggling.
I’m struggling but not as much as I was after G was born. I’ve been able to take my experiences over the last eight years and use them to my advantage. I can call the feelings of disinterest, loneliness, and anger by name: depression.
I’m sitting here, under my almost-4-month-old who will not nap away from me, and realize there have been some positive outcomes to experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.
I won’t apologize for taking time for myself. And I’m not even talking about getting a pedicure. I’m talking about literally taking care of my mind and body. If I want to go on a run or take a fitness class I will. I recently started pelvic floor therapy, which is a pain to find a sitter for, but worth it.
Everyone in the family benefits when I’m in a decent mood. Everyone will benefit even more if I’m healthy and around long enough to see them grow.
I became an advocate. I am open to sharing my story in hopes of helping other families. I organized my city’s first Climb Out of the Darkness walk, which led to support groups this area was severely lacking. I’m no longer leading, but the women who I passed the torch on to have been bringing awareness and meeting with local OBs and it just makes me happy to think of how many families they’re now helping.
Now, I use my platforms to share my story and struggles and help other parents share theirs.
Knowing the Signs
I know that depression doesn’t always present as sadness. I know my anger stems from anxiety more often than not. I understand my triggers better. Now I know how important sleep is for my mental health, I don’t feel bad for taking a nap. I know that exercise helps.
This time, I was able to see myself sitting on the couch crying at four weeks postpartum because I could not drive and could barely take care of my family after my c-section, but also not interested in visitors who wanted to break up the monotony for me. I was depressed and knew I needed an increase in meds. I wasn’t able to identify this after G was born.
I’m not afraid of going on medication. I don’t want to be on meds, but they help keep me balanced. They help me be a better mom, which means my kids are happier. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll go off them this time.
Through my experience as a Climb Out of the Darkness leader, I made friends. Both online through our leader group and in real life, with moms coming out to walk and share their truths.
It’s not how I wanted to make friends. But I am so glad they’re in my life now.
I hate that I’ve experienced a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) with every pregnancy and baby I’ve had. It sucks. It’s lonely. It’s exhausting. But now I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I know how to help my friends and family so that they don’t have to suffer in silence.