Finding a supportive therapist who understands maternal mental illness, such as postpartum depression, can be tough. Add that to the fact that many therapists aren’t covered by insurance or insurance plans have high deductibles, and it’s little wonder many parents don’t follow through with therapy.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Farmington Hills Michigan. I have two children: a 9-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. I work as an executive administrative assistant for a restaurant group and am getting my masters in counseling from Wayne State University. I am an active member of our community hockey board (my daughter plays hockey), I help with the Local Climb out of the Darkness and am a member of the Detroit Perinatal Wellness Coalition. I have been married for 15 years to my husband Ron, who I met while swing dancing in my early twenties.
2) What was your diagnosis? If you weren’t officially diagnosed, what do you believe it would be?
I was not diagnosed with my first but I had severe postpartum depression (PPD) which turned into rage and severe depression with my daughter. I had borderline postpartum psychosis with my son although I wasn’t officially diagnosed with that. I kept a lot of what was going on with me from my doctors. They officially diagnosed me with PPD.
3) When did you realize something was wrong or that you needed help?
I knew there was something wrong with my first, but then again I thought every new mother was miserable and sad and they just kept it from others. With my second I wasn’t able to sleep, I was hyper manic and couldn’t form thoughts into words.
4) Were you screened for a PMAD? When?
Yes, after both births I was given the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), I lied the first time but had to be brutally honest the second time.
5) What did your treatment plan look like?
I went to therapy weekly for a few weeks and then was put on Zoloft, which I hated. I was switched to Lexipro then and continued weekly visits until I went back to work. Then it was usually twice a month. I skipped a lot because of cost and deductibles. If my insurance covered more I’m sure I would have gotten well faster.
6) Did you face any challenges on your road to recovery? What were they?
Insurance didn’t cover much in terms of therapy and we didn’t have extra money for it so I skipped a lot. My husband worked out of town a lot and I didn’t have a lot of family support, so I wasn’t able to go to free support groups or even Mom groups. Plus my anxiety kept me in the house most of the time.
7) Did you come across any postpartum depression resources that helped you? What were they?
I discovered Katherine Stone and Postpartum Progress. The community of warrior moms saved my life. Some of them, including Katherine, are still my friends that I cherish dearly.
8) What is one thing you try to do each week as self-care?
I wake up early in the morning and work out, or relax in the tub for an hour before getting the kids up. It’s easier to practice self-care in the morning rather than at night for me.
9) What advice would you give a parent struggling with a perinatal mental illness?
Don’t wait to ask for help. Tell someone, and keep telling them until you are heard. Find a support group and force yourself to go. You are not alone and don’t have to be!
Heidi, thank you so much for sharing your experience with postpartum depression with us today! If you’re a fellow Michigan mom who is suffering from or has survived postpartum and maternal mental illness, you can ask to join Heidi’s online support group on Facebook.
If you would like to share your story of surviving a perinatal mood/anxiety illness, please read this post.