Archive | April, 2011

19th Nervous Breakdown vs. Mother’s Little Helper

15 Apr

The Rolling Stones sum up Postpartum Depression.

Alternate Titles: As Tears Go By, or Paint It, Black.

I struggled with whether or not to write this post. Ultimately, it was decided by my partner and I (because this issue is not just about me), that it would be best for me to at least write it, even if I don’t publish it, in order to get some of this stuff out of my head. (Again, I am reminded of how writing is indeed cheaper than therapy. ) So that explains the writing part. The publishing part I decided to do because I know a lot of people have had babies lately, and those that haven’t may know someone who has. And I think that the threat or the possibility of PPD cannot be understated. It needs to be talked about.

People told me that becoming a parent would be hard (Ha!) but so so worth it. They were absolutely right. What “they” didn’t tell me, was that not only would it be hard, but I would be doing it with no soul. At least that is how it felt. My husband and I had suspected that I would be at higher risk for PPD, so we were armed. Sort of. He knew to call my OB if I started showing any symptoms, and he read up on the affliction, so he would know what to look for.  What we were not prepared for was how sudden it came up, and how debilitating it was.

I was sleepy but fine and in decent spirits when we came home from the hospital on a Thursday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon, I was an uncontrollable sobbing wreck. My soul felt BLACK. I felt like I was the most horrible person on the planet and I had no desire to do anything except cry. And to top it all off with a scary scary maraschino cherry, I was having what I can only describe as paranoid delusions.

I was CONVINCED of some pretty horrific things concerning my family. There was a part of me that knew I was being crazy, but I could not shut it off. My tether to this earth and any collective reality was disintegrating. And I have never felt so alone, so lost and so scared in my life. Two things saved me: My husband, and my OB.

My husband talked me down. Over and over and over, even when I was trying to convince him that my version of reality was the TRUTH. With no sleep and a crying newborn, this man compassionately and patiently held the hand of his wife as she went crazy. He kept her on the Earth and made sure that she knew she was not alone no matter what. He saved my life.

My OB saved me because he took my concerns seriously. He did not say that I was dealing with a regular adjustment to the hormones, or that I just had to get used to it. He listened to what I said and read between the lines ( I didn’t tell him about my delusions. I mean, who wants to admit to that?). When he asked how I felt, I answered truthfully – “Black.” He then asked how everything else was, and I replied that “there is ONLY this.” And it was the truth. He prescribed me a very low dose of an SSRI and I am very slowly starting to see that there is a way out of this.

Some people may say that tweaks in my nutrition, exercise and sleep should be enough to get myself on track. I say that when you are at the deepest depths of despair, you need any lifeline you can get in order to even think about normal self maintenance like diet and exercise. I could not relate to anyone – I didn’t want to speak, I didn’t want to eat, and I felt unworthy and useless with my beautiful new baby. The only thing I could do was stare vacantly and sob. But my internal thoughts were a whirlwind of despair and self-hatred.

I am on my fourth day of the SSRI and I can breathe again. There is hope, and I can laugh and relate with my family. I am not 100%, but I can feel a sense of myself again, and I can exist in reality. I can help take care of our baby, and my husband is so glad to have me back. He says he missed me.

This stuff is important to talk about. NO ONE should go through this and feel any more alone than they already do. Ask for help – you will be surprised at how willing people are to help you if you simply ask. I am doing a lot of that, asking. I am reaching out so that I don’t isolate myself. That is part of why this post will be published.

If you suspect you have PPD, or if someone you know may have it, please get help. It is not the end of the world, even if it feels like it. It can creep up at any time, even if you have never had it with previous children, and it can come on slow or it can hit you like a freight train. It is insidious.

In closing, here is some of the best advice I have gotten from people:

-Don’t let the guilt rule.

-Take it one moment at a time, then one day at a time, then one week, etc. etc.

-Ask for help, and use it.

-Don’t be afraid to take the drugs if that is what you need to get out of the pit – better a sane mother than an unstable one.

-You are NOT ALONE. PPD is very common, and it can happen to anyone – it may seem strange to say, but you are in good company.

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