Invisible pressure crawls up my spine. I feel it tugging at the back of my neck. I can't stop myself from stretching, moving...trying anything to make it go away. Soon, it bubbles up to the top of my head, making every day life almost impossible. It's time to call the doctor again, to increase the dose of my medication. I breathe deeply, knowing that life could be so much worse.
I usually spend my posts on this blog talking about the fun things my family was able to do, or the not-so-fun things that popped up to drive us crazy. I talk about my adorable, fabulous children and everything that they do to make life worthwhile. This time, I want to share one of my personal struggles - postpartum depression. It's not easy to talk about. It's not easy to deal with. I guess I just feel like I should share my story. Maybe if one person reads it and can feel some solidarity in this crazy thing they call "motherhood" then it will be a good thing.
I've read several articles about it since I became Brenden's mommy back in 2007. Some are personal blogs, others are actual medical references, like the Mayo Clinic link above. I even bought a book hoping to see some of the things that I had experienced put on paper, to prove to myself that I wasn't the only one who had gone through it.
When Brenden was born everything started swirling downward pretty quickly. Breastfeeding was absolutely horrendous for me. I never felt the bond that so many moms feel, the warm fuzzies that feeding my child should have given me. All I felt was pain. I did every thing I could to succeed. I called a friend that is a doula. I met with a lady from La Leche League who really did nothing for me. Eventually I developed mastitis, an infection in a milk duct, and then thrush, another common infection. By the time he was 5 weeks old I was done, and by the time he was 8 weeks old he was completely weened. I still remember, fondly, the last time I ever fed him. Of course, it wasn't a fond memory because it was so special. I was just so happy to be done.
Fast forward 18 months. We've dealt with moving back home, trying to sell a house in a terrible market, and living with Tim's parents. (Who were, and still are, fabulous. I'm not sure how they lived with my sullen self.) We finally found a way to move into our own house, ended up selling our house in Colorado rather quickly, and things were looking up. Still, I was having daily struggles with even the simplest of tasks. I was never happy. I cried...a lot. I was constantly tired. Finally, I made the decision to go to the doctor, where I quickly broke down.
He put me on Zoloft, which I had been on twice before. Once, when I was graduating from college and my world felt like it had collapsed. Then again when Tim was in Iraq. (I don't think that needs an explanation.) I did feel better, but it had some side effects that weren't making me happy. I think we switched medications at least 3 times, and then I got pregnant with Lauren. There was no way I was going to take them while I was pregnant so I stopped.
The funny thing is, I felt wonderful while I was pregnant, at least mentally. I had morning sickness and I was exhausted, but I didn't feel the crushing weight that used to suffocate me. I thought maybe, just maybe, it would be different this time. It only took me 4 weeks to realize I needed help again.
Walking into a different doctors office was scary. They didn't know what I was dealing with or how I had been before. Thankfully, both of the doctors there were more than helpful. All I said was, "I have a 2 year old and a 4 week old and I need help." I've had to switch medication a few times, try out some herbal supplements, but I know it's going to be okay. My main issue seems to be a lack of progesterone. Hormones are such a pain!
Every day isn't perfect. Sometimes I can feel it creeping up on me again, which is when I call the doctor for an appointment to adjust things. I've also started working out, which has helped more than I could have ever imagined. Not only do I feel stronger and healthier, I have more energy. It was rough getting started, but it's worth it. The best thing is that now, I know that my life is good, that I'm blessed with a wonderful husband and two great kids. Sometimes, my brain just doesn't recognize that fact and makes mountains out of molehills. It's like a veil of unhappiness drops and makes life unbearable. I just need some help to lift it.
A huge thank you to everyone who has listened and helped me through the past few years. Thank you for still helping. I may not have explained things fully, but just being there meant so much. Thank you to my kids for still loving me when I was clearly not the best mommy I could be. And the biggest thank you to Tim who has borne the brunt of all the bad things that my brain throws out. I love you more than I could ever say, even on the days when it seems like I don't. Thank you for sticking with me when you had every reason to run away.