Friday, May 8, 2009

How I kicked postpartum depression's ass: part five - the final chapter

This is the last post in a five-part series about my struggle with postpartum depression. If you've missed the past 4 days, click below to catch up.

Before I get on with the conclusion, I want to thank the women who have opened up in either the comment section or in emails to me, talking about their struggles with not only postpartum depression, but postpartum OCD, anxiety, and even perinatal depression (depression that sets in when you're still pregnant). This is why I'm writing these things and putting them out there. I want you to know that you're not alone, there's no need to feel ashamed, that life does go on, and it can get better if you are willing to get help.

I welcome your comments and your emails - I would love to hear your stories if you feel like sharing them. This was by no means an all-inclusive account of everything I went through, but I hit on the major points. Here and there, I may share more, and I will definitely be including more information about resources that are out there to offer support.

Part One
Part Two

Part Three
Part Four

Deciding to forego the meds was a little bit of a scary decision. I hate failing. At anything. And I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle things without the medication.

They made a tremendous difference for me, and I was afraid of backsliding.

I guess part of what helped me make the decision was knowing that I could go back on them, and knowing that they would help quickly.

So, I ran out of my pills a week before my 6-month follow-up with my OB doctor. I called her office and they gave me the go ahead to just stop taking them, and they said it would be good timing because we should know how I would react to being off of them once that week went by.

So, 6 months after I got my diagnosis, I was back in the same room in the doctor's office, this time in a rather different state of mind.

I told my doctor I was feeling great - I was feeling like myself again. I told her I was afraid about the days when I was cranky, and that I wondered if that meant the depression was starting to take over again.

She said I needed to look at the big picture, and to allow myself room for some cranky days because everybody has cranky days. I'd gone a week without taking anything and I felt back to normal, and she said that was a good indication that she thought I'd be just fine.

It's been 4 months now since I've been off the ABPs. I feel like I'm still on guard about things - I'm still really paying attention to myself every time I lose my patience or act cranky, but I feel like it's not out of control anymore.

I laugh, crack jokes, let things roll off my shoulders without freaking out (most of the time, anyway...), and I don't feel as anxious.

So, there's a good chance this will happen next time I have a kid. And, to be honest, that bums me out. But, the plan I have with my doctor is that we'll start watching for it at the end of my next pregnancy, and I won't hesitate to get on meds right away if I know something funky's going on.

By talking about my postpartum depression, it's helped me to process what happened to me and to accept that I'm not some sort of freak. Actually, by being honest about it, I've spoken with several women who say they were either diagnosed with it, or that they suffered from it, but it went untreated.

Talking about it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is way more prevalent than the literature out there would have us believe.

So, if you're out there, and you've got it, or you think you might, don't be ashamed. Don't be embarassed. Be angry about it. Be frustrated. Be upset that you can't just enjoy your new life with your baby and that you can't adjust as easy as you expected you would. That's all part of what you might experience. And that's okay. But know you're not alone. There are so many of us out there who have been through it, or who are going through it, and we're not getting through it by trying to be all tough and braving it on our own.


April said...

Thanks for sharing this. I know without a doubt that if I hadn't taken care of it when I had it that I would have gotten a divorce. When I had my third child, I was so worried about getting PPD again and looked for it constantly but thankfully, it never happened.

thoughts and ramblings said...


Thank you for sharing your heart and your story. :)

Have a FANTASTIC mothers day!!!! :)

Molly said...

You are amazing and brave for sharing this! I know there are alot of women who need to know it is okay, and all of us who are susceptable to it in the future. You are wonderful!

Summer said...

I'm still like that, even though it's been forever since I've had anxiety or depression. Anytime I have a faint symptom, I wonder if it's coming back. I think that's normal though.

And by the way, you're awesome for sharing this story.