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I first realized I had a problem a couple of months ago. Leah, my new baby, was 3 months old. I was still in new baby bliss, totally loving every moment with her. One part of me felt extremely happy… life was about as good as it can get. What began creeping up on me though was something I couldn’t explain. I started to become very anxious, almost like I was over-caffeinated (and I rarely drink coffee). My heart would race and I would feel shaky. I was extremely edgy. Every little thing my other kids would do would drive me crazy. I was yelling at them more than I ever had before, about even the tiniest of things…(not getting in their carseats fast enough, leaving their shoes out on the floor, hollering my name after they went to bed). When Ella would fall and hurt herself or cry, I would turn and walk the other direction because the tone of her cry was more than I could handle…like fingernails on a chalkboard. Simple chores, like unloading the dishwasher, were too overwhelming for me. It would take me all day long to do what should have taken me 5 minutes. Finally, one day, I snapped… Kelly, my 5 year old was doing her homework, sitting in a chair right next to me. She was writing and very innocently kept knocking her elbow into me as she wrote. I felt, at that moment, like I was going to crawl out of my skin and absolutely lose it with her. It took that moment for me to realize that something was not right. I needed help.
The next morning I was having breakfast with a good friend of mine when I decided to actually verbalize what I had been going through. I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, even my own husband, because I honestly felt like I was losing my mind and was just a horrible mom. When I expressed to my friend, who happened to have had a baby just 2 months before me, what I was going through she nodded in understanding. Come to find out, she had just been to the doctor a couple months before for the same thing and she was now being treated for post-partum depression.
Depression? But I’m happy! I’m not weepy and unable to get out of bed. I love my baby and have never had any ill feelings towards her. How could I have postpartum depression? But my friend described what she was going through and it mirrored my symptoms exactly.
As soon as I got home that morning I called my OBGYN’s office and they had me come in right away. I remember sitting in that office when I was there for my 6 week postpartum checkup and being asked “How are you feeling? Do you have any of the baby blues?” Proudly, in fact extra proud of myself because I’ve been able to answer the same way with all four kids “Nope – I am very happy and things are going great!”
What I found out the day of my appointment was that I did in fact have postpartum depression symptoms. What came to a surprise to me is, as the doctor explained, many people believe postpartum shows up within the first several weeks after having a baby. It does happen that way, but postpartum depression usually presents itself anywhere between when the baby is actually 4 months old to a year. Also, postpartum depression doesn’t always mean that you can’t stop crying and that you hate your baby. Anxiety, nervousness and overall edginess are other very common postpartum depression symptoms.
I am now being treated with Zoloft, an anti-depressant medication. As a normally pretty happy and well balanced person, I can tell you that I never thought that I would need to be on an anti-depressant medication. I can also tell you that starting Zoloft one month ago was one of the best decisions I have made in a very long time. The patient, loving mom I once was is back. I am no longer running away when one of them cries, instead running to them with open arms. Our home is peaceful once again… the screaming and yelling has totally ceased. My to-do list is getting accomplished and I am not nearly as overwhelmed by the little tasks of my day as I was.
I am not writing this post today for sympathy. I am writing it because I know that there are others out there most likely feeling the same way. I want you to know that you aren’t crazy… just because you don’t feel depressed and aren’t crying all the time does not mean that you are okay. Postpartum depression rears its ugly head in many forms. Please, if you feel even the slightest bit off kilter, talk to your doctor. Getting help can make your life manageable again. It did mine.
Now, when life is a little less serious and you just need a chocolate pick me up, try this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe found over at Inn Cuisine. This delicious chocolate cake recipe can’t fix postpartum depression, but it certainly can help to perk up your mood!