If you’re reading this and suffered with postpartum anxiety or depression, then know that I understand how incredibly strong and courageous you are. There are many of us who didn’t make it. Women who will not see their children grow up because in the haze of it all they chose to end their lives. If you’re in that haze – please seek help. Finding the right therapist is crucial so ask other women you know for recommendations or read reviews. I’ve had a therapist who literally helped me move mountains, and I had a therapist call social services on my family when I was in the throws of postpartum depression. Your therapist matters.
When I gave birth to my son almost 15 years ago as a teenager, I didn’t know what postpartum depression or anxiety was. When my mom pulled out of the parking lot with me and my newborn son, I ugly cried. The overwhelming feelings of birth, becoming a mother and all that responsibility washed over me. From numerous articles I read it is normal for mothers to feel anxiety ridden on that first car ride home from the hospital. I don’t believe I had postpartum anxiety or depression with my son, but I know I did with both of my girls who came later in life.
During my second pregnancy in my mid-20s I experienced anxiety and depression while I was expecting and until my daughter was around 18 months old. I remember feeling angry at everyone and everything. Learning how to regulate my feelings and emotions through DBT therapy was life changing. It was then that I found a therapist that I worked with for over a year who truly helped me in my journey. I was able to then lose all of my baby weight and focus on being a happy and healthy mother.
During my third and final pregnancy I thought I had escaped because I did not experience any signs of antepartum anxiety or depression. When I was not able to breastfeed after trying harder than I have ever tried anything in my entire life. (If you know of a way to help breastmilk come in more abundantly, I did it. I did everything. While parenting five kids.) After two month I threw in the towel for my own sanity and the postpartum depression and anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was angry and yelling. My relationships with my husband and children were unraveling at a lightning speed. I had visions while I was driving alone of running off the road and killing myself because my family would be better off without me. I went six whole days without eating anything. After Kate Spade killed herself I also envisioned myself dying the same way. Maybe I could do that too? I had a few friends who knew (or knew to an extent) what I was going through at that time. I honestly believe it was because of them that I am here today.
I had a 4 month old to take care of along with my other four children and I got help. I contacted my OBGYN and they put me on Zoloft and referred me to a psychiatrist. Within weeks I was feeling better and happier. It’s taken months to repair and rebuild my relationships with my family.
Looking back to that time brings enormous emotions and tears. When I pass the spot while driving that I just wanted to end it all – I think about it. I think about that time, last summer. I look back at my now 1 year old and think about the hurt I would have caused her to grow up without her mother. The haze of new motherhood can be so surreal. After I started the Zoloft and with my therapist I felt like I was coming out of that newborn haze.
I was scared to share this. In fact I have written my story several times and deleted it. Should I attach my name to it or not? I wasn’t sure. The truth is that these same feelings and emotions happen to so many women that I wanted to share my experience. If it helps just one woman to say, “I felt like this too” or “I can relate to these feelings now.” If my story helps talk one woman out of that crazy newborn haze of motherhood, then it is worth sharing.