depressed woman sitting at window

Postpartum Depression – How I learned to live with it

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Postpartum Depression is a serious condition.

This article tells the story of a mom suffering from PPD (short for postpartum depression). Postpartum depression usually occurs in moms shortly after they had their baby.

It is also called postnatal depression.

More than 3 million cases are known each year in the united states. This makes it a very common illness.

It is treatable but requires a accurate medical diagnosis.

What you are reading is a personal story and NO medical advice.

If you feel like you are having postpartum depression you can find help here. Or talk to your doctor.

HelpGuide also explains the signs of postpartum depression and baby clues in detail on their website.

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Dealing with postpartum depression

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

Did you know that? I didn’t, until a couple days ago. 
What’s ironic is that a lot of people are completely unaware of the mental state of their close friends.

Maybe even of a partner, a spouse, a child. Hard to believe. Could your loved one be going through the hardest battle of their lives, and you have no idea?
Let me tell you a little bit about my battle. 

I’ve had  4 biological kids, very close to together.

By very close, I mean I got pregnant with them and delivered all 4 in under 4 years. Besides some pretty horrible morning sickness, the pregnancies were pretty normal. 

I was often complimented on how great I looked pregnant, on how I would be (or was) a very good mother and how I was able to make parenting look easy. 

With my first two babies, I was able to respond positively and thankfully and truly mean it.
With Baby 3, things drastically changed.

The beginning of Postpartum Depression 

*This is my family and I when I was in the worst of the worst PPD I’ve had – can you tell?*

Have you heard of PPD before? Do you know any one who has gone through it? You probably do, you just don’t know it.

I remember after having my third child, I didn’t even feel like I was her mother – that still baffles my mind. It was a battle to care for her, let alone WANT to be and feel connected to her. 

mother holding baby while being depressed
*I remember taking this photo on one of my worse days and posting it to my Facebook profile page. I felt so hypocritical posting it – it looks like a perfect mother daughter photo and yet inside I felt the farthest from “normal.”*

I would desperately post pictures on my social medias and tell kind passer by’s how blessed I was, all hoping that maybe the words I said would come to pass in my mind.

They didn’t. 

I began to get desperate. Will this be how life is from now on? Not connecting to my daughter? Not able to enjoy myself when getting together with friends? Unable to sleep? Horrific dreams of my family being slaughtered in front of me? Constant unending beating voices in my head telling me to slit my wrists, run my car into trees and stab myself? 

I didn’t reach out. How could I?

On the outside, everything looked normal. I was caring for 3 kids under 3, a stay at home mom who seemed to be thriving. How could I tell anyone that I didn’t feel connected to my daughter (after 2 boys!) How could I explain to people I wasn’t suicidal even though sometimes the voices were so loud I felt like I just wanted to end it all to get them to stop?

This may also be interesting for you:
A letter on miscarriage
– Postpartum Dyspareunia – painful sex after baby

The only person who got an up-close glimpse was my husband.

I remember telling him that it was like I was stuck in “sad jail,” and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get out and I desperately wanted to. While walking one day, I begged him, “Please help me get out. I don’t know how to get out.”

He didn’t know either. He did the best he could – let me cry, told me he loved me and that I was doing a good job. He encouraged me to seek help and that we were going to be ok, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The words helped me feel secure in our relationship, but it didn’t make the thoughts, dreams, anxieties and insomnia go away. 

Nothing helped.

Until I got pregnant at 2 months postpartum.

Yep, you read that right. Baby 4 burst into our lives even though we were doing everything to avoid another baby. Baby 4 fought to be conceived, and in her fighting to be, she pushed my PPD out the window. 

Almost as quickly as the PPD showed up, it left. I got that positive test and the PPD disappeared. I’m not sure if it was the hormones or what, but I was so thankful to be able to think clearly again.

About halfway through my pregnancy, PPD came knocking on my door again. I was horrified that I was dealing with this again. Finally feeling like I could parent again, enjoy my family, and the PPD was back, claiming my happiness, my motherhood, my mind and my thoughts. It left my heart intact, but trapped in a steel jail. 

I threw myself into doing everything I could to make sure the PPD didn’t murder me or my child. I began to feel like I was in a fight against a serial killer, intent on stealing my mind.

Maybe meeting with a therapist? 

Maybe changing my diet – gluten free? Paleo? Dairy Free? Sugar Free? AIP? How about all the above?

Nothing helped. 

Instead, I began to get debilitating stomach aches every time I ate.

Sleep was something from the past.

I would be awake for 72 hours before finally collapsing in exhaustion, just to have vivid horrible dreams of the next serial killer slowly murdering my family in front of me.

I saw it all – hanging, gun shots to the head, beheading and more. It was a never ending nightmare that I lived. 

mother holding baby
*Rocking Baby 3 while pregnant with Baby 4 was one of my favorite things to do when I couldn’t sleep.*

Maybe a different diet?

I began working with a dietician since I was losing excessive weight due to not being able to eat anything.

After keeping a 2 week food diary, she let me know I wasn’t allergic to any of the big triggers.

Long story short, she let me know my gut was upset since my microbiome was off.

She had me begin to eat foods that I grew up eating in Papua New Guinea – sweet potatoes, bananas, mangos and greens.

She told me to forget about all the information I had been fed since moving to the States in 2009 – low fat, stay away from starchy fruits and vegetables, lots of protein… Ultimately, she said my body wasn’t used to that – and to go back to eating like I used to.

It helped with the stomach aches!

Unfortunately, the Postpartum Depression stayed.

I had a few breaks through my pregnancy but overall, it was a difficult few months.

I was having my progesterone checked monthly (PPD is linked to low progesterone) and taking daily progesterone supplements. I was eating low sugar and grinding all my grains from scratch.

I was drinking Yerba Mate (said to help with PPD) and taking other adaptogenics. It felt good to do SOMETHING, even though many times I got so overwhelmed even thinking about what next step to take that hour.

If I was doing everything (Progesterone Plus essential oil, vitamins, minerals, tea, eating low sugar and grinding all my grains etc) I felt like I could barely function, but that was better than not functioning or giving into the voices.

mother kissing her baby
*My sweet newborn – and I was able to connect with her!*

The new baby

My baby was born, May 20th – 9 days before her sister turned 1. Irish Twins. I had 2 babies.

I had about 2 months of bliss – feeling connected to both my babies, sleeping well, dream free nights and enjoying my time with friends.
But unfortunately, although not surprisingly, the PPD came knocking on my door again. 

This time, I was so exhausted. I didn’t feel like I had anything left to fight. But, as a Mom, I got back up and began fighting. The PPD was winning. I remember the day I decided I needed to get professional help, to get on some kind of medication.

I felt so conflicted – how could I, a natural minded “crunchy” mama take drugs?! What about my reputation? 

Ultimately, I decided it was more important that I was around and present for my family than upholding my “reputation.” I had tried all the “crunchy” alternatives, and PPD still had the upper hand. 

In the doctor’s office, I began bawling – pouring out my story of failure.

Failure to be a Mom.
Failure to win the battle with PPD.
Failure to love my kids correctly.
Failure to be a crunchy mom.
Failure to love my husband the way he deserves.
Failure.
I am a failure.

My doctor listened, and asked me a few questions but ultimately said she knew I needed something and wanted to support me. She gave me a prescription to Zoloft, and I began taking it that day. I was so desperate for SOMETHING.

Unfortunately that didn’t help either, in fact it made it worse.

The Zoloft took away all my feelings, except the depression. It left me feeling like a psychopath and that I could murder my children. After 3 half pills, I quit taking it, and threw them away. My doctor had told me sometimes it takes a few different pills to find the right one, but I was too traumatized from feeling like I could murder my children to try anything more. 

What now?
Am I going to be like this forever? 

Another day looking "normal" and trying to feel normal, but inside, everything was a mess.
*Another day looking “normal” and trying to feel normal, but inside, everything was a mess.*

Giving CBD a try

My doctor recommended trying CBD. So, now without batting an eye I ordered a couple bottles. 

Please. PLEASE work. I want to feel NORMAL. Happy. HUMAN. 

Finally.

The CBD gave me some relief.

It didn’t take away the PPD, but it took the edge off.

My kids’ loud laughs and singing wasn’t triggering to me anymore. I could think ahead to dinner and take small steps to get it ready.

I could smile, focus, and sleep a bit better. It wasn’t perfect but it was a step in the right direction. 

My journey has continued, and I’m almost 2 years postpartum now.

Thankfully, I’ve found ways to deal with my PPD. I would say its in remission. Maybe the serial killer is in jail. 
For now. 

I have to constantly stay on top of my self-care though. Taking CBD.

Getting chiropractic adjustments. Eating correctly. Paying attention to my sleep cycles, dreams and immediately reaching out for help if I get thoughts about hurting myself or my children.

Many may never have known about my mental struggles. 

Some did because I let them in on the nightmare I was living. 

Mental illness isn’t fake.

It’s just as real as a visual condition like chickenpox or the flu, but the symptoms are often all on the inside.

Does it make it less real? No – in fact it often feels even more real.

Happy family
*At my daughters’ birthdays- turning 1 and 2.*

If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, know you’re not alone. Reach out to someone, and if you’re too afraid, reach out to me. I understand and I’ll listen. Sometimes it helps just knowing someone else understands.

I understand.
You’re not alone.

You WILL get through this. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time. 

I know mental illness is a murderer and deserves the death sentence. Until yours is there, I’ll be here for you. 

Don’t let it win. 

You are worth getting the help you need.


About the Author

This guest post was written by the island girl. Postpartum depression became a huge part of her life and she is letting you in on her feelings, hopes, and fears in hopes this will help other women feeling the same. Check out her blog here: www.islandsgirladventures.com 


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