I spend most of my writing time these days writing my memoir about postpartum depression. I am writing as fast as I can, but I worry about the moms who have PPD today. I worry about the moms who are suffering now, who are scared and don't know what the hell is happening, they just know something is wrong.
A blog entry saved me. A blog entry made me realize that my symptoms might be postpartum depression. So on the off chance that this helps you, let me give a quick overview of what happened to me.
Before Pippa was born, I read approximately ten paragraphs total about postpartum depression. Enough to convince myself it would not happen to me. I was not the sort of person who got PPD.
My daughter was born. I did not get the baby blues. I congratulated myself on dodging that bullet and felt smug that I would not get PPD. I was not that sort of person.
I felt stressed and more anxious than usual, but that was not PPD. Right? Women with PPD cry a lot and hate their babies. They stay in bed all day. I teared up a few times with joy, but I was not wallowing in tears. I loved my daughter and got out of bed everyday to take care of her.
I rarely left the house. When I did, it felt like an ordeal. Like I was organizing an expedition to Mt. Everest and the moon at the same time.
I did not enjoy being around more than one or two people at a time. When my parents, brother and sister-in-law visited on Father's Day, I felt like the house had been invaded by barbarians. People overwhelmed me.
Pippa cried a lot and I could not comfort her. I felt like a failure. She seemed to be a tough unhappy miserable baby. That was the PPD. My unhappiness affected her. Now she is sweet and happy and joyful (except when teething, ha!)
I quit caffeine because I thought it might be agitating Pippa. Then I had insomnia for five weeks. I would sleep three hours max even though Pippa was sleeping ten hours straight. every few days, I managed to sleep for six hours - those nights convinced me I was going to be fine. I just had severe caffeine withdrawal. I just had to wait.
My anxiety increased. About four months after Pippa was born, I hated being alone. I was afraid, so afraid, as if I was being stalked by a serial killer. My husband and parents tried reasoning with me, but I was still terrified. My heart rate was accelerated. Now I started crying a lot from the constant state of fear.
I lost hope. I believed my life was over. I had a beautiful magnificent baby and in exchange, I would never again have a good night's sleep.
I wanted to die.
I sometimes had thoughts about ways I could kill myself. I pushed those thoughts away as quickly as possible, but they scared the shit out of me. I sometimes had thoughts about hurting Pippa when she was crying. I pushed those thoughts away as quickly as possible, but they scared the shit out of me even more.
I wanted to die so my suffering would end. I wanted to die so I would not be a danger to my daughter. I did not want to kill myself but if a fortune teller had told me I would be hit by a car and die the next day, I would have wept with relief.
I thought I did not deserve my baby and husband. They would be better off without me.
I felt guilty. Guilty that I could not sleep. Guilty that I needed help from other people. Guilty that I was always asking Nathan for reassurance.
My anxiety felt like a backpack that had been welded to me. I knew I had to put it down, but had no idea how to do that.
Life had also lost its color and magic. I was depressed - but I did not realized that until AFTER I got better. After several months of healing, I realized I had been depressed. But when I was depressed, I could not see the depression. At first, I could only see the insomnia. Then, the anxiety. Finally, the desire to die.
I went to my doctor and told her everything. She asked me to voluntarily admit myself to the hospital. I did. I spent four nights there. I started Zoloft, which I am still taking.
I have so much I want to tell you - that's why I'm writing a book. But if you are reading this, and it resonates with you at all, if you have even the slightest suspicion that you might have PPD, please call your doctor and ask for help. And if your doctor is dismissive, call another doctor. And another. As many as it takes to get help. YOU WILL GET BETTER. It seems impossible now but YOU WILL GET BETTER.
If you are reading this and think a loved one might have PPD, tell them they should see a doctor. Your loved one will thank you!
If you want to privately ask me questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Saturday, May 24, 2014
- My novel is on hold, to be revised later, because...
- I had postpartum depression and I'm writing a memoir about it.
- I have been wanting to blog about my experience with PPD for some time and finally have the courage to do it! I will post more about it here, including some excerpts from my book.
- I'm also getting involved in raising awareness about PPD. It is an extremely common but misunderstood illness. I was very ashamed of myself for having it. I want my daughter to live in a different world - a world where no mother ever feels a drop of shame for PPD.
- I recently joined a brand new gym near my house and it is absolutely glorious. I am finally getting back into exercise and have so much energy, which is spilling into all areas of my life.
- I finished Divergent last night and started Insurgent before bed. For the first time since Pippa was born, I am reading past my bedtime.
- I started a massive crochet project this afternoon. Feeling a bit crazy.
- In related news, I'm still reading the dictionary. I'm about halfway through the Explanatory Notes. I want to jump into the definitions, but I might as well do this right. Sometimes I have to reread the same paragraph three or four time to understand it, but it's still very interesting to me.