Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist

I had postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. When I got pregnant with my second, I knew there was a strong possibility I would get it again. But I also knew that if I took certain steps, I could minimize that risk. Or, at the very least, I could have safeguards in place to keep the postpartum depression from being as severe as my 2013 edition. After lots of soul searching, I devised "Courtney's Action Plan To Kick Postpartum Depression In The Ass."

My action plan involved four parts: (1) skip breastfeeding entirely (Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Try To Eek Out A Few Drops of Colostrum); (2) take Zoloft as soon as the baby left my womb; (3) hire a night nurse; and (4) keep doing all the little things that make me happy. 

I will write about the first three parts of my action plan in future blog posts. Right now, I want to tell you about my checklist. My recovery from postpartum depression involved a lot of big things - a four night stay in the hospital, Zoloft, cognitive behavioral therapy - but it also involved a lot of little things like listening to music and getting fresh air. Those little things might seem inconsequential, but they were as important to my recovery as the big ticket items.

The "little things" could also be the difference between having postpartum depression again and just experiencing regular new mommy challenges. Yet I would be exhausted and brain dead during those first postpartum weeks. I might not remember to do the little things that keep my soul happy. So I drafted Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist, a list of all the little things that give a huge boost to my morale and mental health. I posted the list to a bulletin board in my bedroom and checked it every day.

Without further ado, I give you Courtney's Anti-PPD Checklist:  
  • Fresh Air (front lawn, nature walk around the block, rocking chair on the porch)  
  • Sunlight - open the blinds!
  • Exercise  
  • Shower
  • Listen to music! 
  • Get silly with Pippa - tickle her at least once a day.  
  • Doodle or draw or craft or knit  
  • Drink tons of water
  • Write for 10 minutes by hand  
  • Sing a song
  • Stretch 
My Anti-PPD Checklist was incredibly helpful. It gave me a daily plan of attack. It inspired me to get outside and walk around the block even though I could barely shuffle. It reminded me that in order to take care of my children, I have to first take care of myself. I have not felt any twinges of depression or anxiety, but I'm not getting cocky. It's easy to forget to do things like take a shower or write in my journal for ten minutes when there's a baby crying for food. Yet I need to shower and write in my journal to remain the best version of myself. So even though I mostly feel wonderful and good, I am keeping the Anti-PPD Checklist tacked to a very prominent place on my bulletin board.  

I might never take it down.