One of the major reasons I wanted to start a blog was to spread awareness of post partum mental health issues. I realize that by sharing my story I am putting a lot of personal information out there. Personal information that could be viewed as crazy. But if me sharing my crazy can make just one person seek help, or just one person feel that they are not completely alone, then it was completely worth it.
My belief is that there is a reason that God had me go through what I went through. He wanted me to be a voice. He wanted me to share my experience with others, to help break the stigma that is related to any mental health issue, to ensure other’s that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
When I first realized that maybe my baby blues were a bit more than just baby blues, my first instinct was to turn to Google. By doing so I realized that there isn’t a whole lot out there. So, I am putting my story out there.
I knew something was off the day that I had Blake. Everything went great as far as labor and delivery went. I got moved to my room, we had visitors, I got my iced coffee, oh, and above all else, we had a beautiful, healthy, perfect, baby boy. Everything was good in the world. Until it was time for bed. I couldn’t fall asleep. My husband was sleeping. My baby was sleeping. I was not. My eyes would not close. Hours went by, and around 3:30 AM, I thought about something I had read before about post partum depression. So I Googled (isn’t it amazing how that is always the first thing we do?) Sure enough, insomnia was one of the symptoms.
I brushed it off though. I was not depressed. I just had a baby. I missed my daughter. We were in the hospital. There were plenty of reasons I wasn’t able to fall asleep. It would get better once we get home. And it did. I was able to sleep between feedings. I forgot about it.
I cried. A lot. But that was normal right? My hormones were balancing themselves back out. Everything would get back to normal soon. I was tired. Everyone is tired when they have a newborn. It’s hard to keep your emotions in check when you are so tired all the time. It will get better. And it did. Once I was able to move around and get out more, I stopped crying so much. I forgot about it.
I went to my first post partum OB appointment. I was given a survey to fill out. I filled it out. Nothing related to how I was feeling, so there were no questions.
I went to my son’s first pediatrician appointment. I was given the same survey to fill out. I filled it out. Nothing related to how I was feeling, so there were no questions.
I was never given another survey, or asked another question regarding my mental health.
My brain was foggy. I forgot things constantly. It was hard to finish a sentence, and I could never think of the word I was trying to get out. I couldn’t remember why I went into a room. I couldn’t make a grocery list. I was tired. So tired. How was my brain supposed to work when I was so tired? It will get better. And it did. I forgot about it.
My stress levels were out of control. I was always tense. Constantly clenching my teeth. Constantly worrying about things that hadn’t even happened yet. This was normal though, right? I just needed to keep the house clean, get a sleep schedule down, work out more, eat better, try yoga, try meditating, take a warm shower, I could figure this out and fix it.
This was in September. Blake was three months old. Madeline had just turned two. I was a new stay at home mom. Stress made sense. It’s not easy getting out of the house with two kids. It’s not easy keeping the house clean with two kids. It would get easier though. It will get better.
I started to worry. I started to formulate plans for my worries. I started to lose sleep over formulating plans for my worries. What if someone broke in the house while we were sleeping? What if someone broke in the house while we are sleeping with a gun? What if there was a fire? What if the tire falls off while I’m driving and the car flips? What if a car goes off the road while we’re on a walk and hits us? What if someone abducts me while I’m walking my children? What if I get sick and my kids grow up without a mom? What if…
The thoughts were, for lack of a better word, crazy. Absolutely ridiculous. I would check and double check that the doors and windows were locked. I would check and double check that the curtains were closed. This was in October. Blake was 4 months old. Again, I told myself I could fix it. Voice my concerns. Tell myself they are silly. It will get better.
It didn’t get better. The straw that broke the camels back. My husband and I went with some friends to a beer and wine festival. I had been sick with a cold that week and ended up completely losing my voice. I had some wine and some hard cider. After the festival we went back to the chalet that we had rented and had some snacks and played some games. Since I wasn’t feeling well, we went to bed early. I had a sharp pain in my shoulder blade, and when I told my husband I said “It’s happened before when I’ve had alcohol” He just shrugged and said “That’s weird”. Hm, that is weird.
I bet you can guess what I did next. Google. By morning I had myself diagnosed with lymphoma. I was honestly convinced that I had it. I spent the next week obsessively checking for any symptom that was related with lymphoma. I obsessively checked for swollen lymph nodes in my neck. I was making myself sick.
This is when I knew that it wasn’t something I could fix with yoga, or meditation, or more sleep. I finally called the doctor.
It was November. Blake was four and a half months old.
At this point I didn’t have a GP. I had been pregnant for what seemed like for ever (twice in two years), so I had been using my OB, and before that I didn’t have health insurance. So, when I called, I just told them it was to become a patient. I still couldn’t admit that there was something wrong out loud. *My husband and some family knew, and were extremely supportive* Because it wasn’t an emergency, my appointment was three weeks out. Okay, I told myself, I can do this. It’s only three weeks.
The next day I called and begged for an earlier appointment, and got one, thank goodness. My wonderful doctor was so wonderfully understanding. She listened, and nodded, and smiled. She didn’t judge, or brush my feelings aside.
In the end I was diagnosed with Post Partum Anxiety, OCD, and Depression. A triple whammy. I opted to try medication, and haven’t looked back.
This concludes the first part of my experience. Please note that I am in no way a medical professional. This is just my personal experience that I am sharing in case someone else is feeling the same and wondering what in the world is going on. If you are in any way feeling like something isn’t right, whether it be post partum or not, please seek help. Mental health is so, very important. I encourage anyone who reads this, who thinks they may have something, to talk to someone, and if you don’t have anyone to talk to, talk to me.