Life After Post Partum Depression/Anxiety/OCD.

If you missed my posts on my struggle with post partum depression/anxiety/ocd, you can find them here and here.

I like to think I have come a long way since writing those posts.  Granted, that could have a lot to do with having two toddlers now, or the fact that I am still taking Paxil.  Regardless of the reasons, it feels really good to have my life back, and to be able to say, with confidence, that if you are currently struggling, there is hope.  You will get through it.  Whether that be with counseling, medication, self-help, or all of the above, there will come a time when you feel like your old self.

In my experience, I actually feel better than I ever did.  I spent a majority of my life suffering from anxiety, without even realizing that not everyone had the same intense fears that I had.

I realize that most may not consider me “healed” since I am still taking medication.  To this, all I have to say is that this medication saved me.  It gave me my life back.  It gave me life back that I didn’t even know I was missing.

Maybe there will come a time when I feel ready to go off of it, right now though, is not that time.

What this medication does for me, is keeps me from allowing my anxiety to rule my life.  I still get anxious, I still have to use mind over matter to get through certain situations, I still have to push myself to leave my comfort zone, but I think that’s just a part of being human.  What I’m not dealing with anymore?  Paralyzing fear, obsessive thoughts, depression.

The other day, I took both of my children, by myself, to their first dentist appointment.  By. Myself.  This might seem like nothing to some, but to me, it is everything.  The old me would have never in a million years been able to do that without having a  panic attack.

We go on regular outings now, just the three of us.  Stores, the library, the playground.  This make life while daddy is at work much more enjoyable.

I have successfully handled temper tantrums in the middle of the grocery store.  I have unopoligetically negotiated with my three year old in the doorway of a store.  I have a new found confidence in this whole parenting thing, and it is glorious.

One of the biggest, and best, changes I have noticed since getting my head right, is that my daughter has been showing more confidence.  There were times when I would notice anxiety in her, and blame myself.  But, ever since I started showing more confidence in my being, I can see it in her too.

Yes, she is getting older, but I honestly think a lot of it comes from how my own anxieties were rubbing off on her.

And although the medication obviously helps, since that is it’s job, there are other things that I have done that I believe have made a huge difference.

  1.  I started going to church, and studying the Bible.  I have begun to form a new relationship with God and Jesus, and this has given me a new hope.  I wake up every morning, and the first thing I do is my She Reads Truth devotional.  I start my morning with something so positive, how can the rest of my day go bad?
  2. I stopped comparing myself to other mom’s.  We are all going to do things differently.  Our children are all different.  What one likes, another will not.  Knowing, and being confident in the fact, that I am exactly what my children need has been the most freeing thing.
  3. I fake it til I make it.  I still get nervous about taking my kids to the store, but I pretend I’m not.  I tell myself I’m not.  And suddenly, it’s real.
  4. I have surrounded myself with inspirational women, both that I know in real life, and who I’ve never met on social media.  I weeded through my social media outlets, and got rid of anything that brought negative thoughts.  I’m working on doing the same in my real life, it just takes a little longer.
  5. I take time for me.  Before, when the kids would fall asleep I would spend hours on pinterest, or skimming through Facebook or Instagram.  Now, I read a book, have a cup of tea and watch my shows, have a conversation with my husband.

So, momma’s, there is hope.  If you are feeling lost, feeling like you will never get out of that dark hole, you will!  You will find yourself again.  But, in order to do that, you need to take your post partum mental health seriously.  If you are feeling like there may be something off, PLEASE contact a doctor, or therapist, or friend.  Reach out, and ask for help.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

And, if you are not suffering yourself, but know someone who is, or who could be, PLEASE reach out to them.  Express your concerns, in a gentle way.  Tell them you are there, SHOW them you are there.  This is not something that anyone should have to go through alone.

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Treading Water: My Experience with Post Partum Anxiety, OCD, and Depression. Part 2.

Admitting that something wasn’t right was very hard for me, as I am sure it is for most people.  I was afraid of being judged.  I was afraid that people would think that I didn’t love my children.  (Because how can someone be depressed when they have such amazing children?)

By the time I got into the doctor, I had entered a dark place.  My anxiety had taken up so much of me, both mentally and physically.  It’s funny that way, you think it only affects your brain, because it is mental, but it is all attached.

I was nausious, dizzy, I felt, at times, as if my body was vibrating.  It scared me.  I was afraid to leave my house.  I didn’t want to be around people.  The thought paralyzed me.

At the time I spent a lot of time asking God why he was putting me through this.  I now know that it was so I could share it with others.  It was to show me that I could overcome.  It was to give others a voice.  It is a very difficult thing to admit to.  I was extremely nervous to share my story, which is why I knew I had to.

Making a doctor appointment was a very big step for me.  Going through with admitting how I was feeling was an even bigger step.  And can I just say that as soon as I did, I felt a weight being lifted?  It just felt so good to finally say it to a stranger.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I opted for medication.  At this point, I was so desperate to feel normal again that I needed the fastest way to do it.

For me, this is what worked best.  I got lucky in that I didn’t have any major side effects, and didn’t have to switch medications at all.  For anyone else going through this, know that there are other options, and it is completely okay if you want to see what they are and how they work before resorting to medication.  In the same breath, it is completely okay to go on medication.

It certainly did not work overnight, but by Thanksgiving I was aleady feeling better, by Christmas I felt like I had my life back, and by my follow up appointment in January, my doctor said it was like I was a different person.

At first, I would have a couple anxious days per week.  Now, I have one or two per month, if that.  I am able to do so much more without getting completely overwhelmed.  And before you ask, yes, I do think that part of the reason for that is that Blake is older.

It is also due to other things I did after the medicine made it possible to finally think straight again.

I started working some hours at my brother’s store, which gives me some time away from my children, and let’s face it, that makes everyone better.  I also started an exercise routine, and eating healthier.  I write in a journal regularly, and doodle.  I started attending MOPS, where I met some wonderful, inspiring women.  Along with a wonderful support system.  All of this has contributed to a happier and heallthier me.

You hear all the time that the first step is admitting that you have a problem.  For me, that was true.  Admitting that I needed help, led me to getting help.  As a mom, it is incredibly difficult to admit that you can’t handle it all.  Well, my friends, it takes a village.

I can’t say that I am cured, because I have yet to go off of the medication, and to be completely honest, I don’t know if I ever will.  I realized two things once I started feeling better.  One was that I had been suffering from PPA/OCD/Depression since I had Madeline, and just never knew that there was a name for how I felt.  The second is that I have always had anxiety.

I have never felt as free as I do now, and am looking so forward to continuing this journey to a happier, healthier, version of myself.

*I would again like to note that I am not, in any way, a health care professional.  This is just my own personal experience.  If you think you are suffering from any type of mental illness, please contact your doctor.  If you are feeling like maybe you can relate to some of this, please do not hesitate to talk to me.*