Saturday, October 1, 2016

#write31days: PostPartum Depression - How Did You Know? // Introduction and Rules of Engagement

Last October, I attempted #write31days but without a serious mindset... quantity really- I wanted to write more. And I did! It was great. Today, I am starting this challenge over with a more guided topic. Postpartum depression.

I discussed ideas with a few friends, and this topic came up multiple times. How do you handle PPD as a Catholic women? How do you handle it with residency? How do you handle it with multiple children? What does it feel like? What should others know about PPD? The questions went on and on...

My "rules" for this series are short: this topic is personal and I am currently living in it. This is not an abstract for a dissertation. I do not have 20/20 hindsight yet. I don't need any medical advice, as I keep in close communication with my own PA + Dr., as well as being married to one. My husband and I practice many different types of coping mechanisms as well, which I will write about too. My situation is 100 percent unique and I am writing only about myself. These posts are directed at no one, and still, I am opening myself up to share my experiences. If I can help one person, it will be worth it. Please respect this adult conversation at face value.


How do you know you are depressed (PPD) and it's not just the baby blues?

This is the number one question many women ask. I am on baby number three in three years. Shockingly to many, this is not the cause of my depression. My depression has to do (mainly) with external factors in my life which I do not have [much] control over. I mention this because I have bonded with my third child wonderfully, just like I did with my other two.

I mention this because many women dismiss their feelings because they do not fall into the normal realm of what depression looks like. If you are taking anything your baby does personally, that should be a warning sign. A baby is for cuddling and feeding. A baby wants love and affection, and cries because something is wrong - or nothing is wrong! All three of my children spent the first month or two of their lives crying "just because"... baby wearing, baby swinging, and being okay with crying.

My main symptoms are anger and irritability. Everything bugs me - but what sends me over the edge is the perpetual whining of my three year old. Grace repeats herself constantly, and this is normal! There is nothing wrong with this! But for me, it was nails on a chalkboard. Combine this with anxiety if the house descends into madness (thanks, Laura); if I've forgotten something I am supposed to do; if I watch time tock by, paralyzed by what I should do...

This is not a normal response to stress. This is, at the very least, a reason to talk to a medical professional. If you have a feeling something is off, your intuition is probably right. Don't ignore it.

I knew something was wrong when Grace began whining and I just had to leave the room; I wanted to punch the wall repeatedly. I called the phone nurse at my OB's office, and as I told her my symptoms, I started sobbing.

I am currently taking medicine, which I will address in another post. Medicine combined with exercise and other coping mechanisms for healthy living is key - we cannot expect medicine alone to "fix" my feelings, anymore than we should think "natural living" is enough for women to cope.

With my first two children, I would feel sad and overwhelmed and stressed from time to time... with Stephen, there were times when I wanted to leave the house. I wanted to punch the wall; I wanted to cry and yell; I wanted to curl up in a ball and ignore everyone. These are not normal response to stress. My medicine is only 20 mg, but it is enough. When I hear whining, I can respond calmly or ignore it. I can find order in the chaos and I can laugh. I am 110 percent a better mother taking medicine, and I feel much more like myself.

And this is really the most telling part of depression - I didn't feel like myself. I didn't know this version of Julie, and I didn't like it. I love my family and I wanted to enjoy these young days. This is why I sought help and now, this is why I am writing about postpartum depression and anxiety. The only thing to fear is *not* accepting help. Don't try to rationalize your feelings or dismiss them. If you need help, ask for it. This is scary, and that is okay.

Before Grace's eye surgery; when I had first started medication

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  1. This is really helpful! Appreciate your openness.

  2. Getting ready for another little one and having experienced PPD with Sean, I'm a little bit nervous about this. So glad you're focusing in and writing about it this month.

  3. Thank you for sharing. The greater the understanding and awareness the more likely women will be to identify the problem and find help. I look forward to reading more about your story this month!

  4. I'm due at the end of October with my first, and having experienced depression before, I am interested in reading your experiences to better help me identify any issues I might encounter.