I am so honored to welcome Warrior Mom Charity today to share her story. Charity struggled with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety with a psychotic episode.
I have three little girls, ages 8, 7 and 4. Bringing each home was a joy. An amazing joy. Bringing home the youngest, Patrice, was the easiest transition in mothering. There is a knowledge and ease that comes with experience. I knew my mothering style, knew how to juggle.
What I didn’t know was the feeling of insomnia with a newborn. And the intense emotions that came—good, bad and ugly. The tears. The fear. The need to be busy. All.the.time.
How could I be crying and upset—I honestly and truly looked at my life and loved it more than I ever had. But every day I had to be busy! The girls and I went—to the library, the zoo, the park. We did—baking, crafts, projects. My level of activity kept having to go up. I had to move and do to escape the thoughts, to escape the tears, to escape the abyss.
My midwife and I were in contact daily. She talked me through the waiting period before we could adjust my thyroid medications. And then the time we had to wait to see if that resolved the myriad of emotions.
Time was not my friend. I started medication. It helped a little. A very little. So we upped the dose. That did not help, not at all. I suddenly couldn’t stop going—I had to be busy. Bonus—my house was spotless; not such a bonus—I was a wreck.
I could no longer control some of my thoughts. I would think over and over, ”I’ll get Patrice to my midwife; she can take her home and love her, and hubby can handle the other two.” Until one morning that was the only thought. I loved my girls, but I could not figure out how to be their mommy. So I packed them up, and went to my midwife.
“Will you just take them home and love them?” I sobbed as she hugged me. Her staff got my girls out of the room, and she let me cry…and so began 6 ½ hours of conversation, tears, and being hospitalized.
The behavioral health facility was the worst experience of my life, but it was where I needed to be. I was safe. My girls were safe.
Over the next few days, I was taken off medication. My midwife found me a therapist who specialized in postpartum depression, and I started new therapies.
That was 3 ½ years ago. It has not been the easy resolution I thought it would be. Medication did not fix it all. I am back on a higher dose, seeing a doctor and a therapist, working on getting better for my girls.
I am fighting for them. They are worth every moment.
And I have found a lot of help along the way. I discovered the #PPDCHAT group on twitter (every Monday at 9:00pm EST), the wonderful website www.postpartumprogress.com, and women who have been there or are there. I have discovered community.
Depression looks different for everyone. Mine did not involve a desire to sleep, rather a desperate need to be busy. I did not want to escape my children; rather, I couldn’t bear to be away from them. I did not cry out of sadness, rather due to a desperate feeling threatening to overwhelm me. I did withdraw from people to an extent; I did give up activities I enjoyed.
Getting well has required a level of self-discovery and honesty I didn’t know I possessed. It has required a lot of help from others. Help I often hate, but need. It has caused me to give up a lot of what I thought depression and anxiety looked like in order to get help for what it looks in me. It has required a strength I didn’t know I possessed, to fight—for my girls.
Have you, or someone you know, recently given birth, adopted or weaned a baby? Postpartum depression and anxiety can develop any time within the first year after birth, or after weaning a nursling. Adoptive moms are by no means immune to postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum depression is not baby blues, which is a feeling of sadness or erratic emotions beginning a few days after birth and resolving within a few weeks. Postpartum depression lasts longer, or develops later and interferes with the ability to function as yourself.
If you are a new mom, for the first, third or tenth time, be honest with your care providers or those who care about you. If you know a new mom, ask her how she is—really is. Hear what she is saying, hear what she isn’t saying. Please check www.postpartumprogress.com, twitter hashtag #ppdchat, www.mypostpartumvoice.com or my blog at www.gigglesandgrimaces.com. You can find my posts about this journey under depression.
You, and those you know, are worth every moment of fight, every bit of the hard.
Charity has been blogging for 4 ½ years. She started blogging to share her faith, family and cute kids. Four weeks after her third daughter’s birth, Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety hit her like a ton of bricks and she became part of the percentage of women who had latent Bipolar Disorder awakened by the postpartum mood disorders. Through Charity’s writing she displays her struggles in even the darkest of moments. In sharing her story with others, Charity hopes that others see you can parent successfully even with mental illness. Her writing can be found on her blog or on Project Semicolon.