Friday, May 4, 2012

Baby Blues

I've debated and debated writing a post about my postpartum depression. I really don't like to be that person who goes on and on about my personal life to any and all who pass by my electronic door. But I really feel like talking about it here will in some way help me to cope with the illness that has taken a hold of my brain since little Sammy made his glorious entrance a few months ago.

When I had Eli I was so overwhelmed the first few months with the duties of motherhood it was dizzying. But I was also so amazed at the fact that I had indeed produced viable offspring and that that offspring was still alive despite my *worst* efforts I didn't notice any real depression issues.

When Sammy was born I was similarly dizzied. Having two kids rocked my little world. I noticed right away that every time I'd nurse him I'd get this rush of terribly dark hormones during the first few minutes. I looked it up and found out that sometimes women experience what is called something like "let down depression". Most of the time when a woman nurses, her dopamine levels shoot way up. For whatever reason, mine plummet. It was getting so bad that every time I nursed I felt incredibly despondent and dark. That was a huge factor in my decision to stop nursing Sammy so early on, along with the fact that I really produce little to no milk.

I noticed though that after I stopped nursing I still got these terrible spells of darkness and despair. They came on with no provocation and lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes. I knew it was hormonal, not just situation reliant. I went to my doc and he prescribed me Zoloft.

The Zoloft didn't really seem to do anything for me. I took it for about 6 weeks but never seemed to get any better. The spells kept coming and things seemed to be getting worse. I eventually just took myself off the meds and decided to figure out another option. That was a BAD idea. Apparently the Zoloft was doing something because when I went off it I crashed hard. The spells of depression came more and more frequently and I felt like things were getting out of my control. I cried all the time for no reason. It got so bad that poor little Eli would just look up from what he was doing and say, "Oh, mommy sad..." and go back about his business.

My biggest worry was what this depression was doing to my kids. I could deal with being chemically out of whack...Dan could deal with it and had been incredibly supportive with everything I'd gone through but I did NOT want it affecting my 2 year old. I wanted him to have a happy mommy.

I made an appointment with my midwife and we counseled together about what may be the best course of action for me. She prescribed me a combination of Xanax and Wellbutrin (sp?) and gave me some great suggestions for coping with depression.

For whatever reason I filled those two prescriptions but never started taking them. I knew I needed to...I just couldn't do it for some reason. Things seemed to be improving but then one day I had a serious anxiety attack at church. I came home and decided to take a Xanax just to see it if would help.

Within 20 minutes I was immobile. Turns out I'm one of the like .0001% of  people who have serious adverse reactions to Xanax. I couldn't move, could barely talk, and was so dizzy I just sort of drifted in and of consciousness. Dan was understandably nervous so he dropped the kids of at a friend's house and drove me down to Instacare. The doc checked me all out and said I was to never take the full dosage of Xanax again. He said maybe cut the pill in fourths or try something different.

After that I was VERY wary to take any sort of anti-depression medication. I started exercising more and tried to get more sleep. This didn't cure things up in a day or anything but things did improve. My dark spells come less frequently and I felt better more often.

Now that Sammy is almost 4 months old I feel good most of the time. I still have times when the chemicals go wonky and I feel depression kicking in. I'm a total advocate of anti-depression medication...I just never found anything that I particularly liked.  I feel lucky that the worst of it has subsided without having to be permanently dependent on any medication.

Being a mother is incredible. Somehow my life is so much bigger now with these two little spirits in it. Dan has been so amazingly supportive through everything and I am so thankful I have such am amazing husband.

 A few weeks ago I went to a church meeting where a woman spoke who had been a counselor for women with postpartum depression for many years. She started the meeting by asking us to list things that brought peace to our lives. People said things like going to the temple, reading scriptures, praying and meditating. She wrote them all in a list on one side of the board. The she said, "ok, so when these things don't work, here are some suggestions", and wrote down items on the other side like "medication", "therapy", and things like that. I really liked that. It made me feel like even though I was doing the right things, and still felt depressed, that I had more and probably better options for my situation.

God wants us to be happy. Sometimes it takes more than just singing a church song or saying a prayer. Sometimes we need and have to rely on medical help, professional counseling, and above all, on the kind ears of friends and family who are there to help and do not judge us. I'm actually really grateful for my experiences with postpartum depression. I learned that I need to rely on others more for help and comfort. It taught me that I have limits emotionally to what I can do in my life. Above all I learned that I'm not alone. Millions of women struggle with similar sorts of pregnancy related depression. I now feel like, even though I still have rough days, I can get through them and maybe I'll be able to help someone else in a similar situation someday.

Whew! Sorry for the long-winded personal monologue. I really feel like writing all this down is one more step for me to get feeling like my old self. Group therapy and all that. If you checked out and went to get ice cream a few paragraphs back, bring me over some and we can talk about much more silly things. Like reality TV, and the existence of things called 'jeggins'. 


  1. It's something that people don't talk about, but it is nice to hear that you are not alone...I guess it would be depressing playground talk. lol We all have "dark moments" and our own copping mechanisms. It is great to hear other's perspectives.

  2. I had no idea. im glad its getting better though. I cant believe having to deal with 2 kids + post partum. We miss you guys lots!