For me, my journey through mental illness is not one that just started after childbirth. I was first diagnosed with depression at the age of 19. I dealt a lot with struggling to get out of bed, having motivation to do anything but sleep, and locking people out of my life. I have been on anti-depressants for half of my life. I even had a stint in an out-patient program. I know what depression feels like.
I was pretty sure that I would have postpartum depression (PPD) after my first child was born. But after birth I felt great. Well, I mean I didn’t get any sleep and barely had time to shower, but I felt pretty good mentally. It wasn’t until I went back to work after maternity leave that I realized something was off. It wasn’t my normal “I can’t get out of bed” depression. This time it had manifested itself into rage. I was angry all the time. I would scream at my husband, be irrationally upset at my cat, and I couldn’t seem to control my anger. I didn’t know what to do. I was worried for my baby and myself.
It didn’t even cross my mind that this could be PPD until my husband sat me down and asked what I thought was going on. I didn’t know. I was mad. Mad at everything. I had not discussed going back on medication because after birth I was breastfeeding. And even though that didn’t work out for us, I didn’t seek medical attention for my PPD for about three months.
Slowly (we know these things don’t work over night), I began to feel better and normal. My doctor and I agreed to go back on anti-depressants. She suggested that therapy may help as well, but with just going back to work and juggling being a new mom, we thought we would see how the medication would work by itself. And it did.
When my husband and I wanted to start trying for baby number two, my doctor thought it would be best if I went off my medication. To my surprise I did well off of the medication while I was pregnant. But I made the decision that right after our second baby was born I would immediately go back on my medication. And that’s exactly what I did. The day after delivery I started back and have felt great this entire year since my daughter was born.
My advice with anything going on with your health is listen to your body. You know yourself the best. Depression and anxiety can come and go in many forms. Be sure to seek medical attention when you need to. Take care of yourself, then you can take care of others.