Briefly describe your experience with postpartum depression and anxiety.
After giving birth to my son in May 2018 I was hit with severe Postpartum. I remember sitting in the hospital a few hours after delivering my son. My husband ran home to grab some things and my son was in the nursery. I was suddenly hit with a racing heart and severe anxiety. I felt an intense feeling of fear. I sat in the room all by myself and felt so much fear over all the things I can’t control. I instantly called my husband bawling. 1 day later I was released from the hospital. On our way home from the hospital I bawled because I was so worried something would happen. When we got home my mom had cleaned my house and made a delicious dinner for my husband and I couldn’t relax. I didn’t really let anyone know about the mental battle I was constantly fighting. Mixed with no sleep I was barely functioning. For months following the birth of my son I was a complete wreck. I couldn’t relax and was always in a panic. I started back on some anxiety meds but they weren’t doing the job. Due to insurance change I could no longer meet with my psychiatrist or therapist. So I just kind of treaded and did what I could to help treat myself. For the next 2 years my anxiety went up and down. I would have moments where things would be great but it would always go back to being bad. It was so bad that it was a battle to even leave the house. I dealt with severe driving anxiety. I tried a few different medications and nothing seemed to work. When 2020 craziness hit my anxiety was once again really bad. I didn’t know how to function. I had a friend recommend this awesome nurse practitioner who looks at everything going on in the body and takes both a holistic and medical take on things. She got me a better medication and got me taking vitamins to help. While that helped it still didn’t help 100%. My sister had recently started seeing a new psychiatrist who really helped her. I went to that psychiatrist and she got me on the right kind of medications and I started to feel myself heal and feel normal again. On top of meeting with a psychiatrist and the nurse practitioner I started meeting with my therapist on a weekly basis. It helped me out so much to meet with her and talk to her. After 6 months things started improving so much. Now it has been a year and I am doing really well. Having my team of people helps me out so much. I am the most mentally healthy I have ever been. I am driving and have energy to continue on.
Who or what helped/or is helping keep you grounded during this challenging time?
Therapy, yoga, working out, self care, and family. My husband was wonderful throughout the whole thing and helped me to overcome a lot. Being honest and telling my therapists exactly what was going on. I found myself pretending like everything was fine every time. Once I actually opened up and told them what was going on I was able to get help. My family also helped me out a lot during this time. Once I opened up to them and told them my struggles they have been so helpful.
How did you balance the needs of your family while still allowing room for your self care, and coping?
It wasn’t until 6 months ago that I started to take time for myself. I completely lost myself in motherhood. I made friends with some awesome people and they kind of forced me to make time for myself. Once I started doing that I became a better mom. Taking those breaks and focusing on myself as an individual has really helped me. Before I started taking time for myself I wouldn’t do self care and that made it really hard to figure out how to cope with it all.
What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation?
Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you’re going through. The hardest thing about mental health is that getting diagnosed it 100% dependent on you. They can’t run physical tests to find out what is wrong. Once you speak up about the thoughts or way you’re feeling you will be on the right path. Also don’t give up on therapy. I went through 4 different therapists until I found the right one. It’s important to have a connection with them and if you’re not feeling it is totally fine to shop around for a therapist. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
What has this experience taught you about resilience?
It has made me realize that I am a lot stronger than I thought. That I am capable of overcoming anything. When I was at my lowest point I felt like I would never be anxiety free again. Here I am now in much better place mentally.
Update on your recovery and life now:
I am doing really great. It has taken me 3 years to get to this point but I am finally in a place where I’m not constantly in a panic or trying to talk myself through panic attacks. I first stared meeting with a therapist once a week and now I only meet with her once a month. I did EDMR therapy which really helped. I also meet with the most amazing psychiatrist.