Postpartum Depression: (taken from the Mayo Clinic website)
Postpartum depression isn't a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes postpartum depression is simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby. 10-15% of women suffer from Postpartum depression. Symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense irritability and anger
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Loss of interest in sex
- Lack of joy in life
- Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Severe mood swing
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Trouble concentrating and remembering things
- Difficulties finishing everyday tasks
- Trouble making decisions
- Difficulty relaxing
- Feelings of extreme uneasiness for prolonged periods of time
- Loss of appetite
- Possible suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Illogical thoughts
- Refusing to eat
- Extreme feelings of anxiety and agitation
- Periods of delirium or mania
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
Here is my story:
On July 19, 2010, our precious angel Gabriel came into the world. He is 100% healthy, happy and beautiful. As I was in the hospital, I felt emotionally great. I remember even thinking, "I won't get PPD, I feel great." I had no idea what awaited me and my family. About 3 days after giving birth, I began to obsess about earthquakes and wondering what I would do if one hit while we were in the hospital. Although I had a vaginal delivery, getting around was still very painful and difficult, so I just prayed over and over that the Lord would keep us safe. Beyond that, I didn't think much about it. We brought our beautiful baby boy home. Then about 4 days later, I starting feeling "weepy" and considered it the "baby blues". However, the "baby blues" never went away, in fact they started to get worse. Scary worse.
I remember the first thoughts I had were while I was out walking our dog. I kept hearing in my head that Gabriel would be better off without me. There are other better mothers out there and he deserves better than me. I should just kill myself and then he could get a new mommy. A better mommy. It then escalated to events surrounding Gabe. I would be holding my son and I would have flashes of his funeral and what it would look like and what he would look like in his coffin. I knew what I was going to say and how I would say goodbye. I was 100% convinced he was going to die of SIDS. No one could convince me otherwise. Every time I would walk into his room, I would see that sweet angel sleeping in his crib, only in my mind, his crib would turn into a coffin and I would see his fragile little body lying in it. I even had songs picked out that I would play at his funeral.
I found I could not ride in the car with him due to the extreme anxiety. One day on the way home from the doctor's office, I knew I had him in the car with me, yet I had a panic attack that I left him sitting in the parking lot. I also believed we would be in an accident and Gabe would be hurt or worse yet, killed. Irrational thoughts like these became so common they began to effect my daily life to such a degree I was terrified to leave the house. Essentially creating a prison.
On one day in particular, I was pumping with my eyes closed and I just knew I was going to open my eyes and be staring down the barrel of a gun. That was the moment I finally mentioned to my husband that something wasn't right.
We started making appointments with my dr and over a period of two and a half weeks, I visited her 6 times. Each time, she would prescribe something, but it just never seemed to be helping. Finally, on Wednesday, Sept. 22, my doctor suggested I go to the hospital. I had mentioned to her that the night before I had been holding a pair of scissors and I had the thought of how easy it would be to cut myself with them. So, she obviously became very alarmed. We called the hospital and in I went.
We got to the ER at 2 PM and was almost immediately brought in. I was questioned by several people, then sent to a room to wait for the dr. He said he would like to keep me to monitor me for a couple of days. Ok. I figured that would happen. About 4 hours later a nurse came in and told me that they were putting me on a 72 hour hold, which essentially means I no longer have a say in coming or going. They were keeping me no matter what. I immediately burst into tears. By 10:30 that night they had a room for me.
Now here is where the story does get darker. The only room they had, and it is protocol, was in the Acute Psych Ward. So, I was sent to the acute ward with poor souls suffering from schizophrenia, paranoia and extreme conditions. I went straight into my room and began to question... What have we done? Do I really belong HERE? I tried to sleep, but couldn't due to the man screaming, "What are they doing to me? Make them stop! WHY?" That was coupled with pipes banging and people roaming the halls all night saying things like 1+2= Black. Needless to say, I stayed to myself, confused and lonely. My room didn't have anything more than a nightlight, so I tried to sleep, but could not. I still remember the sound of the plastic mattress and plastic pillow as I tried to get comfortable, yet never could. I looked in the mirror, wondering what had gone wrong. This was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, yet I'm staring into a barely lit mirror in an acute psych ward.
I finally gather the courage to venture out of my room and immediately see one of the patients who promptly calls me a bitch and begins to make fun of my nail polish. I thought, "Oh, well... in her mind 1+2= Black. So whatever." I get my tray of food, find a spot to sit and another patient named Jose, reaches over and begins to steal food off my tray. I find strength I didn't think I had at the time and firmly say, "No! That is your food, this is mine. Don't touch it!" After a couple of times of telling him that, he retreats back to his own tray.
Now, redemption. At 1:30 PM there is a knock at my door. My nurse said, "Are you ready to go downstairs?" Downstairs was the area where normal people have simply hit a hard time in their lives, either via drugs, depression, injury etc. I immediately jump up, answer "YES!" and gather all of my things. I believe I accomplished this is three seconds flat. Before I knew it I was being whisked downstairs.
It was so much better. There is where we began my medicine. I was put on Kolopin, Prestiq, and Ambien, Oh I slept so much better that night. The groups were better as people were lucid. I was happy to be there, but unhappy still of the situation.
Day 3 and 4:
A simple blur. All days ran together. My husband came to visit me every day from 6 PM to 8 PM. I began to recongize more and more about what had been bothering me and my diagnosis. My anxiety was so high, that is triggered my depression and the psychosis. The intrusive thoughts were also brought on by anxiety. So, as we began to control the anxiety, the only way I can describe it is, life began to flow again. The colors seemed brighter and the darkness lifted. On the 4th day, during visiting a dear friend came to see me and it was while she was there I found I was not going to be placed on the 14 day hold, I could in fact go home right then. We began the discharge paperwork and my friend decided to play a joke on my poor husband. She told him I was going to have to stay another day, yet little did he know I was getting packed. I will never forget the look on his face when he saw me with my luggage walking toward him. Pure joy.
It is still a struggle. I cannot say that those 4 days fixed everything, but they did put a lot of things into perspective. I am on an uphill battle, but I'm willing to fight it for my family. I still have to go to the hospital every day for the next 6 weeks for 6 hour sessions of therapy, but I am more than willing to do it. I was in such a dark place and it is a fine line between the intrusive thoughts and actions.
If you think you might have PPD/ PPA/ PPP, PLEASE, seek help. It may not be comfortable, but it could be the difference between life and death.