Friday, March 28, 2008
I've had a fair share of people ask me what it's like to have postpartum depression. I guess people always assume that all women who go through PPD are manic, anxiety-ridden mothers who beat their children and fantasize about drowning their kids or themselves. I have to say, in my case, they are half right.

There were times when I was manic, times when I was a great lump of anxiety and panic attacks. I often fantasized about kissing the girls goodbye, drinking bottles and bottles of wine and walking out into the river until I went under, for good. I came dangerously close to doing that, actually. Once, over the late summer, we took a trip to the river with a group of our friends and their chidlren, and I walked away in a daze of numbness, strolling Savannah. I got pretty far away from everyone and realized how easy it would be to just leave the baby safe in her stroller and sneak away, climb down the river bank and wade out into the cold water. I imagined how easy it would be to let the water wash over me, to close my eyes and open my mouth and breathe in. I wanted to be released from all the pain, so, so badly.

But then I imagined the terror Jared would feel when he discovered me missing. And in a heartbreaking realization, I imagined how the chaos would affect Emma, and in time, Savannah. I could not do anything to hurt these precious little girls of mine, no matter how much I was hurting.

And also...I finally realized how very, very sick I was. My illness was severe, bordering on postpartum psychosis. The last entry from September was written the day after I had a severe mental and emotional breakdown, one in which I suffered from stress-induced amnesia for a few hours. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me, and to this day I am chilled to the bone at how terrifying it was to forget crucial parts of my life and be so confused about my own family members. It's too shameful and hurtful for me to explain that now, but maybe one day.

So that's what happened. Let's fast-forward a bit.

I went on Zoloft, and began to feel better. Not all at once, but little by little. Pretty soon I was okay enough to be left alone with the kids. Jared wasn't allowed to switch his work schedule because his dependibility rating was too low (due to his missing days of work on suicide watch for me). His company refused to understand that PPD is a real illness, and would not make an exception for his missing days. But it was okay...I was feeling better and could accept that I'd have to wait until January for another shift bid, when he could go back on days. At this point, I was again alone with the kids from 2pm - 1:30am.

Then he missed one day for having the flu. And come January, once again he wasn't allowed to shift bid. I was upset and stressed and had a minor relapse, but was relatively okay. I felt that I could wait until the next shift bid, in April. That was until I went to the doctor asking to have my meds increased a tiny bit. The anxiety was creeping back. And Savannah was sleeping for only an hour at a time, waking to cry and fuss and eat and give me broken, horrible sleep of no more than 4 hours total a night. Now, that kind of sleep deprivation every single night for months on end is extremely hard. (She's still doing that, more about that in another post though). I saw the P.A. at my doctor's office who told me that the dosage I was on was actually not one she'd recommend for a breastfeeding baby (by the way, Savannah is still almost exclusively breastfed, at 9 months old - more about that later on, too!). I left the office feeling like I needed to decrease my meds, so I went down a bit.

And within 2 weeks, I was having panic attacks and mood swings and a very familiar, horrible feeling of hopelessness. The day before Jared's mom came into town I had a mini-breakdown, and Jared called in to work. We knew the possible outcome of this (being rejected for a shift bid once again!!) but made the decision together that my sanity was more important. It took me almost 2 weeks to get back to feeling okay again. But by that time, the damage was done.

I'm going to have to finish this later, Savannah is awake!

Posted by Kier at 10:31 PM |