Recently, blogger Heather wrote about her struggle with postpartum depression after the birth of her twin girls. I thought I would share my experience as well.
When I got pregnant with my son, I was newly 21 years old and clueless about becoming a parent. Jackson’s pregnancy was a surprise, to say the least. I coped fairly well with being pregnant, but becoming a mom at just shy of 22 years old and still a college student turned my world upside down.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have suffered with varying degrees of anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was never able to let things go, or to just go with the flow so to speak. I was rigid, regimented, and often got upset when things didn’t go how I was expecting them to. This all started at a pretty young age, and intensified during my high school and early college years. I would sometimes become paralyzed with anxiety. So you can imagine that throwing a newborn baby into the mix didn’t make things any better.
Unfortunately for my fragile psyche, I didn’t fully realize what was going on and never sought help. I know now that I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.
The first 18 months of my son’s life are a blur. All I can remember is stress and loneliness, even though I was surrounded by my husband (then boyfriend) parents, and in-laws. I graduated college when he was about a year old and got my first “real” job when he was 18 months. After that, I started to feel better when I could get out of the house and interact with other people.
Fast forward to my pregnancy with my daughter. My mental health was already questionable; I suffered 2 miscarriages within 6 months of each other, and a third (unplanned) pregnancy terrified me. I honestly didn’t think I could handle a third miscarriage. I had days where I would just cry and be convinced that I would never carry another baby to term. The days got fewer and further between, but the thoughts haunted me until the second I actually held my daughter on my chest after 22 hours of labor.
After the first few days at home with my daughter, I thought I was going to feel much better, with the concern about the pregnancy gone and the exhaustion of a newborn setting in. Wrong! Just a few days later, the crippling anxiety came back. I would cry uncontrollably at the thought of being left home alone with my newborn daughter and 4 year old son. I had panic attacks. It was awful.
Luckily this time, I recognized what was going on pretty much right away. I actually had my husband call my OB for me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it together long enough to explain what was going on. I cried all through the appointment. I left with a prescription for 50mg of Zoloft and a few day’s worth of Xanax to use as needed.
The first few weeks taking the Zoloft were still rough. It made my stomach upset and my anxiety was worse than ever. Having read about the side effects, I understood that this was normal. I stuck it out and now, about 5 months later, I feel better than I have felt in a long, long, LONG time. I feel like myself again. I never realized exactly how miserable my postpartum depression had made me. I am so glad I decided to get help.
I have noticed lately that my anxiety is creeping back up again. I’m planning to make an appointment to see if I need to adjust my dose of Zoloft. I have promised myself that I will never let my mental health fall by the wayside again. My kids and family can’t be happy if I’m not happy, too.
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