Kicking PPD’s ass

September 27, 2011

Two months ago I wrote about postpartum depression because…I just had to. The experience was very real for me and I’m grateful for all the women who sent support and their own stories in reply. What an amazing bunch of comments. Thank you! This whole baby-making thing isn’t for the faint of heart, huh?

It’s only fitting that I follow up now that I’m back on my feet and feeling normal again. Because I am.

Yay!

I swear, writing that post and connecting with other women who have felt/are feeling the same way did wonders for me. If you are or know someone struggling with PPD, the support and understanding of others is huge. Send them my way. Seriously. I’m not 100% sure where the line is between “Exhausted, overwhelmed and emotional new mom” and “Postpartum depression” but frankly I don’t care. The diagnosis doesn’t matter too much. Getting help does.

So writing about PPD was actually a big turning point for me. In the past few months, here are some things that have changed for the better:

I’m no longer waking up in the morning feeling nauseous. I wake up ready to see my Danny and collect the smiles he has for me!

I can breathe again. I was so on edge, always worried that I was doing something wrong. Well. Yeah. I’m going to do things wrong. And it’s going to be ok. Somehow I’ve learned that, finally.

My digestion is so much better. Anxiety really gets the better of my intestines, I’ll just leave it at that. For the first time in 7 months things are working properly again. Whew.

I gave up cookies. They had become my crutch, bigtime. Sugar is such a false friend!

Crying is no longer my #1 hobby.

I can watch TV again. And by that I guess what I really mean is, my attention span is back. I can listen to a story or follow a train of thought or have a decent conversation with my husband again.

But it didn’t just magically happen. In the past few months I’ve done a lot of work to pull myself out of the ditch.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Zoloft did not suit me and I never tried another prescription because I got so worried about side effects. This, by the way, really went against everyone’s recommendations. Therapists, friends, my husband – they urged me to try again. I know drugs help a lot of women, and I wasn’t against trying, but after the first go-round I didn’t want to mess with them anymore. I really felt I had to try other things.

I got a babysitter.
Oh yes. This is probably the best thing I did. Every day, or at least a few times a week, I got 2 hours to myself. That was huge. I was so lucky to find someone who was reliable and patient with Danny’s napping habits! During those breaks I’d go to yoga, get a pedicure, a haircut, or get some work done at a local cafe, or just rest. Getting away from Danny sounds kind of wrong – like shouldn’t I want to be with my baby? But it really helped me get some perspective and time off. I also got a babysitter on the weekend sometimes so Max and I could go out together, alone.

I got my butt to yoga.
As I wrote about here, I ditched the local studio and found a class I really liked. Getting on that mat among other yogis, no one knew I was a new mom or anything about me. I reclaimed a bit of who I used to be. A yogi, on my mat, rocking some serious arm balances for the first time since before my pregnancy. I started to feel strong. I started to feel like me!

I started breathing
At night when I was nursing Danny, I meditated on my breath. Instead of worrying about him or any number of things, I just listened to my inhales and exhales. I tried to do this to exude a calm vibe for him, and for me. I kept my eyes closed, or half closed. Sometimes he finished nursing and we’d both be asleep. Ahh.

Real Food.
No, I didn’t always have energy or motivation to cook grand meals. But I stuck to the basics of eating real, whole food and taking care of myself nutritionally. I started eating a lot more protein, fewer grains. Sugar addiction and emotional eating started to become a problem so I finally took control.

Social plans were key.
Little outings during the week sure helped. Maybe a stroll with a friend, maybe lunch. Getting together with other couples and babies on the weekend. Keeping busy.

Talk Therapy.
Weekly therapy, yup. Need a therapist? I know a good one, just ask. I started to make time for this and prioritize it.

Dear Danny
I wrote letters to my little boy. There are so many feelings and thoughts that you just can’t express to a baby the way you want to. So I wrote to him instead.

Acupuncture.
Alright, to be honest I have no idea if this did anything. I have my doubts. But I gave it a try! And maybe it did help, who knows. I was already feeling better when I started. In any case, an hour to lie down in a quiet room ain’t bad.

The right kind of people
During this time, there were people who built me up and made me feel confident. Others tore me down and made me insecure. I really needed to be around the first kind, and limit contact with the others. I came across this quote recently and it fits beautifully:

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” -William Gibson

I feel grateful to win this battle, and grateful to everyone who helped. My little boy deserves Mommy at her best, and now he has her.