Let’s get real and talk about Postpartum Depression (PPD) – I recently flew on an airplane from New York to Sacramento next to a mom and her toddler daughter. The mom was anxious because she wasn’t sure how her daughter was going to act on the plane (kids are unpredictable, lol!), she had all the snacks and activities possible to make the flight comfortable for her daughter and those around her. As a mom of two, I naturally chatted with the mom and played with her daughter because I knew exactly how she felt and I wanted her to make her feel as comfortable as possible. I asked the flight attendant for a paper bag because I began to feel nauseous and my unsettling nerves from my business event from earlier that day was getting the best of me and I felt so much anxiety. I began to breathe in to the bag taking deep breaths and just telling myself to calm down. The mom next to me asked me if I was okay, and I explained to her that ever since I had Rori I’ve been having really bad anxiety that triggers primarily from stress but can also occur at any given random time. She told me she always has anxiety and she can’t ever enjoy life because she is so worried about her daughter. She told me she hasn’t told her husband about her anxiety because she didn’t want to seem crazy.
I thought that this would be a great opportunity to share my Postpartum Depression (PPD) story with her and you all. Within weeks of Rori being born I was drained emotionally, physically, and mentally. Ryland was awake like a “normal” person and on a regular schedule (awake during the day and asleep at night). Rori was just a few weeks old and she was on the complete opposite schedule of Ryland, which mean that I was awake 24 hours for weeks. I was so exhausted, but I did not ask for help because I felt that these were my children and I needed to care for them. I was wrong. I needed help and I should have asked for it. I was so embarrassed to even tell my partner, friends, or family that I think I was having PPD because no one really talks about it, I thought that it would all go away on its own. My 3 month follow up appointment with my OBGYN came along, when I was asked the follow up questions of how I felt and if things were going well – I lied. I know, I shouldn’t have. I told my doctor that everything was great and that I was ready to go back to work (I didn’t want to seem at all weak or not capable). My doctor immediately could tell that I was lying and he said “I am going to prescribe you some medication and extend your time off for an additional 6 weeks, if you need more time then we can give you that too. I know you are not doing well because your hair is not brushed, and you have on zero make up, you aren’t taking care of yourself. He was my OBGYN with Ryland and Rori, so he has been with me for over 5 years, he knew me well enough to know that I was not at my best. I took the prescription, secretly, behind my partners back for weeks because I was still embarrassed. At the time, I thought I was the only person “secretly” battling PPD, but then I met this mom on a flight and I knew that I had to share my story. after 6 months of being on Sertaline (ZOLOFT) I met with my doctor and we discussed other options for me as I was feeling more like myself. We weaned me of Sertaline and everything was great for a few months. I began having panic attacks that were so bad I couldn’t breathe and it was affecting my quality of life, so I saw my PCP and he prescribed me ALPRAZolam. I am still on ALPRAZolam til this day, but I use it on a as needed basis.
My 7 tips for battling PostPartum Depression (PPD)
1.) Get help. See your doctor and TELL THE TRUTH on how you are feeling. Getting help is the absolute first step.
2.) Talk to someone. Anyone. It doesn’t have to be your loved ones, it can be anyone. Just expressing how you feel makes a difference. There are some meet up groups that you can join here. Facebook has plenty of mom groups to join! DM me, email me, comment on my feed – if you have commented before then you know that I am very responsive and want to connect, I created Pieces of Emerald for this reason: to connect and inspire. You are not alone and you are NEVER a bother.
3.) Get out of the house. Even if it is just to go to the grocery store. Get out and get some fresh air.
4.) Take your new baby out for a walk, even if it is a stroll to the mailbox.
5.) Get dressed. With just the act of getting dressed, it can help with how we feel about ourself.
6.) DANCE! Having dance parties with my children has helped me tremendously – Even if it was only for one song – I felt better moving, laughing, and just stepping out of my daily darkness.
7.) Open your blinds! Let some sunlight in to help brighten your day.
I am no expert and you should seek help from a professional, but these are just things that I did and continue to do to help battle PPD and my anxiety.
This post turned out a little longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to share my story with you all because I now know there are other women struggling with PPD, anxiety attacks, and also being afraid to even tell their closest loves how they feel. PPD can be a dark and scary place, and a lot of the time I felt so alone even when I wasn’t. I couldn’t wait for each day to end, I am lucky enough that I did not have suicidal thoughts, but I did want the days to end.
We should not be ashamed, embarrassed, or feel any less of woman and mother because of PPD. I am so glad that I met the mom on the flight, and I am glad that I shared my story with her and I hope that she is receiving help. We should all be able to enjoy our life and not let PPD and anxiety affect our quality of life. I hated that I felt that I had to hide how I was feeling around everyone, I put on a happy face, but was miserable inside. Once the doors closed and the people were gone, I crawled back into my dark hole. Share this with a mama to let her know that she is NOT alone!