I was gardening while my little Roo slept the other day. Behind me, there is a mother bird diligently building her nest in the tree that is sheltered by my house. It struck me in that moment how we were two mothers maintaining our homes for our family. It has been a while since I felt a kinship with an animal. I feel really honored that she choose our garden for her nest. I look forward to seeing her and her chicks this spring.
I wonder if birds feel the postpartum depression that afflicts so many human mothers. I don’t remember if I struggled with it with Bear, but after I had Roo it was awful for me. It is something that we have to talk about more as a society. As mothers. The old school of thought was that women were happy with their newborn babies in their arms, and all was right with the world. But that is not always the case. I know that was not the case for me. Often Hollywood portrays motherhood as the crowning achievement as a woman and I want to scream when it is beat into my head. Like I’m a monster because sometimes motherhood isn’t the end all and be all of my life.
In February 2016 just 5 months after I had Roo, I was still in denial that I needed help. I was angry. Everything was making me angry. Husband’s presence irritated me. Bear’s presence irritated me. Roo’s non-stop dependence on me was irritating. I started lashing out. I started yelling. Yelling gave way to screaming. For me, my depression manifested in severe anger. Then the anger would give way into disappointment, resentment, sadness. Depression is such a complicated thing that if you haven’t experienced it, it is near impossible to understand.
I hated myself so much for the resentment I was feeling. I hated everything at the time. About the only thing that I didn’t feel 100% irritation with was Roo. Bear and Husband, on the other hand, I wanted almost nothing to do with, but I still had to pretend that I did. I would hate myself for getting angry with them when I knew there was no justification for lashing out the way that I was. When we went on our family vacation I still kept picking little fights with Husband. I did not enjoy much of the trip. I realized then that I needed help.
When I made my appointment in March 2016 with the psychologist I just assumed that all I needed to do would be to talk things out and after a few months of therapy I would be good to go. When I have sunken to depression before in my life that is how it went. That is not how it worked this time. Before I left my doctor consulted with my medical doctor (they were in the same building conveniently enough) and together they determined that I should be put on medication. I was shocked. Really shocked. I did not want to go onto meds. I didn’t think I was that “crazy”. Husband was not happy with the decision at first. We have witnessed in others that meds were not the right answer for their depression. We were both concerned that the meds would have an adverse effect on me as well. Still I trusted my doctor enough. I knew that where I was at was not getting any better. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying out the medicine.
So, we went with weekly appointments and Lexapro for my depression treatment. I was very surprised that in a relatively short amount of time my angry outbursts lessened. I was able to be a parent and wife again without the resentment and anger. I started enjoying my time around my family again. It was so nice to have myself back.
Now, I have been on the treatment for over a year now. I have recently changed my thearapy appointments to once a month instead of weekly appointments. I think that the next step will be to come off of my medication. I think it may be the right time because if I forget a day of my medicine it is not very noticeable like it was in the beginning or even 6 months ago. But that is a decision for me and my doctor to make together at my next appointment.
Postpartum depression is something that so many women feel guilty about, myself included. But it is important to seek help. It is not weakness to ask for the help. It is strength. I am asking if there is anyone that reads this that is going through the baby blues, you don’t have to struggle alone. Please. Please talk to your doctor to find the solution that is best for you so that you can thrive. If you are afraid of taking medication, you do not have to be. Like my doctor told me when I expressed my own concerns, “You don’t decline antibiotics when you’re sick. You don’t decline pain medication when you break your leg. It is the same thing with depression like this.” Help is out there.