It’s the strangest thing, really. I don’t remember much about my PPD experience anymore. I have fleeting flashes of things floating around in my head, like:

  • laying awake in the middle of the night on the couch with the baby, completely unable to sleep because of a cricket chirping noisily in the basement (if it wasn’t a cricket, though, it was something else). Watching the clock. And lots of Roseanne reruns.
  • a phone call during which I cried–no, wailed–to my mom that I wasn’t cut out to be a mother afterall. I couldn’t make my colicky baby stop crying. I frequently felt like a failure.
  • being angry with my husband, though I can no longer remember many of the specifics. It was usually over the chores or something.
  • being completely insanely freaked out that there were two little nodules on my baby’s neck (which his doctor said were harmless scalp nodes that would disappear) or that I would drop him. Or that he wasn’t getting enough milk. Or just that anything awful would happen to him if I glanced away. I remember crying on the phone to my dad that if something were to happen to Jax, I would die.

And that’s pretty much it. I’m sure my husband or mother could fill in the gaps if I asked. But I’m counting my lucky stars that it’s all becoming a blur, two years later. I don’t want to remember all the crying, the rage, the anxiety. I want to keep only the good memories, which, thankfully, are still there.

There were many factors leading to my recovery from PPD. First, I started to write letters to Jax in a notebook, focusing on the positives and not writing down any of the negatives (like the day he cried for 7 hours). I am grateful I wrote nearly every day for two reasons: First, I now can easily recall great memories from days that maybe weren’t the happiest–memories I may have forgotten otherwise. Second, it helped me focus on all the fun I actually was having with my new baby, the giggling, the outings, the cute little outfits. I still write letters to Jax in a notebook, though I’m lucky if I write twice per month because life with a toddler is busier than life with a newborn.

Then I started cognitive behavioral therapy around 3 months after giving birth, just before returning to work in November 2009, with a therapist who felt like a friend (she also had a baby boy, so that helped). I also read The Depression Cure that winter, which discussed nonpharmaceutical ways to help overcome depression. Krystal from Tie A Little Ribbon recommended it to me, and I’ll be forever grateful. As a result of the book, I started taking an omega 3 supplement and trying to get as much sunlight possible during the quick wintry days, even though it meant freezing my butt off outside with my little one.

In spring, I discovered the #PPDchat group on Twitter, via Heir to Blair. I saw her tweeting with the group one day, so feeling very curious I figured out what was going on. I lurked most weeks, but then once I saw what was happening–that these women were supporting and helping each other–I jumped in.

Summer came & I spent as much time outside as possible. Fortunately, Jax was happy to oblige and hang outside, too. In August, I read about the 30-Day Live a Better Life Challenge on The Personal Excellence Blog, and I took that challenge, which led me to blogging.

I consider September 23, 2010, to be the day I truly recovered. That’s the day I launched this blog, despite my paranoia and having no idea how to blog or what I’d say. Although I feel as if I turned the corner for good before then, it was publishing my first post that day that gave me hope, direction, a creative outlet, goals, and a virtual support group.

And here I am, nearly a year later, with a whole posse of women I call friends, with whom I chat online and through our blogs. I can barely remember those dark days in 2009 and early 2010.

So I wanted to tell any of you who are still working through your perinatal mood disorder this:

It will get better for you, too. In the meantime, reach out however you can. There’s a whole world of support out there. You just have to find what works for you.

 

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20 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I have been struggling with PPD since my second daughter’s birth in Feb this yr. I didn’t have this problem with my first, and it really makes me feel out of control. It’s not a good feeling. I am finding blogging theraputic as well, although at times I feel like locking out the world. vit D, mmore time outside, time in prayer and my hubby are helping. but it feels like it will never end. Sometimes I feel pained that people want me to ‘just snap out of it’. If I could, I would. This is not a pleasant feeling. Thank you for sharing hope that, this too shall pass. <3

    • Hi Jessica. I know the feeling of wanting to lock out the world. It’s ok if that’s what you need to do to cope on a bad day, but be careful about isolating yourself.
      And it will end. It WILL, I promise.

  2. AMen to that. You are an inspriation friend. I’m so glad that you are moving forward and are doing so much to help yourself.
    You rock

  3. I love this. I really do. I’m so happy for you, so happy that you are well. And we always need more hope in the world.

  4. What I love about reading your posts is that I learn and gain so much from what you say. (Love you sharing what helped you recover)Your space here is full of resources and value. And hope.This post is a reflection of everything I love about your blog. So happy for you. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  5. Thank you so much for this. Except now I’m having to wipe away tears in my cubicle at work. Thank you for talking about PPD.

  6. OOOH, you are doing so well, you are so inspiring, you are so sweet and lovely and amazing.

    AND: turns out that we started our blogs on the same day! I clicked publish on Sept. 23 2010 at 11:56pm $ minutes before my 39th birthday.
    Hello sister!

    • Hi Yael! Can’t believe we share a blogiversary! That’s awesome! We should link up somehow to celebrate on the big day!

  7. We’re in this together! #PPDchat

  8. I wish I had done that, writing everything positive down. The only memory I have of kiddos first year or two is the anger, sadness, and dark thoughts.
    This is a great post. Good for you!

    • Nicole, it’s not too late to start writing down the happies now. Do you have photographs from the past years? Maybe your family and friends can write little notes on the backs of the photographs for you? Or write in a notebook all their favorite memories from the first few years?

  9. You have come a long way. I’m glad you remember a lot more of the good times than the bad. You know, Donut was colicky too. I wonder how much that contributes.

  10. 9-23-10 is Sebastian’s birthday. :)

    I can relate to a lot of what you say in general, but not post-partum. Which is weird because I was SO SURE that I would be affected by PPD. I talked about it with my husband while I was pregnant. I have a really hard time with anxiety and it seemed like a given that I would struggle after giving birth.

    I do relate to that first point though, watching TV and wanting to sleep but being unable to. The first week with Sebastian was a panic. I was convinced that I would literally never sleep again and torn between feeling so much love and feeling like maybe I’d made a horrible mistake. Hopefully next time will be different as I will have the confidence to SLEEP and bed share and relax.

    I am so glad that you started blogging.

    • Hi Janine. Wow, now I will never forget Sebastian’s birthday. So pleased to share a special day with him!

      I think confidence is the key. I guess most parents of second babies agree it is so much easier the second time around because of the confidence gained after having one. Good point.

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