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.