I had dealt with depression off and on throughout my life, but never like I have during this postpartum time.
Once I found out I was pregnant in August of 2014, I went off the antidepressant I was taking on the advice of my obgyn. We then found out we were having twins at our 12 week ultrasound! I had a few times where I felt down during my pregnancy, but felt it was best to just deal with it and I didn’t feel it was severe enough to go back on medication.
I had a healthy twin pregnancy and was induced at 38 weeks (which is considered full-term for twins) giving birth to two healthy baby boys. Little did I know how hormones and sleep deprivation were going to affect me in the months to come.
After stopping pumping/breastfeeding at the 6 month mark, I started feeling a TON of anxiety. Constant, niggling anxiety which just ballooned and made it hard to function. I felt depressed too, but the postpartum anxiety covered up my depression because it was so overwhelming. On the outside it showed up as anxiety (of course), irritability, lots of crying, physically being fidgety and tense and constantly telling those close to me how inadequate I felt.
If anyone knew the war that was being waged in my brain, they would have been amazed, because what was going on there was a million times worse than what was being shown on the outside. I felt like I was barely holding things together, and that any moment I was going to crack or explode and everything would just fall apart.
At the same time I was staying home mostly full-time with my twins and I continued to feel worse and worse. I was back on an anti-depressant, but it didn’t seem to be helping like it had in the past.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. At about 11 months postpartum, I saw a psychiatrist who was able to pinpoint what was going on. We started dealing with the anxiety first, and then uncovered the depression that had been going on all along. In my case they walked hand in hand and aggravated each other. The anxiety and depression I have dealt with since then has been so much worse than anything I have dealt with in the past.
15 months (today!) after delivering my twins I finally feel like I am on the slow road towards resolving some of my issues. I am so glad I am working with the physician I am, because it has been invaluable to find someone knowledgeable and caring, who gives me hope that I will feel ‘better’ one day.
I do feel like I fell through the cracks a bit… My OB’s office and my sons’ pediatrician’s office had me fill out surveys on PPD for the first six months, but not after that. Since I stopped pumping/breastfeeding after that point and my hormones REALLY started changing then, my more severe issues didn’t start until that point. I never felt like hurting my children or some of the other symptoms of PPD, but I did feel severely depressed and anxious. And just the other day I was reading that postpartum anxiety might be more prevalent than depression…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/postpartum-anxiety-might-be-even-more-common-than-ppd_us_57742e48e4b0cc0fa13661c0?
If I could say something to postpartum women experiencing any depression or anxiety: if you are feeling depressed or anxious, you don’t HAVE to feel this way. There are people who are willing to help you, and you are not alone. It is not ‘normal’ and you can be happy again. It may take a little bit to get things going, so don’t wait as long as I did to get help. Reach out to your primary care physician, your ob, or a psychiatrist. Don’t be afraid to tell that person how you are really feeling. Hormones and chemicals in your body do crazy things. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You will enjoy your baby. You will enjoy your life. You can be happy.
You will smile again.