My experience with postpartum depression was very life changing. It happened about six months after my daughter was born and hit me like a ton of bricks. Thankfully, I have a tremendous support system that helped me get through it and get the help I needed. Here's my story.
During my fifth month of pregnancy, I stuggled with the decision as to whether I should go off of my anti depressants during my second trimester of pregnancy or not. Unfortunately, there is not a lot research about the effects of a mother using antidepressants during pregnancy to help with my decision. Like many decisions I have to make as a mother, this one required making the best decision I could without a lot of information and using my motherly intuition (I hate those decisions!!) AHHHH!! When seeking advice from other people, my doctor told me one thing, the pediatrician said another, and yet friends and family said "Don't worry, you will make the right decision!". ARGGG! Eventually, I came to the difficult decision to go off of the antidepressant during the second trimester.
Depression is something I have struggled with for most of my life. I know the signs and symptoms that I typically go through when the onset occurs. My family and friends are great at keeping an eye on me and keeping things positive overall. I have been on antidepressants before and although I would prefer not taking them, I would also prefer to be engaged in life and enjoy the wonderful gifts around me.
I went off the antidepressant in month six of pregnancy and everything was going well. I was doing everything I was supposed to do to take care of myself (exercise, therapy, healthy eating, etc.) and I was also enjoying the anticipation of having a baby with my amazing husband. Things were going very well during the remainder of my pregnancy (and even the first few months of life with my daughter) but then things started going down hill.
I'm not sure what triggered it but I started feeling "the blahs" for a few bad days and before I knew it, I was in full blown depression. Boy did it suck! I couldn't stop crying, had not energy, did not want to get out of bed, and was just miserable. I would feel guilty about being a miserable person to be around which just compounded the problem even more (not to mention the disconnect with my daughter and all the guilt associated with that!) Unless you've been through depression yourself, you can not understand the magnitude of difficulty to function in your daily life.
I began taking an antidepressant medication and expected to start feeling better within a few weeks, however, my problems did not seem any easier and getting out of bed was just as difficult. After going back to the doctor, I found out that I had a thyroid condition called hypothyroidism. Apparently, this is very common after childbirth and can cause many problems such as depression. I started a new medication to control my thyroid and began to feel more in control of my life after a few short weeks.
For me, life is a journey and learning from experiences is the only way to live life to the full extent. I try to not to feel sorry for myself when things like this occur and instead try to figure out how I can become stronger and better from that experience. Although this period of depression is something I never want to go through again, I learned a lot from it. I learned that I can not control everything. I am not super human and some things I have to turn over to my higher power (for me it is God). Letting go and also being an active participant in solving the problem can be very difficult balancing act. However, allowing God to take the reigns and take care of me as his child helped me to feel secure and confident that things would get better eventually. Difficult experiences like this one allow me to be a more empathetic, kinder, and more patient person.
Depression is a very difficult thing to go through, however, it brings out my sensitive and emotional side (which is a good thing!) Everyone deals with life's problems in a different way and no one deals with them in the best way possible all the time. If we didn't have sensitive, empathetic people in this world, our world would not be a nice place.
When dealing with difficult situations, the important thing is that we seek the help we need and make the best of the situation. As mother's, we are extremely resilient and strong and can get through most anything thrown our way!