It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. I meant to write this post earlier in the month, but better late than never I suppose.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety when Lily was 4 months old.
It all began with the thoughts of being inadequate. I felt like I was doing the mom thing wrong – Lily wasn’t sleeping well (Thanks, 4-month sleep regression). I sucked at getting any science done. I was a bad wife – the house was a mess, and meal planning was non-existent. Then came the tears. I cried every morning after getting up. I cried while getting ready. I cried after dropping Lily off at daycare in the privacy of my car. I cried while going to sleep for fear of repeating it all the next day.
But I was in denial that something was wrong. It didn’t matter how many times my husband tried to comfort me, support me, and tell me how great I was doing. I still felt like a failure. I still feared each coming day. I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings.
Then at Lily’s four-month well baby visit, I failed my postpartum depression screening. I broke down in tears in the pediatric office with the sweetest pediatrician ever. She hugged me, talked with me, and told me to contact my OB for some help.
I dreaded making that call. What would they say or think of me? I considered not doing anything, pretending it wasn’t a problem. RJ wouldn’t let me. I needed to get some help for myself and for Lily. It wasn’t healthy for me, and it wasn’t safe for us.
So I scheduled a visit to my OB’s office, and received my diagnosis of postpartum depression.
In some ways, it was a blessing. There was a reason for all my feelings of inadequacy. But in other ways, it served to push me further into depression. I was broken, and now it was official. The anti-depressant prescription was on my fridge for a few weeks. The sign of my mental health issues on display for all to see.
I hated trying to get better. But after a few weeks of a new sleep routine for our family, a supplement plan for me, and therapeutic writing when I’m in a bad place, I realized that I hadn’t cried in a week. Then it was two weeks. Then I couldn’t recall the last time I cried on the bathroom floor while getting ready in the morning.
I’m still on my supplement plan, but my OB cleared me at my follow-up appointment. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. The day of my committee meeting was one of those, but that’s a story for another day.
So for all of you struggling with postpartum depression or mental illness, you are not alone. You are stronger for it. I know I am.