My boys are now a year and a half and I’ve finished weaning off zoloft. I’ve been almost a month off and feel just fine. Sure I have bad days and tired days, everyone does, but I made it through the other side of PPMD.
I went to my monthly mothers of multiples club meeting tonight and there was a wonderful guest speaker who talked about postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) and postpartum depression (PPD).
I thought about the topic the whole way home and immediately jumped on our discussion board to write more about my experiences. I figured since I did all the typing already that I’d share my post here as well. Perhaps there’s some other new mom out there who could benefit from my story.
My boys were born at 38 weeks and didn’t spend any time in the NICU. I had a great pregnancy with no bed rest. I chose to be induced so I could deliver with my doctor before she was scheduled to go out on vacation and after a long labor including two hours of pushing I elected to have a c-section.
My recovery was rough.
My milk (understandably) had a delay coming in and during those first few days my boys lost so much weight, when we went in for our regular check up we were immediately checked in to pediatrics.
Then we discovered I had an infection in my incision and I was put on two different rounds of antibiotics (the first round didn’t work). I was so sleep deprived I hadn’t even noticed my skin was bright red (I mean who’s looking in the mirror at this point anyway) and the pain I just assumed was all normal recovery stuff.
Once we were out of the hospital and back at home I was on bed rest to finish recovering from my infection and to reserve as much energy as I could for healing and breastfeeding. I cried, A LOT, sure it was expected, I was a first time mom of twins. So that allowed me to overlook the crying.
I would never have said that I felt depressed but I was so fatigued I couldn’t even hold a baby while standing. Another week went by and luckily we had our family and friends in rotation helping at the house. They kept the chores going and I could focus on my boys and breastfeeding and pumping. (who’s with me on NOT missing those pumping days?)
When I reached the 5 week mark and I was still very fatigued no matter how much sleep I just had or how recently I had eaten I knew something was wrong. I was still crying at the drop of a hat and so I called up my regular physician and asked to come in for a physical. I described how I was feeling and she did a regular physical and blood draw to have all the levels checked (thyroid, estrogen, iron, vitamin-d, etc.). She also recommended that I find a therapist and start down that road too. I had my husband call the numbers to find someone to schedule an appointment with and I went the following week with the whole family – husband, myself and two babies in tow.
My blood levels came back as everything normal except the vitamin D. So I was given a prescription for a booster for that. My therapist asked if I was open to taking antidepressants. I’d never been on that kind of medication before and I was hesitant. I wasn’t against it, I just wasn’t educated on it and really I felt like I shouldn’t be the type of person who needed it.
I talked to my husband about how frustrating it was to have all these suggestions for solutions but not knowing which I should do to feel better. You know what his response was? You do them ALL, feel better and be thankful for it.
It was kind of comical.
I mean, for me, I didn’t care what the solution was, just that I would start feeling better. Sure I could have worked through things without a “boost” and been just fine, I could have experimented with herbal medicines and supplements and figured out the right combo, I could go to therapy three times a week until the fog started to clear. But I didn’t want to miss the first six months of my boys’ life trying to get my act together.
I ended up doing the vitamin D booster, took my multi-vitamins regularly, got outside every day, did weekly therapy appointments, took zoloft and it was remarkable how much better I felt. You don’t realize just how sleep deprived you are until you’re on the other side and getting sleep.
For me personally, the zoloft was the one thing I felt made the biggest difference. I went from feeling so fatigued and tired ALL the time to being able to manage on my own with the boys.
I was at the point I was anxious thinking about being alone with my babies – not because I was worried I’d hurt them but worried that I couldn’t take care of them. I mean what if I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t wake up to their crying and they cried all day until my husband got home from work?
Yep, that’s the mental state I was in.
Another thing that stuck out in my experience was the other physical symptoms I was having. I’d get dizzy spells, feel numbness in my elbows and pain in my right wrist. Most of that we chalked up to the sheer physical stress on your body of having twins. All the bending, twisting, turning and lifting of newborn twins and breastfeeding. Certainly that’s understandable right?
Well when I was given a survey in my paperwork at the therapist’s office do you know what was on the checklist for PPMD symptoms?
“Are you experiencing any of the following items:
numbness in your fingers or hands
tingling sensation in your arms or wrists”
I couldn’t believe it! This generic form had so many of the exact symptoms that I was experiencing. That was what convinced me my situation was definitely a chemical imbalance in my body. No amount of sleep was going to solve my problem (not that it would hurt).
Antidepressants is such a taboo topic. I think it’s been getting better but I don’t understand the people who are 100% against it and just wouldn’t ever even consider it for themselves. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to just deal with it and not take insulin and you don’t judge someone when they say they’ve started taking vitamin-d.
I knew that my brain was off and needed help getting back on track. So I went for it.
There is one thing I know for sure – if you aren’t feeling right then you deserve the opportunity to seek help. For some, help means calling a girlfriend, meeting regularly with a therapist, going to support groups, carving out “me” time, getting a physical done to check your vitamin levels and go on a regimen and / or choosing to take antidepressant medication. For many it’s a combination of the above plus other things.
There is no one right answer, nothing is black and white with PPMD. But the one thing that is? You deserve to feel as good as you can feel. You are worth the work it takes to get help, you are worth the effort to be fully present in your life. Staying silent about what you’re feeling is not the answer, speaking up does not mean you’ll end up in a mental institution. Please get the help you need to feel like yourself again.