WARNING: this post contains some TRIGGERING content.
Thank you & big love to my darlings who are suffering this horrible condition. Be good to yourself, you will find that little by little, you feel a little bit more like yourself. xo
I experienced prenatal anxiety when I was pregnant with my daughter Vivian. I recall giving my son a bath and it hit me, as it always does with a “What if…” (for me it pops into my head like a movie scene looping in my head) I imagined that both my husband and son were killed in a car crash. I was overcome with the grief of something that hadn’t even happened. I was filled with anxiety. Perhaps it was because I was now pregnant with my second child and I was feeling incredibly vulnerable.
Thankfully, my therapist helped me to navigate through these thoughts with useful tools, such as body scans and positive self-talk. While this helped and didn’t seem to plague me at all hours, I had a suspicion that my postpartum anxiety would rear its ugly head with a vengeance after my delivery. I tried my best to push that out of my mind, for now.
My daughter, Vivian was born on June 23, 2016. I was lucky to have experienced a VBAC but experienced a minor complication after her delivery. I lost about 3000ml (just on the cusp of needing a blood transfusion) due to a piece of placenta that was stuck on the uterine lining. Dr. Heather Edwards (yes, this is my name too!! The staff loved to tell me this often) saved my life.
As expected my postpartum anxiety symptoms arrived around day 3 after my daughter’s delivery. This time was a little different though, my postpartum anxiety took on the symptom of full blown, Rage.
My first born, Alexander had just turned two and for some reason, he triggered me. He would exercise his independence and I would lose my mind… it was alarming. I knew it wasn’t a normal reaction, I thought “WHOA!” Where did that come from? Why am I so angry? Is this my hormones? Is it postpartum? I would think maybe that was an anomaly, until it would happen again and again.
I hate to admit this, but I knew I was out of my mind becauseI would lose my mind, to the point of which, I wondered; “was I capable of laying a hand on him?” I was so scared. I was worried that one day, I might actually lose it that way. I lost faith in myself. BUT I knew that I needed help.
Note: It is hard for me to be this honest, but if anyone else is feeling the same, which I am sure there are, you are not alone, you need to get the help that you need and that you deserve right now!
Now, it didn’t help things, when my mom was present. She was and still is a major trigger for me. (She suffers from alcoholism – you can read my blog post: An Into: I am an ACOA for more info on that.) I believe a lot of the triggers I was experiencing came from the time that I was Alexander’s age. I often wonder if my mom would lose it on me at that age? I remember specifically screaming at Alexander to use his words (even though I knew full well he did not have the vocabulary yet to tell me what he needed) I remember as soon as I said it I felt like I remember this… I think this sounds like my mom… it was an Ah-ha moment for me.
Soon the intrusive thoughts visited me again, this time more disturbing then you can imagine. I am reluctant to share what they were about for now (I don’t think I am ready just yet), but it was to do with the babies and it was a form of child abuse. It would come in the form of “what if I did this to my babies?” I was horrified. A scene would play in my mind about my abusing my babies and I would cry and cry and scream how unfair this was. I was supposed to be a brand-new mom, enjoying her babies. Why the hell was I being plagued with these intrusive thoughts? What the fuck? More like it.
So, while this was going on, I was also starting to display manic behaviour. I had high energy between 2-4 weeks postpartum. I was baking muffins, cleaning the house, making meals… so what’s the problem you ask? I was staying up until 3am folding laundry… something is very wrong with that picture.
Thank ‘GOD/BUDDHA/SOURCE ENERGY’ (whomever you can relate too) my sister who works in mental health… I finally called her, bawling my eyes out, admitting that I thought I was experiencing postpartum anxiety again. She told me that she was waiting for my call. We discussed a plan and we were able to fast track me over to Rocky View to get a Psych assessment.
I was also encouraged to call up Families Matter (www.familiesmatter.ca) they have a postpartum mood disorder group therapy. I was on the list to begin in December.
I spoke with my GP and my therapist about everything that was going on and I was met with overwhelming support and understanding. I was so grateful.
My meeting g with the psychiatrist was terrible. Mamas, some people should just not be working in the industry that they have decided to work in. This person seemed to not hear my distress. I was bawling. Had to do all sorts of paperwork and testing… I told them the deepest darkest truth of what was going on and I didn’t know how to answer, when posed the question; Are the thoughts disrupting your day then? Well they are horribly disturbing, and I am accomplishing housework like a boss on zero hours of sleep… so I don’t know. I needed this person to help me and confirm to me that yes, that’s not normal. So, they said well, I’ll send the paper work to your GP. Just then this person’s beeper went off and immediately turned to use the phone as they rushed me out the door….
I felt like absolute shit about myself. I questioned everything that I was experiencing. Was I making a big deal out of nothing? I cried once I got into my car and thankfully called my sister, who suggested I speak with my GP directly as she could prescribe the medication that would help me through this challenging time.
My GP and I decided on Zoloft. She assured me that it would help to take the edge off of the intrusive thoughts… the bad news… it would take 4-6weeks to take effect… I couldn’t wait that long. I just wanted to be better. I was also scared to take the medicine. I was breastfeeding my daughter, I was a mess, but I didn’t think that I was going to survive the postpartum this time.
There is still so much stigma out there about taking medication for mental illness. It’s atrocious. There are times in our lives where we need the help of a drug. Our brains are working against us. It’s okay to take the medicine. It doesn’t mean you will have to be on it forever and maybe it does, but if it’s helping you reach your full potential, then I say: do it.
*Disclaimer – one thing to note is that it doesn’t take away the anxiety or depression symptoms completely, it helps to take the edge off*
It’s been an uphill battle trying to recover from postpartum a second time. Not only did I go through the anxiety, I also went through a deep depression. I grappled with hating myself. Feeling hopeless about my situation. Feeling like I was not a good mother and that my children deserved better. I had a LOW point in which I was sitting in the bath while the TV was on for my son and my little girl was hanging around. I had thoughts about not wanting to be here. my kids and everyone were better off without me here on earth. Now, I didn’t have a plan to take my own life, I just felt hopeless, like I was never going to get out of this. I knew that my kids need me, but I think that there was a part of me that abandoned myself. The work to be better as a mom and heal myself was too overwhelming. It felt TOO GODDAMN HARD. I just wanted to “give up” – Thankfully, I know well enough when my mind plays tricks on me like this. I called my mother-in-law and asked her to watch the kids and I headed off to a walk-in mental health clinic (woods homes – https://www.woodshomes.ca) You can just walk-in and see a counsellor. As it turned out, I wasn’t feeling suicidal, I just wanted someone to talk to. I needed an outlet that wasn’t my family or friends (because you know, I wouldn’t want to burden you that way!! Ha! EGO, You’re an asshole! Am I right?!)
So, we talked, and I felt better about life and I thought out a plan in which I discussed with my husband and over the course of the next few weeks, we were figuring this thing out. I was coming down off of PRISTIQ and onto another medication. The cause of the PRISTIQ failing (which I will write in another post) was because I was drinking over the holidays… AND don’t you know that drinking alcohol whilst on anti-depressants makes the medication less effective??? Well, I knew that, but I decided to ignore that… and BAM! I was hit hard with depression. I am proud to tell you that I have been sober for 29 days and I feel a HELL of a lot better!
So here we are now present time, my daughter is 19 months. I am coming off of my medication and starting a new one in the next 2 weeks. I still have moments of extreme anger right now because my brain / body is dependent on the PRISTIQ… I am working with my therapist – aggressively. My sister bought me the gift of a Course in the Ritual of Self-Care, created by Kori Leigh Hagel (http://www.korileigh.com/cultivate-wellness-8-week-telecourse/), I am doing my 9ROUND workouts, I am not drinking alcohol, I am asking for help when I need it, My husband has treated me to Nutri-Go (https://www.nutri-go.ca) so that I don’t have to worry about making meals Mon-Wed each week. I am taking my supplements… I watch self-help videos on YouTube, my favs are: Teal Swan: (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1KIUp4PNCyIwCPTq1hYzWQ)
& Ralph Smart: (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjt7bEwtlk6A6f_CiY2ZOlQ)
I still don’t feel like drinking water and I don’t like vegetables… It’s a work in progress for me!
The reason why I want to share my story with you, dear reader, is in the case that you or someone you know is going through postpartum anxiety or depression. This mama may not even know that she is suffering from anxiety or depression. You may have to ask her several times before she gives you a true answer. I know that I lied to many a person I cared about, telling them that I was fine, when really, I was a mess inside. There is shame attached to feeling depressed or anxious when you are a new mom. You think “I should be feeling happy and enjoying my baby right now, what is wrong with me?”
There is help available and please assure her that what she is going through is normal and that no one is going to take her baby away.
Below is a list of websites with some resources (some in the Calgary, AB area,) but please be sure to speak with your healthcare provider and or therapist if you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.
Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to read my post. Sending love and gratitude to you all xo
No make up, trying to smile, under-eye circles, this is the real deal.