Good morning Peaches!
Today I want to bring more attention to postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. When I was newly pregnant, I read about postpartum depression and my doctor even talked to me about it but I didn’t give it much thought after that. I thought surely it wouldn’t happen to me and if it did, I would just be a little more weepy than usual in the weeks after my baby arrived. Little did I know, I would be struck with PPD and it would be WAY worse than just being tearful. It wouldn’t occur in the weeks following the birth of my baby but much later and it would happen TWICE in two totally different ways! PPD/PPA/PPODC is difficult as it is but not knowing what is actually going on makes it a thousand times worse. This is why I blog. 🙂
Here are some facts about postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD that would have helped me to know before I knew. Hopefully, this finds you at just the right time.
You Are More Likely To Experience PPD/PPA/PPOCD If You Have Struggled With Anxiety or Depression in the Past
When I was pregnant with Ryan, I didn’t think that I had gone through bouts of anxiety or depression before. This was silly because I struggled with eating disorders for years. Of course, there was depression and anxiety at the base of all that! Have you experienced bouts of depression and anxiety in the past? Have you struggled with eating disorders? Does alcoholism run in your family? If you answer yes to any of these, be on the lookout for symptoms post pregnancy.
PPD/PPA/PPOCD Does Not Always Strike Right After Having Your Baby
THIS would have been great for me to know beforehand. Because I seemed more than fine weeks even months after giving birth, I had no idea that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety when it struck! It can hit anytime in the first YEAR after giving birth. I had postpartum anxiety after both of my pregnancies. Both times I was fine until my babies were around seven months.
It’s NOT Just Being Extra Weepy.
I didn’t know what was happening because I wasn’t just sad… I was utterly terrified! I was overcome with feelings of sadness (depression), feelings of terror (anxiety), and for me, the thoughts and feelings centered around very specific thoughts (OCD). These feelings were intense and overwhelming and didn’t go away.
The Thoughts and Feelings Do Not Have To Center Around Your Baby
You would think that if you have gone through PPD once, you would be better prepared for it the second time around right? Wrong! Not when it comes at you in a totally new way! After Ryan was born, I was convinced that I was dying. I was having all of these crazy symptoms but when I went to the doctor nothing was wrong. Now I know that the symptoms were all from anxiety even though they were very real at the time. Anxiety causes real headaches, real knots in your neck and back, real stomach issues, real exhaustion. Anxiety attacks often times mimic heart attacks symptoms so of course, I thought something was wrong with me. But the only thing wrong with me was that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety.
After I had my daughter, my thoughts were not about myself, they were about my son who was four years old at the time. I was obsessed with terrible thoughts that something awful was going to happen to him. I kept thinking if this was postpartum anxiety, why was I not worried about me dying again or at least worried about the actual baby I just had! The answer is that you don’t get to pick. Obviously if you did you would pick not to suffer at all.
Oh! I almost forgot. It doesn’t always happen after the first baby either. It could strike in the second, third, or fourth even though the other pregnancies were perfectly fine!
It Is Very Important NOT To Isolate
Ugh. Isolating has always been my downfall. 😦 When you’re feeling crazy, the last thing you want to do is be crazy in front of others. It never failed, conversations always ended up in tears even if the discussion wasn’t anything deep. Then of course, when people see your tears they want to help… but, bless em, they can’t. The season of postpartum anxiety is a jumbled mess of tears, terror, and embarrassment. But take heart! It is just a season. This too shall pass. It will. But isolating will only make it worse and prolong it. When we are left alone with our thoughts, they gain more and more significance. Even though it may be embarrassing, I have found that the best thing to do is just be honest about what is going on. But even though it’s difficult to get out or even just be honest with your spouse, you must. The more you isolate, the more you lose touch with reality.
Your thoughts and feelings are not reality.
I know I tell you all to seek help a lot in this blog. It’s because it’s so important! If God wanted us to do things alone why would He give us doctors, medicine, therapists, hospitals, technology, and ALL the things that He has so graciously gifted us with! Don’t white knuckle it. I did not know what I was experiencing after my first pregnancy. Although the thoughts and feelings did ease up a bit in the years between my son and my daughter, they never went away completely because I never got help. I had given so much significance to the thoughts that I couldn’t let them go. Then when I had my daughter, the anxiety was way worse! I am so glad that I finally did seek therapy and you need to as well if you are going through this. You need to learn to sort your thoughts. and question the significance. If need be, you need medication to quiet your mind and bring you back into reality. There is nothing wrong with this. When our loved one is sick, we are thankful for doctors and medicine. When you are sick, be thankful for doctors and medicine.
I hope this helps some of you moms out there! If you are dealing with this, remember you are a great mom, you are not alone in your struggle, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.