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 Post subject: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:49 am 
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Not a creepy cheese pocket person
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This is something we don't really talk about as a society, and there's not a Playground thread yet.

Anyone else struggling/struggled with this? What made you realize there was a problem? What helps/doesn't help? How helpful was your medical team? Was it something you felt like you could talk about with people?

I finally felt like I was getting a handle on life after returning to work, and then last week everything fell apart. On Monday the whole family got sick, and our tenuous grasp on household chores fell apart. Tuesday night ended with a stressful visit to the emergency clinic for my husband. When I returned to work on Thursday after two days unpaid sick leave, I found out our department is getting reorganized in a way that's going to mean a lot more work for everyone. And my grandfather died on Thursday. And then there was the bottle mix-up at daycare. On Saturday I realized I wouldn't be able to attend my grandfather's funeral because of money/time/work/logistics. And then on Saturday afternoon, as I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the grocery store eating cookie dough with a spoon, someone hit my car and sped off. The car and I are fine (or fine enough), but it shook my faith in humanity.

But on the plus side, my endo called my ob on my behalf and set up a follow up appointment for me. And my endo basically told me to put diabetes care on the back burner for a few months and work on feeling better in other areas instead. I talked to my husband about the split of household chores and we switched some things around. I've decided to drop the overnight pumping session. I think not having slept through the night for over a year is really taking a toll. And I'm going to make a big effort to switch from doing my chores in the evening to doing them in the morning so they're not hanging over my head when I get home from work. And it's only Tuesday, but nothing disastrous has happened this week, so that's nice.


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:34 pm 
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Married to the wolfman
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MJ, sorry to hear you are having a hard time with, well, everything. (And a belated note, I'm super sorry I missed you while I was in Austin! It would have been a lot of fun to meet up!)

This is sort of an infodump because I have a lot to say on the subject but not a lot of time to organize it...

I had PPD with my first kid, and it did suck. It's funny because at the time, I wasn't sure if how I felt was that abnormal or if that's how people always feel after pregnancy/with a newborn. But looking back on it now (having had a second kid and not had PPD again despite actually having more risk factors) it was definitely not normal.

There were, I guess, a lot of hints that I should have gotten help sooner than I did (around 8 months PP). Like, at one point, I went for a walk to the grocery store by myself, and I decided to try calling my sister. The deal I made with myself was that if she picked up, I would talk to her and then I would go home; if she didn't pick up, I would get on the bus that picked up outside the grocery store and just leave town forever. I was dead serious and at the time did not see anything unusual about this. (She did pick up.)

What actually got me to go get help was listening to someone else at a new parents group. Everyone was pretty much like, you sound like you have textbook PPD to her. And I was sitting there silently thinking, holy shiitake, you sound like you're in exactly the same place I'm in. I guess this isn't normal after all!

My OB's office was helpful to me once I got past my OB's PA. The PA pretty much called me on the phone and said "it's not PPD because you're 8 months postpartum." Frankly this was bullshit-- PPD by definition can start any time in the first year postpartum to "count" and mine had started almost immediately after birth, I just didn't do anything about it-- but it was crushing to hear at the time. Luckily some part of me was able to realize this made no sense and I pursued the issue.

It was (and continues to be, even all this time later) extremely difficult for me to talk about. My mother-in-law also had PPD with her first and my mother had it with I think 3 out of her 5 kids; and the most we've ever talked about it (and I am close with both of them) is basically that

One of the reasons I really hesitate to talk about the specifics is that I found almost everything hit me way too hard when I was in the midst of PPD (like, I couldn't listen to NPR, because I would go out of my forking skull with anxiety listening to news stories about, you know, nothing even remotely relevant to my life) and I'd hate to post something grim that forked someone else up, if you see what I'm saying.

What eventually worked for me was a low dosage of zoloft for a few months. This seemed so strange to me at the time, because I took psych meds a lot when I was younger and never felt like they helped me at all; and yet as resistant as I was to the zoloft, it was really a magic bullet for me. And I went to a weekly PPD group that I also felt like helped me keep it together in the moment, and was supportive and non-judgy in a way I wouldn't describe most new parents I've met.

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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:02 pm 
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Saggy Butt
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I'm sorry you're dealing with this. It sounds like a lot to deal with right now, even if you didn't have a newborn. Warning, long post!

I had PPA (but no PPD) after Sven was born. I was so worried about PPD before giving birth since I have a family history of depression, but in actuality I was so in love and so happy that I was petrified that something was going to destroy it. I was terrified of our house being broken into and I made us get a security system, upgraded all our deadbolts and added additional security locks, and got a bunch of security lights for the outside of the house. I was plagued by images of him dying in all sorts of horrible (and, honestly, ridiculous) ways, or images of me dying or being kidnapped and leaving him alone. I always had to turn the car on first before loading him in, because I worried that if I was kidnapped before I made it to the drivers' side he would be left in the car and die with no AC on. I couldn't sleep because I would just lay there and ruminate on all my terrible thoughts, and at least if I was awake I knew Sven was ok.

I'm not quite sure when I realized that it was abnormal, since I was freaked out to tell people how crazy I felt, and everyone dismissively tells you that all new parents worry too much about their babies anyways, but the postpartum group at the birth center was pretty instrumental in helping me figure out that I was experiencing anxious, ruminating thoughts that were out of the ordinary. (The midwife who did my 6-week check was actually incredibly unhelpful and totally dismissive of my concerns that things were undiagnosed for a long time after that.) By the time I figured out that it was a problem I could be proactive about and get a handle on (around 8-9 months or so) the worst had started to pass and my hormones leveled out and I managed to deal with it by doing my own research, doing meditation and mindfulness exercises, and being open with my husband about how I was feeling and needing more support. A book that was really helpful for me was "Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts" by Kleiman and Wenzel. It's kind of expensive -- I only got it for my Kindle, otherwise I'd give it to you. There's also "The Pregnancy and Post-Partum Anxiety Workbook" that a friend with PPA used and liked.

After Edie I felt pretty confident in heading off the anxiety and it never really resurfaced. However, I got PPD and was dumb enough to not even realize it until a month ago (9 months). In addition to feeling generally exhausted and quick to anger or despair, I also felt like I was teetering on the edge of breaking down a lot of the time. I had a really hard time bonding with her from birth, but I assumed it was because I was dividing my attention between two children and didn't have the one-on-one time like I did when Sven was a baby. My midwife was really, really helpful immediately postpartum, but after a while I sort of thought I was just feeling normal for having a baby that never slept and stopped mentioning it.

For a long time I was positive that I had made the biggest mistake in the world and we definitely should not have had another baby. I resented her because I missed it being just the three of us, I resented her because she had colic and has always been a terrible sleeper, I resented her because Sven's behavior was so much more difficult once she was in the picture, I resented her because babies are hard and needy and I missed all the freedom I had been enjoying with a toddler. I also was jealous and resentful of my friends that had second babies and seemed to be doing so much better than me, and I was resentful of my friends with one child who 'dared' to complain about having a hard time.

I started to realize that this was a ridiculous and problematic way to think and I spent a few weeks really trying to figure out if I had PPD or if I was just exhausted -- I had always told myself, "It'll get better when she's out of the fourth trimester/it'll get better when she get through this growth spurt/it'll get better when she's sleeping better," etc. And I just eventually realized that I was kidding myself and I couldn't keep pushing back my chance to be a happier and better parent, partner, friend, and that it wasn't fair to my kids and other people in my life to do that either. So one day last month I just called the doctor, said that I'm pretty sure I have PPD, and I need an appointment ASAP, got on Zoloft, and a week later I realized that I was an idiot, I had been totally depressed, and I was feeling SO much better already -- more resilient, more easygoing and adaptable, and all of a sudden I was flooded with the ridiculous, overwhelming, all-encompassing love for her that I had expected but had been missing for so long. And she still doesn't sleep but miraculously I'm just okay with it now.

tl;dr I'm pro-medication and I think it's worth a shot if you're not feeling like you want to be feeling!


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:03 pm 
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Not a creepy cheese pocket person
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Yes. I haven't listened to the news in forever. Car trips are now for listening to Harry Potter (but only the first couple books because then they get too stressful), other children's books, and non-graphic mysteries.

Also, I think I made things sound situational above. But there's been plenty of non-specific anxiety, crying for no reason, and just a general feeling that I can't cope on good weeks, too. Last week just pushed me over the edge, and I lost the few good self-care measures I'd established (small amount of exercise, planned healthy meals, routines.)

And it's a huge relief to say all this to someone other than my husband or doctors.


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:07 pm 
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Saggy Butt
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Oh, and after reading C&S's post I wanted to chime in that I had to cut myself off all news/NPR/gritty TV dramas for a year or so after each baby (still on my media fast). I also aggressively filter Facebook. I feel kind of guilty being the last person on the planet to know what ISIS is or whatever but truthfully I wouldn't be able to pull myself together if I let myself think about all the awful things going on in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:51 pm 
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Seagull of the PPK
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hang in there mollyjade.
C&S i did something very much like your bus thing. And I tried so hard to power through everything that it all didn't hit me til the girls were about 8 months. Then the walls fell, and it was just impossible-- just like you say mollyjade, crying for no reason, feeling hopeless. I was back at work, and I couldn't keep up with it all. Mostly the stress involved with my daughter's medical care and coordination (we had a nurse who had to come to our house or I couldn't go to work, and every day was anguishing because different nurses would come, or not, I had an hour long commute, and I was teaching, so I couldn't just work from home or bring the kids).... but the constant feeling of looming disaster and everything being out of control and no possible positive ending in sight was just soul crushing.
I finally talked to my midwife, who put me into an in-and-outpatient program called the day hospital for PPD, and it helped me so much. There were med nurses and therapists and support. After that I did all sorts of things, anger management, couples therapy (after the day hospital my husband and I decided to split up, then we got back together again and had to do therapy), meds, talk therapy, I would have done almost anything. Eventually things got better.

I want to tell you, no matter what they call it, you have the right to feel exhausted, frustrated, and upset. This shiitake is really, really hard. Babies are so amazingly difficult and it seems like everywhere I looked were people with little angel babies while mine were constantly screaming like little banshees. The best part of the whole day hospital program was shlepping the girls there and the medical equipment and milk soaking through my shirt and the kid turning purple and me crying and having the nurses say "you know, I would cry too". This shiitake you're describing falling on you is HARD. Not sleeping for a year is HARD. It is torture, literally. Having to keep so many plates in the air and be responsible for little helpless people is HARD. You deserve whatever help you can get to be able to keep on moving.

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I'm just a drunk who likes fruit. -- Desdemona


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Should Write a Goddam Book Already
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Ugh, mollyjade, that is a LOT at once. I can't remember if I was actually diagnosed with PPD, but I had pretty bad "baby blues" after my first kid was born. I knew something was really wrong when I just felt incapable of eating and couldn't sleep at night. Zoloft and weekly talk therapy with a fantastic family therapist helped immensely.

And yeah, like C&S, I realized how what I experienced the first time around was not normal after my twins were born. Yes, my life was very very hectic with a 2 year old and newborn twins, but I felt much better and not as out-of-control as I did the first time.

I still avoid the news almost 4 years after the birth of my first.


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:54 pm 
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***LIES!!!***
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Big hugs, mollyjade.

I just typed up this whole thing, but then it made me sad. So I'll just say - yes, birthing PTSD and PPD here.

My medical team was useless.
I knew things were bad when I kept scoring high on those PPD warning tests, plus had intrusive thoughts of wanting to take back my daughter's existence or wanting her to disappear and fearing that I would somehow make her disappear.
A therapist who did EMDR was priceless.
The therapist giving me permission to do less (including giving up my breastfeeding attempts) was huge.
My husband being primary caretaker and baby expert was super helpful. It was never all on me. I was totally and utterly supported. My in-laws were also hugely supportive.
Going to work was so important to me. Last area where I had some semblance of control and sense of accomplishment, only place where I didn't regret every life choice I had made.
Eventually I talked myself into doing one nice thing for myself a day. I felt so powerful and accomplished when I could do that.


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 Post subject: Re: postpartum depression and anxiety
PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:15 pm 
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Chip Strong
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I'm so sorry you're suffering, mj. And sorry for everyone who hasn't gotten help from their care provider. I can't imagine trying to convince someone who came to me for help that they didn't actually need it! I think if you don't feel like yourself and are describing how you're feeling as struggling, then you should trust that. Like others have said, a low dose of Zoloft and/or counseling can be life changing tools, and the need is usually temporary.

My perspective as someone who was lucky enough to not go through this (and luck is what it is, not anything you and I did differently) is that yeah, I was tired when I had a young baby, and it was hard, but I was essentially my usual self and never felt hopeless or scared. Anything less than that would not have been "normal" or acceptable. I really wish typical postpartum care included much more than a 6 week visit!


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