My Experience With Postpartum Depression: Part 2

In yesterday's post, I detailed my experience with postpartum depression after my first child, Joshua was born. This post is dedicated to my very different experience after Felicity was born two years later. 

During my pregnancy with Felicity, I felt a little bit of trepidation (and I know my husband did as well!) about what was to come after our daughter was born. I was so worried the irrational rage I felt during my first postpartum experience would come back to taint our lives once again. I prepared as much as I could to make sure my stress would be lessened after bringing our baby home–stocking our freezer with easy meals, nesting like crazy, and writing and scheduling tons of blog posts (for my first blog, which was a full-time job during this stage of my life).

Felicity was born, and I felt like I held my breath for the first month of her life. PMD had hid me like a ton of bricks about 4 weeks after Joshua was born, and so I honestly felt like a ticking time bomb as we crept closer and closer to the close of Felicity's first month of life. To my surprise, the month mark came and went, followed by the second, third, fourth, and fifth. By then, I let go of the worry I had been clinging to. I figured if PMD hadn't come to visit by this time, it wasn't going to. 

Around the time Felicity was 6 months old, we had been happily settled in a new rental home for about 3 months. My blog was doing well, my kids were healthy, my husband was happy at his new job. Everything felt perfect! Imagine my shock when seemingly out of nowhere, I started to experience symptoms of anxiety. I had never dealt with anxiety in my life!

Because my baby was 6 months old, I once again didn't think to tie this change in my moods and behavior to postpartum depression. I had NO idea late onset postpartum mood disorder was a thing!  I had no idea women may not experience any symptoms of PMD until past their babies sixth month of life. Once again, what I was dealing with was different and far less common than what the majority of women dealing with PMD experienced, and once again no one was talking about it. 

The new job Dustin had started had him working nights, and thanks to my incredibly lovely new symptoms of anxiety, I used to lie awake for hours at night, my chest tight, my breathing shallow, imagining dozens of different scenarios in which me and my two young children wound up dead. My mind would be in such a state of irrational panic that my body would physically shut down. I couldn't move. I felt literally paralyzed. Some nights (rare ones, because thankfully she was a good sleeper), Felicity would wake up crying, and I literally could not make my body move to go to her. That was always a fun guilt trip on top of the crippling anxiety.

My anxiety was so severe that even the smallest decisions seemed impossible to make. I vividly remember one night that Dustin had off of work, feeling too stressed out and tired to cook dinner, I suggested Dustin pick something up. He asked me where he should go. That familiar feeling of panic settled upon me and I sat motionless on the couch for half an hour trying to make a decision. I felt such anxiety over making the wrong choice of where to get our dinner (what if it wasn't cooked well? What if we didn't enjoy it and it was a waste of money? Our budget was tight as it was–shouldn't I just whip something up? But then I'd have to do dishes, and that was additional stress...) that I started to break down. When Joshua, just shy of three at the time came over to me complaining that he was hungry, I lost it and just started sobbing.

That was when I knew for certain that something was very wrong with me. The irony, however, is that despite my wanting to get help, my anxiety prevented me from making a decision about how to help myself. I figured medication would probably be the quickest, easiest, and least expensive route, however once I started researching anxiety medication and the long list of potential side effects, I felt too panicked and anxious about what could go wrong there that I never called my doctor.

When I realized my anxiety over taking anti-anxiety medication (seriously, the irony!!) was too great, I began to research therapists in our area. Our insurance wouldn't cover a visit, so it would have to come out of pocket. I mentioned our budget was pretty tight–this once again kicked my anxiety and my guilt into overdrive. How could I spend our money on therapy when therapy usually takes weeks, even months of visits to manifest any real change? What if I didn't jive with the therapist I chose, and we wasted several appointments and several hundred dollars trying to find the right person? We didn't have that kind of money.

As with my experience with Joshua, I suffered through and again, my hormones eventually tapered off. The anxiety left slowly. Little by little, the panic attacks became fewer and farther between, and I again became a normally functioning human being. This happened just a few months after Felicity's first birthday, which was shortly after I was hired to work at The Baby Cubby. I truly attribute my current job to saving my sanity in part, and I really believe God led me to getting a job there, for more reasons than one.

If you are experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, or rage, PLEASE don't keep it to yourself. Please don't be like me. Things like finances will work themselves out in the end. Your emotional well-being may not if you don't do something to help yourself cope. You deserve to have joy in your mothering experience and not have the beautiful adventure of motherhood clouded with anxiety, anger, or grief.

Part three, the final chapter of my postpartum depression journey is coming tomorrow, including what I finally did to find the healing I so desperately needed in what ended up being the most difficult of all three of my go-arounds with PMD.

Have you ever experienced postpartum anxiety? What was that like for you?

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