Whenever I start helping a new mom, the first thing she tells me is that she doesn't know how to ask for help. She's afraid to ask for help. Her partner doesn't understand and a doctor probably won't either. So she stays quiet. She thinks those thoughts and feelings are shameful and should be kept to herself and she needs to accept this as her new life. She can never go back to the person she was.
I am calling bullshit.
If you were once a happy person, enjoyed life, found pleasures in the simple things, or were able to leave your house, you can be that person again. It is not impossible. And shame on anyone in your life that would make you think you can't be that person again. Shame on anyone that makes you think nothing is wrong. Shame on them for not being there for you when you needed them the most.
After I hear this heartbreaking new reality for these new moms, the next thing I tell them is this: admitting something is wrong is the hardest part of getting better.
Admitting to myself was the worst. I cried every day. I dreaded Hubs leaving me home alone, even if it was only for a few minutes. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't going to have postpartum anything; I was fine. But around week 5 I knew this wasn't going to pass and was in fact, only going to get worse. Thankfully, my postpartum check up was right around the corner. (PS - if you think you are suffering, you DO NOT need to wait for this appointment. If you are one week postpartum, you can call. If you are 2 days postpartum, call and make the appointment). I feel so lucky that I only suffered for 6 weeks before finding the strength to ask for help. And my help wasn't even gifted to me through asking, but by my lack of ability to hold my shit together when my doctor cheerfully asked me how I was doing at my postpartum checkup and bursting into uncontrollable tears so horrible a nurse had to come take my daughter from the room because I couldn't hold her.
So I awkwardly laid there at my postpartum checkup while my doctor examined how I was healing as she explained she knew exactly how I was feeling and knew what I needed to feel better. She was going to write me a prescription for Prozac. Ya'll, I have never filled a prescription for something so fast in my life. I needed those pills. I had reached a point of desperation and anguish that I needed it to go away and go away NOW! I knew it would take almost a whole month to build up in my system to fulling start working, but after just a few days I started only crying once a day instead of all day, so I knew they were working. But then a mysterious rash started on my back and abdomen and was diagnosed with hives. I was allergic to fucking Prozac! My doctor then prescribed me Wellbutrin. The pharmacy told me it would take four days to get the medication in. I couldn't handle it. I was unmedicated, allergic to the one thing that gave me relief in almost 2 months and now I can't even get Option B. I called my nurse crying. My nurse, whose name was Jackie and I will never forget how absolutely amazing this woman was, called the pharmacy and miraculously they were able to fill it for me same day. (There is a special place in heaven for Jackie). After a week of the new medication, I didn't feel any better. In fact, I felt worse. I went back yet again to my doctor. I was miserable. She admitted she had been thinking about me since my last appointment and didn't think I was allergic to Prozac. Well hallelujah. Apparently my rash was something that most often occurred in postpartum women, but typically right after birth and not almost 2 months later. Go figure. So I was back on the Prozac. Things started to get better.
But why couldn't you just go to therapy?
I will tell you why. I was not just depressed. I had postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. I wasn't 'just sad.' I feared things I had never feared before and in irrational volumes. I thought things I knew I shouldn't be thinking, and that made me fear doing much of anything. If I was driving the car with my daughter in the backseat, I would wonder what would happen if I just didn't stop at a stoplight, or didn't turn the wheel when the road turned.....I would be holding P and vividly see myself dropping her, or leaving her outside strapped in her carseat on the back step (in negative temperatures). I didn't think I would actually do these things, but how could I possibly know that? I never hurt P or myself, but those thoughts were scary and I was afraid for the one day I wasn't able to control them. I honestly believe that help came just in time.
Medication saved my life and it saved my babies life. I don't know what this disease could have done to me if I hadn't been able to admit, seek and begin treatment. I could have hurt others. I would have hurt others. I'm sure of it. My treatment was not easy. It can't always be a walk in the park. It's really hard. There are bumps in the road that are sometimes so huge you don't even want to attempt to get over them. But eventually it levels out and you get to live your life again.
Just when I thought I was better, I fell low again and needed medication to bring me back up. This time, I did need therapy too, which helped immensely, but I needed something to help control the emotions and irrational actions. We're trying this again, Hubs and I, and hoping for a full recovery. There are only a few pills left in the bottle I haven't touched in almost a month now. I hope I never need them again, but I can't be ashamed to admit when I'm wrong and when I need help. Admitting will always the hardest, but the outcome is so incredibly worth it. How could you possibly know how great your life can really be if you don't give yourself a chance? You're worth being the best you for you. Don't forget that.