Monday, September 18, 2017

Postpartum Depression Journey

I've been writing this post in my head for a while now. I feel like I wrote it perfectly in my head & now that I've sat down to type it my thoughts feel all jumbled. 

Let me preface this post by saying that I have been anxiety prone for most of my life. I was always told that I was a "worrier" or that I "worried too much." I truly didn't get why people would tell me that because it wasn't something I could control. Decisions didn't come easily to me; even simple decisions. I had a really hard time letting go of things & had a tendency to "obsess" over little things.

I started taking a small dose of anti-anxiety meds late high school - early college. They helped, but when I got pregnant with Kess I decided they weren't needed anymore. I wasn't depressed. I was perfectly happy. I had a good life, my husband was amazing & now we were about to start our family. What's not to love about that?

I felt anxious during pregnancy, but figured that was normal. I mean, my whole life was about to change. What pregnant woman wasn't anxious? Then when Kess was born the anxiety shot to a whole new level. I was truly nervous all.the.time. Everyone would look as us and say, "It's a special kind of love isn't it?" I remember smiling and thinking, "I love her, of course, but I'm mostly tired, afraid, clueless and did I say tired? Will I ever sleep again?" Time went on and I bonded with Kess and was truly in love. A few things got easier and they became our new normal, but I still felt mostly terrified.


At this point I was terrified I would lose her. I was so freaked out by how fragile she was & how easily I could hurt her. I was terrified that I would hurt her. Whether is be on accident or on purpose... I was truly scared. Then I thought how awful I must be if I was thinking about how easy it would be to hurt my own baby. Who thinks that? Moms with postpartum anxiety do. Then I was so scared that I would die or she would die. She would never know me, or know how how much I loved her. All of these thoughts were very intrusive. I felt like I couldn't stop them - which lead to even more anxiety which lead to depression. Something had to give. I started taking a an anti-depressant. Something that I wasn't thrilled about, but knew it would help. I needed the help. I needed to be a happy mom. I needed to feel normal, to feel sane. I slowly began to feel like myself again. After a few weeks I felt the nervousness lift and I felt like I could breathe again. Eventually I dropped to a lower dose and just felt like me. I was happy. Life is normal, regular and perfect. I eventually switched to some holistic methods and continued to feel great. 

When I got pregnant with Manning I started to feel some anxiousness come back. I'm sure this is all very normal, but I didn't ever want to feel that bad again, so I asked my doctor if I could go back on and stay on during my pregnancy. It was perfectly safe for Manning, so I decided to go for it. I felt really great during the pregnancy, no "prepartum anxiety"... until we started the process of applying for Matt's new job. Then I felt like my world was spinning. After dealing with anxiety for the last 20 some odd years I decided to take action; to not let this "happen" to me. I upped my dose and stayed there until about 4 weeks before Manning was due. My new doctor here in McCall was 100% supportive and so understanding when I told her my feelings and the route I wanted to take. We decided to wean off of the medication because it was better for Manning. I had heard that babies tend to be more fussy from withdrawals, when they weren't weaned before birth. I don't know if this is fact, but I wasn't about to mess with that. I had no issues. I felt great. Manning's labor and delivery was flawless. He was healthy, happy and just about the sweetest baby ever.


I bonded with Manning instantly, but about 5 days after Manning was born I could feel that cloud over my head again. I could feel all of those thoughts coming back. I was starting to feel that weight on my shoulders, to feel like I couldn't breathe. I was again so worried about something happening to him. He was so fragile, so defenseless, so tiny... I couldn't handle anything happening to him. Again with the intrusive, scary thoughts. When I took Manning in for on of his check ups I talked to my doctor (in McCall they have family doctors, so my OB is also Manning's and Kess' pediatrician) and she was beyond amazing. I told her that I felt like this was beyond "baby blues." I told her about my history with anxiety after Kess and what worked. I told her that I was nervous about just taking meds as a "blanket solution" and she was absolutely amazing. She praised me for even talking about it. She was so great and promised that this was normal. She said that taking medication isn't a "blanket solution", it comes with the territory of having a baby. I instantly felt better. It was a huge relief to feel understood and to know that I was going to get help that I needed. After talking it out I decided to give it another week to see if my hormones would level out. I didn't feel any better so my doctor called in a prescription and told me it would be ready for me. It was such a wonderful experience. 

Manning is now 4 months old and I can feel myself relaxing. I can feel my mind sorting things out. I use essential oils daily, which I believe help significantly. I have changed my diet a bit. We are striving to eat more whole foods, which I think is making a difference. Don't get me wrong, we have treats and soda from time to time, but overall we have shifted our diets for the better. I believe that experience has made this time around much easier. I know that things eventually get better, I know that I have control over my mental health and I know that I'm not totally nuts. 

I am starting to think about weaning off of the medication and doing all that I can to naturally take care of my mental health, but I wouldn't have started that way. I truly believe that my body needed that medication. When I was younger I hated the fact that my body/mind needed anti-anxiety/depression medication. Now I realize that I would rather be a happy wife/mom/woman that is "on" something, than be completely miserable without it. I believe that our Heavenly Father has provided so many options for us to take care of our bodies and our minds and we need to reap the benefits of that. 

In case anyone is struggling with the things that I was these are a few things that helped me...

This has always been one of my favorite conference talks and it rang even more true during this time of my life.


After having Manning I started "googling" which isn't always the best option but it was an answered prayer when I came across this article. It touched my heart, mind and soul. It provided so much relief. I truly love my babies beyond measure & this helped me see that I wasn't going crazy. My nervousness and thoughts were a symptom. Just a symptom. 


I also 100% recommend reaching out to your OB. It's the best choice that you can make. And if they don't help you in every way that you need - find a new OB. 

There is a big stigma when it comes to mental health. It makes me really sad to know that people aren't getting the help they need. Mental health issues are so very common, much more common that I had ever understood. I know that this little post won't make much of a difference when it comes to changing that stigma, but if any of my friend are struggling with it I hope that through this they know that they aren't alone. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It takes a lot for me to put my heart and soul on the internet, but for some reason I feel like I should. Thank you for your continues support and love. It doesn't go unnoticed. 





3 comments:

  1. Beautiful article Kierra! My journey has been very similar to yours and I'm sure there's a lot more women out there who can relate. I love anything that promotes a more open, understanding attitude of depression & anxiety. Good job!! ��

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    1. This is Robin, obviously, and not Neal! 😜

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    2. Thank you Robin!! I'm so sorry you had to deal with it. It's so difficult! I hope it helps someone out there!

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