Monday, March 12, 2012

The First Time Around

The first time around, I never saw it coming; at least not in the beginning. I had been worried about the pregnancy; it went great. I was told to expect Post Partum Depression; it didn't come. Or so I thought. I knew what to look for. The classic signs I had been told about were sadness, an inability to bond, fatigue, and crying for no reason. None of those were true in my situation. I loved being a mom. It came naturally, and I never questioned my abilities, or my love for my baby. It all seemed too good to be true.

Braeden was born in December. Since I didn't see any signs after the first few months, I let my guard down. There wasn't any reason to worry anymore. Nothing had come of the warnings. I was good to go. However, by October I was physically in pain. I couldn't explain the causes for my symptoms. I had frequent headaches on the crown of my head. I felt lumps and bumps in places they shouldn't be. I had serious heartburn issues that weren't able to be cured by medication. I went to the doctor several times for pain in the center of my chest. Not heart related, just like I had pulled a muscle that wouldn't heal. Nothing was wrong. I would stand in the shower and start to panic because I thought something must be seriously wrong and I couldn't imagine dying and leaving my baby behind. He deserved a mom. I couldn't sleep worrying about having cancer or something else that would leave Braeden without a mother. Christmas came, and though I didn't realize it at the time, I just didn't care. I love Christmas, but that year I didn't even really decorate. It didn't matter to me to get the house into the holiday spirit. I decorated the tree and took pictures of Braeden's first Christmas. I thought I was enjoying it. During the month of January, I was extremely anxious and restless. My body was constantly agitated and I felt out of control. I worried about taking Braeden anywhere because something bad could happen to us. I thought I was being protective. I still didn't think I had PPD because I didn't have the symptoms that I had heard about and it had been a year since he was born. So what was wrong with me???

By the beginning of February, I had lost 20 pounds because eating had become so painful due to the heartburn. At that point, a shooting occurred in a mall department store (not near me - I saw it on the news) and a switch flipped in my brain. I went from feeling anxious and jittery to completely out of control. I no longer felt like I could be in charge of my own actions. One night I was laying in bed with Braeden next to me (he was not a good sleeper in his own bed like my other two are), and thinking about how awful it would be if I got so out of control that I hurt him. That thought process was NOT OKAY with me. The next day, February 6, 2008, I made an appointment with the doctor to talk about depression. There was no way I was taking any chances with my life or Braeden's. Amazingly, they got me in that afternoon and the doctor was able to tell me how I felt without much input from me. I had no idea that anxiety and panic were classic signs of PPD. She prescribed Lexapro and then told me it would be fully effective in about a month. Come again?!?!!? I had to live like that for another month?? She recommended an out-patient, full day treatment program to take up my days for a while. I thought about it, but it wasn't a place for me. I had plenty of support from family to help me get through for 30 days. It was a relief to have finally figured out what was wrong and to be talking about it. My biggest fear at that point was, what if I never go back to the way I was? What if I have to spend the rest of my life on anti-depressants to be "normal"? I felt weak and defeated. During the months that followed, I learned just how strong I really am.


  1. Theresa,
    The bravery it took to share this is remarkable. I too suffered sever anxiety after the birth of my first child, though it didn't turn into full on panic until she was two. That was when Sept. 11th came along and shook whatever sense of security I had been clinging too. I can relate to nearly everything you said, from mysterious aches and pains to fear of all out terminal illness! I struggled TERRIBLY with guilt during that time. I wanted so desperately to BE PAST that point. For me it took a lot of soul searching and processing but I learned to recognize that the anxiety is a sign, it is a guidepost to help me when I start to stifle. Anxiety and I have made ammends, you might even say we became friends of a sort. After what I went through and came out of, I was so much more than I had been before, living a much more participatory existence.
    Thanks for sharing love. We'll have to talk about this in depth sometime over tea while the little people run around like crazies in the blissful sunshine that has graced this so-called winter!
    Have a great afternoon! Hugs!

    1. I look forward to it Sara! I have to agree with you that the whole experience has made me a different person, but living on this side of the anxiety is far easier than the other. Thanks for continuing to share about your experiences as well. I find it incredibly comforting to know that others have been there too and come out on top. ♥