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.