Jessica's Story

My parents both suffer from depression and take Prozac for it. My father is a recovering alcoholic and had a relapse back in November of 1997 with a drug called GHB. He overdosed and almost died. I had to call EMT and he was taken away to a hospital on a stretcher. Unfortunately, he and my mom were babysitting my son for the very FIRST time when this occurred. I needed help long before this (my son way born in May 1997), but hesitated to ask because I worried that no one could take care of him as well or that something BAD would happen when I wasn't there.

I did not feel depressed until after this incident. In fact, I felt elated when I first came home from the hospital! I was manic in behavior. I had to clean everything, would not shut up, could not sleep, ate very little, worried a lot, was easily irritated, etc. Then, after my father OD, when my son would cry, I would be angry. The bad thoughts were circling around in my head constantly.

I remember Dharma & Greg was on TV and I was sitting there watching this beautiful happy woman blow bubbles through the introduction sequence. I thought, as tears streamed endlessly down my cheeks, "Why does she get to be so happy and I don't? Is it because I'm so fat? Is it because I don't work? Why? Why? WHY?!?!"

That is when I thought about killing myself for the first time in my life. I felt my family deserved better. Then I thought about what a burden I would leave behind for my husband. By then, it was bedtime and I was laying in the dark next to him. I said, "Honey, I don't think I can take this anymore." He got mad. We had been arguing a lot lately. I said, "Never mind." and went numb. Then, I told him I had to get help. I told him about wanting to hurt myself in order to not hurt our child. I don't quite remember the conversation, but I remember he finally understood that it wasn't his fault and that something was very wrong with me.

The very next day, we went in to the doctor's office. I had to tell everyone how I felt about my beautiful, perfect angel baby boy. It was the most ashamed I have ever felt in my life! I did not think I had PPD because I was not initally depressed. I just thought I was a horrid, ugly, ungrateful witch who could not do anything correctly. I also knew that I had to be as honest as humanly possible, or there would be no hope for any chance at ever feeling good again. I told EVERYONE everything.

The doctor's office gave my husband a note to take to work and they gave him some time off. I took medication. I had EMDR therapy. I had family therapy. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism during this crisis, but do not know what my thyroid levels were at the time. I was given thyroid replacement along with the antidepressants. Fortunately, a primary care doctor knew to test my thyroid levels at the time.

I became pregnant again in 2000. I felt fine after my daughter was born. I became a PPD activist after I heard about the Yates tragedy, but was not having any PPD symptoms at the time. I became symptomatic shortly after starting a website and becoming proactive. In fact, I had set-up a meeting with my doctors to discuss reform/education about PPD, so they could treat women with PPD more effectively. Ironically, I had to be treated at the same time I was providing PPD information to them. I was about six months postpartum at the time.

My thyroid level was 12 times above the highest normal range at this time. I was taking thyroid medication, but it had to be tripled in strength before my levels were stabilized.

Jessica Banas

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