First let me say although I never experienced it before PPD, depression, and anxiety run in my family to the extreme. My Grandfather and Uncle were both bipolar and both ended up committing suicide before I was born. My Aunt suffered from PPD and never got help other than self medicating her self and has suffered for over 38 years with many anxiety/depression issues. She currently is in a mental hospital. She is my reason for always knowing that mental illness left untreated destroys wonderful people. My sister suffered PPD with 2 pregnancies before me and I have another sister who is bipolar but very compliant on meds. I was raised by my mom and dad to know that mental illness can and is treatable and very dangerous if left untreated. This really helped me get help quickly with my own issues. With all of that being said here is my story.
I had a wonderful first pregnancy, healthy and complication free. When my daughter was 2 I decided to have another baby. I had so many complications it is hard to list them all. I suffered extreme morning sickness the entire 9 months, nothing relieved it. I threw up more than I thought was humanly possible. I also was put in a wheel chair in my fourth month due to an extreme softening of the ligament and joints.
At my 38th week I woke up in the middle of the night with my first ever extreme panic attack. My husband said I was like a race horse with nowhere to race. We wheeled and walked all night while I fought the demon of a panic attack. The next morning I was fine so I did nothing.
I went to my doctor 2 days later because I kept waking up with panic. I was severely dehydrated and she sent me to the hospital to be rehydrated and to be given a sleeping pill. I was good for about 2 more days and then one week before my due date I had to go to the hospital again to be rehydrated. They decided that night to induce labor the next morning because the dehydration wasn't good for the baby. I delivered complication free a beautiful and healthy baby boy.
I felt amazingly better even though my doctor wanted to put me on meds. I refused because I was breast feeding (or so I thought). Two nights after I brought my son home I had a horrible feeling about my husband leaving to go to the store. I was terrified to be alone in my house. That is when the worst started.
Within 5 days after delivering my son I was on a downward spiral of depression and anxiety. My mother was gone helping my sister who had her son 4 days after mine. I had no idea what was happening to me. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I couldn't sleep, eat, breath, or get the feeling of constant fear out of me.
I went to the doctor and they told me I needed an anti-depressant and I didn't want one because of the breast feeding and because I didn't think I was depressed. I continues to spin out of control and slide down that downward spiral. Finally my sister and mother called and told me I needed to go to a psychiatrist not the emergency room.
When I went the doctor was very concerned because I had lost 22 pounds in the 7 days after delivery. He convinced me and my husband to at least allow him to prescribe sleeping pills so I could try to sleep. They didn't work! He sent me to a therapist who also referred me to a support group for women suffering PPD. They helped but it didn't go away. Finally my mother was home and I went to her house so she could help me. I later found out she was very concerned for mine and my kids safety.
My husband worked 12 hour shifts. I kept trying to breast feed even though my anxiety had been so strong that it made my milk not come in. My son would try to eat every 20-30 minutes. My mother was very concerned and made me go to the pediatrician and have him weighed. He had lost almost a pound since delivery. I went into my mothers office and asked/begged her to call my psychiatrist and have him arrange to have me committed. She persuaded me to at least try medication before I went into a mental hospital. I had the doctor prescribe Paxil and began taking it 10 days post partum. I also gave up breast feeding as my milk supply was nonexistent.
My baby became a new happy and content little guy and gained weight! It took almost 3 weeks for my meds to start working. During this time I saw a therapist every other day and went to my PPD group once a week. I refused anti anxieties due to addiction problems in my family.It was the longest month of my life. I was detached from my baby and everyone. I never wanted to hold him. I could barely figure out how to breath. If I drove over a bridge I thought my car was going to go over the rail, if I walked past knives I thought they would cut me or my children. You name it it happened. By the grace of God I was able to take care of my children. I had a lot of help from friends, and family.
After about 3 weeks to the day on the meds I started feeling some relief. Not much but at least a small window of hope appeared. I was beginning to have moments of relief. The moments turned into hours and the hours turned into days. At about 2 months post partum I was feeling somewhat normal again.
I know many of you have suffered much longer and I actually thank God that the worst was behind me so quickly. However I also had my illness come on strong and quick. The physical symptoms of my anxiety were unbearable. I lacked motivation but within 2 months the anxiety was gone and I was able to bond with my son. I continued my therapy once a week for almost 12 months. I did a lot of work in therapy realizing a lot about myself. I know that I couldn't have prevented my illness but therapy really made me realize things about myself that weren't healthy. I was always a control freak, and a perfectionist. These aren't the best traits to mix in with PPD.
I am a Christian and PPD made me realize that I had no control over my life. It is all up to God. I clung to him and he led me though my journey. At 9 months post partum I decided to wean off of my meds. I did this with the realization that if it wasn't successful I would remain on them for life. It took me 3 months to be completely med free. I saw my therapist and it helped. By my sons 1st birthday I was off of meds and free of all symptoms. On occasion I would have a flash back of sort but I never had any real episodes of Anxiety/depression.
It took me almost another year to get used to living life after PPD. I didn't like to swim underwater because holding my breath made me recall not being able to breath. When I would get a cold I would have to remind myself that I had a cold and that was why I couldn't breath well. My therapist was very helpful with all of this. I saw her off and on until about 3 years ago.
By the time my son was 2 I was really able to live life again. I spent about a year just learning who I was after PPD. It was the hardest and actually one of the greatest challenges of my life. My husband and I learned a lot along the way. I hope hearing this helps.
Today I suffer from no signs of depression and anxiety. I had a panic attack once while under major stress at work but it was an isolated incidence. I became a Realtor when my son was 2. If I can be depression/anxiety free working such a stressful job I know God has actually cured me.