How I Managed PPD And Why It Made Me A Better Person
Hi Everyone! It feels so good to be back on the blog. These past several months have been a whirlwind but I am happy to say that I am finally feeling like myself again and even more confident than before. If you are new here, my little boy Wyatt is 11 months old and I developed postpartum depression (PPD) within a few week of him being born. PPD was an experience I never considered or knew how to handle. It was one of the hardest and scariest thing for me to overcome. Now that I am finally over that hump, I wanted to share the ways I managed PPD and why my experience has truly made me a better person and a better mom.
Talking about it. At first, the hardest part was being honest about how terrible I truly felt. I didn't want to talk about the sadness or the frustration. I was embarrassed to be so happy about bringing a beautiful baby into the world while also feeling so stressed, tired, sad and depressed. As hard as it was, I finally opened up to my husband. He was extremely supportive and it was a relief to know that someone finally knew how I felt. By talking to him, he was aware of my emotions and the struggle I was experiencing. It also made us a better team. He knew what areas I needed help in and he checked in with me everyday about how I was feeling. I also opened up about my experience on social media and my blog. There were many times when I was surrounded by family and friends but still felt alone. I didn't want other moms to feel like that. I felt the best thing I could do was share my experience in hopes of helping someone else feel less alone and more empowered.
Therapy. I cannot express this enough. Talking to a therapist has helped me in more ways than I can count. If you are considering therapy, I highly recommend looking up therapists in your area, reading their bios and finding someone that matches your needs. I found someone that had experience in helping other mothers with PPD. This was really important to me. I wanted someone that could help me to understand PPD and guide me in the right direction towards recovery.
Medication. This was a scary topic for me. At first, I wanted to try and manage my PPD on my own without medication. But I got to the point where it didn't feel possible. I talked to my therapist about it and she refereed me to a Doctor that could prescribe me a medication to help with the depression and anxiety. It wasn't easy making that decision but I knew I needed help and I didn't want to miss out on the joys of being a mom to Wyatt. And let me tell you, I am so glad I made this decision. I still remember the first day I took it, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders because I finally felt like I had something else to help me through the struggles and I was no longer "on my own". If are considering this option, talk to your doctor about the different medication and dose options.
Cutting out alcohol. Before starting my medication, I was having a glass of wine almost every night and I continued doing so after starting my medication. The pharmacist advised me not to drink while taking the medication but I didn't think a glass of one was a big deal. WRONG. My mood was inconsistent. I was tired, irritable and really depressed some days. I decided to cut out alcohol cold turkey for about 3-4 weeks straight. It made a huge difference. Mixing alcohol with an antidepressant can cause side affects such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, etc. No wonder I was feeling off. I have continued to limit my alcohol intake to 1-2 glasses of wine per week. I am so much happier and I feel more in control of my mood and emotions.
Time. Unfortunately, PPD usually takes 1 year to subside. It's a matter of allowing your hormones to level after childbirth. When I was only 6 months into this process, waiting for that year mark felt like forever. I really had to be patient and take one day at a time. Wyatt is 11 months old, which means I am 1 month away from that year mark. It makes me emotional just thinking about how far I've come. This is a huge victory to me and I am truly proud of my progress. PPD does not happen to everyone, and just because you had it with one baby does not mean you will have it again.
Diet and exercise. I focused on low impact activities that I would enjoy. I took Wyatt on lots of walks. It helped to increase my endorphins and we both enjoyed getting outside into the fresh air. I focused on a cleaner diet in general. However, it didn't put any limitations on myself. I was already stressed and not feeling my best, and I didn't want to add any limitations to my life that I could potentially "fail" at. I continue to focus on being kind to myself and enjoying food.
What I have learned from this process. I am incredibly strong, and so are all the other mamas I know. Being a parent is extremely exhausting, time consuming and even frustrating at times. But it is also the best thing that has ever happened to me. When I look at Wyatt, I am overwhelmed with love. Being his mama brings me so much joy. I can honestly say that I am more confident and stronger than before experiencing PPD. I am capable of overcoming something that challenged me in every way every single day.
Thank you to all the mamas that reached out to me. Hearing your stories helped me realize I wasn't alone in this experience. And thank you to my wonderful husband for always loving and supporting me.