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But I'm not Depressed
I have often been asked the same few questions since I gave birth to HJ: Are you experiencing prolonged sadness? Are you having unsafe thoughts? Do you feel sad more than you are happy?
As an educated person and as someone who read my copy of “What to Expect when You’re Expecting”, I knew these health professionals were making sure I wasn’t experiencing Postpartum Depression. I wasn’t depressed. So, I answered the questions by mostly shrugging them off and said “Nope. I’m good.” Every time.
I didn’t even give any thought to it. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t having thoughts of doing unspeakable things to my precious babies. I figured that whole thing must have just passed me over. I wasn’t depressed.
Fast forward to just three months ago. I was sitting with two of my girlfriends chatting away while our kids played around us. Fueled by the sleep deprivation brought on by B, the baby dictator, and the constant stress of parenting two small children who always seem to find every sharp object and expensive item in the house, I was being honest. Like the super kind of honest that can only come about when you just can’t possibly give another eff.
I said, “I wished I could always feel the way I feel after two drinks. Not drunk, not even buzzed, but just able to relax.”
The truth was, I couldn’t relax. Ever.
My girlfriends, recognizing that something was off, pressed me further and asked me to elaborate. So I went on. I told them about how I was constantly worried about the judgement of others over my parenting choices. I told them how I seem to always have to jump out of bed every night to check the locks for a second or third time. I told them about how my mind never stopped going over all of the things I was doing wrong as a parent. I told them about how I white knuckle the steering wheel every time I drive the kids to see their grandparents in Kansas City or Topeka because I am sure that we’ll blow a tire, hit a deer, or crash in some fiery head-on collision. I even told them about how I was still having vivid images of what could have happened to HJ had she fallen from our top story balcony on our vacation that was over a year ago. A YEAR AGO.
As good friends do, they gently told me that it sounded like I was experiencing some high anxiety which was also a common postpartum symptom. My friend even confided in me that she’d experienced the same type of symptoms and her doctor prescribed her an antidepressant to help her cope.
Wait. What? I had no idea. I thought depression was the only symptom women got with hormone fluctuations after having babies. I mean, it’s called “Postpartum Depression”.
Apparently, there are technically a variety of symptoms that women can experience after birth. I've been told they're referred to as Perinatal Mood Disorders.
At my doctor’s appointment, I was so ridiculously excited to realize that I wasn't just the resident party pooper at my house. My hormones were just outta wack. He helped me find a combination of medication, exercise and support to calm my high-strung self down.
In other words, I took a chill pill (literally.)
No longer do I jump out of my skin when someone drops a bucket of blocks on the tile floor. I can finally go to sleep at night without stressing over the millions of things I should have done that day. I'm a nicer effing person. And I like other people so much better.
But the best part? I feel like I can finally enjoy this crazy, hectic, non-stop on-the-go time as a mom.
*If you want to find out more, please check out Giles Bruce’s article from a couple weeks ago. It has some great resources and stories from awesome local people.