Postpartum depression is a slow road to madness.
After my first child I thought life would be all snuggles, hugs and kisses. But after a few weeks of struggling to breastfeed and the lack of sleep, or really no sleep at all, I realized something was wrong. It felt like a slow fall into a well, a maddening lack of control, and crazy anxiety you can’t even define with words.
I spent years going through fertility treatments to have my son and I remember looking at him one day thinking, “I prayed for him for so many years and I don’t even like him.” He was a very difficult baby; he cried all the time and he had terrible reflux. To help with the spit-up, I was trying to navigate feeding him different formulas and breast milk. After two weeks of not sleeping and having anxiety, my milk dried up. I also had terrible mommy guilt for not being able to feed my child or make him happy. I would have tormenting dreams about someone killing my family. It was awful. In the meantime, we went to church and everyone commented how I amazingly lost all my baby weight so fast. Little did they know I had so much anxiety that I couldn’t eat anything but protein shakes and bars. I soon relayed my symptoms to my mom and she said I needed to call my OB-GYN.
My doctor diagnosed anxiety and postpartum depression and put me on an anti-depressant. Little by little, I felt myself get out of the hole. After six months, I weaned myself off the medication, but still felt a little anxiety. I was led by a friend to an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine consultant who helped me further. It literally took a year to feel like myself again.
I never thought I would be a person to go through postpartum depression and get that low. I am a happy, upbeat person and having postpartum took me to places I never thought I had inside myself. I was so glad to be out of it and it was also so good to get to know my son and really bond with him once I could appreciate him. I wish more people would talk about postpartum depression and share their stories more often; it is much more common than most people realize. Women shouldn’t feel ashamed; they just need help and guidance, and I am so blessed I got it when I needed it.
Read more of Bethany’s story and you may also like When Someone You Love is Depressed or Is Battling Depression Disappointing God?