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 maddening lack of control, and crazy anxiety you can’t even define with words.
I spent years going through fertility treatments to even 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.” As a very difficult baby, he cried all the time with terrible reflux. To help with the spit-up, I was trying to navigate feeding him different formulas as well as breast milk. After two weeks of not sleeping and having anxiety, my milk dried up. Which led to terrible mommy guilt for not being able to feed my child or even make him happy.
I would something that I never experienced before, tormenting dreams about someone killing my family, dreams that not only overtook my night but followed me into the day. In the meantime, we went to church where everyone commented on how I amazingly lost all my baby weight so fast. What they didn’t know is I had so much anxiety that I couldn’t eat anything except protein shakes and bars. It wasn’t long before I could take it no more and reached out for help. I shared my symptoms with my mom and her instant response was I needed to call my OB-GYN, so I did.
My doctor quickly diagnosed my issues apparently like many women I was suffering from anxiety and postpartum depression. The diagnosis led to being put 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 mild anxiety. It was then I discovered another path for relief, one that I would not have pursued without a friend suggesting it. I made an appointment and went to an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine consultant who helped me further. But it was not a quick fix, It literally took a year to feel like me again.
I am an optimistic woman, never thinking I would be a person to go through postpartum depression. I never thought that I could get that low. Until I faced this struggle I was happy, an upbeat person yet postpartum took me to places I never thought I would go. I didn’t understand this could be inside me.
I was thankful when I finally reached the other side, to be out of the darkness that surrounded me. And it was also so good to get to know my son to really bond with him once I could appreciate him. It’s my hope that more would talk about postpartum depression and share their stories; it is much more common than most people realize.
Don’t feel ashamed; don’t fight this alone, just seek help and guidance. It’s out there. I am so blessed I got it when I needed it you will be too.
Read more of Bethany’s story and you may also like When Someone You Love is Depressed or Is Battling Depression Disappointing God?