You may have noticed that a while ago, when I update my blog, that I included postpartum depression in my blog banner description. That in and of itself is a huge step for me. I am very uncomfortable openly discussing anything that I see as a shortcoming. I much more prefer to gloss over things with a heavy dose of sarcasm. But looking back at my pregnancy, I can see that I was suffering from depression before the third trimester. As I mentioned in several different previous posts, I had several of the risk factors for PPD. I live far away from my support system, my husband is in the army, my son was diagnosed with a condition (CCAM) while in utero, and several of the women in my family had PPD. I've been on zoloft since I went for my six-week postpartum check-up. That was also a huge step for me. But I don't believe that I could have done as well as I have were it not for a little chemical help. Especially with Chad still having to travel for training, and now, for deployment. I still don't have my support system here, though I have made inroads with hanging out with some of the other women with young children who I know. But there is nothing that can substitute for your long-established support system or your family.
The reason I have been struggling with writing this post is that this is a very personal issue for me. But it is something that I don't believe is openly discussed, which is sad. Women who admit to having PPD are often stigmatized by those who don't have it, who discount it as baby blues, and those who just don't understand. It took me almost two weeks to admit to Chad that I was on zoloft after I had been diagnosed by my doctor at my postpartum appointment. I was so ashamed (don't ask me to explain that, because I can't) and I worried about how he would react: would he think I was weak or crying wolf or faking? (Sidenote: I don't know why I worried that Chad would think those things. The only thing that I can think of is the stigma.) Postpartum depression, I think, is not well understood by many people. And I can't speak for every woman, but I can speak for myself.
It was awful, looking at my beautiful baby and feeling intense love for him but escaping into the shower so I could sob without worrying about someone catching me. I could calmly change his diapers and bathe him and change his little clothes. Wylie wasn't a colicky baby. He was and is very mellow and easy-going. He's a happy baby. And yet, I would suddenly feel like the saddest woman in the world. Or I would get SOO angry at Chad, for no real reason. And I could tell that I didn't have a rational reason for being unbelievably angry with him, yet I was. It was hell trying to keep that from showing through to him. There were times that I was thisclose to calling my parents to ask them if I could move home with them with the baby while Chad was deployed this summer because I couldn't handle the thought of having to face everything by myself. (Which, I want to add, kudos to all of you single mothers out there. You are amazing, and I doff my cap to you.)
But now, I'm on zoloft. And I will be on zoloft through at least this calendar year. (Going off too early can cause your brain chemicals to drastically unbalance, causing a serious relapse.) And are things perfect? No, of course not. Do I still have bad days? Yes, I do, which I'm actually glad of. Part of the reason I was so scared to go on a pill was because I didn't want to feel like a zombie. I still get teary and will sometimes cry, but I can validate those instances (that stupid Humane Society commercial where they show all of the sad eyed dogs looking at the camera), or Wylie does something Big Boy and it's bittersweet that my little baby is growing so fast. The zoloft doesn't make everything magically better: I still wish I lived closer to my family, I still miss my friends, I still worry about Wylie having to have surgery in November (probably), I still resent the lack of support I experienced here during my pregnancy, and I still worry internally about stupid, inane things. I live with PPD everyday. I have good days and bad days. But I'm not a crazy woman, I don't imagine harming my baby, and I don't feel like a zombie. Sometimes I still feel a little overwhelmed. But I'm taking things one day at a time, and I put my bras on one arm at a time, just like you.