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At Least I'm Feeling More Normal

Thank you all so much for you sympathy and advice on yesterday's post. I will work on being patient (not one of my strengths) and accepting that I will have a new normal, post-child(ren) body. I've been working on eating even better than I had been (minus my super crazy sweet tooth, but I've always had that).

Speaking of feeling normal, I've been dealing with everything so much better lately. As we head into spring, my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is improving, as it does every March/April. Because of that, my postpartum depression (PPD) has just about gone away. These two were obviously very closely tied for me.

Let me give you an example of how much better I'm doing. Londo was away on business from Monday until yesterday evening. I can't believe I didn't even mention it while he was gone, but that was because I was doing really well by myself! Yes, it was during the work week, so I wasn't home with a fussy baby all day, but it was still a lot of work to take care of her, the animals, the house and everything else by myself. Londo really shares the childrearing and housework with me, so I'm not used to having to carry the load all by myself. And it's tough.

Last time he went away, I glossed over how bad I felt and how hard it was on me. I didn't get into it here on my blog, but boy did I talk about it with my therapist (who I see for my PPD)! The big mistake we (Londo and I) made was not setting up an adequate support system. I didn't realize that she would not be sleeping as well or that she would skip a nap each day on the weekend while he was gone. In February, I spend 2 or more hours a day in front of a special light that mimics the part of the sunlight that I need (without the harmful UV rays or the rays that would give me a nice tan). When she missed her nap, I didn't have enough time in front of my light. (Babies and kids eyes cannot be in front of the light, because it is very bright and could damage their developing eyes.)

When I don't get enough light, it's like I miss a dose of anti-depressant medication. Not good. Something as simple as her not taking her nap started me on a downward spiral. I couldn't do my light, which filled me with anxiety, which turned a minor frustration into something momentous in my mind, which made me depressed and even more exhausted, which made the baby harder to watch and deal with, which made her fussier, which made me more frustrated and depressed, etc. etc. Doesn't that sound like a fun weekend? Luckily, I wasn't like that all the time that weekend he was away, because the Pumpkin was in general in a good mood and slept pretty well at night. Also, I did reach out for help when I finally realized I needed it, and my mom came over. But I should have had more help or asked sooner. Lesson learned.

But on to the good news... I did great while Londo was away these last few days. I don't just mean outwardly, because I went through all the motions just fine last time. I mean inside my head and emotionally, I did great. Was it easy to do it all by myself? No. Was the Pumpkin fussy on and off? Of course. Did I get frustration? At times. Did it send me on an emotional downward spiral? NO!! It did not! I was able to be frustrated, take a deep breath and move on. This sounds like such a small thing, but it is huge. If you've never been truly, seriously depressed, I don't know if you'll get it. So just trust me, this is a big deal!

I really believe I'm moving past my PPD. I will still do my light therapy for a couple more weeks and take my fish oil to get those fantastic Omega-3 fatty acids, which help with mood. And I will still be very aware of when to ask for help and keep backup plans in place. Because I just never know if a few bad nights of sleep will send me down the spiral again, but for now, I'm feeling very good. I'm enjoying motherhood even more. And I'm even more in love with my daughter!

For anyone else who is suffering from PPD or is pregnant and is concerned they may develop PPD, please check out the following resources:
-Ask Moxie has a PDF on the left side of her site (under Download This) with 14 Tips to Prevent Postpartum Depression
-Ask Moxie also has a few Q&A posts about people dealing with PPD, such as this one, and if you search her site you will find many others
-Check out Dooce's blog, especially the recent post she wrote about her depression, PPD and taking medication
-Here's a post by Dooce's husband, an important look at how a person's depression affects their partner
-Here's a site specifically for Maryland residents
-This is a site where people suffering from PPD share their stories in order to not feel so alone

There are many other resources out there, too. This parenthood thing isn't easy on regular days. When the fog clears, it's amazing how much better even the hard days are. If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD, please get help or help them to get help. It's worth it.


Marc was gone for a whole week recently... and I survived and I actually felt stronger, better and more sure of myself for having survived it. If that had happened back in January... I don't even know what would have happened to us. I was in such a worse spot then. So I am so glad the same is true for you. I know about the easy to spiral downward, and getting better at getting help, or doing what you need to do to PREVENT total meltdown. So congratulations on things being better, that is really wonderful.
ImpostorMom said…
I'm glad you are feeling and doing better with the SAD and the PPD.

I remember feeling pretty awful for 2-4 weeks after Boog was born. I felt so disconnected. Like going through the motions but not really being there. It was tough. I remember asking the other mothers at my breastfeeding support group if that was normal and they were all so reassuring. Basically their advice was that it gets better and if it doesn't get some drugs. :)

Luckily for me it did get better. What has really thrown me for a loop lately is how weaning has made me feel. It's like a milder version of that post partum period all over again. It sucks and I'm ready to be done with the upheaval!
La folle maman said…
It is really nice to see spring just around the corner. I noticed some buds on the trees today. Good to hear you are feeling better. And great that this last solo run went smoothly!

My therapist never said anything about me having PPD although after reading that Wikipedia write up on it, I'm wonder if I do. She DID mention prior to Monkey's birth that those who have issues with depression prior to giving birth are more inclined to develop PPD.

I'm not seeing her anymore anyway due to scheduling conflicts. She can't take me on the days/times I'm available, unless I bring lil' Monkey the other days, and it's just not easy to have a session with him there anymore. Plus, I got the feeling she didn't like him being there.

It took forever for me to work up the courage to contact my old therapist and I've been seeing her for 3 years now. We'll see. If my downward spiral doesn't improve with the additional "me time" I'm getting now while Monkey is at daycare, I may have to stop procrastinating.

Enough about me though. Next time you have a weekend where you need some help, let me know and we'll figure something out!
Kristina said…
Next time Londo leaves town give me a call and I will come sit with the Pumpkin while you have some time for a nap, light therapy or relaxation. I promise to keep Londo's BFF in line and out of trouble.

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