I am writing this post to explain the events that led to my diagnosis of postpartum depression. I write this with the hopes that someone reading this may relate to it, know they are not alone, and realize they need to seek to help as well.
I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t crying all the time. I didn’t want to hide from the world. I didn’t feel depressed. I was tired. I was sooo tired.
About two months after Owen was born, I suddenly couldn’t sleep. I had never had sleeping problems before. I loved sleep (to be honest– I still do!) Something was happening. The first night I couldn’t sleep I chalked it up the fact that my 2-month old was finally semi-sleeping through the night and my body was just trying to adjust. The second night I lay awake wondering why I wasn’t sleeping. By the third night, I was exhausted I fell right to sleep, only to wake up 2 hours later. I was up for the rest of the night. Each night for the next week I would fall asleep for 2-3 hours, only be awake for the next 5 hours, and maybe fall asleep for another hour or so. Remember– this is all in between feedings of my then 2-month old son.
Over the next two weeks, I googled insomnia. I googled insomnia remedies. I tried relaxation techniques, yoga, herbal remedies, essential oils, prescription medicines. I tried prayer–oh how I prayed for sleep. By this point, I was a self-proclaimed insomnia ‘expert.’ I was so exhausted, I just wanted to disappear. I knew it was time for help.
I called my Ob/Gyn to see what she thought could be contributing to this sudden onset of insomnia. The nurse was extremely pleasant and explained sometimes postpartum hormones can wreck havoc on your body and made me an appointment to be seen. To say my doctor was less than helpful would be the understatement of the decade. Basically, summing it up she told me to take Tylenol PM with a glass of wine and go to bed. She never mentioned postpartum depression, or that one of the early signs of postpartum depression are sleep disturbances–while some people sleep the days away, some can’t sleep at all.
After a month of on and off sleeping I was convinced my body was physically incapable of sleeping through the night. There is nothing worse than laying awake while your baby and husband are sound asleep, counting down the hours to when you have to be awake and responsible for taking care of an infant. My husband was extremely supportive but there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t make me sleep!
Out of sheer exhaustion, I felt like things were becoming distant. I was going through the motions, putting on a smile, but I felt like I was seeing everything from afar. My sister recognized something was wrong and told me I needed to see another doctor because I wasn’t acting myself. She was worried and brought up postpartum depression. I shrugged her off though because I wasn’t sad, I didn’t think I was depressed, I just needed to sleep.
I called back my OB and was basically told there was nothing they could do for me, but gave me the name of a psychiatrist who had awful reviews online. I was not about to call someone who I already had no confidence in. Ok, let’s take a time out here to point out the obvious. Here was a patient who clearly needed help and was showing and explaining clear signs of postpartum depression to their Ob/Gyn and they did NOTHING. An Ob/Gyn should be the first line of support for a new mother struggling with any sort of perinatal disorder. This country needs to do a better job educating these doctors in addressing the needs of their postpartum patients.
After my OB was no help, I made an appointment with my GP who prescribed me Ambien. Again, no mention of the term postpartum depression. This was now doctor #2 who blatantly overlooked serious signs. That was a very short-term fixed that did not last long. I just wanted to enjoy this precious special time with my baby, instead of being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.
I was at a complete loss. I wanted help, knew I needed help, but did not know where to turn. My mother, finally realizing at this point that I needed help, reached out to her network of friends. In the meantime, we prayed together asking the Lord for guidance and direction and for help finding someone who could help me. On what seemed like a fluke, although looking back I believe it was divine intervention, I got an appointment with a psychiatrist. After our first meeting I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and was my road to recovery.
If this sounds anything like your story, I urge you to reach out and don’t give up. Find a good psychiatrist and/or therapist, ideally one that specializes in perinatal disorders. If you need to, please contact me and I will try to help connect you to local resources. You will get better. You don’t have to continue feeling this way. You will enjoy your life and your baby again. You will sleep.