Christina recalls if she prepared a plan to prevent postpartum depression when she had more children.
My name is Christi. I experienced postpartum depression the first time with my first son who is now 11 and half years old. At the time, I knew something was wrong. I wasn’t feeling, obviously I wasn’t feeling very happy. I was feeling very overwhelmed and very trapped, is the word that I used a lot.
So for instance, the first time I ever left to just go to the store for ten minutes, I felt like I just got out of jail. I felt so overwhelmed and just really like I had to do everything myself. I had to take care of the baby by myself and had a really hard time letting anybody help me.
Luckily, I had some training in psychology so I knew that something was wrong. And I tried to call my doctor’s office, and I spoke with one of the nurses there, and she said, “Let me talk to a doctor. I’ll call you back.” She called back and said, “I talked to the doctor and he said don’t worry about it. It will go away. A lot of moms feel this way. We are going to send you some information in the mail.”
So they sent me this brochure in the mail on postpartum baby blues, depression or whatever, but that kind of made me feel more crazy than anything else because it was, that made me feel like, “Well, if it’s not a big deal then why do I feel so overwhelmed by this?”
So I ended up moving in with my mother, with my husband and the baby, and we lived with her for about three months on the floor of her living room because she was the only one that I would actually listen to, that would make me get some sleep, that would take care of the baby and could help me get some kind of relief and support so that my husband could go to school and work, which was what he was doing at the time.
He was obviously very overwhelmed, too, and struggling in his own way. So like I said, it was a really difficult time and we did somehow manage to get through. I never actually went and got treatment. I didn’t get counseling. I didn’t get medication. I didn’t do anything like that because at the time there really was nowhere to go and nobody really knew anything about postpartum depression anyway.
So within three months or so I started to feel better, and I think it really had a lot to do with the fact that my son was sleeping through the night finally.
So by the time I was ready to have a second baby I thought, “Okay, if this is going to happen again I better have a plan ready to go for how to make it better than what it was the first time.” And I had my resources, I learned a lot about postpartum depression, and I knew by then that I needed sleep, and so I really tried hard to put all those things in place.
I thought I did a lot better with the second baby, but my husband says it wasn’t so great. It wasn’t as great as I thought, and when I look in my journal, I wrote things like “I just want to get out of here. I need to get away. You know, I don’t want to leave forever; I just need a break, can’t handle this.”
So I know that it was still a really challenging time even though I thought I was prepared, which taught me that you can’t always be totally prepared. But you can have resources and people there to help you and give you the support you need even if it hits you because sometimes your hormones are going to kick in and cause it, and you can’t really stop it. But maybe you can make it less intense with that kind of support.
So again, I didn’t really get any professional help, but I did get through it with the help of my family and my husband and my mother. By the time I had my third baby, I was actually a clinical psychologist. I had gone to school and trained and everything and kind of, I actually by then was an expert on postpartum depression, ironically, and here I was having the third baby and I had her, I was pregnant during my last year of graduate school, so I had her a week after I graduated with my Doctor in Psychology.
And a week after I had her, I moved to Arizona from California, and so I thought I was kind of out of the woods for a while, and I was doing fine. And then about four months in, I started to have a lot of anxiety and feel very overwhelmed. And it wasn’t the depression like I had had the first two times. It was different. It was, I was just really nervous and felt very agitated. I was wandering around the house just not knowing what to do with myself, like I had a lot of extra energy in me that I don’t know what to do with.
Again, I was really tired. I wasn’t thinking clearly, and at that point luckily I had a lot of other support in the form of just people that I had met through my schooling and in the postpartum field so I could call and get that kind of support. And again, I kind of got through it without professional help, but it certainly would have been helpful if I would have had those resources, too.
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