I hesitate to write this post because I’ve always struggled with expressing whats going on in my head. I put on a smile even though inside I am breaking into a million pieces. I know I need to get it out. Hell, it’s the whole reason I started this blog in the first place. Needless to say, the past few weeks have been complete hell.
I’ve battled with anxiety and depression on and off through the years. I’ve never been a fan of medication and always insisted on the more “natural” route. However, I’m no stranger to anti-depressants. You name it and it’s probably been in my medicine cabinet at some point. Shortly after I start to feel better, I insist on having my doctors ween me off. I feared taking a pill to make me feel “normal” for the rest of my life.
My depression and anxiety reared its ugly head again. This time, in the form of postpartum depression and anxiety. From what I know now, I don’t think it ever truly went away. I had the necessary tools from years of therapy to manage it and my life was going exactly how I envisioned. College degree, great career, loving husband, money in bank, and home ownership. I checked all of those “to be successful” boxes. In reality, it was just laying dormant. The scale was finally tipped after I had my son.
When my son was three months old, I took him to his pediatrician for a routine checkup. My husband couldn’t get off work to go, but I knew I had it under control. I could handle watching him get shots. I was a pro. At the end of the appointment she gave him a clean bill of health and said, “Mommy, you’re doing a great job.” I thanked her, but somehow she was able to look beyond my smile. She pointed to her head and said, “Tell me. What’s going on in here?” Tears rolled my checks. I didn’t have to say a word. She saw the pain and self-doubt. She saw all of my broken pieces. When I left her office I took her advice and called my Obstetrician .Thankfully, they were able to get me in the very same day.
I had a complete mental break down in the OB’s office. I felt like I was failing at this whole motherhood thing. Why didn’t I feel a connection with my son? Wasn’t motherhood suppose to be amazing? At least that’s what everyone told me. Something wasn’t right and I needed help. Therapy, medication, whatever it took. I wasn’t going to hesitate. I would do ANYTHING to feel like myself again and be the mom I always wanted to be.
After a few weeks, I was starting to feel better. I was having less bad days and my anger and irritability was starting to subside. Individual and group therapy was helping tremendously. My medication was working. I was convinced this was going to be just like all of the times. Go to therapy, take the pill, and after a few months ween off my medication. This was just a little bump. Life was getting back on track. Boy was I wrong. This time, I was strapped in for one hell of a roller coaster ride. I had reached the top of the hill and my car was getting ready to descend at 100 miles an hour.
We had just gotten home from a trip to see both families and were readjusting back into our normal schedules. I was feeling a little down and a bit exhausted. My grandmother had just passed, I had a deadline to complete at work, and was still recovering from traveling with a seven month old (yeah, no fun). It just seemed like one of my ordinary “bad” days. I was on edge and was looking forward to closing my eyes and making today a distant memory. Like most nights, my son fussed around 3 AM. Half awake, I climbed out of bed ready for the nightly routine – diaper, snuggles, and a bottle. We would both be back to sleep in 20 minutes, tops. Nope. Not tonight.
He continued to cry through his diaper change and Mommy snuggles only made him scream louder. The minutes ticked by like hours. I grew more and more flustered and frustrated. Why wasn’t this working? This ALWAYS works? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I soothe him? I am a terrible mother. As my heart raced and my hands shook, I fixed him a bottle. As he drank, I prayed. Let this work. Sudden and unwanted intrusive thoughts flooded my mind. I couldn’t make them stop. Then, he was out. He finally fell back asleep. I quietly put him in his crib. I was left with fear. Am I going crazy? Why am I thinking this way? What’s happening? There is nothing worse then starting to feel more like yourself and suddenly your demons return – with a vengeance.
It’s been a few weeks since that awful night. My medication has been adjusted and my demons have been silenced. I’m continuing my therapy and getting better everyday. As disgusting and out of character my thoughts were, its comforting to know I’m not alone. It’s common for women who suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety to have these intrusive thoughts. I hope my demons have been banished, but I know it’s a journey. Its a daily battle, but I’m a fighter. I’m holding on tight and I’m ready to take on this roller coaster ride.