May 052014

tandemI’ve been waiting for months to publish this post. Waiting till the time was right. Waiting till I was better. And I am. Better than ever.

If you haven’t heard it already, postpartum depression can happen to anyone. I thought if I knew the signs it wouldn’t happen to me. But it did.

Why I am choosing to publish this post now is that I am finally off the antidepressants I started taking nine or ten months ago.  I feel like myself again. A better self, even. Likely thanks to all the meditation and yoga I make time for.

I don’t know why it’s the image that is conjured up whenever I think of my PPD, but I see my whole family in a barn being swallowed by flames. I was the only one who could extinguish the fire and I was the one who set the barn ablaze.

I let the fire burn for months. Then I got help.

I was in denial. I was too “proud” to admit I had PPD. I was very adverse to the thought of taking brain-altering meds. Finally things got really bad.

  • I kicked holes in the wall.
  • I cried daily, more than once.
  • I was terrified my kids were going to die. Babe specifically.
  • I yelled a lot.
  • I slept a lot. It was hard to get out of bed.
  • I wanted out. My perfect escape took many forms.
  • I was too anxious to leave the house.
  • I dreaded being left alone with both kids.

I knew I needed to seek help when Babe had a fever and it gave me a full-on panic attack. She had a heat rash and I spent the day vomiting. And my breaking point was a painful altercation with a close family member. I was pushed too far.

I started seeing a counsellor who specializes in postpartum adjustment. Speaking with Carly once a week did wonders for me. She helped me cope with Babe’s behaviour “issues.” She was hitting kids at the park. It was embarrassing and I felt like it was all my fault.

My mom flew here from BC to help. While she was here she mostly helped by taking care of Babe and giving me some room to breathe. She helped me pick up some of the pieces. But I realized while she was here that therapy and placenta pills alone were not enough. Fish oil and aura cleansing might have helped too but I needed something more.

A friend I respect very much told me she once went on antidepressants at a tough time in her life. She gave me the analogy of a room so messy you don’t know where to start the job. The medication helped her to find somewhere in the room to stand as she started to get things sorted out.

That day, instead of taking her up on her terrifying invitation to go to a spa in silent meditation, I went to a private clinic and walked out with a year-long prescription for Cipralex.

I’m not necessarily advocating for psychotropic drugs but I do think that in life or death situations they have their place. I reluctantly took the medication for my family. I needed to be there for them and stop worrying about stigmas that came with taking these pills. Things got drastically better. The medication and therapy made every day life possible. Anxiety lifted, as did depression.

Those dark days are now a blur. Things are so good now that I have to ask my husband, closest friends and my mom to remind me just how bad it was. I never had the common PPD symptom of a disconnect with the new baby, on the contrary, he brought sunshine to the gloomiest days. He still does!

The closest things I take to medication now are those good old placenta pills I left waiting in the fridge when I started my Cipralex. I drink a few drops of Rescue Remedy daily as well as a spoon of Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I take care of my health with good nutrition yoga, which is exercise for the body, mind and soul.

That’s the story of the burning barn. I’m thankful to everyone who helped me, especially my beautiful husband and my mom. And am thankful I found the courage to allow myself to be helped. If you read this and think you might have PPD, please get help. You owe it to your family and to yourself.