Saturday, August 10, 2013

PPD and Me

Well, what started out as intense baby blues blossomed into complete Postpartum Depression (PPD) about a month ago. I think that overall I've been doing okay, but I thought it would be helpful for myself (and maybe others) to blog about what PPD has been like for me.

I love how the therapist described it. She explained that having depression is like a sunburn. You know how your skin is really sensitive when you have a sunburn? You're really sensitive to touch, and even the slightest touch can be very painful. Well, when you have depression you're extra sensitive to thoughts. And you have to wade through your thoughts carefully because you can quickly go from emotionally normal to emotionally hurting in a trice. Just like you have to move gingerly when you have a sunburn, or you're going to be in pain.

It's interesting to me that this analogy got rid of a lot of unhealthy guilt. Before I realized that what I had was depression, I only knew that I was getting stressed out over really little, stupid things. Then I would mentally berate myself for letting such little things bug me. And I'd wonder what I was doing wrong that I was such a basket case. Was I reading my scriptures enough? (I could certainly be reading more) Was I falling short in my relationship with God? (Well, I know my relationship and devotion to Him is far from perfect, so probably I was falling short) And thus I would become even more discouraged and berate myself more for being such a nincompoop.

Can you see the vicious cycle?

Once I realized that I had PPD, I still battled with ideas that it was my fault that I had PPD. (If I had only acted differently in this or that situation a year ago or a couple years ago, would I have been as susceptible to depression?) Again, not a healthy line of thinking.

But knowing that what I was facing was regardless being exacerbated by post-pregnancy hormones led me to go see a doctor. She recommended both medication and counseling. So far, I've just done the counseling, (the medication just didn't feel like the right thing for me to do in my situation, but I'm open to the possibility that that might change) and that's where I got this analogy of depression being like a sunburn.

The way I look at it is that my sensitivity to thoughts (which can quickly lead to anxiety and stress and... well.. depression) are just the pregnancy hormones talking, and I don't need to blame myself for those hormones being out of whack. It's not my fault that those are out of whack. What I can control is what I do when I start noticing self-defeating thoughts creep into my brain. When those thoughts start poking their way in, I can either encourage them, or turn away from them.

There are various ways that I've found to turn away from those thoughts. Sometimes I just consciously think, "No, that thought isn't true. That's just the depression talking." Sometimes, I change what I'm doing and go do something that I find enjoyable. It always seems to help to go outside, and it also helps to stay busy.

I'd say that most of my days are good ones. There are certainly fewer bad days than good ones. More often I find that I'll just have bad morning, or a bad hour or two and the rest is okay or even good.

Thankfully, Chris has been amazingly supportive in all of this. He's really good at helping me do things when I'm feeling down. And he's also really good at taking care of lots of the mundane things that need doing (like cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, changing diapers and the like).

Also, it's a big help that Nathan is such an easy baby. He's a very mellow, very sweet kid. And his smile or laugh always lifts my spirits.

This challenge of postpartum depression is ongoing, but I'm hanging on and learning lessons through it all. Lessons that I probably wouldn't have learned without it. I feel that the Lord is mindful of me. This is a struggle that He sent my way because I needed to grow more, not because I sinned or made a mistake.

To any of you who have already gone through this, who are going through it now, or may yet go through it in the future, I say, "God bless you." It is difficult to experience, but I have confidence that it will end and that the Lord will turn our ashes into beauty.

Until then, keep me in your prayers, would you?

P.S. If any of you have your own stories to share I'd love to read about them in the comments. :)


  1. DANGIT! I just wrote a big long post and my browser messed it up for me!

    Firstly, let me say I totally understand what you're going through. With Lili I had horrible PPD. In fact, I didn't even realize it until she was close to 10 months old. Artene knew something was wrong, but I'm not sure he knew what it was until then. It was so bad that there were weeks I couldn't even bring myself to go to church. I couldn't put on the happy face. But then the guilt of not being in church when I should have been made me feel worse, so it was a lose-lose. I even had a little PPD after Moriah was born. Because I was prone to depression when I was younger, it made me more susceptible to PPD.

    My doctor prescribed me anti-depressants, which I filled but never took. I didn't feel right about it. The only thing that saved me was Alyssa Loveless who was my visiting teacher at the time. She would stop by all the time, call me, take me out when I needed it...etc. She just loved me. She didn't treat me any differently or try to walk on egg shells around me, she just loved me for me, and that's what I needed.

    Because we're down to one car right now, I can't offer to come over and spend time with you, but if you're ever having a hard day, you're more than welcome to come over and hang out here. I'd love the company, and my kids would love to fawn over that little guy of yours. I'm always home until 2:00 every day (that's when Artene gets home from work), and most of the times after that, too, since we don't really have any commitments right now. I'd even love to talk with you more about your experiences with PPD and offer whatever support I can. It's such a hard thing to go through.

    Love you, girl.

  2. Up until about a week ago, I was right there with you! Pregnancy makes me depressed, and then I have pretty bad post partum depression for 6 months afterward. (And my girls are 15 months apart, so minus a few weeks I've been depressed since November 2010) I did the medication route, and it really helped! Though that made it so I couldn't nurse my first. I was determined that I wouldn't be on meds so I could nurse my second, but neither of us were good at it, and without the meds I was depressed. That's why we only nursed for a week. I don't know how it will be for you, but I am blessed with happiness once my hormones get back to normal, around 6months. #2 turned 6 months 7 days ago, and this week has been awesome! Please do your best to remember that it isn't your fault. Eventually this will pass. I'm glad you are getting help! No shame, you are awesome!

  3. No story here. I just love your perspective, that it's not God punishing you, it didn't come because you did something wrong, but that it's a learning experience, an opportunity to grow. (And I love that you have such a good hubby to help you through it--and an adorable baby!)

  4. Obviously I don't have a story, but I do know what an amazing woman you are! You have always been an example to me in SO many ways! Just keep swimmin' and know that lots of people love you!!!

  5. Sarah! I'm so sorry you have to go through this struggle, but it sounds like you're handling it well. :) You have always been such an amazing person and example to me, and I know you're an awesome mother and wife. Stay strong, dear friend. I'll keep you in my prayers! Love you. :)