Thursday, March 30, 2017

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety


I have never considered myself a writer- in fact when I started therapy as a teenager I was always so annoyed when the therapist told me to journal. However, now, and especially this past year, I have found comfort in putting my words, my thought, my feelings,  out there. I'm afraid that it makes this blog less cheerful, and maybe a little bit odd since I still blog sewing things, but this is me, and today I need to tell another part of my story.  

When Cordelia was born I was amazed by how tiny, and beautiful, and perfect she was. She had the sweetest nose, the perfect new baby smell, and the most darling fingers. I felt awed and amazed that I had grown this tiny, perfect little thing. 

The days were long, and I don't think I took much time to "check in" and see how i was doing. I knew I was at risk for Postpartum depression- because I had  a history of depression- and it was something my Dr had warned me about and something I had told my friends I was worried about when I was pregnant- but honestly I wasn't thinking much about it because there is just so much to adjust to with having a new baby. I forgot to check myself for the warning signs- depressed mood and mood swings, anxiety, trouble sleeping, crying, appetite issues, problems concentrating. 

I was able to more or less stay afloat until about three months- well sort of, I couldn't sleep at all, I was soo lonely and I worried all the time. Breastfeeding saved me because it was the only time I didn't worry- if I worried while feeding Cordelia she wouldn't eat. But at three months I got so depressed I didn't want to get out of bed, I was just so sad. I loved my baby, but I was fairly positive that there was someone else  who could be her mother who would do a much better job than I was. I really thought killing myself was a better option then letting my perfect, beautiful, baby girl live her life with a mother as flawed as I me. I didn't want her to ever know me to know how sad and broken I was.

 I didn't understand why I could have such a happy thing come into my life and yet feel so incredibly miserable- and the guilt from feeling like I wasn't "enjoying every moment" was incredible.  I found it almost impossible to make decisions because I knew that whatever I decided it had to be wrong, and what if whatever I did hurt my baby? 

 So I started to cope in the only way I knew how, I started to self mutilate again. At this point Brendon stepped in and took me to see a therapist- however when we told the therapist about my cutting she told Brendon if I did again he needed to bring me to the hospital and have me committed. I refused to go back to see her. I told Brendon I would get better on my own because I was petrified that if I went back they would decide I was unfit and they would take my baby away- or that eventually Brendon would decide I was unfit and have the court take my baby away from me because I was crazy. 

So I worked through the cutting on my own, I struggled through the depression without professional help, out of fear. Eventually, the depression eased, and I bonded deeply with Cordelia, I didn't want to kill myself anymore- but the anxiety never really went away, and I'm not sure I ever felt like a good mom.  

A little over a year ago I decided that I didn't have to live with anxiety- there had to be another option, I mean, normally people don't walk around feeling like this all the time? So we switched our insurance so I could have better access to care, I saw a Dr. and I started medication. 

A month after starting my meds I went to take Cordelia to the dentist and was told she wasn't insured (there was a paperwork problem) I called Brendon and kinda laughed about it- and then I cried because I realized that it wasn't my fault- bad luck didn't make me a bad mother and I 100% knew that in my heart. It was amazing, after five years I could finally feel like me again- a mistake was just that, a mistake, and not a sign that I was never supposed to have a kid. 

Not too long after that we got pregnant again, and that felt like a miracle. I had been feeling like God wasn't going to give me a second child because I just wasn't a good enough mother and couldn't handle having another one.  In this wonderful moment I realized that I would need to stop my medication while pregnant. During my 8.5 months of pregnancy I felt my anxiety creep back into the corners of my consciousness, my bed rest might have been a blessing because it allowed - me not to have to fight the panic cause by leaving the house.  

Things are different this time around and most of the time I can identify my emotions as irrational and as hormonal side effects. This time around I understand that mental illness is not a personal defect, and that life does not always have to feel like this.

 Regrettably knowing whats going on only helps so much, I struggle to remember to eat, I often can't sleep, I get angry and anxious, I have an extremely hard time calling people back and talking to them, and the depression can be so soul crushingly bad I sit in my empty bathtub and cry, and I often have to fight the idea that my family would be better off with a mother who didn't struggle so much just to keep her head above water.  But I know I will make it through this, my family loves and supports me, and I know that after i figure out what on earth happened to my insurance I can go back to taking a medication that helps correct the imbalance in my brain. 

However, here comes the part of this post where I ask you to do something:

Please, please, know and understand the symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Help the mama's in your life out by being present- visit, call, check in with them, let them know that everything will be OK, share your own struggles with PPD but don't ever tell  their feelings aren't real or they should just "get over it". Bring them a meal, invite them on a walk or ask if you can just sit on the couch and stare at the baby with them. People ask me all the "what can I do to help" and honestly I have no idea what to tell them- but just be there. I have a wonderful support group, please, please be part of that support group for someone else too.

 And if you are a Mama who is struggling, know that you are enough, know that no one loves you as much as your baby, know that you are stronger than this, know that you are important, and know that I will always be here for you. 


  1. Hmm.
    Many thoughts Katie.
    First how brave you are.A warrior,for yourself,and your beautiful children.
    Second thanks for sharing.and you should think about monetizing your gift with words.
    Truly fearless sharing that has impact and meaning.
    I don't think anyone who has spent time with you would be better off not knowing you. Your family least of all.
    The love, kindness, confidence and joy that Cordelia has is beautiful, and a testament to the fantastic job you and Brendan do as parents,instilling her with self worth,values,self confidence, assuredNess, and empathy.
    You , are, an absolutely amazing mother, and I don't doubt spouse as well.
    Thank you for this powerful bit of writing.

  2. You are so brave, Katie. For putting this out there. It's hard to be honest. I hope it help brings you some relief. His is a beautiful post for everyone struggling with any sort of mental health issue. We name our demons so our demons don't devour us. Damn.

    Can we bring you anything?


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