Friday, April 16, 2010

More on Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

I had such a great day yesterday.  The older kids weren’t here, so it was quiet and I was able to sift through a lot of things.  I felt hope for the first time in a while due to all of the decisions that we have made, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Because of this, I thought maybe that I wasn’t suffering from PPD&A (postpartum depression and anxiety), but that maybe I was just having a bad day the day before.  I started thinking maybe it was silly of me to go to the doctor and assume that I was suffering from this (even though she agreed that I was suffering from this and wanted to quickly do something about it).

Then I came upon a blog (through someone commenting on my last post- thank you!) that discussed the symptoms of PPD&A in great detail: Postpartum Progress.  I very quickly realized that the way I’ve been feeling for a while had been explained on this blog.  As I’ve said before, I already struggle with anxiety and sometimes depression (as a result of the anxiety), but it is greatly amplified right now (and usually is after the birth of my babies).

I had no idea that some of the things that I’ve been struggling through characterized PPD&A. 
  • My constant need to keep my house clean, keep up with laundry and dishes, etc, and the inability to relax.  A dirty dishes, crumbs on the floor, toys everywhere, an un-made bed, etc, brings me great anguish. 
  • The constant guilt that I feel and the constant questioning of myself that goes on in my head.
  • The constant fear that I have that something bad is going to happen to someone that I love.  This blog post that I wrote shows a little of what I’ve been fearing. 
  • The anger that I feel towards my family and my extreme irritability.  I yell a lot these days (which isn’t like me).
  • The constant need to try to make everything feel more normalized, and not being able to do it. 
  • Being VERY overwhelmed and feeling that it’s never going to get better.
  • Shutting down when I feel really overwhelmed (if I don’t go on a yelling rampage).
  • My heightened sensitivity to what I think others are thinking about me and my people pleasing ways.
  • The fact that I have lost a loved one recently… and the way that he died was so tragic. 
  • I eat for comfort (I have made my favorite chocolate chip cookies probably 5 or more times since Levi was born… no wonder I’m gaining weight!).
  • I also shop for comfort… I’m normally someone who doesn’t spend money on anything but groceries, gas, and occasionally eating out.  But lately I’ve just wanted to shop, shop, shop… which results in spending too much money… which results in guilt… which results in worry about money… great cycle, huh?  So much for my no spend month… Maybe I will start over in a few weeks…
  • Feeling like a bad mom all the time… and constantly trying to “fix” that.
  • The fact that depression and anxiety are in my family on both sides. 
I’ve had friends tell me that they had no idea I was going through this.  I guess I’ve been trying to just “be strong,” and I really had no idea that I had an actual problem.  But when I realized that I did, I decided that it was best to get help before it got “real bad.”  And with my brother recently committing suicide because of major depression, my mom (who never tells me what she thinks I should do) told me that she really wants me to get into the doctor to discuss options.  I decided to go with it and I’m glad I did.

Now… I do have to say, that even though I’m going through all of this, I still have hope in Christ.  I’m not completely hopeless like many might be because I know that God is helping me through this.  I have joy in the Lord despite my struggles (joy and happiness are two different things!).  I am thankful for all of the people that the Lord has placed in my life to support me and help me just when I need it.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7

Some ways that I’m going to try to deal with this (along with the power of Christ and medication :)
  • Allow myself some time to clean, read, blog, etc. and let the kids just play and “be.”  It’s okay.
  • Allow myself to shut down at times.
  • Stop trying to plan fun projects and things for my kids for a little while (just do things when I feel like it).  I don’t have to entertain them all the time.
  • Get away at least once a week without the kids (I’ve been doing this lately… it’s wonderful).  And it’s okay if my mom takes the older kids overnight whenever she wants.  I need that time.
  • Just do the best that I can with breastfeeding (and always remember that it’s not the end of the world if I give my baby formula… it’s there for people who have trouble with breastfeeding, and I’m thankful for it).
  • Allow people to help me.  Stop feeling bad or guilty when people help me.
  • Allow myself to feel that it’s okay to be frustrated with my kids… I have a lot on my plate.  Having three kids, 4 and under is a LOT. OF. WORK. I just need to learn to redirect that frustration so that I'm not yelling :).
  • Allow myself the opportunity to go back and forth about things for now.  Some days I want to pursue something wholeheartedly (for example, natural living), and other days it’s too much.  That’s okay.
  • Allow myself to be sad about my brother.  It’s the normal part of the grieving process.  It’s time for me to grieve.  He died in such a horrible way… I need to process this.  Here is a post on my personal blog that I wrote a few weeks ago about this. 
  • Remind myself that it’s okay that I’m not perfect.  It’s impossible to be.
  • Remember that His mercies are new every morning.  When I mess up, I can start fresh the next day.  Praise God for His grace.  I’m so thankful for my personal relationship with Him.  Without Him, I really would be hopeless.
Isn’t it like me to come up with a step by step plan?  :) What happens when I can’t follow this plan?  It’s okay.  I just need some kind of plan to try to keep myself on track.  I’m not perfect.  I. Will. Fail.  It’s okay.

1 comment:

Amber Koter-Puline said...

I am so glad that I found you, then you found me, then you found Katherine! That is awesome. I hope we can journey alongside one another, with God's promise of never abandoning us as our safety net. God bless you and thank you for bravely sharing your story!