Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Story I Never Told You: My Experience with Postpartum Depression {Part 2}

First of all, thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging responses to Part 1 of this story. It means so much to me!

I originally only planned to write two posts about this experience, but until I actually sat down to write it I didn't know how much I really had to say! And in remembering how bad things were I am better able to appreciate how truly wonderful things are right now. Thank you for listening!

These posts are a huge bummer (sorry),  but I want to be clear: this experience was a fire that tested and tempered me, and I am a better, happier person because of it.


It was obvious that my OB’s office took postpartum depression very seriously—I was given an appointment for the following morning. The physician's assistant that I saw was very kind and compassionate, as she had personal experience with PPD. I felt I could unburden myself with her, and I did.

I hadn't bonded with the baby; I didn't want anything to do with her. Holding her in my arms filled me with such awful panic that I wanted to vomit. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Smiling, even talking, took so much energy that it pained me physically to do either.

The PA asked me at some point if I was able to find joy in life. I didn't know how to answer. It wasn't that joy had been taken from me or I had lost it somehow; I no longer even understood the concept.

Of course she offered me antidepressants. She talked over the benefits and drawbacks of two different medications, one of which was also used to treat anxiety disorders. Since my symptoms seemed to be more like anxiety than traditional depression, I pushed for that one. She gave me the prescription and before I left she instructed me to call immediately if I noticed my symptoms worsening.

I was scared to death to take the pills. I tend to be very sensitive to medications; even something as mild as Tylenol throws me for a loop, but I saw no other option. I had to do something to knock myself off the disastrous course I was on. I took my first dose that evening, but as soon as I got into bed that night I could tell that something was wrong.

There was a tingling sensation throughout my whole body, so strong that I could almost call it a vibration. I couldn't stop shaking. There was a ringing in my ears and bright lights before my eyes, almost like an aura of a migraine. I was sweating and shaking and I was so very thirsty, but I couldn’t force the muscles in my throat to swallow. Every time I dropped off to sleep, a jolt would run through me like I had grabbed two live wires, and I would be instantly awake again. Eventually Nemo came and wrapped his arms tightly around me so that I wouldn’t jerk myself awake, but that only worked for a short while.

This went on for three days and nights. Over the weekend Nemo would get up early with the kids to give me an opportunity to rest, but even after being awake for multiple nights, I couldn’t fall asleep.

Monday morning came, and Nemo had to go to work. I hadn’t slept in three nights. I hadn’t eaten in weeks. I knew I had to go downstairs so Nemo could leave for work, but I had to stop at every step to rest. When I got halfway down I had to stop. I was too weak to go further and too emotionally depleted to force my body to move. I would’ve cried if I had the strength. Living my life seemed impossible. Not hard; inconceivable. I couldn’t even stand up; how was I going to do my job? I literally didn’t think I would survive the day. Whatever had been plaguing me mentally had crossed over to destroy my physical health as well. I was so sick; I felt like I was dying.

At some point Nemo asked me if he should take the day off work, but I didn’t answer for a long time. I simply didn’t know what to do. Taking care of the kids was my job, not his. He had to go back to work sometime; he couldn’t do my work forever. And even if he did stay home that day, what would it help? I still wouldn't be able to sleep. The medication that was supposed to help had only made things worse. This was the end.

One of the one clear memories I have of that morning was telling Nemo, “I want to tell you I can do this, but I can’t.”

I called my OB's office. When I got the PA on the line I sobbed that when I saw her on Friday, things were more terrible than I could ever have imagined, but now they were a thousand times worse. I didn't know what to do. There seemed to be no way out.

"It's time for us to talk about you checking into the hospital," she said.

I didn't want to go; I handed the phone to Nemo.

She explained to Nemo the laws regarding Mental Hygiene Involuntary Commitment. It was her responsibility as a medical professional to make sure I didn't hurt myself or others, and she thought that without proper treatment, something very bad could to happen. Either I checked myself in to a psychiatric unit, or she would file mental hygiene papers on me. It she did that, law enforcement officials would come to take me into custody and escort me to the hospital where I would be held for an observation period.

Yes, she was threatening me, but it was truly out of concern for my well being. Even in that terrible frame of mind I could understand that. So, to avoid the scandal of being carted off in a police car, I agreed to check myself in to the hospital.

As soon as I said it, an immense feeling of relief was able to break through the suffocating buffer of depression. Something was being done. The last place I wanted to go was a hospital, but at least it was a way out.
Read Part 3 here.


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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

3 comments:

  1. Oh my! You are one courageous woman! As an NFP instructor I worked with one woman with severe PPD, she also accepted help at the hospital and it probably saved her life. Thank you for having the humility to do it.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences so candidly here, Eva. I've struggled a little with PPD (though not to the same degree as you) and with depression in college where I had to check myself into the psych ward and receive outpatient treatments if I wanted to keep my enrollment status. I think it's therapeutic to get our stories out there- I know it's helpful for me to read others' experiences, to know that I am not alone when I face these kind of trials. And it is honorable and necessary sometimes to seek medical help Anyway, thanks for sharing. And I'm glad you are in a better place now.

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  3. I got anxious just reading this, I can't imagine how hard it was to live it. What courage you had to accept the help you needed, even if you didn't want it. Continued prayers for you, and much gratitude to you for sharing your story. PPD is a huge fear of mine (should I ever conceive), and hearing that it is survivable helps to make it a little less scary.

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