6.2.13

DEAR POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

You suck!!

It's been 10 months now since I've been dealing with diagnosed postpartum depression. Before I got pregnant, Matt and I knew that depression was a risk for me since I've battled it before. That time I refused to take medication and I worked through it with therapy and time. But with Lauren in my life, this time I didn't have the luxury of time. The medication helped me be a mom who connected again. That was the thing that was the worst about the depression at the start - I would look at my beautiful little baby and she would cry and I wouldn't want to pick her up. In my heart I wanted to but I just couldn't do it and that made me feel like a failure as a mom. As embarrassed as I was about it, going on medication helped me to look at my daughter and want nothing more than to pick her up.

Over the past few months, I've slowly been decreasing my medication (under the supervision of my doctor). It has gone really well until the past two and a half weeks. This last decrease of my medication has made me aware of my depression again. I would describe it as similar to having a shadow in the corner of your view. You can see everything that you want to focus on, but there is always something there that isn't quite right.

My depression has been showing up in the form of guilt. I feel guilty about my time before being on medication and how I would look at Lauren. I feel guilty about every time that I was frustrated with her crying because I didn't know that she was in pain in her heart. I feel guilty that she had to go through what she went through. I feel guilty that I didn't know sooner. These thoughts like to hit me when I'm trying to fall asleep or when I look at photos of Lauren when she was little (littler). This week was hard because I was trying to select photos for Lauren's birthday slideshow and I flipped through pictures knowing that soon she would be going to the hospital. Matt had to come and talk some sense into me as I sat there crying. He told me that I cannot claim any guilt for what happened and if anything, it is only because of me being attentive and pushing it that we even went to the hospital when we did. He pointed out that many nurses and doctors said that they wouldn't have brought her to the hospital because she actually looked good. And what mom would think that signs and symptoms that could indicate teething would actually be heart failure? As Matt has pointed out, after going to the doctor Monday evening, 70% of parents would be okay with believing that their child was okay. After going to another doctor Tuesday morning and being told the same thing, 99.9% of parents would be reassured. But we weren't. Praise the Lord.

Most of the time, my brain knows these things, but in the quiet moments, the depression creeps in and shoves the guilt down my throat. So I have decided that I need to forgive. First, I need to forgive myself. I did my best and I am still trying to do my best. Lauren is alive. I was with her every day and I still am. I get up (too many times) each night and I seem to have more patience with her than I ever thought possible. I listened to the voice telling me to take Lauren to the hospital. I have to forgive myself for things that I can't change.



Secondly, I need to forgive the doctors. After mentally berating myself, it is easy to blame others for what happened with Lauren. People often ask me why no one picked up Lauren's condition sooner but she was a rockstar! She grew like crazy, was right on with development and was such a charmer that she would do nothing but smile at the doctors. It was hard to believe that under that smiling, happy exterior, Lauren was shutting down. There were things that in hindsight may have been indicators, like when I told one of the doctors that Lauren was sweating all the time and acting fatigued. But, of course, the doctor had walked into the room and Lauren mustered her strength to smile and charm. However, as soon as the doctor walked out, she was exhausted again. That was why we went to the hospital. There was something bigger wrong. I can't blame anyone. Of the two doctors in the ER, only one heard a problem with Lauren's heart, and even when listening again, the first doctor still couldn't hear it!

Forgiving myself and forgiving the doctors goes hand in hand. Who am I to assign blame? Only God knows His plan for Lauren and how her life has and will continue to affect others. He has had all of us in His hand this whole time and I need to turn everything over to Him. I have to stop looking back at what I perceive as mistakes and rewire my brain to focus on the miracles instead. What a miracle that I knew Lauren the way that I did and could tell that something was wrong. What a miracle that I was pushed to keep searching for answers. What a miracle that we went to Children's Hospital exactly when we did. What a miracle that Lauren's condition could be treated. What a miracle that tonight she is at home sleeping in her own bed. What a miracle that I have a little girl who I love with my whole heart. What a miracle.


So, as much as I want to be off of my medication, and I'm working hard at thinking in miracles, I am going back up on my medication. I want to be healthy, physically and emotionally, and, right now, I need more help. I'm going to work on pushing away the guilt and focus on life as it is, not on any of the what ifs. What ifs aren't real and thinking about them doesn't do anything positive. After realizing some things that I have to work on, I have made 3 little poster for myself to help remember what I'm trying to do.
1. I'm giving myself room to live in the present and not in "What If" land
2. I am working on learning to relax and not have to feel busy all the time
3. I am trying to remember that, sweatpants or no sweatpants, there are many things about me that are beautiful to my friends and family.

We can be so rough on ourselves and I, for one, am going to try my hardest to leave that behind.



2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. I too need to be kinder to myself. Struggling with depression is like struggling with an 8 headed monster, it can appear at the worst times and in unexpected ways. Don't feel quilty or embarassed for taking medication. If you needed insulin to be healthy, you won't be embarrassed about that. Your brain isn't making all the chemicals in the right proportions. I'm so glad that you are taking care of yourself. You're a wonderful mom, wife and person. I only know you through your blog but you inspire me. Thank you again for your honesty.

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  2. Very Nice Informative blog. The knowledge you are providing is really very helpful to me and it’s very helpful for the beginners too.

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