My Walk with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Yuck.  There is no easy way to start this. I want to write from my heart and I also need to protect the privacy of my family and my sweet daughter’s life. But, as Blooma takes this week to speak on Postpartum Mood Disorders, how can I, the owner of Blooma not speak of my own hard dark journey that I’ve experienced this year?

In the beginning it was bliss. Total bliss. I rocked the hell out of my birth. My long second stage of birth (pushing), was over 15 hours (no joke). It made my high of birthing Metta into my arms in the bright sunlit garden room of my father’s country home even brighter. I was so damn proud of myself. I rode this high of me and my power for several days. I loved my body. I loved what I accomplished. I loved my family and my birth team. I loved the phone ringing off the hook with words of celebration. My husband, family and friends took care of me. I wanted to ride this high forever. I never wanted my “birthing time” to end. But it did. And just like I have told hundreds of mothers and fathers, “Mama will most likely will crash on the 3rd or 4th day and have significant hormonal swing.” And of course, it happened to me, and I am not sure I ever really swung back until Metta was four or five months old.

It was pretty clear to me that within the first 7-10 days I wasn’t totally sure that I loved being a mom … and I wasn’t sure I knew how to love Metta. She was so yummy. I did want to eat her up, however, I couldn’t understand why she was here and why I wanted to run. I felt huge waves of anxiety and pressure to love her more then I was. I was deeply sad and found little room to come up for air. As a dear friend of mine said, “It’s like you’re homesick.” And I was. I was homesick for my old life. After 38 years of independence and entrepreneurship I felt so trapped and so sad. I couldn’t just run and be me, “Sarah.”

The tears starting flowing pretty heavily around days 7-10. I remember a home visit from my dear midwife when I just cried. You know, those tears that just keep coming and don’t stop as if a water hydrant won’t shut off. Now here is the interesting thing: I starting shifting from a place of “Poor me, I hate my new life. I want to run and hide”, to … “What the fuck? This world is so crazy and I brought a sweet young soul into it. Why would I do such a thing? The world has too many people already and we are all so fucked up and none of this makes sense. Everywhere I look there is war and hatred.”

Then the scary thoughts started coming on pretty strong. The ones that at the time I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone. The ones that still make me feel sick to my stomach. I will tell you, these thoughts were rarely about me and Metta. I never had thoughts about hurting myself, and I wouldn’t say that I had thoughts of hurting Metta. But, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that at times I pictured the room spinning out of control with my baby in harm’s way — with no handle on how to protect her. The worst were those dark thoughts. They mostly came at night when I was breastfeeding (so you know, an average of 3-4 times a night. Ugh. It sucked).

The thoughts started with simple things like: I am rocking in a rocking chair. I am rocking my daughter. I am so blessed to have this chair. So many mothers do not have chairs. There are women right now that don’t have a chair. They don’t have a house. The are breastfeeding their babies in a shack on a plank. They are cold. They are sad. They are all alone. They have trauma. They have no food. I have a house. I am warm. Mothers are cold. Mothers are alone. I am scared. I am scared to be alone. I hate this. I hate life. I don’t want to live. Oh this chair. That mama, she is alone on a dark, cold floor. She is there crying. She is sad. She is sad like me. I can’t do anything to help her. I want to run away and leave this stress and this darkness. It is so scary in here … and I don’t want to tell anyone how bad it really is.

Then there were the ones like: I live in an old house. Wow, this house was built in 1904. I wonder about the other moms who lived here and fed their babies at 2 a.m. in this room. Wow, it is cold here. It is -20 outside. I am warm. Were those mamas warm? Were their husbands helping them stay warm? Did their husbands take their babies and put them out in the cold to freeze to death and die? How many babies have been left to die? How many babies have frozen to death? Was the mom happy that lived here? Was she sad like me? Why am I so blessed to have heat and a warm house? Babies are dying all over the world right now. Moms and dads are hurting their babies and I need to stop them. This is all too much. How can this be? Okay, Sarah, breathe, breathe. You are OK. You are safe.

Yes, this was my brain. These were my thoughts. All alone in my room. Rocking my sweet baby girl. Ah. Ah. Ah. I would always wonder if she was getting these thoughts and my fear through my milk. I tried my best to stop them, but it was so hard and so painful.

Besides the darkness and the brain running 100 miles an hour, there was anger. I am not sure if the anger fed the darkness or the darkness fed the anger. What I do know, is that it was always written off as “sleep deprivation.” You know that line, “Oh it is so hard not getting enough sleep. It can bring you to your knees.” Yes, this adds a HUGE layer, and I would try to justify the anger and literally rage (that only my husband was lucky enough to witness), by saying it was the lack of sleep and that all moms feel some of this pain.

It was not as bad in the day. The nights were by far the worst. However the days had their own set of problems. For example, at a holiday class at Blooma I had many mamas attending that I had not seen since giving birth. And as always there were hugs and smiles and questions of love such as, “How is she? How are you?” and then there was the one that I will never forget: “Are you totally obsessed with her or what?!!? I couldn’t lie. I looked this mama deep in her eyes (with love), and said “No, I am not at all. I love her, but I am not loving this at all.” I think I scared the shit out of her. I was honest. And most people aren’t. Hiding the truth is not my forte.

I also knew I was hitting my low when a few times when I was teaching yoga, I had to step out of class because I could not fight the tears anymore. I had to go in the lobby and get my head back on. It was all just too much … talking about birth, being a mother, teaching to be authentic and speak your truth and move and stretch and feel support … and I was totally a wreck inside. Yes, sleep deprivation was a huge part of it, but it was clearly more than that. My brain chemistry was not in sync and I was in a deeply sad place.

Another incident I will never forget was when I was at car repair shop getting new tires. I mentioned to the nice auto shop owner something about my 4 month old baby girl. He said what many might say, “Oh congratulations.” That’s when I leaned forward and looked him in the eye and asked “Why do people say that? There is nothing good about this.” Obviously I shocked him and the statement is not true in my current reality. BUT that’s when it hit me, I was in a dark place. For God’s sake, I was telling the auto repair man that I need help.

I want to be clear … I knew how to function. I knew how to run board meetings, I knew how to run errands (I loved doing those), I could easily love up my two step kids (they brought me so much joy), and I could easily put on my face. I was “getting by” and I really knew how to hide my darkness IF I wanted to. But I knew in my heart that I was not OK.

Luckily one dear friend could see the anxiety I was going through. She could tell that I was spinning in a way that was not “normal.” She suggested I seek help from a professional postpartum depression counselor. As a side note, I had been seeing my therapist of 9 years every few weeks, but again, I knew how to hide it from her and just spoke of the usual highs and lows of being a new mama, and work and marriage. So I went to the specialist but due to our professional crossover in the birth world, she said she couldn’t see me and suggested I see someone else.

Months passed as I had no motivation to try and make a call to find someone else. At this point in the journey I was beyond anxious and could barely make any phone calls. Everything seemed so overwhelming. Everyday I felt like I was drowning in my own stuff. Nothing was enjoyable, and sadly I still was not connecting to Metta. I couldn’t find my groove with her. It was like I kept asking myself, “when is this ever going to end? Why am I in so much pain?”

Then help came again. Within one week I had this original friend check in on me and two other women in my life confront me. They asked the hard question “Are you okay? I am worried.” Out of these three only one interacts with me on a weekly basis. One of them actually lives overseas, BUT she could tell through my emails that something was not right. I knew I had to make another call for help, but again, it was too overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do.

One of these women asked what I really needed. I needed someone to make a few calls and find me a therapist that could really identify what was going on. She said yes and right away (literally that day) took the time, did the research and made an appointment for me with a therapist that deals with prenatal and postpartum issues. Within a week I was at her office and she, as well as an OB that I saw later that day had me take a postpartum “test.” And there it was right in front of me in black and white — I definitely was in need of help.

The phone call and the appointment that my friend set up was exactly what I needed. I needed someone to make the call for me, to schedule the appointment for me. I needed the step-by-step hand-holding to have this happen. It was the only way I was going to move forward. Because again, a simple phone call and scheduling this with my crazy schedule was just way too much. It was way too much.

_____________________

There are many options for support: talk therapy, medication of many types, new mama groups, other support groups, friends, yoga … Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) yoga I have to say was a saving grace. (One Saturday morning when I was deep in “it” and wanted to crawl in a ball and cry for the day I decided to attend BYOB. It literally changed my whole day. My time on my mat with Metta was and still is beyond priceless).

I chose a combination of support through this journey,  and in the end, I made one of the hardest decision of my life. I decided to take Zoloft. I initially felt a ton of guilt. One thing that made me said yes to it and soften the guilt was my OB saying, “This is not forever. Try it for 6 months and lets see how you do.” Luckily now the guilt is gone, it’s gone because I have me back. The “veil” has been lifted. The overwhelming anxiety I had has softened. I finally don’t have panic attacks when I open my email. I don’t feel totally overwhelmed when I am needed in so many places. For the first time in 8 months I feel like my true voice has come back out. I am not living in darkness as much. I can’t say it is completely gone, I still have dark moments, but it has gotten better.

Looking back, I would have done several things differently: not over scheduled myself so much, taken more naps, learned to say no more often, turned off my phone and computer more often, seen a therapist months earlier, and yes, gone to more yoga and new mama groups more often. And I would have taken medication earlier. I do get sad when I look back and think that Metta’s first 5 months were so scary and there was such a lack of connection.

Today there is a sense of hope and a new freedom in my brain. It is hard to explain, but like I said, a “veil has been lifted.”

To all of the mamas out there, please know you are not alone. Please do not be sacred to email me, call me and ask anyone you can for support. You do not have to walk this alone.

Thank you to the three amazing friends that took a risk and reached out to me, Sarah Marshall, Lauren Herbeck and Julie Kesti.

Tags: , , ,

My Walk with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Yuck.  There is no easy way to start this. I want to write from my heart and I also need to protect the privacy of my family and my sweet daughter’s life. But, as Blooma takes this week to speak on Postpartum Mood Disorders, how can I, the owner of Blooma not speak of my own hard dark journey that I’ve experienced this year?

In the beginning it was bliss. Total bliss. I rocked the hell out of my birth. My long second stage of birth (pushing), was over 15 hours (no joke). It made my high of birthing Metta into my arms in the bright sunlit garden room of my father’s country home even brighter. I was so damn proud of myself. I rode this high of me and my power for several days. I loved my body. I loved what I accomplished. I loved my family and my birth team. I loved the phone ringing off the hook with words of celebration. My husband, family and friends took care of me. I wanted to ride this high forever. I never wanted my “birthing time” to end. But it did. And just like I have told hundreds of mothers and fathers, “Mama will most likely will crash on the 3rd or 4th day and have significant hormonal swing.” And of course, it happened to me, and I am not sure I ever really swung back until Metta was four or five months old.

It was pretty clear to me that within the first 7-10 days I wasn’t totally sure that I loved being a mom … and I wasn’t sure I knew how to love Metta. She was so yummy. I did want to eat her up, however, I couldn’t understand why she was here and why I wanted to run. I felt huge waves of anxiety and pressure to love her more then I was. I was deeply sad and found little room to come up for air. As a dear friend of mine said, “It’s like you’re homesick.” And I was. I was homesick for my old life. After 38 years of independence and entrepreneurship I felt so trapped and so sad. I couldn’t just run and be me, “Sarah.”

The tears starting flowing pretty heavily around days 7-10. I remember a home visit from my dear midwife when I just cried. You know, those tears that just keep coming and don’t stop as if a water hydrant won’t shut off. Now here is the interesting thing: I starting shifting from a place of “Poor me, I hate my new life. I want to run and hide”, to … “What the fuck? This world is so crazy and I brought a sweet young soul into it. Why would I do such a thing? The world has too many people already and we are all so fucked up and none of this makes sense. Everywhere I look there is war and hatred.”

Then the scary thoughts started coming on pretty strong. The ones that at the time I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone. The ones that still make me feel sick to my stomach. I will tell you, these thoughts were rarely about me and Metta. I never had thoughts about hurting myself, and I wouldn’t say that I had thoughts of hurting Metta. But, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that at times I pictured the room spinning out of control with my baby in harm’s way — with no handle on how to protect her. The worst were those dark thoughts. They mostly came at night when I was breastfeeding (so you know, an average of 3-4 times a night. Ugh. It sucked).

The thoughts started with simple things like: I am rocking in a rocking chair. I am rocking my daughter. I am so blessed to have this chair. So many mothers do not have chairs. There are women right now that don’t have a chair. They don’t have a house. The are breastfeeding their babies in a shack on a plank. They are cold. They are sad. They are all alone. They have trauma. They have no food. I have a house. I am warm. Mothers are cold. Mothers are alone. I am scared. I am scared to be alone. I hate this. I hate life. I don’t want to live. Oh this chair. That mama, she is alone on a dark, cold floor. She is there crying. She is sad. She is sad like me. I can’t do anything to help her. I want to run away and leave this stress and this darkness. It is so scary in here … and I don’t want to tell anyone how bad it really is.

Then there were the ones like: I live in an old house. Wow, this house was built in 1904. I wonder about the other moms who lived here and fed their babies at 2 a.m. in this room. Wow, it is cold here. It is -20 outside. I am warm. Were those mamas warm? Were their husbands helping them stay warm? Did their husbands take their babies and put them out in the cold to freeze to death and die? How many babies have been left to die? How many babies have frozen to death? Was the mom happy that lived here? Was she sad like me? Why am I so blessed to have heat and a warm house? Babies are dying all over the world right now. Moms and dads are hurting their babies and I need to stop them. This is all too much. How can this be? Okay, Sarah, breathe, breathe. You are OK. You are safe.

Yes, this was my brain. These were my thoughts. All alone in my room. Rocking my sweet baby girl. Ah. Ah. Ah. I would always wonder if she was getting these thoughts and my fear through my milk. I tried my best to stop them, but it was so hard and so painful.

Besides the darkness and the brain running 100 miles an hour, there was anger. I am not sure if the anger fed the darkness or the darkness fed the anger. What I do know, is that it was always written off as “sleep deprivation.” You know that line, “Oh it is so hard not getting enough sleep. It can bring you to your knees.” Yes, this adds a HUGE layer, and I would try to justify the anger and literally rage (that only my husband was lucky enough to witness), by saying it was the lack of sleep and that all moms feel some of this pain.

It was not as bad in the day. The nights were by far the worst. However the days had their own set of problems. For example, at a holiday class at Blooma I had many mamas attending that I had not seen since giving birth. And as always there were hugs and smiles and questions of love such as, “How is she? How are you?” and then there was the one that I will never forget: “Are you totally obsessed with her or what?!!? I couldn’t lie. I looked this mama deep in her eyes (with love), and said “No, I am not at all. I love her, but I am not loving this at all.” I think I scared the shit out of her. I was honest. And most people aren’t. Hiding the truth is not my forte.

I also knew I was hitting my low when a few times when I was teaching yoga, I had to step out of class because I could not fight the tears anymore. I had to go in the lobby and get my head back on. It was all just too much … talking about birth, being a mother, teaching to be authentic and speak your truth and move and stretch and feel support … and I was totally a wreck inside. Yes, sleep deprivation was a huge part of it, but it was clearly more than that. My brain chemistry was not in sync and I was in a deeply sad place.

Another incident I will never forget was when I was at car repair shop getting new tires. I mentioned to the nice auto shop owner something about my 4 month old baby girl. He said what many might say, “Oh congratulations.” That’s when I leaned forward and looked him in the eye and asked “Why do people say that? There is nothing good about this.” Obviously I shocked him and the statement is not true in my current reality. BUT that’s when it hit me, I was in a dark place. For God’s sake, I was telling the auto repair man that I need help.

I want to be clear … I knew how to function. I knew how to run board meetings, I knew how to run errands (I loved doing those), I could easily love up my two step kids (they brought me so much joy), and I could easily put on my face. I was “getting by” and I really knew how to hide my darkness IF I wanted to. But I knew in my heart that I was not OK.

Luckily one dear friend could see the anxiety I was going through. She could tell that I was spinning in a way that was not “normal.” She suggested I seek help from a professional postpartum depression counselor. As a side note, I had been seeing my therapist of 9 years every few weeks, but again, I knew how to hide it from her and just spoke of the usual highs and lows of being a new mama, and work and marriage. So I went to the specialist but due to our professional crossover in the birth world, she said she couldn’t see me and suggested I see someone else.

Months passed as I had no motivation to try and make a call to find someone else. At this point in the journey I was beyond anxious and could barely make any phone calls. Everything seemed so overwhelming. Everyday I felt like I was drowning in my own stuff. Nothing was enjoyable, and sadly I still was not connecting to Metta. I couldn’t find my groove with her. It was like I kept asking myself, “when is this ever going to end? Why am I in so much pain?”

Then help came again. Within one week I had this original friend check in on me and two other women in my life confront me. They asked the hard question “Are you okay? I am worried.” Out of these three only one interacts with me on a weekly basis. One of them actually lives overseas, BUT she could tell through my emails that something was not right. I knew I had to make another call for help, but again, it was too overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do.

One of these women asked what I really needed. I needed someone to make a few calls and find me a therapist that could really identify what was going on. She said yes and right away (literally that day) took the time, did the research and made an appointment for me with a therapist that deals with prenatal and postpartum issues. Within a week I was at her office and she, as well as an OB that I saw later that day had me take a postpartum “test.” And there it was right in front of me in black and white — I definitely was in need of help.

The phone call and the appointment that my friend set up was exactly what I needed. I needed someone to make the call for me, to schedule the appointment for me. I needed the step-by-step hand-holding to have this happen. It was the only way I was going to move forward. Because again, a simple phone call and scheduling this with my crazy schedule was just way too much. It was way too much.

_____________________

There are many options for support: talk therapy, medication of many types, new mama groups, other support groups, friends, yoga … Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) yoga I have to say was a saving grace. (One Saturday morning when I was deep in “it” and wanted to crawl in a ball and cry for the day I decided to attend BYOB. It literally changed my whole day. My time on my mat with Metta was and still is beyond priceless).

I chose a combination of support through this journey,  and in the end, I made one of the hardest decision of my life. I decided to take Zoloft. I initially felt a ton of guilt. One thing that made me said yes to it and soften the guilt was my OB saying, “This is not forever. Try it for 6 months and lets see how you do.” Luckily now the guilt is gone, it’s gone because I have me back. The “veil” has been lifted. The overwhelming anxiety I had has softened. I finally don’t have panic attacks when I open my email. I don’t feel totally overwhelmed when I am needed in so many places. For the first time in 8 months I feel like my true voice has come back out. I am not living in darkness as much. I can’t say it is completely gone, I still have dark moments, but it has gotten better.

Looking back, I would have done several things differently: not over scheduled myself so much, taken more naps, learned to say no more often, turned off my phone and computer more often, seen a therapist months earlier, and yes, gone to more yoga and new mama groups more often. And I would have taken medication earlier. I do get sad when I look back and think that Metta’s first 5 months were so scary and there was such a lack of connection.

Today there is a sense of hope and a new freedom in my brain. It is hard to explain, but like I said, a “veil has been lifted.”

To all of the mamas out there, please know you are not alone. Please do not be sacred to email me, call me and ask anyone you can for support. You do not have to walk this alone.

Thank you to the three amazing friends that took a risk and reached out to me, Sarah Marshall, Lauren Herbeck and Julie Kesti.

Tags: , , ,

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