It's no secret that when I gave birth to my first born daughter on February 13, 2012 that I struggled with severe postpartum depression. I've written articles detailing my experiences, and have become a fierce advocate for taking the taboo out of the topic. It was a life changing diagnosis that impacted my initial ability to parent, altered the way I view mental illness, and almost prevented our family from expanding.
Mike and I struggled for years with the decision to have another child because our collective fear of me spiraling into PPD again outweighed any potential joys of welcoming a newborn. I even coined the term "Post-postpartum depression" as a means of refering to our lingering paranoia - I mean, how do you not name an event in your life that had such long-lasting effects?
We got pregnant in November 2016 after what seemed like hundreds of hours of deliberation, and that following August, we welcomed our second daughter, Hallie Sid, with excitement, joy and a lot of nervousness. This time we knew to be proactive; We lined up night nurses to ensure that I had enough sleep, multiple psychiatrist appointments for regular mental "check-ins", and our friends and family were officially on notice for emotional support. Mike and I are both "type A" planners to the extreme, and if there was any way for us to be over prepared for the potential of PPD popping in for a visit, trust me, we were there. And then some.
We waited during the first weeks of Hallie's life for the deep lows of depression, the evening blues, the debilitating sadness... but none came. We went to psychiatrist appointments smiling, sharing the fantastic news that all of our precautions had paid off. Week after week, month after month, we rejoiced in our luck, our happiness, and the utter joy of watching our two girls interact with one another. We (and yes, I mean we.... postpartum depression was not a battle that solely impacted myself) had dodged a bullet and could move on from the one chapter that had haunted all following chapters in our life as a family.
Cut to 9 months later - the beginning of May: I could feel it lurking... the little switch in my brain that was itching to fog my thoughts with darkness. But no.... I mean.... Hallie is 9 months old. We're past the potential for this, aren't we? Let's ignore it and fake it till we make it.
Beginning of June: I haven't slept for 6 nights. Seems that insomnia has come for a long-term visit, along with this period that is lasting an abnormally long time. Also the pain. Oh my god, the pain in my uterus. Note to self: Consider making a doctor's appointment to see why I'm bleeding out. But I'm totally fine. La la la la la la la la.
Middle of June: I can't seem to leave the house without anxiety. What if my kids need me? What if I die? What if THEY die? Hmmmm…. that's seems a bit extreme and irrational. Clearly no one's dying today. But still.... I'll stay home just the same. Just in case. Of floods. Or famine. And Voldemort.
End of June: Still not sleeping. This is how night-time infomercials get you... Considering the purchase of the WaxVac… I mean, they're RIGHT. Q-tips ARE a danger to your eardrums! Also, how do I NOT have the Comfort Wipe? I've been struggling to wipe my ass without assistance for years. Now I can do it with the aid of an extension arm in the shape of a giant claw? SOLD. I've been crying a lot... maybe the Comfort Wipe is the answer to all that ails me. Note to self: Buy more tampons for my record-breaking 25 day period (AKA The Red Wedding from Game of Thrones).
Beginning of July: Something is wrong. I'm scared. The blood inside my veins is vibrating. I'm literally tremoring, but on the inside. And no one can see it. Is that even physically possible? Can blood vibrate? Am I crazy? Do crazy people wonder if they're crazy... or are they so crazy that they think they're normal? Is this why I'm still not sleeping? Please make the spiraling thoughts stop. It feels like my brain is on fast-forward. Note to self: Mike has threatened to call the shrink if I don't. He may have a point.
And so it continued. So here we are today.
After many (many) trips to the psychiatrist and after too many metal tools and cameras up my v-jay, I have been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, uterine polyps that are to be surgically removed and adenomyosis. I am a walking disaster with a counter full of anti-bleeding, anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia prescriptions.
It's hard not to feel like a failure now that I'm back in the very place that I was trying to avoid. I have incapacitating panic attacks that bring me to my knees. I have no control over my body and my brain. Again. And I have so many drugs in me that the Shopper's pharmacist knows me by name... probably because I'm the only person who walks up to his counter and proclaims, "The only good thing about being diagnosed as crazy is that they give you the good stuff!" (As a side note, the next time I see you, ask me about the time I accidentally went to the wrong floor of the hospital and accused the woman at the Children's Speech Therapy counter that she "moved the psych ward on me..." and that "I left it in this exact spot just last week").
I know I have fallen off the map to my family and friends... but when asked "How have you been?" no one really wants to respond with "Actually, I've lost my mind and my uterus is imploding! How are you??"
It's scary to be here again... and it's scary to finally admit to it in public. But I began this blog with the intention of helping others in similar situations, and to play my part in removing the stigma around mental illness in mothers. So to those of you out there who are currently in it, battle on. Because I'll be right there battling along side of you.