Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spiraling Down... My PPD experience

A few days ago I admitted to my husband that I felt suicidal. I can't recall ever having to say anything so difficult in my life.

Now I'm here to admit it to the rest of the world in hopes that some woman will gain the support she needs to get through this herself. I plan to edit this post as I progress so it'll all be right here for anyone who someday may need it...

At about 4 weeks postpartum I began feeling depressed and agitated. I would get frustrated that my baby needed me. That my other children needed me. I would blow up at everyone over anything and frequently cry soon there after. I felt guilty for being so mean...

It has progressed to panic attacks... that tightening of the chest and feeling like I can't breathe. Fear of nothing and everything, I can't pin down what I'm afraid of but I feel scared. A knot in my stomach and the feeling that I'm about to throw up. Crying unexplainedly. Thoughts of killing myself, more like fantasies of how good it would feel to die. I've had visions of hurting my baby, always as a reaction to frustration but scary thoughts none the less. I have a hard time concentrating, I can't seem to make decisions, I feel like I'm forgetting something all the time, I blow up easily and can't seem to think clearly. I shake occasionally and I feel like I'm going crazy. This makes me feel ashamed, I don't want other people to see me as weak or incapable. I don't want people to hold it against me, I don't want people to think it makes me a bad person. I love my children and there are many times that looking at them is the only joy I feel all day.

Last night I got a prenatal, B-complex, Valarian root, Calcium magnesium,L-lyinsine an amino acid and Omega 3 fatty acids. The Valarian is a nervine and I'm hoping it'll have enough of a sedative effect to help keep me from blowing up at my kids all the time.

I'm supposed to call my doctor about getting on the progesterone pill. In the past I have taken normal birth control and had a bad reaction (wild mood swings and headaches). My doctor came to the conclusion that it was too much estrogen, the progesterone pill didn't have any negative effects. During pregnancy (a time when I feel very normal) the placenta releases large amounts of progesterone. I suspect that the decrease in progesterone maybe largely responsible... but I'm finding it difficult to call my doctor. I don't know what to say to her. I really want her respect and feel I have it. I feel at this point she sees me more as a peer than a patient and I'd like it to stay that way.

Yesterday was a very bad day... I really wish I could pin point triggers or something. Nathan left for work around 8 as usual, and as usual I was still in bed, a movie was on for the kids. I generally spend an hour or two half awake while they watch movies (yes I feel like a horrible mother but at this point I can't bring myself to do anything else)and then I finally get up, usually when the baby gives me no other choice. Typically I have to referee a few arguments and answer a question here and there, ordinarily it's not too bad but yesterday.... yesterday I could have literally beat a child. Everything in me wanted to double up my fist and hit someone. I called my husband who thankfully came home right away. I stayed in bed until nearly 4pm. I woke only to nurse the baby and at 3 when Nathan asked me to call my doctor for the mini pill prescription. I did feel much less stressed when I did finally get out of bed but the self induced guilt is awful.
My husband is a saint though. He came home right away when I called, supervised the kids all day, fed them, made sure chores got done, did his own work and even did school with them.
He talked with his manager today. I was hesitant, again self-induced guilt and shame, but it was for the best. He's been coming home frequently and I was worried how his employer would look on that (although they are extremely understanding and have always been super flexible). Turns out the manager has seen this in his own family and even said he suspected that was the case. So he's very understanding and praying for me.

not a good day. It's about 7pm. I've been "sad" all day a few minutes ago my youngest needed to nurse, I wasn't moving fast enough and he was tired and hungry and started to cry, it took everything I had not to just toss him to the floor! I even yelled at him (like it could help to yell at a 10 week old) to be quiet. Now I'm feeling really stressed and just plain irritable. Every noise my children are making is bothering me, I'm gritting my teeth and clenching my fists and I feel a headache coming on. I haven't taken any of my vitamins today...

Oh dear Lord! How am I ever going to survive this? I can't stand noise. Any noise. It's not like I have a headache and the noise hurts it's just intensely annoying. My first reaction is to do anything to make them shut up. I locked myself in the closet to get some quiet today. It's driving me over the edge, I'm sure you can imagine what a house with 6 kids sounds like!
I haven't taken any vitamins today either. I had thought that I would see what the progestrone pills alone would do but now I'm second guessing that.

Yesterday was a very good day! I've been very good about taking my vitamins and progestrone, drinking tons of water and making an attempt at getting to bed by midnight. I don't think I had a single panic attack yesterday! I know I didn't have any "scary" thoughts and I was able to feel when my anger was about to burst and circumvent it. I feel good that I went a whole day and didn't have to call my husband home. I took my daughter to cheerleading practice and left the baby with Nathan. It was about 2hrs after I ran to the store and it was good. I'm hoping it wasn't a fluke and that I've found something that works.
I also talked to a very good friend the other day and was surprised she had post partum depression as well after one of her kids. I was surprised because she had never said anything, but then I suppose it's hard to admit. It felt great talking to her, just sharing similar experiences and knowing that she really *knew* exactly how I felt. I mean my husband is wonderful and he tries and I know he empathized with me but he can never really know the feeling of being paralyzed by fear but that fear has no source, it's totally in your head and you can't even designate a source for it, it's just there and it has you by the throat. And because you're an intelligent woman you feel totally crazy, like you should be locked up because you're afraid of nothing! Try as he might he'll never totally know what I'm feeling, I'm wondering if I should find a support group...

Links that may help
My Dog Harriet another blogger shares her battle with PPD

It's a new year and I've been horrible about updating this. I'm sorry.
I'm doing fairly well. I'm regularly taking progesterone, EFA, and a complete B. I still have my moments, which I don't think my dh understands. It seems he thinks we've found the magic pill and all should be well now. He doesn't seem to understand the immense struggle it still is to get up and function. Maybe this isn't related to PPD but it's there none the less. I love him dearly and I know if I talked to him about it he'd understand and be great, but I feel like I'm making excuses. I mean how many times can you tell the teacher your dog ate your homework before he starts to question the reality of it.
I've started reading
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM): Premenopause
It's pretty good. I'm hoping to finish it soon and start using a natural progesterone to treat my depression.
In early December I tried going off the progesterone pills so I could do some hormone testing, it didn't go well. I had all the original symptoms back in a few days and by the end of the week was not really functioning.

I've stopped taking the progestrone pills and am now on a cream Progestacare. I seem moody, and irritable and a general depressed mood. I've been feeling isolated and rejected lately.
I had trouble sleeping the first few nights and I've spent most of this week with a migraine and intense nausea. I'm going to try to go back to the supplements, I'm just not very good about taking them. I also am beginning to suspect my thyroid isn't functioning properly, I'm exhausted all the time. Nathan thinks I'm not getting enough quality sleep, enough REM sleep. I kind of agree, but not sure what I can possibly do about it.

Swimming, trying desperately to keep my head above water.
At the same time wanting to just slip away.
The water is dark and icy cold,
the sky is black and looming.
Nothing can be seen in any direction
Which way do I go? What do I do?
I want to just stop stroking
I know I can't

Things are getting bad again. I'm using the progestrone creme in the morning and at night. I had my TSH tested, it's normal. I'm going to see an endocrinologist for further thyroid testing and hopefully a natropath for hormone testing.

I'm back on the pill. I really don't like the idea, but it's impossible to ignore the help it provides. I still struggle with a general sadness and some anxiety but no where near where I was. I have hope again and feel like I can function.
I hope to write about all this at some point. I think it's important to get women and men understanding that this is a real problem and not one to be ashamed of.
I had the opportunity to talk to a midwife at the conference who also suffered from PPD, though we both thought that Post Partum Psychosis might be a better diagnosis given the symptoms. I was amazed at how we could finish each other's sentences. We had such a similar experience it's amazing. Sad that she had to suffer too, but encouraged that she came through it. One thing she mentioned that I haven't mentioned here yet and I think it's important is that part of what has kept me from seeking more help, and being more open is that I am viewed as a "birth professional", a strong woman in the community. To admit that I'm not always strong, I don't always have the answer and that birth and post partum isn't always fantastic is hard for me. I hope I can shift this paradigm by writing about it.

well his first birthday has come and gone. I think I'm past the worst of it. I still need an incredible amount of sleep. I'm constantly tired, crave sweets something terrible. I'm often forgetting I'm hungry and skip way too many meals and I'm not thirsty hardly at all so my water intake is way down. I know this isn't healthy for me. I'm just really struggling with turning it around.
I've been off the pill since I got back from Oregon. I started taking brown kelp which seems to have helped some. I also had my thyroid checked. All my levels, including cortisol and adrenal function, came back on the very low side of normal, not low enough however, for this particular endocrinologist to supplement. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I'm not insured.
I'm trying very hard to get up in the morning by 8 as opposed to my usual noon and exercise first thing. It's a huge struggle, especially since my husband, as amazing as he is doesn't want to see me suffer so he has a tendency not to work to hard at getting me out of bed.
I'm hopeful though, there is definitely light at the end of this tunnel, and my son couldn't possibly bring me more joy.

I feel normal most days now, finally! I still tire pretty easily, but generally speaking I think I'm pretty close to my old self. Unfortunately in the last year the kids have gone totally out of control, the house is a complete disaster and I've lost contact with pretty much everybody in my homeschool group and online friends. I feel like I just got out of rehab, feeling great, yet still ashamed and out of touch. But, I'm holding on and taking it one step at a time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there girl........ this too shall pass. When you're in hell, don't stop! Keep going! As a homeschool father (of 6 too!) I've been there, seen the same feelings with my wife also. Sounds like you have a great hubby. Lean on him! We can take it. If you need to smack somebody just make sure it's him. He's the one that got you here, remember?

September 01, 2006 4:07 PM  
Blogger Babylady said...

your comment made me think of the Atkins song "If You're Going Through Hell"
If you're going through hell
Keep on going, Don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there

thanks for the support btw I know I'm going to get through this and am amazed at home much just being honest has helped.

September 02, 2006 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I don't have any pearls of wisdom. I'm commenting because everything you've posted I've felt. After my 2nd was the worst, the 3rd was okay, and I'm praying that the 4th will be too, but if it is I know that there is an end to it, and I am thanking you for sharing because more than anything it helps me to know that this thing I feel, it isn't something that's just wrong with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! (In the middle of that comment post I wrote the longest run-on sentence that I had to leave it as is. Wow!)

September 19, 2006 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are definitely on the good track to solve your problem! By spelling out all this you are showing how brave you are! I have only two children and can't imagine what it's like to have six of them. I remmember, though, that even taking care of one demanding baby can be totally exhausting, as was the case with my firstborn, where I was so drained out that I sincerely thought any woman who has more then one child deserves to recieve some kind of a decoration as a hero. I hope there's some way for you to get more help and support, because more than anything you need to get some rest to regain your balance. There's one more thing I noticed - every time we go through childbirth, some very deep layers of our own background, traumas from our own birth or early childhood get sort of disturbed and some of feelings like fear, panic, sadness, anger and so on might be coming from there. In fact it's like a kind of a big cleaning and an opportunity to get rid of some of this stuff and make a fresh start. I found the books of Susan Forward very helpfull if "administered" carefully because they are quite powerful in making the person that reads them aware of some things that are normally buried in the subconscious. In the meantime, it's just like you wrote - after a bad day will follow a good one and if you feel bad at one moment you can think tomorrow will be different. San

October 16, 2006 4:06 PM  

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