Friday, March 12, 2010

Postpartum Postmortem

Our dog used to have the patience of a saint when it came to kids crawling on her, but since her two knee surgeries, not so much. Today she barked at Mac. She rarely barks so it scared the life out of him. This 'puppy' is not hers to discipline, so she got the triple whammy: the shin block of banishment, the Cesar Milan shhht, and my family's patented glare, which wilts the strongest of wills. I even growled. Dog knew she'd done wrong and cowered in the corner.

I guess the entire family is adjusting to the new reality of Mac: The Mobile Edition. Last night he pulled a new one; he sat bolt upright, swiveled and pitched forward onto his face so that he was now sleeping with his feet in my face. He did it several times. Today we will be cutting his toenails. And having a nap.

Last night I went to the premier of the documentary for this, three stories about postpartum depression and psychosis. It was a chance to revisit my own PPD and with some perspective, I can now see how bad it really was. There was a time when I looked at Mac's beautiful little face and thought to myself, this is the biggest mistake I've ever made. I told Trev I wanted Mac to go away, that I hated him. I did physical harm to myself and I considered doing physical harm to him. It was a hard day but a good day when I finally admitted, "this is not getting better. I need help." Oh, the look of relief on Trevor's face. Of course he knew it was time; he'd been trying to tell me as much for weeks, maybe months. One of the strongest messages of last night came from the husbands. It's hard to suffer from PPD, but it's also hard to bear witness.

What's not hard is getting drugs. It's easy to get drugs once you've admitted you need help and a lot more difficult to get help beyond that. Dealing with PPD or any depression requires a three-pronged approach: body, mind, spirit. The drugs take care of the body and if you can't afford to pay for your own counseling, that's probably where the support ends. You're on the drugs indefinitely. They were the right choice for me at the time; I needed a break from the darkness.

When I chose to come off of them, people close to me rightly expressed concern. I have dealt with my depression before and I knew it was going to take strict vigilance and herculean effort on my part. But I also felt rested enough after the stretch of normalcy to risk it. I felt like I had the resources and it was time. I made an agreement with Trevor that if he felt I was slipping, I would return to my doctor.

It was hard work. The withdrawal was horrible. First the physical symptoms - the nausea and brain zaps - and then I started to get what I call "the rage" multiple times a day. I would feel a horribly strong urge to break something, hurt something, beat the living crap out of something. It required I stop whatever I was doing to breathe. If that didn't work, a very hot bath. I had a lot of baths, sometimes three a day. I never felt like I was a danger to Mac (had the psychiatrist's number close by just in case), but there are a few plates that will never recover.

The rage would happen every day, then every second day, then a couple times a week and last night I realized that I can't even remember the last time I felt it. I am so happy it's gone. I have more ups and very few downs, and the ups are solid, stable and real. The downs are just usually a little grayness and more often then not indicate that I need to get out of the house or I'm just tired.

This is a lot to share, I know. But I also know some women who are pregnant right now and I guess I feel I owe them an honest account. I have no advice except the example of my experience, and to put it this way: once upon a time I resented, even hated my baby. Now I can't wait until he wakes up from his nap so I can kiss his face some more. That's a huge difference.

posted by Working From Home Today
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Blogger notquiteawake ~ 3:59 PM

I know I've told you this a million times but I think you are such a strong person and I admire you so much. Good for you for getting through everything. I am so proud of you. I'm also so jealous. I've always thought Trevor was awesome but what strength it must have taken to stick through it and have faith that both of you would get through it together.

And you've also helped me get over the fear of never finding someone and having kids because now having kids scares the living shit out of me so I'm pretty ok with being 34 and single. :)  

Blogger Working From Home Today ~ 4:18 PM

Thanks, NQA. Oh man, I know it's not this way for everyone. Otherwise the species would die out. So you could be set.  

Anonymous Anonymous ~ 8:48 PM

I have to echo. There are few people I admire more than you.  

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