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Postpartum Struggles

On a sunny spring day in 2019, my world changed for the better. My baby boy was born into this world. Healthy and adorable (like a tiny old wrinkly man), he finally arrived after 6 hours of pushing. During birth I started experiencing preeclampsia, which is dangerously high-blood pressure, so the first few days of his life are quite a blur for me.

Fast forward a few months, and I was in LOVE. Obsessed really. My perfect baby boy was growing quickly, and his personality had started to shine through. But as he grew, so did my anxiety. Now most new mamas are nervous, and many are anxiety-ridden, but this reached a whole other level. First there was fear of something bad happening to him, then came the intrusive thoughts of me doing something terrible to him (I logically knew that I would never hurt him, but my mind somehow saw me as a threat too). Now, I of course have heard of postpartum depression, but I wasn't depressed - just scared shitless.

I was terrified of everything hurting my baby, including myself. Everyone and everything were a threat to my baby's life and wellbeing. It took a serious toll on my mental health. To compensate, I tried to shelter my baby at home and when we did venture out into the world, I was his hypervigilant bodyguard. But home then became unsafe too - was he going to get cut with a kitchen knife or drown in the bath? As the thoughts got darker and more disturbing, my nervous system became overstressed - ultimately leading to depression.

One night while drifting off to sleep, with my amazing husband next to me and my little love soundly sleeping in the next room, I thought "maybe I just won't wake up tomorrow" and a wave of relief washed over me. That's the moment I realized that I needed help.

The next day I made an appointment with my primary care provider who quickly diagnosed me with postpartum anxiety/depression and prescribed Zoloft. Let me tell you what a game changer that was! The lowest dose made me feel like me again. Great, so I was "fixed"! Or so I thought.

My will to live was back intact, but the intrusive thoughts would still creep in. That's when I reached out to a therapist who specializes in treating women experiencing postpartum issues. In retrospect, that was one of the best decisions I've ever made. She has helped me in ways I never thought possible. Now not all therapists are created equal. I tried two before I found the one who I clicked with, the one who truly cared, the one who could really help me. If you've been turned off by therapy in the past, just know that it works, you just have to find the right fit.

The morale of my story is that postpartum issues are real, intense, not to be ignored and not to be stigmatized. It was certainly a dark and difficult time, but with the right support, I not only saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but am now living in it. If you are struggling, but think that this can't happen to you, join the club. It's only when you admit you need help that you can truly be freed from the mental and emotional prison called postpartum anxiety/depression. Trust me, help is out there - please don't suffer in silence.


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