Before I go any further with this blog, I feel like it’s really important to share this part of my story. When my daughter was 6 months old, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. In reality, I struggled for a few months before really realizing what was happening. That fact was really frustrating to me at the time because I felt like I should have known. I mean really, I’m a licensed school counselor. I am literally trained to recognize the signs of depression, and yet, in my fog, it just didn’t click. For those months, I brushed it off as the “baby blues” and just tried to make it one day at a time. I vividly remember sitting it my OB’s office and saying, “I feel like I cry all the time. I could cry at any moment in time and I’m anxious all the time. I don’t think this is normal. I think I am depressed”
Postpartum Depression left me in a fog
My OB was truly wonderful throughout this conversation. She reassured me that there was hope and talked to me about options and ways to cope. I walked out of her office with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Those closest to me know that I fight even taking an ibuprofen for a nasty headache. I avoid going to the Dr until it’s absolutely necessary. In this case, that prescription left me feeling anxious and like a failure. I know that’s completely irrational, but when you’re depressed, rational thought isn’t always in the forefront. After I talked to my husband, I made the decision to not fill the prescription. I wasn’t having any issues of self-harm, so I decided that I wanted to try some natural remedies before going that route. I opened up to my husband about exactly how I was feeling, talked to a couple close friends about it. It was important that I made sure that my support team knew what was going on. I needed them to be alert, so that if things got worse, they could help me down a different path.
Why I chose to go without medication
It’s important for me to say that I 100% believe that medication is the correct path for some people. I also wholeheartedly believe counseling with a professional therapist is an amazing and brave choice if you have the option. There is a time and a place for both of those routes. If you have gone down one or both of these paths, I applaud you for taking the steps you need for your own health. Bottom line is, one size does not fit all! My decisions were based on what was best for me and my family. In all honesty, the idea of taking the medication was terrifying for me. I was breastfeeding at the time and had recently gone back to work. The anxiety that the medication would cause my milk supply to dry up was so real. Nursing was my lifeline to home. So much of my postpartum depression revolved around having to leave my daughter each day when I so desperately wanted to be home with her. When I pumped at work, it was salve to my soul because it allowed me a way to provide for her even when I wasn’t there. I was terrified of jeopardizing that connection with her, and believed that I could take steps towards healing with my support system by my side.
how i battled postpartum depression
Again, if you are in this position, I urge you to talk thoroughly with your support system and Dr, seek counseling if you have the option, and make the choice that is best for you. This is just my experience and not medical advice. When I left my Doctor’s office that day, I immediately felt a ray of sun through the darkness. Finally voicing what I knew deep down gave me courage. It gave me strength. There is power to speaking truth out loud and not hiding it in the shadows. I felt like I took some of the power away from the disease that day and started fighting back. First and foremost, I felt like it allowed me to give the battle to God and really acknowledge my need for Him. I couldn’t fight without Him, but I was clinging so tightly to every shred of control that I didn’t allow myself to fall into His arms until then. I attribute my healing in large part to God and the prayer warriors He placed around me. They covered me, lifted me up on my darkest days, and I am forever grateful.
In addition, I started walking regularly. I knew that “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! (and happy people don’t kill their husbands)” Legally Blonde anyone? haha Really though! My husband gifted me with a FitBit and I made it my goal to get 10k steps everyday. When I got home from work, we loaded our daughter into the stroller and went on long walks together. The exercise, fresh air, and sunshine made such an incredible difference. During these walks, we talked and my husband helped me process through the emotions I was feeling. I didn’t always want to walk (hello postpartum depression sapping your motivation and desire to move), but I knew that the alternative (taking the medicine) was inevitable if I refused to try anything on my own. So I made myself do it no matter what and I slowly started feeling a difference.
I didn’t let fear or anxiety stop me from sharing my story
The last thing that I can pinpoint from the start of my journey 3 years ago is community. In the midst of my postpartum depression, God planted a seed of hope. A seed that said, “Not yet my child, but someday, I will make a way for you to stay home.” I clung to that seed of hope. With that seed, He also gave me the idea and plan to start a business. At the time, I didn’t know if it would amount to anything, but I gave it my all anyway because I believed in His plan. I spent long nights building my business, growing a community through social media, and slowly but surely, He provided for our family. In the fall of 2018, He opened the door for me to stay home and it was one of the most joy-filled moments of my life. The community He gave me through our shop was such a crucial part of me healing. I decided early on to be open and vulnerable about what I was going through. God really showed up and surrounded me both with encouraging women, and also with women who were going through the same thing. It was cathartic to open up and share my story and hear stories of other women who had walked a similar path.
you are not alone
If you’ve read this and you’re battling postpartum depression & anxiety or just plain old depression and/or anxiety, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to walk this path by yourself. I encourage you to find a support network (including a Doctor if at all possible), to stand by your side. If you’re comfortable sharing in the comments, I’d love to hear your story. It might be what someone else needs to read. If you’re in the middle of the battle, I’d love to pray for you. I’m just an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for reading about my story. Looking back reminds me just how far I’ve come and just how faithful God is to provide.