This week I shared that I have depression and anxiety on my radio show Two Moms and a Mic (Revision 1/1/19 no longer on air). I also shared that I am going to participate in Postpartum Support International's Climb Out of Darkness event June 23rd at 11am-2pm. Going into motherhood with my first pregnancy I knew because of my mental history I had an increased chance of experiencing a maternal mood disorder.
Fast forward to 2014, We made a big move to Indiana, leaving gorgeous California behind.
Oh man, I did not adjust to this move well and I fell into depression hard. So hard that I sought out a therapist six months after our move because I could not "function". I started feeling a little normal and then we conceived our beautiful girl and what should have been a happy moment for me had me full of anxiety. I remember breaking down crying at my homeschool co-op group and I didn't even know why I was crying. I was excited to be pregnant but didn't know how to show it and all I felt was anxious. I probably should have seen this as a sign but I didn't, I continued with therapy though.
Sept 2015 My gorgeous baby was born in the comfort of our home, caught by daddy while her siblings slept comfortably in their beds. Home birth is the way to go, man oh man full on comfort with a trusted midwife and birth team, WOOOO!
26 days later the darkness crept in and posted a picture to capture my sadness about feeling overwhelmed.
I still remember the lump in my throat when I look at it and some negative reactions. When someone suffers from anxiety and depression those negative comments really stick out. They confirm the feelings and suddenly I felt slapped with a bag of heavy bricks! The weight of anxiety and depression on top of me, I felt like I was drowning and I wanted it gone. I felt like I was dying slowly, I could even see myself sometimes.
People don't understand how powerful our minds are, its so scary how little we actually know about the mind.
What I do know is I was flashbacked to twelve-year-old me, panicking, drowning and visioning myself dying. I can't tell you how many times I swore I died and left my kids without a mom, how many times I dreamt myself dead and my family functioning well without me, only to wake up in full blown panic! Then later think maybe they would be better off without me. It is so sad how dark and full of lies mental mood disorder can be thankful I knew something was wrong and was brave enough this time to speak up. I let my midwife know I wasn't doing well and felt crazy. The next step was seeing a psychiatrist, what she told me she thought I may have was something I had always given my family history. I shared with her that when I was a teen I was told I had manic depression, this psychiatrist explained that when I was young diagnosing bipolar disorder in children was not a common practice so many were diagnosed with manic depression as to not alarm people. Since I knew my past diagnoses she had me fill out one of those and it confirmed the diagnoses of bipolar disorder. She offered me medication but I told her I wanted to try treating it with therapy. So I made a call to my therapist and let her know I needed to go back to having weekly appointments.
In 2017 I felt like I needed extra help and decided to go on medication and so I went back to the psychiatrist who diagnosed me in 2015. Because my bipolar disorder is not full swung it was recommended to use anxiety medication since anti-depressant can trigger a manic episode.
Knowing what my manic episodes are like I decided to try anxiety medication and it has helped me tremendously. I still see my therapist. Three years later I am back to once a month appointments. Thankfully I have a wonderful therapist who understands my health needs and will give me extra appointments if I need them.
I share my story because Maternal Mental Health is IMPORTANT. We, moms, are raising future generations who need to know that sometimes mental health is a part of someones normal and its ok to get help.
If you are a medical provider reading this please make a promise to yourself to make a difference and provide a safe environment for your patients to share. We struggle with horrible thoughts and fears that the minute we open up, you are not in support of us. We need to know its ok to seek professional help. We deserve to feel safe knowing we have caring care providers that will be understanding and not cause more harm.