I knew that once I had my third baby things would be different. For one, I was hundreds of miles away from my family since I had just moved to Florida from New York, with no family nearby. I knew it would be difficult but, as people will warn you; you can never feel ready enough to have a baby, even if it’s the third time around.
Those first few months were HARD. It seemed like I cried for no reason. And life felt extremely overwhelming. The normal day-to-day tasks felt grueling. Taking care of a baby is challenging, but taking care of a baby while still having to take care of your other babies is a challenge you can never feel prepared for. The demands are constant and when you’re all alone, you feel lonely, sad, frustrated and overwhelmed. Not to mention, you just had a baby so you’re tired, cranky, emotional and TIRED, among other feelings.
But this is supposed to be a magical time. I’ve always believed that the newborn phase is magic but I certainly didn’t feel anything magical when all I could do was cry in frustration. I felt so isolated. I also felt like I needed to suck it up and put my big girl panties on. But I couldn’t.
What made me decide to get help was recognizing that I was having extreme highs and lows. One day I was depressed and couldn’t see any good reason to do anything, the next day I felt exuberant and like I could take on the world. I knew enough about mental health to know that this wasn’t a good sign and that I should talk to a doctor about getting on an anti-depressant.
I wish it would have been that simple of a decision, but I still struggled. I struggled with the decision to get help and I struggled even more to get on prescription medication. It felt like a sign of weakness, like I had lost at motherhood. For weeks I had a terrible dialogue with myself; You’re not strong enough, you can’t handle it, you’re not a real woman. These statements taunted me for weeks but then I realized the truth; that it was all a lie. I was recognizing that I had a problem, and I was willing to fix it, even if fixing it hurt my pride. And that acceptance empowered me.
On the way to the doctor, I kept preparing what I was going to tell her to make her believe that I legitimately needed a prescription. I was embarrassed and felt like I would be judged- even though I knew and fully understood that she, as a doctor, deals with this sort of stuff all the time. As soon as she finished my exam I told her what I was feeling, she gave me an understanding smile and assured me that I was normal. I walked out with my prescription and felt a huge relief. I was going to be OK. I didn’t feel anything of what I had felt in the previous weeks; I actually felt happy.
And I was. I started feeling like my old self within a few days. My thoughts weren’t so erratic. I felt a balance I hadn’t felt in a long time and with the exception of some higher than normal sweating, I had no other side effects. I didn’t take the medication for the duration that my doctor recommended- I actually ditched them altogether after a couple of months, but I’m glad that I got over the guilt and shame of having PPD and spoke to my doctor. I helped myself and it felt great to finally be able to enjoy my baby the way that I wanted to. If the situation arises again where I feel that I’m not feeling like myself, I won’t hesitate to seek help again because I know that in order to take care of my children, I need to make sure I take care of me.
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