It’s been almost three months since I bared my soul on this blog … and then ran away to work on getting better without so much as an update. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like there was anything to update. I was visiting my primary care physician regularly so he could monitor my progress and see how I was responding to the increase in anxiety medication. I was meeting with a counselor every two weeks who provided me with several tools to help manage the mild postpartum depression I was experiencing. She was also a sounding board for my motherhood insecurities and frustrations.
I am still a work-in-progress, but I feel better than I did in April. In fact, my primary care physician and I decided to reduce my anxiety medication to the dose I was taking during pregnancy. And, on Wednesday, I graduated to an “as needed” patient with my counselor.
It’s a wonderful and yet terrifying feeling.
I recently found myself looking at pictures and watching videos of Collin during the first few months of his life. Not for nostalgia, but to help me remember. I later confided to my husband that I don’t clearly remember anything – good or bad – from those first five or six months.
It’s as if I was in a trance.
I’m not sure how or when I snapped out of it, but one day things were just “easier.” And by easier I mean less anxiety and tear-inducing. Pumping breastmilk was now the norm and I no longer felt like a terrible mother who didn’t spend enough time with her baby. I began voicing my concerns and thoughts to Randy more often instead of letting things fester. I became much better at managing my time and no longer felt overwhelmed trying to get us out the door. Of course, I’m never early anymore; however, I am typically always right on time. And I’m okay with that. It’s my new normal.
I still have improvements to make. I still struggle with having confidence in myself as a mom. I’m still anxious at times when it comes to new milestones (crawling, pulling up, learning to eat grown up food). But I’m getting there.
We still have some improvements to make in how our family functions – which will help ALL of us be happier and more productive – but we’ve recently made some steps in the right direction. I am very hopeful we’ll get things squared away sooner rather than later.
Positive updates aside, this entire experience has made me acutely aware of this society’s ignorance, perhaps, toward mental health.
Yet in 2008, Maureen had her first suicidal thought. An hour later she found out she was pregnant. When she told her gynecologist she was sad and felt depressed, her doctor said, “you should be happy, you’re having a baby.” So Maureen started asking for help elsewhere. Over the next few months, as the suicidal thoughts became homicidal, Maureen sought out the help and diagnosis from 28 different health care professionals, none of whom were able to tell her what was wrong. The 29th professional finally informed her that she was suffering from a severe perinatal mood disorder, a leading complication associated with pregnancy.
Twenty-nine healthcare professionals to diagnose a severe perinatal mood disorder.
That is unacceptable.
As far as society goes, we have long taken a hands off approach to these issues. It’s taboo to talk to someone about their mental health. It’s been taboo to seek help because we’ve been made to believe we’ll be seen as “crazy” or weak.
I never truly realized how taboo it is until several people, after I disclosed my postpartum depression, commented about how they knew something was off or, in some cases, were “appalled” by how I was acting.
Not once did these people approach me – even though I was clearly acting out of character. Who knows, maybe they just assumed I was being a huge bitch – not an overwhelmed new mother suffering from a mood disorder.
No matter what, it’s a clear indicator of the uphill battle we have to reach some sort of social acceptance for discussing mental health.
One thing is for sure, I’m going to do my best to be part of any forward progress. I hope you will as well!