Fact: I’ve been a mother for 15 months.
Fact: I accepted the fact that I had postpartum depression after about 12 weeks.
Fact: I never considered that PPD would linger past one year.
Fact: It did.
Yes, PPD has reared its ugly head again. I’ve been on OB-prescribed anti-depressants for a year now, and have intermittently attempted to go off of them under my doctor’s supervision. But it never went well. Once, my experiment coincided with a surprise business trip for Jake and torrential rains. Not good odds. But this most recent time I tried in the sunshine of summer with Jake here to support me. And still, no dice. It’s like a big, heavy cloud is following me around, keeping me from being fun for Seabass, helpful to Jake, or even just accepting of my own skin.
But in between those dark days, there have been wonderful days. Days when the medication was really working and I stupidly thought, Check it out: I’m a normal person! I’m mothering! Nicely, even! And I look like I fit in with the rest of society! Whooppee!
But it’s all a fantasy. In fact, it’s the most misleading fantasy I’ve ever had. To go off antidepressants and look at myself in the mirror – hair unwashed, eyes red from pointless crying – and realize This is the real me, is pretty freaking discouraging. Throw in a glance to my gorgeous, demanding son and another at my gorgeous, supportive husband, and I’m fit to be tied. The guilt is crushing.
When PPD entered my life, holding hands with Seabass, I had no reason to believe it would last this long. Kids get easier, right? My doc says yes and no – an answer I loathe. Yes, kids get easier, and no, it’s not about the kid. It’s about me and my chemical balance, which is currently out-of-whack. Doc then handed me a double prescription of Lexapro and said “Have a nice day!”
This has bothered me for a while. Why hasn’t he recommended a counselor? Or followed-up with me when I’ve changed medications? It’s frightfully lonely in PPD Land with just my OB as a buddy.
So I recently called ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support. I’ve never been a hotline-caller, but when I told Jake I couldn’t go on anymore, he made me promise I’d do whatever it takes to get well again. And I’m so glad I did. The nice woman on the line said ALPHA would cover my first call and first session with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in PPD, so I called her and she heard me out.
“You need a plan, girl,” she said.
Score one for the therapist. God knows I love a good plan.
“Are you sure this is an okay time to talk?” I asked, refering to the loud voices in the background while we spoke.
“It totally is. I’m on vacation with my kids, but this is more important right now.”
Score two for the therapist.
“I come home Monday. When we meet on Thursday, we’re going to put together a comprehensive plan for you. We’re going to look at your medication, your diet, and your physical well-being. I’m going to order a full panel of bloodwork to be done on you, because I suspect thyroid complications. And our end goal is going to be getting you off those meds.”
“That sounds great,” I said. “I’m nodding yes to all of this. But how much will it cost?”
“Don’t worry about that. ALPHA will pay for our first session, and after that, we can meet on the phone to keep your costs down. We’ll do whatever it takes.”
Score four. Therapist wins.