Dear Postpartum Depression,
I'm pregnant again, and I wanted to have a little sit-down with you. About our relationship with each other, and expectations and such.
After the birth of my first child, you sneaked up and clobbered me from behind. I was living 3000+ miles away from my support system, with few friends, in a new marriage, while broke. The first six months after my daughter's birth are a blur. You made me into a zombie. With an overworked husband who had a ridiculous schedule, and no one around that I knew, there were days when I didn't leave the bedroom all three of us shared. I alternated between miserable and numb to the world.
After six months, I found a part-time job. This forced me to do things like, say, shower on a regular basis and interact with people. Things slowly, oh so freaking slowly, started to look up. I never did get help, and it wasn't until after the birth of my son that I would look back and see the giant flashing neon signs of PPD from that time.
With my second child, I thought it would be better, easier than the last time. I would be moving near my family. Of course, I didn't take into account that we'd be making a cross-country move weeks after our son's arrival. And that initially, everyone would be jobless, and we'd be living in my in-laws' home. Luckily, the husband got a job shortly after we got there. The job took him out of state for most of the first year of our son's life. And we were still living with the in-laws for a good part of that. My in-laws aren't bad people, but none of us were used to sharing a house. And it had been a very long time since they'd been constantly around small children.
My son was born in September of 2007. We finally moved into our own place in March of 2008. It wasn't until April that I broke down on the phone with my husband (I'm not even sure what state he was in at that point) and told him how bad it all was, and how close to committing suicide I really was. He made a 12-hour trip after a 16-hour shift to make sure I went to the doctor that next day.
And I finally got help. It wasn't all roses from there on out or anything. Medication is tricky, and it took some really negative reactions, and some "meh" reactions, before we finally found a combination that worked pretty well. Another tricky thing? Finding a therapist your insurance will cover who clicks with you well enough that you'll actually continue seeing them. But that's another post.
But this time, Postpartum Depression? I know you're going to try and shove your way in again. And this time, I've got a plan. I've got a support network RIGHT HERE. Besides my family and friends, I also have The Band, and I know they have my back. I'm working on getting rid of stress now, in anticipation of later. And I've already started talking to my doctors about the likely need for medication. And while I'm willing to try to do things in a way that will let me breastfeed, I've also started to make peace with the idea that it might not be in the cards. That I might have to feed my child formula in order to take medication that is, not to be dramatic, life-saving. I'm working on being okay with that.
This time, Postpartum Depression, I'm not going to let you steal me away from myself or my family.