The hardest thing I’ve ever done was not giving birth; it was admitting I needed help and accepting that help for my mental health. I had a considerably smooth pregnancy. The getting pregnant part was not so easy, but the pregnancy itself and the delivery of my baby girl was surrounded in that fairy tale glow that other people hate you for. (Minus pregnancy acne). BUT… I was also *that* mom. That 1 in 5 mom.
I was the 1 out of 5 women who have perinatal and mood anxiety disorders (PMADs) in the U.S. And as a healthcare practitioner myself, I truly thought it could NEVER happen to me.
Then I tried to breastfeed. I tried so hard to make it work. We did tongue tie consults with multiple specialists, hired an in-home lactation consultant x2, tried alternating between Spectra & Medela pumps, put on nipple shields, and still, it was futile.
Then came insomnia. I was so wired and anxious that I simply could not fall asleep, even though I was utterly exhausted and WANTED desperately to sleep. The anxiety and pressure of going to sleep was a vicious cycle that fed on itself. As a pharmacist, I asked my doctors to order all the different kinds of sleeping meds but nothing seemed to work, and it made me even more anxious that I didn’t have a solution.
I started having intrusive thoughts and self-deprecating thoughts. I felt guilt and shame and fear and complete inadequacy. I’ve never had mental health struggles in all my life. On top of that, I developed ulnar nerve problems in both hands from trying to breastfeed all day. I had restless, tingly pinkies and ring fingers radiating up to my shoulders.
I went to PT and the guy who saw me told me I should stop holding my baby and rest my arms….yes, stop holding and feeding my 5-week old because that’s great for bonding. I cried almost everyday, multiple times a day. Every time my husband tried to take pictures of me with our baby, I couldn’t bear to look at the camera because the fake smile that came out of it was someone I didn’t recognize. I felt ugly, defeated, incompetent, unworthy of being a mother.
I wish I could say there was a magical solution that fixed everything, but it was really just Time. Admitting and accepting that I needed help finally pushed me in the right direction to heal. I stopped worrying about the stigma of antidepressants and therapy and I let them run their course. Slowly, I climbed out of the darkness. It was hard, but I did it.
And if this sounds like a dark place you’re in right now too, then you need to hear this (because I needed to hear this too back then): it WILL get easier. It’s NOT your fault. You ARE enough. And you WILL get better. I’m literal living proof.
shared by guest author Jasmine