An Update on PPD

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Well, I finally had a few minutes to update the blog with how things are going, but I still don't have updated pictures of the babies because they are still sitting on my camera. But when I do actually get more than 5 minutes to myself to download the pictures, I have a lot to post about like hot summer days spent running through the sprinkler in the backyard and our first trip to the National Zoo. But for now, it will have to wait because we are busy enjoying a great visit this week with Emma and Jackson's Gigi and Papa. Soon, I will have pictures to post about Jackson's Baptism and Emma's 2nd Birthday too!

Overall, things are going well with us. I'm still struggling with the PPD but seem to be managing it a little bit better now. I ended up switching medications recently so the transition was a bit tough but hopefully that will help get me back on track until I can kick this thing. For the most part, my week seems to be normal, at least from the outside. I tend to struggle with concentrating at work and still get a lot of anxiety at night, but most of the time, I'm able to keep it under control. Then there are the days where I can't keep in under control. On those days, something will send me into a downward spiral and about half of the time, I can recognize what it is, try to deal with it and start to bring myself back up from the downhill slope. The other half of the time, I tend to cross a point of no return, where there is nothing to keep me from falling down that slope and it's just an indescribable feeling. I get overwhelmed. I get so overwhelmed where I fall back into the early days of PPD where the smallest tasks are overwhelming, where I am so emotional that I can barely keep myself together, where I don't want to eat, and its all I can do to try to make it through the day. Over the past month or so, I have really been working on identifying what my triggers are that send me into those spirals and because of that and continuing to go to therapy, I can step outside of the situation when I feel it starting to happen, do what I can to reduce the triggers, and move forward. I am also getting better at prevention as well. For example, one of my main triggers is noise and chaos. Two things that are always present with two kids under two and one with colic. Ack. However, we have made some changes at home that have been helping, like making sure the TV is off while eating dinner, keeping the TV at low levels of volume, making sure that our TV isn't on at the same time as Emma watching a movie on her little TV, running the dishwasher in the morning or when we aren't home. Although it doesn't fix everything, it helps me to manage better.

I also just bought When Panic Attacks by David Burns which got great reviews on how to handle and deal with anxiety (med free). Hopefully I will make the time to sit down and read the book!

I still find it very difficult to really explain what it's like, but anyone who I talk to who has had PPD or anxiety completely understands. But if you haven't had it, its incredibly hard to explain. PPD ends up throwing you into this vicious cycle of needing help, but then feeling like you are getting too much help, then you end up being resentful for all the help, then being angry for people feeling like they have to walk on eggshells around you and thinking that you are about to break or that you are fragile, but then more frustration when you realize that you need them to walk on eggshells around you because you are fragile and you might break. It's something that you need help and support to get through, but it's also something that no one can fix for you. There is no magical answer to fix it, and I think that's one thing that Wes is now realizing. You can't just sit down and relax when you are overwhelmed, you can't just "let things go", and there is nothing that he can do to fix me. But as my husband, that's what he wants to do. I never would have expected the little things to mean so much with PPD. There are little things that get me through the day, and there are little things that send me into a complete breakdown. Like the fact that I forgot sunscreen on our trip to the zoo (even though I found it 2 hours later because I spent 30 minutes the night before packing the diaper back because of the anxiety that I might forget something).

The little things mean a lot. If someone brushes off the little things, it hurts.

The medicine and therapy aren't answers. They aren't automatic cures for PPD, but they help you manage it, and get through the day. I remember sitting in my doctor's office when my mom took me to see him for the first time and he diagnosed me with PPD. I was scared to go on medication, but now I'm almost scared to go off of it just because how I felt during the switch. I need it.

I think another hard part about PPD is a lot of times you can seem "normal" on the outside, so your loved ones may think there isn't anything wrong, but inside your mind if whirlwind. Your loved ones don't know whats going on with you, unless you tell them, and that is certainly a lesson that I am still learning myself.

A lot of times, I even know in my brain how irrational I can be, but it's like your body doesn't get the memo. That's where it gets back to the little things. It took me days to try and decide what strollers to take to the zoo, I lost sleep over it, I thought about it at work. Should I take the double stroller so it's easier to push both babies around? If I take the double stroller, there isn't as much sun protection for Jackson. But if I take two strollers, it's going to be more to keep track of. I played it over and over and over in my head for days.

For me, the main things that I am still struggling with is the anxiety and OCD part of PPD, but lately, I started feeling paranoid. Paranoid that someone was going to take Jackson, paranoid that someone was going to break in and hurt my babies. That's one of the reasons for the medication switch.

But, we are going to end this on a positive note because today has been a good PPD day. I have been feeling much more bonded to Jackson lately, and that has really been amazing. There are times where he is crying and upset, and gets passed around the room with everyone trying to comfort him, but when he gets to Mommy, he settles down, lays his head on my shoulder, and falls asleep. He has the biggest, and brightest smile ever, so much so that his entire face lights up when he smiles. His giggle is infectious, and you can't help but get lost in his deep blue eyes. He is my manly.

Oh, and get this. I figured out how much PPD costs a month, at least for me. I finally got back on track with our budget and between therapy co-pays, medication, our new alarm system monitoring fee (thanks to the PPD paranoia) and the amount of wine I need to get through the week, PPD costs $247 a month. If that's not motivation to kick this thing, I don't know what is. :)

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