Post-Partum Depression was something I had read about and knew about but never thought I’d suffer with myself. How could I be depressed when I had a brand new bouncing baby boy? What was there to be depressed about? I remember when my youngest son was born feeling so much joy and fascination with this little life my husband and I had created. Man, did we do an amazing job! Both our boys are amazing, beautiful, and oh so smart.
I remember feeling so much pride for my son but also feeling like something terrible was going to happen to him ALL THE TIME. I’d watch while he slept to make sure he didn’t stop breathing. I’d wake up if he made the slightest noise. I’d have nightmares of someone kidnapping him.
I lost so much sleep over the anxiety. I started to feel depressed and numb. I would take care of my son because well, it was my job as his mommy but I did it on auto pilot. I wasn’t doing all these things with the usual love and grace I had in the beginning.
Things continued to go downhill, at work I wasn’t myself and was brought into the managers office for a meeting about my behavior. They believed I was depressed and needed help. I remember feeling like I needed to scream all the time and not knowing why. I began to become psychotic. I don’t use that term lightly. I literally became psychotic. I was hearing things that were not there. I hid all this for the longest time because well, who wants to hear about how crazy you are, right?
One day I was feeling extremely depressed, anxious, and didn’t feel I could take care of the kids by myself. I was so overwhelmed I just snapped. I went into the kitchen (very discreetly since my husband and children were home), grabbed a huge handful of Tylenol and swallowed them all. I just couldn’t win the fight against my brain anymore. My brain won. Score 1-0, brain wins.
My husband came into our bedroom a while later (I’m not sure how long because I was barely conscious at this point). I remember him asking me what I took? How many? When? Why? And then he called 911. The next thing I remember I was in the hospital being told I was being admitted to the psychiatric unit because I was a danger to myself.
The weird thing was, as scared as I was, I was somewhat relieved I was finally going to get help. Maybe I’d actually have a chance at getting better. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but sure as hell knew something wasn’t right.
So, one son who was 3 and the other 1, I had to leave them and get psychiatric help. I felt like the worst mom ever. This definitely didn’t help my depression and anxiety.
I went to therapy, group therapy, saw my psychiatrist, did the things they wanted me to do so I could go home. I took my meds, stopped “hearing things” but I still wasn’t myself. No matter what combination of medications I was given, nothing ever worked.
After a week, I was admitted to a different hospital; one that could deliver the kind of help I needed. I was there for a short time but now they were talking about how I still wasn’t snapping out of it. They were talking Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT (Think One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest but more humane). This procedure had to be done under anesthesia where they would paralyze me so as not to break bones, They’d hook me up to electrodes, and shock my brain (I’m asleep, remember), and send me into a seizure. The hospital I was at didn’t offer it, so off I went for my third psych admission at a new hospital.
At this point it had been almost two weeks since I’d been home and seen my kids and husband. They finally thought I was well enough to have visitation with my family. Thank God! I cried so hard seeing them all for the first time in so long. 15 minute phone calls just didn’t do it for me.
They had approved me for ECT. They thought 5-10 rounds would do it. I had 5 rounds with no success. We went for 5 more rounds with no success. I think in the end I had 15-20 rounds of ECT before my brain responded the way it was supposed to. I was coming out of this horrible depression, my anxiety was lessened, and I was finally on the right meds. I was making some progress! After a month of being bounced from one hospital to the next, I was finally able to go home.
There was a lot of arguing between my husband and family about “electricity being shot through my brain,” and my husband had to deal with all of that while I tried to recover. He took so much on. He has always been my rock. Taking on the world for me when I can’t function.
It was quite a few years before he’d have to take on the world for me again but unfortunately this depression just doesn’t want to leave me alone…