(Originally posted June 3, 2013)
I learned there that 10-20% of women experience postpartum depression, but if a woman has had a depressive episode in her past, she is 40-60% likely to experience it. I had been severely depressed in my early 20s.
I spent a lot of time crying and explaining that I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” for my son, who was 2.5 years old, my husband, or my daughter. I remember quite clearly the therapist saying to me, “Consider that you’re not meant to be ‘enough’. It really does take a village to raise a child.” I had this crazy idea that being a “good mom” meant doing everything (cooking, sewing, cleaning, and educating) with infinite patience. I started trying to accept that I could be a mom instead of trying to be a “super mom”.
The psychiatrist prescribed Zoloft. I had known before that I was depressed, but I never wanted to take medication because I thought I should be able to handle my emotions without meds. I could control my thoughts and feelings. Couldn’t I?
The therapists explained that taking medication for depression is no different than taking medication if you have diabetes or a heart condition. I realize many people still disapprove of anti-depressants, as I once did, but I’m a convert now. I don’t believe that medication alone can treat depression, but my anti-depressant helps me stay clear-minded enough to use the coping skills I’ve learned. Of course, the trick is to find the right medication.
Zoloft made me even more nauseated than my pregnancy. So sick that a few days after I’d started taking it, I started making plans to commit suicide, and I told my husband I wanted to terminate my pregnancy. Thankfully we saw the psychiatrist right away, and she got me admitted to the psych ward at the hospital. I tried another two doses of Zoloft before accepting that it just wasn’t the right medication for me.
The doctor prescribed Celexa, which ironically, lists nausea as one of its side effects. Thankfully, it didn’t make me hurl. I spent a week in the psych ward gradually finding the right dose of Celexa for me and attending group therapy to learn healthy coping skills.
Being hospitalized made it necessary for my husband and me to tell our friends what was happening and ask for help. I had held people at bay for fear they would discover I was “messed up”, but I couldn’t hide it any more, and it was incredibly liberating. Quite a few of my friends suddenly told me that they had also experienced depression. All of my relationships got deeper and stronger after that.
My daughter just turned three years old. She is an extremely cheerful child. I even have an ultrasound of her smiling in utero. Even though her pregnancy felt like it took two years, I’m grateful for all that happened. I finally got my depression treated, I learned how to ask for and accept help, and I got to experience love for myself and all of the people in my life in a much deeper, more fulfilling way. Yep, she’s my miracle child, some days it’s a miracle I don’t sell her on eBay. Hey, she’s a typical 3-year old, we all have those days.