Thank you for coming back to read the second part of my postpartum depression and anxiety story. If you missed my first post, you can read about my panic attacks and struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression before continuing.
Finally admitting to myself that something was not right was the first step in the process to reclaim my thoughts. I knew that I didn’t need to feel ashamed of what was happening to me but at the same time making the phone call to the doctor to schedule an appointment was so hard. So hard.
I first tried getting an appointment with my OB but that was a complete failure. I called, talked to the receptionist about needing to see the doctor for postpartum depression, called back and left a message, and was finally told that I couldn’t get in for an appointment for at least several weeks. I honestly felt like I was being tested and wondered just how many times I would need to say what was going on in order to get an appointment. I hung up the phone in tears.
Wiping up my wet face and blowing my nose I made a promise to myself that I was going to call my PCP and get this taken care of. I love my primary care doctor and soon I was in his office with tears in my eyes explaining to him what I had been experiencing. I wasn’t sure what I had been expecting but he was so kind and understanding that I knew I hadn’t been able to get an appointment with my OB for this reason. I was exactly where I needed to be.
I left the doctors office feeling so much better about everything. I had a plan in place laid out by my doctor who would be monitoring me during my treatment with follow ups and a list of counselors in my hand to call to setup an initial visit. I also had a prescription for Zoloft.
Within two weeks I was sitting in the office of a christian counselor pouring out my heart. For the next several months I completed lots of homework.
Want to know what I was learning about?
That doesn’t sound horrible at all does it. Most people love talking about themselves. I do too!
But when it comes to dissecting my behaviors and why I am wired the way that I am it really isn’t super fun. It is very insightful but it takes an open mind and heart to look at your life, how you were raised, and basically all the experiences that made you, well, you.
I learned so much. I am huge proponent of counseling now and would recommend it to anyone. In counseling I actively worked on real life skills for sustained change. This was not an easy process but well worth the investment of my time and energy.
My major breakthroughs involved recognizing what triggers my negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how to catch, challenge, and change them when they appear. Reading my bible each day, listening to uplifting sermons and podcasts when I am exercising or after the kids have gone to sleep, being more aware of the pattern of my thoughts, and being comfortable spending time with friends again has helped tremendously.
I “graduated” from my counseling sessions right before Christmas and by the end of January I was back in the doctors office for another follow up and to discuss going off the medication. My doctor asked me an array of questions. He wanted to know what I had learned in counseling, how I was going to cope with my anxiety once I was no longer on the medication, and how Josh and I were doing. I have so much respect for this doctor that he took the time to ask me these questions.
Sitting and talking in the doctors office during this visit was much different from my initial appointment 6 months earlier. I was upbeat, my outlook on life had improved, and there were no tears, only smiles on my face. I left the office with permission to stop taking the medication but to call if I start to notice any changes in my mood or behavior.
It has been several weeks and I am doing well. Not to say that I still don’t catch thoughts in my mind that shouldn’t be there but I am able to challenge them logically and correct what behavior led them into my head. I know this will continue to be an ongoing process.
In my situation, medication alone wouldn’t have solved the underlying issues that were triggering my anxiety, but it did allow me to think clearly enough to get to the root of the problem. While medication would have altered my mood it wouldn’t have allowed me to really deal with the reasons behind my anxiety.
If you are suffering with depression or anxiety I highly encourage you to seek out a certified professional. Hormonal imbalances after pregnancy make some women more susceptible to postpartum depression. There is no shame in admitting you need help. God has not left us here alone to struggle through things by ourselves.
My husband and family have been so supportive and encouraging and I am not sure if they will ever know how much I appreciate them. I am thankful that I sought treatment and that I am not allowing my worries to rob me of joy.