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Friday, December 26, 2014

Overcoming PPD

A couple months ago I posted about my struggle with postpartum depression. You can read that post here. I always want my blog to be my own personal experiences, but I also want to be able to help others whenever I can. I know that postpartum depression is very very common. I am not a doctor. I am not trying to say I have "the cure" for it. But when I struggled with postpartum depression I did a LOT of research and did several things to help feel better. I'm so thankful to be on the other side of it now and hope my experiences can help others get to this point as well. I also highly recommend the site: Postpartum Progress. I had a hard time finding postpartum depression resources and was so thankful to have found this site! 


  • Admit You Are Struggling: Realizing you have postpartum depression is half the battle, in my opinion. Hormones are crazy after having a baby. How do you know when it's "just hormones" or something more? For me personally I cried, a lot. And I felt very overwhelmed. And I felt like this dark rain cloud was over me all the time. Like I couldn't be happy and like I just hated my place in the world at that time. Nothing I tried helped me feel better so I realized that I was probably struggling with something larger than "just hormones." In my opinion, if you are wondering if you have postpartum depression then you probably have it. 
  • Speak to a Professional: When I realized I had PPD it still took me a good couple of weeks to go talk to my dr. Just making the appointment was hard. But once I went I felt SO much better. Hearing that it's something so many people experience made me feel normal rather than like something was wrong with me. They also checked my thyroid which is important! So going to your doctor is not just to "talk about it" but also to check things medically that could be causing it! 
  • Seek Counseling: My midwife recommended to either see a professional for counseling or use medication. I really looked into both routes. I have been to professional counseling many times and I have learned so much from those periods of my life. It really helped me to work through my problems and taught me many coping mechanisms. I knew that having three kids it would be tough for me to find childcare on a regular basis to go to the therapy sessions. And I knew they'd be expensive. And I knew the stress of both of those things would cause me more anxiety than it would help me work through it. I am a HUGE advocate of counseling, however, and if you are struggling with anything in life then speaking to a therapist is very beneficial!
  • Use Medication, if needed: The second thing my midwife recommended was medication. We talked about both Cymbalta and Zoloft as options. I am a nursing mother and it's something that is extremely important to me. I looked into both medications and read on several sites that Zoloft is considered the safest to use while nursing. However I read that the side effects of it included drowsiness. Um...I get drowsy when I take DayQuil. There was no way I could take something that would make me drowsy! I called my pediatrician to discuss what medication they recommended while nursing and he said he didn't feel comfortable with me taking anything while breastfeeding. I'm not saying no one should take antidepressants while nursing, but I wasn't sure how I felt about medication and hearing my pediatricians opinion about it made me more secure in my decision to turn down medication. 
  • Go Outside and Be in the SUN: I opened all my blinds and let the sunlight in as much as possible while I was inside. I also tried to get outside for at least 15-30 minutes each day. I believe in seasonal depression...I know I always feel gloomy when the time changes during winter! So it made sense to me that going outside and soaking in the sun would help lift my spirits. 
  • Get Ready for the Day: When I first had my baby I did a great job of showering, fixing my hair, putting on makeup, etc each day. We had company bringing over food and I wanted to look alive! As time passed, and company stopped coming, I let myself go. I'd have days where I stayed in pjs. Or days when I'd skip a shower. When I realized I had PPD I knew that taking care of myself was something I needed to make a priority. Even if I didn't leave the house...just getting ready for the day helped me feel better. 
  • Get Sleep: My third baby has been the one I've struggled with the most in the area of sleep. She was going through the 4 month sleep regression when I hit my lowest point of my depression issues. When baby doesn't sleep...mama doesn't sleep either! I started making my day about my ability to rest. When she was first born I'd nap all the time, but as she got older I stopped napping. I incorporated naps and/or earlier bedtimes for myself back into my routine. 
  • Minimize Stresses: I have always had high anxiety so it didn't surprise me that my postpartum depression was the sad/anxiety combo. Once I was able to admit I was hurting, I was able to better manage my plate. For all of my adult life I've been very mindful of not overloading myself. Three kids made that a little impossible to keep doing. But I took a step back and went through my day and simply cut things out that needed to be cut out in order for me to feel like I was managing my home. I had a party coming up that I was hosting and I canceled it! I knew I couldn't handle that added stress and I knew that the guests of the party loved me and would understand and support my doing what I needed to do. 
  • Ask for Help: It's hard for many of us moms to admit we need help. But we do! I'm blessed with many great people in my life who want to, and are willing, to help when needed. But in my situation I knew I needed my husband. I didn't want outside help, I just wanted it to be him and I. I needed to feel like we could handle it all and I wanted to feel like we were a team. I had many talks with my husband and explained to him what I knew I needed in order to cope. He was SO supportive and really worked hard to help me! A big thing for me was his traveling with work. I couldn't handle him being gone for several nights in a row, so he rearranged things to be home more often. 
  • Clean the House: SO many things I read about PPD suggested not doing your household chores. I knew myself. A messy house only causes me more stress...not less! As a stay at home mom I look at that mess all day long. I knew I needed my home to be cleaned. I also knew it was unrealistic to expect a spotless home with three kids. So I focused on one area that was a "must have" for me. The kitchen. Whenever I have a free moment I make time to make sure the kitchen is clean. As long as it's clean, I can handle messes in other rooms of the house. But my stress level is significantly lower when I have a clean kitchen!
  • Take Supplements: Many resources I found said to make sure to have 1,000 IU of Vit D a day and to also take both a calcium and a magnesium supplement. What is interesting to me is that I had stopped taking my calcium and magnesium once my baby was born. I started taking them both again and I also made sure that my daily vitamins contained enough Vit D. 
  • Drink Water: Don't you feel like every list you ever read suggests to drink more water? I'm terrible about drinking water and it really does make a difference! Aim for 6-8 glasses a day, but water is totally a "more the merrier" thing :) 
  • Write It Out: Writing is healing for me. Obviously, I'm a blogger so I love to write. I wrote this post about my feelings and almost instantly felt better. I also wrote out a list of all the tips I found to help treat my PPD. Writing the blog post helped me work through my emotions, wiring the list helped me have a plan of action moving forward. 
  • Talk to a Friend: It was interesting to me who I felt comfortable talking to about my feelings during this time of my life, and who I didn't. I'm very close to my mother in law but I didn't want to talk to her about it. I'm thankful I have many wonderful friends who are always supportive of me. My best friend, Robyn, is the entire reason I sought help. She was there for me, but she also pushed me and didn't stop pushing me until I called and made the appointment to see my midwife. Without her help, I'm not sure if I would had made that call and would have started the process of getting through it! Find someone who you trust and vent those feelings. Keeping them inside is only keeping you from being happy!
  • Learn From Others: A big blessing in having a blog with a pretty strong following is that as soon as I posted about my PPD I was flooded with texts, Facebook messages, and emails from other moms who have also dealt with similar feelings and emotions. It felt AMAZING to hear that I wasn't alone and that so many moms I know and respect have come through PPD. I loved hearing their tips and suggestions and it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew then that my struggles wouldn't last forever and that I could be happy again! I also hunted Pinterest and google and read as many blogs and websites as I could. Even if you don't know someone personally who has dealt with PPD, there are many bloggers who have written on their experiences! (myself included!)
  • Know Yourself: I am very, very self aware. I know myself extremely well (most likely thanks to all those years of counseling haha!). Everyone is different and we all have different needs. I knew in my time of struggle that I needed certain things. For example, I read that many breastfeeding mothers wean their babies when they have PPD in order to take medication. I knew that weaning my baby would only cause me more depression. I also knew that having outside help would make me feel worse about myself. I am the parent and I want to handle my own children. I knew I needed my husband and I to be a team and to feel like it was our little family and that we were able to parent all three kids and feel confident in that ability. My best advice is to know yourself and figure out what will best help YOU. 
  • Have Some ME Time: It's not selfish to take care of yourself. Let's repeat that: it's not selfish to take care of yourself. Why as moms are we made to feel like it's selfish to do things we enjoy doing? To take a break? It's not selfish at all. Especially if you're struggling with postpartum depression! Go out to dinner with friends, take an older child on a "mommy date," even just go get groceries! I'm a stay at home mom so I knew that getting out of my home was essential in order for me to cope with my emotions. I needed breaks and I needed them at least 1-2 times a week. Some people can get a break by having alone time reading or just watching tv. But I needed to physically leave my home. Ride in the car listening to my music. Smile at strangers. Have time away from my family so I could feel re-energized once I came back home. 
  • Be Thankful: I loved an idea I found about writing down things you are thankful for each day. By doing this you are training your mind to focus on the positives. I didn't actually write mine down but I worked on taking time to pray and truly thank God for small blessings. Not just the biggies, but little things. I tried hard to not complain throughout the day. I made it a focus of mine: no complaining. Instead I tried to find the goodness in each day and have a positive outlook on my life. Turns out I'm pretty darn blessed ;)
  • Have Small Victories: Set yourself up for success! Part of my struggles was feeling like I couldn't handle being a mother to three children. I felt like a failure and needed to turn that around. The first thing I did was take all three kids somewhere in public by myself. I loaded them up and we did a very quick, easy, errand at Hobby Lobby. I was gone less than an hour from the house but I felt like a superhero for surviving the outing. I needed that victory. I needed to feel like I could handle my new normal and that I could do it on my own. It was empowering and was a HUGE step in my healing process!
  • Pray: While I focused my prayers on being thankful, I also prayed for help and guidance. Patience. Peace. Wisdom to know the best route to take. I wanted to be myself again. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to truly enjoy my new baby and my wonderful life! I am SO blessed to have this blog as when I wrote about my PPD I had so many people lifting me in prayer. I felt those prayers. So don't just pray alone...but ask for others to pray with you and for you! Social madia is such a wonderful avenue for this! {thank YOU for those of you who prayed for me!!!}
  • Give it TIME: Having a baby is a life changing experience. We have ALL these hormones and it takes the body time to adjust. You never, ever want to just "wait it out" when you are struggling with postpartum depression. It won't just magically go away on it's own. Even worse, it can become deeper and darker and make it more difficult to heal the longer you wait to seek help. However, it does take time to work through those emotions and to fully be on the other side of it. Be patient! It's not something that there is any kind of "quick fix" for. Don't give up hope!
Postpartum depression is something to be taken very seriously. As someone who has struggled with depression before, I was able to recognize pretty early-on that I was feeling more than just the "baby blues." A new baby is such a great blessing and is a time of joy. They grow up SO quickly and you deserve to be able to enjoy your precious baby. I knew I wasn't fully enjoying these early days with my new baby and I knew I wanted to be my happiest self. I don't want to look back at her first year of life and have regrets or only remember these days as negative ones. By taking action, admitting I was struggling, and having a game plan I was able to quickly come out the other side of my postpartum depression. I hope that anyone who is struggling with PPD is also able to make the dark cloud vanish so they can enjoy the sunny skies again! 

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