National Womens Health Week-Post Partum Depression
Posted Oct 17 2012 4:50am
A look back: My struggle with post-partum depression and depression
Did you know that this week is National Women’s Health Week (May 13-19)?
“It’s Your Time”
This week it is important to stop and take some time to evaluate your own health and well-being. Being a busy mom of two children under the age of four, plus working part-time for our family business, and training for a marathon I have to remind myself to slow down and take care of myself. I have always had the mother hen personality (My mom said I was always mothering others even as a kindergartener). When thinking about others and making sure everyone else is ok it is pretty easy to forget about yourself.
As you may already know, I suffered from postpartum depression after the births of both of my kids. My pregnancy with my daughter wasn’t exactly straightforward, I had to have abdominal surgery when I was 12 weeks pregnant, feared losing my baby and then had other complications towards the end. After going through all of the difficulties with pregnancy having postpartum depression was still very unexpected after the birth of my daughter. It actually went undiagnosed longer than it should have because I wasn’t ready to talk about it or admit that I was having such a hard time. It is difficult to feel like you are constantly under a grey cloud and feeling “stuck” as I did, paralyzed by the sadness and anxiety during a time that is supposed to be filled with happiness. Having a child is amazing and you will feel love like you never had before but it is also extremely difficult to ever be truly prepared for what having a child means. When my daughter was born I constantly felt overwhelmed by a challenging baby who did not feed well and so was awake all of the time and wanting to eat constantly. I felt like I was disappearing. I felt alone. I felt helpless. I felt frustrated. I felt exhausted. I lost my laughter. Motivating and getting out to do simple things felt incredibly difficult. I completely lost myself.
When I was pregnant with my son I feared that I again be faced with the weight of sadness that is postpartum depression. And again, a somewhat complicated pregnancy ended with a beautiful baby and me in full on postpartum depression. This time we knew how to address this much sooner but still the climb to get out of the dark hole was a collision with my inner-self. I needed to find a way to regain my positive outlook and get back to the “normal” me now as a Mom.
When you suffer from postpartum depression you have elevated levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which is a hormone often associated with depression. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are also thought to be a cause of depression. According to the website Livestrong, Serotonin is,
“made from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of protein and which humans eating a normal diet consume in significant amounts. High levels of tryptophan in the blood signal the brain to make serotonin, which has many beneficial consequences on mood and affect, including promoting happiness, relaxation and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.” (Sep 2, 2010 | By Kirstin Hendrickson)
When I finally came face to face with the idea of getting help for the way I was feeling, knowing about how these hormonal imbalances can create the perfect storm of postpartum depression helped me to realize that it was not my “fault.” I needed to lean on my family and friends for support. I needed to open myself up and talk about why I was so sad and withdrawn. I had to let my support network in to my challenge to be my guidance and the light to the way out of darkness. I had to create a plan for wellness for myself. This included getting back to exercise. This was perhaps one of the most important things for me because it is through exercise that I have always found balance, release, focus, motivation, and feelings of positive self-worth. It is through exercise that I have always felt in place, as a part of a team and a community. Getting back to running gave me the goals that I needed. It has given me checkpoints along the way to better health, energy, and a positive outlook.
My husband helped me get back into my running shoes and out onto the road. He called on my friends to be my support and to get me back out there doing what I love where I could reap the positive benefits of the endorphin “rush”, the energy from Vitamin D from the sun, and the laughter that I so desperately needed to elevate my serotonin levels and to bring me back to a place where I could laugh at myself and to find the hope and bright spots. It is amazing how many women I have talked to who have told me that they too went through this when they had their babies. Postpartum Depression is nothing to be ashamed about and is something that should be talked about. As women we need to support each other no matter what our different challenges may be.
Now here I am almost 4 years after the birth of my daughter and then my son and about one week away from my Marathon goal. I now feel strong. I work to find time for me. I try hard to be positive and to not become overwhelmed. I have taken on new challenges with the attitude of “No Regrets.” I am working hard to take care of ME so that I can take care of my family and friends. I have learned a lot about myself on this journey and work hard each day to use these lessons to grow and change.
My new outlook
During National Women’s Health Week please take time to check-in with yourself. Share your stories with the people in your life that support you. challenge yourself to a new goal and don’t look back.