To all the moms dealing with PPD and depression this Mother’s Day

mothers-day-rally1Many of you Honest Mom readers struggle or have struggled with PPD, depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

Maybe some of your Mother’s Days in the past have been less than ideal because of it. Or maybe this year it’s going to be a really hard day for you.

As I’ve said many times here on this blog, you are not alone.

There are so many women around the world who aren’t going to have a happy Mother’s Day because they are struggling with mental illness. To reach out and help these moms – especially new moms – the wonderful Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress created the annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health.

And this year, I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

The Mother’s Day Rally features 24 letters written to struggling moms – one letter posted each hour of the day, starting at midnight of Mother’s Day. All the letters are written by survivors of PPD, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, depression after weaning, and/or postpartum psychosis.

The Rally participants wrote these letters to inform and encourage pregnant and new moms who are struggling with their emotional health. I wrote about PPD, rage, and having the courage to get help, because I know the anger that often comes with PPD and depression isn’t talked about enough.

Many mom bloggers you may recognize are part of the Rally this year: Lauren from My Postpartum Voice, Miranda from Not Super Just Mom, Cristi from Motherhood Unadorned, Robin from Farewell Stranger, Jen from The Martha Project, Lori from I Can Grow People, and Jaime from James and Jax. And that’s just a sampling of the amazing and inspiring women who are involved.

My letter is live on Postpartum Progress, and I hope you’ll give it a read and leave a comment to encourage other moms who are having a tough time right now.

And if you are struggling, or you know someone who is, take some time to read through the amazing Rally letters. Even if you’re not specifically dealing with PPD, I am sure you will find some words of comfort in the voices who are speaking out.

I hope all of you – battling PPD or not – have at least a few moments of well-deserved peace this Mother’s Day.

Sending all you mamas love and hugs,

JD

 

(Image from Postpartum Progress)

My 2-word New Year’s Resolution may sound simplistic. But it’s not.

why am i not happy
I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions. But this year I’m making one.

It’s going to sound really simple. Kind of odd to some people. But for me, it’s a complex goal that isn’t going to be easy to reach.

I’m going to have to work at it. More than other people. Maybe more than you.

My New Year’s resolution is this: Be Happy.

Being happy used to be so simple years ago. I just simply was happy. Sure, there were bad times, but in general, life was good and I was happy.

Well, in general my life is still good. But am I happy?

I’m not sure that I am. And the fact that I need to think about it isn’t a good sign.

It’s not because anything is wrong. I have a great life. My kids, high-maintenance though they are, are good kids. Hubs is awesome. I have friends and family and all that great stuff. My family is not financially wanting and we have all the material things we need.

So what is it? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not … happy?

For a while now, despite following my own tips for managing depression during the holidays, I’ve been having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. My kids have been annoying me. I have been irritable and sad and wanting to be left alone.

I just haven’t been feeling like myself.

So one particularly bad morning last month, I popped half an antidepressant. For most people, SSRIs take a while to kick in. Sometimes weeks. For me, not so much. I feel better within hours.

And as expected, after taking that pill I felt better. I felt like me.

Since then, a few times a week I’ve been taking half a pill. And the days I do, I feel – well, happier. Less negative. More able to enjoy life.

I worked for so long to wean myself off SSRIs. And then I was off them for three months.

But maybe that time is over. Maybe I need them again to feel like me. To be happy.

And if that’s the case, so be it.

Because I want to enjoy my kids. Not be annoyed by them.

I want to feel accomplished when I knock off to-dos from my list. Not feel defeated over what I didn’t get done.

I want to appreciate all that I have. Not worry about what I can’t control.

As far as I know, this life is the one chance I get. I don’t want to spend it feeling down, negative, and sad.

I’ll keep working at this being happy thing. I’ll exercise and eat right and do all the things I’ve been doing to try to feel good.

And if my brain needs a little help in the form of antidepressants, I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

My resolution is to be happy. And I’ll take all the help I can get.

*****

Are you happy? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

 

Depression, pregnancy, and nursing: What to do?


I started seeing a psychiatrist at the beginning of 2011. It wasn’t the first time, but it was one of the times I needed it most. I was living in a new place that I didn’t know well and I had no support system. I had parted ways with my job and was itching to occupy myself. I suspected my son was autistic (which was confirmed a few weeks after I started therapy). With all that time on my hands and plenty of misery I was having trouble doing basic tasks. I was anhedonic (unable to take pleasure in anything). And it needed to stop.

Within a few months I was on a comfortable dose of an antidepressant, I’d started a new job and my son was receiving daily therapy. Things were looking up. I was feeling better. Instead of looking up from underneath life, I was able to feel like I was at least level.

Then I found out I was pregnant.

One of the first questions I had was what to do about my meds. I wasn’t on one of the “approved” antidepressants for pregnancy. They’d had side effects I wasn’t comfortable with, including deeper depression. But everyone I knew who’d been in this situation said they’d gone off meds when they got pregnant or when they were trying to conceive.

I took the issue up with my psychiatrist. She’d done her reading and she told me exactly what the research was on my drug. We talked about the pros and cons. We talked about statistics. And then we talked about me. What were the potential dangers of me going off my medication? How would stress affect me in my pregnancy? Would I cause more harm than good?

In the end, I decided to stay on my meds. I was on a low dose. I was stable, but I was just barely stable. It wasn’t a good time to stop. The baby needed me. So did the family I already had. And this seemed like my best shot.

So I stayed on my meds. I told my obstetrician. I kept going to therapy. And then, thankfully, I had a beautiful baby daughter.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Then came breastfeeding. Some of my antidepressant would probably be transferred to the baby through my milk. I had another conversation with my doctor. And we decided to stay the course.

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been down this road and not once have I heard another mother say she’s doing or has done the same thing. I don’t know if I’m the only one or if they’re just afraid to say so. But here it is: I took antidepressants while pregnant and breastfeeding. And I think it was the right decision for me.

I had only a bit of doubt a few weeks ago when I left my daughter with family while I was out of town for a few days. My pump broke and I didn’t get a chance to set aside as much breast milk as I wanted so they had to supplement with formula. When I called to see how she was, I was told she was happier than ever before, sleeping more than every before, and generally being a delight.

I wondered: was my baby’s tendency to be loud and fussy and a bad sleeper because of my antidepressants? Was I doing this to her? I knew it could be anything: maybe drinking milk or eating spicy foods or too much broccoli. But I thought of my meds first.

I’ve had her back for a couple weeks now and, wouldn’t you know it, she is happier than ever, sleeping more and generally being a delight. It was just a coincidence, one of those baby breakthroughs.

So there it is. I’m on my meds. My daughter is happy. I feel in control of my life. And I’m not ashamed to say so.

******

Have any of you been in Jessica’s situation? What was your decision on meds vs. no meds? How are you and your baby doing? We’d love to hear from all voices out there…

photo credit: -mrsraggle- via photo pin cc