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Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Battle with Postpartum Depression and OCD

I am the mother of a beautiful, healthy and loving one year old little boy.  He is the light of my life down to the root of his name in Italian meaning "light".  For the first 10 months of his life, I battled something called postpartum depression and I didn't even realize I had it.  This is my story:
I had a unique case of PPD where I was never sad, crying, or down, but rather I would have rage and anger. I would scream, curse, punch the walls, throw things, have trouble not tensing up and squeezing my baby when he was fussy, didn't have control over my temper and had to put him in his crib and leave so many times, I would yell at him and feel like the worst person on the planet. I hated my husband, literally hated him. Everytime he tried to help with our son I would feel like he was a threat and get mad at him if our son cried. We were headed for a divorce because I couldn't stand him and thought he was the problem. I was afraid to be alone with my son because I would be so angry. I didn't want to ask for help because I didn't think anyone would care or want to come over and help me. I didn't tell anyone how I felt because I was afraid of CPS or loosing my son. I knew I loved him and when he was happy or sleeping I was great with him, when he wasn't sleeping well or fussy I would loose it. I felt like a horrible person, a terrible mom and wife, wondered what i signed up for because I always thought I wanted a baby. I also knew deep down that I was OCD and prone to depression, I knew that I probably had a risk of PPD but kept listening to others that God would bring me through this and that I didn't need medication. Mind over matter they all said. I come from a very wonderful Christian family but they don't believe in doctors and medicine as much as that God will just fix you. So anyways it was about 10 months after my son was born before I finally reached out to my sister in law who put me in touch with her friend that had PPD. Through emails and constant checking up on me when I got quiet and didn't answer her she finally helped me to stop being scared of medication and doctors and I sought help. My first doctor prescribed zoloft 25mg but I was too afraid of it and never picked it up. I tried physical activity and getting out more but fell back into my hole of jammies and hermitting away from others. Finally I decided to take my medication after another horrible outburst where my husband admitted he was afraid of me. I started them and switched doctors to my friend from church. She took me on as a new patient and helped me boost up to 50mg and within a few weeks time I felt so much better. I am myself again. I love my husband again to the point that our chemistry and romance is blazing again. I love my son and have FUN with him and am patient with him all the time now. I even feel good enough to watch my friend's 3 month old with no worries about harming or getting angry. I feel amazing. I got some new clothes, changed my hair do, learned to do my makeup really good, ext. I feel like a new person. I get out more, enjoy friends and other people, and I love my life again. I want others to know that you are NOT alone, and that doctors are here to help not harm you. You are NOT crazy, and you are NOT doing this on purpose. It's NOT your fault. and you don't have to live in PPD you can get better and live a normal life again. Hugs and love to all. Please message me anytime you need me. I am here to help!
  I would also like to talk about my current situation as well.  I have recently weaned my son and noticed some hormonal shifting.  I am afraid of having to increase medication at about the time I was hoping to start to try to wean off of it.  It does feel like it's a never ending battle with this illness.  I don't like still to admit that I can' control my own brain.  That I can still have those terrifying mood swings also scares me.  I'm afraid to have another baby because I don't want to go through all this again once I finally if ever get off these medications.  Another struggle is the fact that I have such a heart for those with autism and other types of disabling mental conditions.  But I wonder how much I can help someone else when I battle my own mental health.  I want to also mention that previously I battled OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder.  I have mostly beat it, but will always struggle it and have to fight it.  It bothers me to no end to hear someone claim that they are OCD so flippantly like it's just something you are if you like to be organized or things may annoy you slightly if they aren't in their proper place.  That's NOT obsessive compulsive disorder.  That's being anal retentive or possibly if it's really a severe problem of organization and order you may have OCD personality disorder but not the actual OCD.  The real OCD struggle is actually having something that you obsess over to the point that you have dibilitating and life altering compulsions that you don't seem to be able to mentally overcome or not do them.  Mine are very personal, I don't think at this time I will go into detail about my compulsions because they are so private and personal.  But just know that my obsession was to be relaxed and to be able to enjoy myself in an activity be it eating a meal, watching a movie, ext.  I didn't want to have to get up in the middle of something to use the restroom.  So my compulsion was bathroom involved and it would sometimes leave me feeling like I was chained to the bathroom unable to leave it for long periods of time no matter how much I wanted to be done.  Basically my mind kept telling me I wasn't doing the rituals right or that I wasn't finished and if I didn't finish I wouldn't be comfortable later on.  So I would repeat and repeat my rituals until it felt normal and I was able to finish and leave.  It was making people late for movies and making my date (husband now) wait on me at dinner until his food was cold.  I have since been able to mostly beat and fight off my OCD.  I still have moments when I am tired or stressed out that I can't completely block it out, but through a show called the "The OCD Project" and helpful tips from the therapist on there I realized that I could get past this.  I will always battle it, it will never be gone, but I'm winning this battle through Jesus Christ and constant mind over matter battles.  I have been able to mostly stop the rituals in the bathroom, but I do still have some of my rituals in other life situations.  If you notice closely I have a compulsion to "smell" my drinking glasses to make sure they are clean enough.  I also wash my hands repeatedly when I feel dirty from anything.  I also have a showering ritual that I don't have to do perfectly, but usually do some combination of it to feel comfortable.  I also have to have my bedding a certain way in order to feel comfortable and sleep well at night which I'm sure has annoyed my hubbie all our married life, but he's tolerated much worse so he deals.  
So I want everyone reading this to hear my story and be aware of the reality of mental illness.  It's a hard struggle and it's not something that many of us are willing or able to talk about freely.  I want to share in hopes to support and encourage others to seek medical help if they feel like they are struggling with PPD or OCD.  These are not easy to overcome on your own, sometimes impossible.  You are NOT alone and you can get better and have a normal life with therapy, medication, and a lot of support.  I am here to support, encourage and listen.  Please feel free to message me or contact me if you need to talk.  Hugs to all the tough mommies out there!
Much love,
Rachel D.

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