Rach’s Story

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Every Warrior Mom is bound together in a sisterhood of understanding.  We have all been through something that only another PPD survivor can truly appreciate, but our experiences, treatments, and paths to wellness are as varied as the mamas themselves.  It’s important to remember that there is no one “right way” to suffer or heal from a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder.  That’s one of the reasons Postpartum Progress is such a valuable resources for new moms – whatever path your journey to wellness takes, it is the right path for you.

I’m welcoming Warrior Mom Rach Black today to share her story of postpartum depression and the postpartum anxiety that followed.  

about postpartum depressionHaving a baby brought me to my knees.

Having a second baby broke me.

I don’t mean that it was too hard for me to carry and deliver my children.  And I don’t mean that raising kids is too hard for me, although some days I struggle in that area, just like all parents do.

I mean I wasn’t prepared for the physical, emotional and especially mental changes that can take place after having a baby.  Nobody told me.

I was excited to learn that I was pregnant.  I had easy pregnancies and amazing deliveries.  I was walking on air in the hospital.  But in the weeks and months after, I was sinking and I didn’t know why.

I had always been so capable before.   I was always able to perform, to achieve.  I didn’t lack motivation or skills.

But after having my first baby, I wanted to sleep most of the day and didn’t want to get out of bed.  When I wasn’t sleeping I needed to do everything and anything.  Everything needed to perfect; meals needed to be elaborate, the house needed to be spotless.  I laid the baby on her play mat while I cleaned bathrooms.

I couldn’t sit still and hold my baby.  She cried a lot and so did I.  I detached and found solace in the computer or reading.  Some days I just laid on the floor.

I was angry, scared, lonely and depressed.  It wasn’t until a year later that I realized what I was feeling wasn’t normal new mama tiredness and overwhelm.  I found a counselor who helped me recognize what I was going through was postpartum depression.

When I found out I was pregnant the next time, I promised myself it would be different.  I talked to my husband and my OB, both of whom said they would support me, but both of whom admitted they were somewhat surprised at how I’d felt.  Either I’d hidden it well or they didn’t recognize the signs of PPD.

After my son was born I kept looking for signs of depression, waiting to feel the way I did with my daughter.  Instead, I started having panic attacks and intense anxiety.  So intense that I couldn’t take care of myself.  Everything scared me.  I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t sleep.  I tried to stay busy, trying to get out of the house as much as I could.  I pushed myself to stay occupied.  I was convinced something horrible was going to happen to me.

My OB had given me a prescription but I was hesitant to fill it.  Out of sheer desperation, I finally did.  I only took one dose but I had a horrible reaction to it—so horrible that I couldn’t function the next day.  It sent me spiraling even further down.

Somehow I got on the internet and started searching this site as well as PSI and found a counselor in my area who specialized in PPMDs.  She saw me the next day.  It had been 2 days since I’d eaten.

I told her all of my fears, symptoms and behaviors.  She heard me, she comforted me.  I finally felt validated.

I have a wonderful relationship with my OB but I felt let down by the medical community.  I didn’t want to be handed a prescription.  I wanted support, someone to listen to me and offer assurance.  While there is a time and place for medicine, there is also a time and place for talk therapy and support groups.  I wanted a full balanced approach to my healing.  I am lucky that I was able to find that through my faith, women at my church, my counselor, my husband and a holistic MD.  I know other women aren’t that lucky.

I’m passionate about postpartum support.  We need more awareness, and openness.  We need mandatory screening and access to resources.  We need each other.

I am a work in progress.  I am healing every day.  I no longer have panic attacks and my anxiety is more manageable. I am loving being with my children and letting my house be a wreck.  I have learned to let many things go and to take care of myself.  The best thing I can do for my family is to get help and heal.

We still have our hard days and there are days where I struggle.  But I have come a long, long way.  It is possible to get to the other side of this, which is something I didn’t think was possible a few months ago.  I am proof that there is hope and healing.

 

Rach Black is a full time mom to two miracles.  Having battled postpartum mood disorders, she is passionate about reaching out to other women to make sure that no woman gets left behind.  In her spare time (i.e. after the kids are in bed) she enjoys writing, cooking and other creative outlets.  Find her on Twitter as @DonutsMama and reach out to her if you need support.

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About Susan Petcher

Susan is an elementary teacher-turned stay-at-home-mom who has her hands in a little bit of everything. When she's not parenting or teaching piano lessons, you can find her blogging about mental health or crocheting her anxiety away. She writes at http://learned-happiness.com, pimps her wares for yarn money at http://etsy.com/shop/learnedhappiness, and tweets @learndhappiness.

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  1. So glad that you shared Rach. you are helping so many women.

  2. I can’t believe i opened up the internet to this story today. I’ve Ben really praying about whether i should see a therapist/go to a support group. i suffer from ppocd/anxiety and am currently on medication and have just been doing my own personal and have honestly improved a lot but i feel like i may need to reach out to get that final “push” to complete healing. When i opened up this page today and saw Rachs story…. My name is rach (well Rachel) …so much of or struggles are similar (had great pregnancies/deliveries walked on air at the hospital and then once home, hormones changed), both women of faith.

    I prayed last night that God would give me a sign for what to do… But i couldn’t imagine what? when you said there is a place for medicine and a place for support it hit me….i need to take my pathway of healing further ! Thank you for sharing! (please pray that i find the right support…. I’m scared to take this step!) (also would it be possible to talk personally?? And to the writer of this, Susan, i also crochet my way through my anxiety!! Lol….would love to talk to both of you but if it’s not possible, know that you have been a blessing to me today)

    • Rach,
      I’m SO SO glad you found Rach’s piece today. Therapy and support have been absolutely key for me in my path to recovery. If you think it will help you, I say go for it. Therapy is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

      You are more than welcome to find me on twitter @learndhappiness and I know Rach @donutsmama would be happy to visit with you too! There are also support groups on FB for postpartum depression and anxiety. Let one of us know and we can hook you up!

      Fondly,
      Susan

  3. (just read through what i wrote ….i wrote it on my phone…so some of it doesn’t really make sense :-\ but i hope you understand!)

    • Oh Rachel, I’m so happy you found this today and that it encouraged you. Please continue on your path of healing and YES YES YES talk to me! We need other women who’ve walked this path. It’s a lonely place and no one should have to do this alone. You can find me on twitter @DonutsMama or email me rachb (at) lifeeversince (dot) com.

  4. It still amazes me everytime I read about the strength of the fellow Warrior Moms. Rach- your story inspires me and makes me feel less alone.

  5. You are one of the people I think of when I think of moms who struggle but ask for help when they know they need it. Such a hard thing to do (as we all know) but so important, and I’m so glad to have you as part of my tribe.

  6. I absolutely agree with you in that there needs to be better resources out there and screening to help identify women who might not even realize what they are experiencing. I remember with my son the hospital sent a nurse to the house to do a ‘home check’ of sorts. At the time I didn’t understand why they insisted on doing it- but now it kind of makes sense. I’m glad they wanted to check up on me.

  7. Just wanted to update you that i found a support group and a counselor…..thank you for being so brave and sharing your stories!!