So, now that I've painted the picture of some of my birth story, it might be easier to understand how and why my postpartum depression kicked in during the weeks following his birth lasting for nearly a year after. And that postpartum PTSD that stayed with me for bout 4-5 months after his birth.
But, to paint the picture further of what sent me further into my ever-lasting PPD, I had even more complications after Leo's birth.
First, I was back in the hospital 3 days after Leo's birth because I had leaking spinal fluid causing a spinal headache from my epidural. To get it fixed, I had to get a procedure called a blood patch done (queue more hardcore separation anxiety from Leo and me laying in another hospital bed, alone, crying uncontrollably).
Then I attempted breast feeding with Leo for 3 weeks. But during that time, I got mastitis in both of my breasts and had to be put on painkillers and antibiotics to get through it. And had to stop breastfeeding altogether because the mastitis was too bad to even pump resulting to us having to switch to formula. (felt like a failure for a loooooong time over this one)
And I had 12 stitches downstairs that lasted for nearly a month making it harder to take care of me while also adjusting to motherhood and self-employment.
I went to the hospital more times in that month than I ever had in my life. And when the doctors would ask me questions about how I was doing or just try to explain things to me, I would always just cry uncontrollably over everything.
That's when the first doctor wanted to put me on a treatment for postpartum depression. Because I was obviously in it worse than I had even realized at the time.
I passed up traditional treatments because at the time, I didn't see that I had PPD and thought a lot of what I was feeling was from sleep deprivation (because newborns) and the immeasurable amount of pain I was in all over my body. I also had never been so depressed before. So it was a completely new experience for me that I was unable to recognize. So, at the time, I wanted to let my body just heal as natural as possible and give myself time to get better.
And honestly, that's all you can really do when you have PPD. Give. Yourself. TIME.
I didn't know that I had PPD until things like family functions made me feel completely overwhelmed because I was already so incredibly anxious inside. Or the fact I couldn't even drive a car for months without also getting extremely anxious from all the other drivers (so unlike me). There were times when I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror seeing my new 'mom bod' and be in instant, uncontrollable tears again taking witness to all my stretch marks everywhereeeee and extra weight. I had nightmares all summer and into the fall reenacting Leo's birth and many of those dreams not being a happy ending that would result in me basically sleeping next to him as much as possible. And anytime I caught another mother successfully breastfeeding her baby, that was always uncontrollable tears even if I was standing in line at the grocery store.
When this new norm of feelings stuck around for months, I knew something was 'wrong' with me. I realized the longer and longer it went on, that I probably did have PPD just like the doctors said. Because living even normal life was harder than it ever had been before - despite all the changes being a new parent brings with it.
My point in telling you my story is that postpartum is a real, real thing. And if you're going through it, you really ARE NOT ALONE. But also it's made me understand mental health and depression in a totally different light. I realized that a lot of what I was going through in the worst part of my PPD, I really couldn't control any of it. No matter how much art I tried to make. How positive I tried to think. How much work I took on. Or even what I surrounded myself with. I was a victim to my circumstances and felt completely incapable of change.
And honestly, I think a lot of mental health issues are this way. It's like walking around with a clouded vision. Things get blurrier as you move slower. And the darkness feels more comfortable because it hides everything you are feeling and see about yourself. It's like a sheet guarding you from the light so its conveniently invisible to everyone making it easier to stay exactly where you are. Because any movement at all can feel exhausting and extremely overwhelming since you're already mentally overloaded and run down.