I posted last week about my fears surrounding PPD.
I’m happy to say I did something about.
The wheels were put into motion when I talked to my therapist. More acurately I broke down in tears in her office and confessed how scared I was. How I kept having these recurring awful thoughts about doing something horrible to my baby, and then turning that fear and horror on myself. That I have a plan to commit suicide rather than hurt my baby or to punish myself if I did.
I’m in tears just typing that.
I hate this. I hate that there’s something wrong with my body’s chemical makeup that I could ever think of hurting my child, or myself.
More to the point, I hate that I know I’m capable of hurting myself. I tried to commit suicide the first time when I was 12.
Twelve seems so young. But the right (wrong) confluence of events brought the world crashing down around me, and I broke. I had been getting my period on and off for a year, but it had just started getting regular, so for the first time I was having regular hormonal surges, which is often something that sets off depression in girls (especially consdering it runs in my family, putting me at higher than average risk). My grandmother, who was basically my mom, had died over the summer. The day before she went into the hospital, we’d gone shopping, and she’d kept mentioning that she was tired, and I kept begging for one more store, pushing her to keep going. Then she went into the hospital and never came out. The one time I saw her, it was after her operation (she’d had a brain tumor) and her physical appearance had terrified me to the point of shaking and breaking into tears and running out of the room. Then my grandfather moved to Maine. Then we moved to Maine two weeks into the school year.
It was all too much. I couldn’t handle things. I blamed myself for my grandmother’s death because I didn’t understand about brain tumors–I just knew that I had kept begging for more stores, then she went into the hospital, and then she’d never come out. I hated myself for not being strong enough to visit with her. It was incredibly hard to know we’d gotten the call that she’d died the night before I was going to get a second chance to see her.
The first time, it was pills. All that happened was I got sick, and I lied and said I had the flu.
The second time, it was Flintstone vitamins. Looking back I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that I decided to OD on Flinstone vitamins. I spent the night puking back a rainbow of fractured Barneys and Dinos and Wilmas and other miscellaneous characters.
The third time, I had a knife secreted away in my room. I kept taking it to my skin and flinching when it touched my skin, pulling my arm back quickly. I hated myself for not going through with it.
It was the fourth time that I got caught. I was in so much pain that I just wanted to feel physical pain. So at some point in the night I got up and went to the kitchen. I didn’t take the knife back to my room…I just wanted to make it stop hurting on the inside. I had the knife in one hand and was bracing my other arm on the counter when my mom walked in and caught me.
That was when I entered therapy.
I never actually tried to kill myself again.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. I don’t know if there’s been a point in my life since then that at the back of my head I haven’t had a plan. I don’t think about it every day, but when I’m depressed there’s ALWAYS a plan.
So I confessed. I asked for help. I admitted I need it. Even though she isn’t here yet.
My therapist went into action. She had me sign a consent form so she could talk to my OB. She ordered me to talk to my OB. She suggested that I ask for an evaluation as soon as possible after the baby is born so I can get whatever chemical help I might need. We’re upping the frequency with which I see her to once a week again, and we can do more if I want it. My husband will come to a meeting to learn more about PPD and how to help identify it and support me, as well as what to do should the need arise. I was told “we won’t let you do any of the things you’re scared of.”
Forty-eight hours after that confession I had to talk to my OB. When she came into the room she sat down and said “I’m really worried about you. Your therapist called me but we haven’t been able to touch base yet. Tell me what’s going on.” I had to go through it again, and again I was offered help and reassurance. It turns out my OB has a lot of experience with PPD, and had would’ve checked up on me about 1-2 weeks after delivery anyways. But with my history, she had the name and contact info of a psychiatrist for me to talk to before the end of our appointment. She shared that she had other patients who went back on anti-depressants the day after delivering, and that they and their babies were just fine. She also assured me that “we won’t let you do any of the things you’re scared of.”
I have a name and phone number of a psychiatrist. I’ll be calling her tomorrow to set up an appointment.
I have researched the safety of various anti-depressants, including their safety when breastfeeding, and I am comfortable with the idea of doing both after reading through Hale’s forum on anti-depressants. (Hale is the leading authority on medicine safety during nursing–his book is THE reference guide). However, I have also reached a point of peace with the idea of bottle feeding if it’s necessary due to drug interactions.
I like having a plan. I hate thinking about the worst, but the way to keep it from happening is to plan for it, and I will be more calm knowing what the courses of action are.
Because I am NOT going to hurt my baby.
Because I am NOT going to hurt myself.
If you, like me, are pregnant and have reason to fear you’re going to have PPD…be proactive, I beg you. The support is there…you just need to be brave enough to ask for it.