• Thu, Dec 5 - 11:00 am ET

Baby Blues: I’m Getting Help For My Postpartum Depression, Finally

sb10065836e-002Baby Blues is a column about raising my daughter in the windstorm of postpartum depression. Though discussing the dark spots of postpartum depression, I also share my successes.

I am the kind of person who waits until I have hit rock bottom at full-speed and broken every literal and metaphorical bone in my body before I seek help. Call it stubbornness, or maybe laziness: Whatever it is, it’s the same reason I don’t have health insurance, I don’t call friends when I’m lonely and I wait to clean out my car until garbage falls out every time I open the door.

Well, about two months ago, I finally hit rock bottom.

My marriage was in a state of crisis. In addition to our relationship problems, my husband had been suffering mentally and physically from his job so he quit – which was ultimately the right decision – but suddenly I had to find enough freelance work to support the whole family. Our savings (“remaining dollars” is what I should call them, because we no longer have a formal emergency fund) dwindled quickly and we fell behind on everything. We ate potatoes and ramen noodles for dinner on several occasions. We walked instead of driving to save gas. It almost made it worse to see my daughter smiling and giggling in her happy oblivion.

While my husband became quiet and withdrawn from the world; I went into productivity overdrive with my writing and developed a PTSD-like anxiety. I couldn’t doze off at bedtime. When I did, I would jolt awake from deep sleep every couple of hours with a pounding heart. Work-related phrases, or the name of a client or interviewee, would pop into my head throughout the night and cycle maddeningly until morning. My daughter would toss and turn next to me, sensing my anxiety. Our entire sleeping arrangement was the icing on the cake of our collective depression: Nobody slept well. My husband alternated between the bed and couch, and we all woke up every couple hours for one reason or another.

Enough was enough. Though my depression had always hindered me in some way, it had now reached a point where it extended to every corner of my life. I knew from experience that talk therapy had helped me in the past, so I did some research and found a therapist who only charged $35 a session. This, I figured, we could afford.

My first two visits were getting-to-know-you sessions. I felt like I was rambling, and though it did help to get some things off my chest without fear of judgment, I wasn’t sure if therapy would actually help me—at this point, I wanted someone to tell me how to fix my life rather than figure out how to do it on my own. However, at my third visit, we brainstormed goals and ways to achieve those goals, and I started to visualize a happier, calmer future.

A strange thing started happening after I set goals at that appointment: even though I wasn’t actively addressing those goals on a daily basis, just having put them down on paper made them prevalent in my mind and I started making changes. We moved the TV out of the living room so we could reduce screen time and focus on interacting with each other at night. I started getting rid of clutter around the apartment, which helped clear up my mind.

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • Bethany Ramos

    Hooray for you! This is a really great story. I’ve had pretty manageable anxiety my entire life, but it’s not fun at all, and I recently started taking a lot of proactive steps that have made a huge difference. I meditate for about 10 minutes/spend time with God every night before bed, I’ve learned breathing exercises, I’m reading an anxiety management book with a bunch of different exercises in it, and I’ve started practicing positive self talk. Sometimes these things seem hokey when you read about them, but they are really working. Now, when I experience stress that would formerly send me into a tailspin, my inner voice is saying – you’ve got this, you can do this. And I’m like, who is this person? Oh wait, it’s me, getting better. :-)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Good for you! I wish I had the discipline to meditate daily — I tend to get caught up thinking about work or whatever I’m excited/worried about, haha.

    • JLH1986

      I teach meditation to clients and I fail at it. every.single.day. But I keep trying. Congrats to both of you for doing what you can to manage symptoms and bring some peace to your worlds. It’s a brave step asking for help :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Meditation is really hard, but I’ve used podcasts in guided meditation. I really have “seen results” in like a few weeks! And now I sound like a bad infomercial ;)

    • Ptownsteveschick

      I used to use coloring to meditate. I got myself an intricate coloring book, and some nice pencils and I just color until I feel calm. The plus now is that if I decide to do it, my daughter thinks it is fun too.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      That is really clever! I’m an artist, but the idea of using a coloring book takes all the pressure off — just enjoying the feel of the pencils instead. I may have to try this!

  • Never did got ebola, phew

    I totally feel for you with the smoking; when I quit I the overwhelming anxiety convinced me that I was going to die at any second. I would leave the house convinced it would be a car crash and go to bed convinced it would be a heart attack (I was 25). And I was in the middle of an anthropology class that was focusing on Ebola and the cultural reasons that encouraged its spread and led to the massively fatal outbreaks, and I would start thinking that Ebola was how I was going to go and that I’d somehow contract it from the books we were using as sources. I can’t ever imagine smoking again because I never, ever, EVER want to go through that again. It was three of the worst weeks of my life.

    • Kay_Sue

      That would be the worst possible time to be learning about Ebola. Dear Lord, I read the Hot Zone and couldn’t sleep for a day or two. I can’t imagine that in the middle of quitting smoking too!

  • Kay_Sue

    Making small changes, a little at a time, is a great way to heading down the road to a healthy life. I think you’re awesome.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you!

  • EX

    Congratulations on taking such a big step towards getting better. I wish you the best of luck in your journey.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I am SO glad to hear this Amanda. I recently had a fall out of my recovery from depression and I am working my way back up. Setting small goals is definitely one of the best strategies I have learned to cope with the down moods. I have been forcing myself to at least leave the house once a day and to do one chore a day. I have also been reducing my daughter’s screen time and working more on her preschooling. Every little bit helps! And those little changes made a huge difference in mood. You can do this!

  • allison

    Congratulations. It is such a wonderful feeling when the fog of depression and anxiety lifts (at least for me). Though I feel I have been making some progress it seems to ebb and flow. Truly happy for you Amanda.

  • Audrey

    I don’t know if you’re at all a superhero fan, but I saw this quote the other day that really helped me. “When you’re feeling down, remember that Bruce Banner tried to kill himself and Iron Man has anxiety attacks, and they both saved the world.” It feels better to know that it’s something you can overcome.

    I’ve had anxiety pretty much my whole life, and I can definitely sympathize with what you’ve written. It’s the hardest thing in the world to fight a war when the enemy is your brain. I think everything you’re doing is absolutely going to help, and I really hope that you see results and lots of good vibes in the future! :)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Thank you :-) And I love that quote.

  • TngldBlue

    I am so glad to “see” you again Amanda. As someone who suffered from PPD your articles always resonate with me and I’m so happy to know you are making progress!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Amanda Low

      Aww, thank you! It’s good to be here — doing a lot of other freelance stuff, but I’ll still be dropping in with an article on occasion!

  • Shoshana Rosenbaum

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m making a short film, “The Goblin Baby”, a supernatural thriller about the first year of motherhood. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-goblin-baby-a-short-film/x/4857245