How I dealt with postpartum anxiety and depression after I couldn’t get the help I needed from my doctors. (Part 2 of 2)
After feeling like I couldn’t get the care I needed, I decided to switch doctors. I made an appointment with a new primary care doctor that my therapist recommended to me. I was able to get in to see her fairly quickly, so I was hopeful.
Once I arrived at the appointment (baby in tow), I waited in the waiting room for at least an hour, feeling like my daughter was a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off at any time. Not a great way to help somebody’s anxiety. When I finally got in to see the doctor, she was patient with me and listened as I described my symptoms, what medications I’d been on, and what I felt was helping (and wasn’t). She added another medication that would help the physical manifestations I was feeling, and suggested I take a prenatal with methylated (activated) folate. And she actually made a follow up appointment with me.
Once I had an actionable plan, I started to at least feel less hopeless.
Eventually, my new PCP and I found a balance of medications that felt right. And although I still felt guilty and anxious at times (what mom doesn’t?), things finally felt much more manageable.
Some things that helped me deal with my postpartum anxiety and depression, besides medication:
- Prioritizing a little ‘me time’ and doing things I knew would make me feel better, like yoga, spin classes, and baths.
- Going to therapy.
- Slowing down on work so I could just be with and enjoy my family without stressing about deadlines.
- Journaling and aromatherapy when I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
It really wasn’t until I finally stopped breastfeeding (or pumping, rather) altogether that I felt like myself again. Maybe it was the hormonal shift that came with not breastfeeding anymore. Maybe not. It’s still all a little bit of a mystery to me.
The main thing I learned about dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression? You have to advocate for yourself.
Just like in all things, listen to your body and trust what it is telling you. If you don’t feel right, seek help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a doctor, seeing a therapist, or being on medication to help you feel like yourself. And if you’re not getting the care you need? Find another doctor that will help you. But you have to speak up and keep fighting for yourself, because nobody else will.
You’ve got to make your own health, including your mental health, a priority. You can’t be the best mom to your baby if you feel like complete shit all the time. Nourish your body, get some sort of exercise that you enjoy, do some journaling or meditation. Whatever it is that you need to make you feel your best, do it. You’ll be able to take care of your family much better (and enjoy it!) if you’re taking care of yourself.
I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll probably be on some kind of antianxiety/antidepressant medication for the rest of my life. And that’s okay. If that’s what I need that for my body and brain to feel right, that’s what I need. It lets me be the wife and mother I want to be, and enjoy my time with my family instead of being a nervous wreck or just completely uninterested. And I’m not going to feel guilty or ashamed about being on top of my metal health.
Hopefully these posts of postpartum anxiety and depression have helped shed a little light on the mood disorders that affect 10-15% of new moms. If you’re feeling any of the same symptoms or just feeling lost or hopeless, know that you’re not alone and that it does get better, but you have to help yourself. Not seeking treatment can lead to longer term symptoms. Your mental health is worth it, and it will make you a better mom in the long run.