How do you get through PPD without meds? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I'm not sure if I have PPD - but I have been feeling pretty down these last few weeks. A little bit of background: 

I definitely did have PPD with my first. He was born March 2010 and I was depressed the entire first year. Things didn't get better until he was 14-15 months. I just had my daughter June 2012, and I thought I was doing better up until a few weeks ago. Right around the time my husband went back to work full time again I started to feel bad.

 

So here's what's going on now: I'm having a lot of recurring negative thoughts. I'm feeling SUPER touchy and am easily upset by things people say, that I don't think would normally upset me. I feel friendless and alone right now. I mean I do have friends, but I don't feel like I can really talk about this with them. I don't want to share this with anyone. I am short tempered with my 2.5 year old - which I feel so bad about. He's going through a lot too right now. I have a counselor that I've been seeing, but for some reason I don't feel comfortable talking about this with her even. I don't know - I guess I want to seem like I have it all together, even if I don't. It seems like everyone else does, so I don't get why I can't "keep it together". I'm also feeling super resentful of my husband. LIke I hate him, even though he's really done nothing wrong. "Hating" him also happened the last time. Ughh... now that I'm writing this down, all of this is sounding like the last time around. I thought I could prevent it this time.

 

I HATE THIS! I want to enjoy my baby, I want to enjoy my life - so why do I feel so down? Why do I have to be this way? How do you get through this without meds and without being so miserable? I don't want to do meds. I had them in my teens and the side effects of going off of them were terrible. I wouldn't be able to do that now that I have 2 kids. 


Mama to DS REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif(March 2010) and DD  baby.gif  (June 2012)

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#2 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 03:15 PM
 
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There is nothing wrong with taking meds for PPD, but with that said, I can certainly understand why you don't want to, given your previous experiences.  hug2.gif  What has been effective for you in the past?

For me, depression/suicidal ideation is often the surest sign that I have basic needs which aren't being met.  For me the most triggering are physical and emotional safety and sleep needs.  For some people it is food and water and down time or socialization.  KWIM?  Anyhow, when I start to have intrusive, recurring negative thoughts, I stop and check in with my body.  Am I hungry?  Thirsty?  Is it past 9pm?  (If it is, I drop what I am doing and get in bed.  If it isn't, I make sure to go to bed early the next few nights because I can guarantee you I haven't been.)  Is someone/something hurting me and can I do anything about that? 

 

Instead of judging myself for being "negative" and "being a mess" (a spiral of thoughts that I have definitely been in before), I just remind myself, "I feel this way for a reason.  What is it that I need, and how can I get it?  If I need help, who can help me get it?"  Make no mistake, sometimes this is really tough, especially when it comes to identifying my needs and advocating for them.  Asking for help is terrifying for me.  But it's worth it.

 

It sounds overly simplistic, and maybe for some people it is.  I have trauma history and was not taught to care for my own needs as a child, and for me, this has been the most effective long term strategy for dealing with depression.  I think for me that is because even my post partum depression was pattern related and biologically exacerbated, not entirely biological in origin.

 

You said that you are feeling uncomfortable about bringing up your possible depression with your therapist.  What are you afraid will happen if you are honest with him/her?

 

gotta put kid in bed :)  be back soon.  No one has it together, and I think that you recognize it's just a perception.  I have definitely felt that way too, like I'm the only one.

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#3 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your response. Its nice that there is this place where I can put this out there and nobody really can know who I am.

 

The part you talked about "what do I need?" really resonated with me. Exercise has really helped me in the past. But as you probably know, its not easy to do when you have 2 kids and your husband works. I'm working on finding something that I can do - even if its only 1 or 2 times a week. I used to run a lot, but after a car accident I can't really do that anymore. 

 

I too grew up not really being taught to care for my own needs. My mom is mentally ill - she has schizophrenia - and I think I'm really mourning the loss of a mother-daughter relationship with her. Her illness really took a toll on my family - to the point that my siblings and I really don't have relationships at all anymore. I'm just so sad about the whole thing. I guess with how down I'm feeling b/c of hormones or whatever, I'm really wishing my immediate family were there for me, but instead I feel abandoned. And that really can't be fixed, can it? How could I get my need met there? I'm not really sure that I can. 

 

I'm afraid to really tell my therapist how I really feel b/c I don't want her to tell me that I need to get on medication. Also, maybe I don't feel comfortable with her. I've thought about finding another one... I just want to close my eyes and sleep for a year. And wakeup when its better. That sounds ridiculous. I also hate asking for help. It is scary.

 

My baby just woke up... be back soon.


Mama to DS REPlaySkateboard04HL.gif(March 2010) and DD  baby.gif  (June 2012)

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#4 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 04:33 PM
 
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I'm not sure if I belong here, but I have had depression unrelated to childbirth. In addition to the advice given (which I second, most heartily), I would add fresh air, sunshine and exercise, which will be more difficult in the winter months. Maybe a full spectrum light in a special lamp, for use durinh the winter. And go outside every day. Maybe take a walk around the block every (or most) afternoons. It would give you some exercise at the same time. I found it hard with a baby to exercise. If you can do it, though, great! Remember, the greater the challenge, the greater the joy. Find positive sayings (avoid 'not' and 'try' since the subconscious doesn't recognize them) and repeat them, out loud, when you find yourself saying negative things about yourself.

I hope all goes well for you. My thoughts, always positive, are with you. Take care!
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#5 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 04:42 PM
 
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For me, getting outside, fresh air, feeling the sun, walking around, and viewing nature definitely helps my anxiety and puts me in a more positive mood.  That helps me that most when I am feeling depressed/anxious or negative. 

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#6 of 9 Old 10-07-2012, 05:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegoodearth View Post

Thanks for your response. Its nice that there is this place where I can put this out there and nobody really can know who I am.

 

The part you talked about "what do I need?" really resonated with me. Exercise has really helped me in the past. But as you probably know, its not easy to do when you have 2 kids and your husband works. I'm working on finding something that I can do - even if its only 1 or 2 times a week. I used to run a lot, but after a car accident I can't really do that anymore. 

 

I too grew up not really being taught to care for my own needs. My mom is mentally ill - she has schizophrenia - and I think I'm really mourning the loss of a mother-daughter relationship with her. Her illness really took a toll on my family - to the point that my siblings and I really don't have relationships at all anymore. I'm just so sad about the whole thing. I guess with how down I'm feeling b/c of hormones or whatever, I'm really wishing my immediate family were there for me, but instead I feel abandoned. And that really can't be fixed, can it? How could I get my need met there? I'm not really sure that I can. 

 

I'm afraid to really tell my therapist how I really feel b/c I don't want her to tell me that I need to get on medication. Also, maybe I don't feel comfortable with her. I've thought about finding another one... I just want to close my eyes and sleep for a year. And wakeup when its better. That sounds ridiculous. I also hate asking for help. It is scary.

 

My baby just woke up... be back soon.

 

I'm glad the anonymity of the forum makes it possible for you to talk about what is going on.  That's why I come here too.

 

It makes sense why you would be afraid to talk to your therapist, especially if you feel like she might pressure you to do something you feel might be unhealthy for you.  In an ideal situation, what would you hope her response would be?  And then, how likely do you think she is to offer that, if you were to be totally honest about your fears and feelings?  And if you were to look for a new therapist, what do you think you would need to know they would honor your fears and feelings?  Perhaps some mamas in the PNW finding your tribe might have recomendations for a non-medication oriented/centered practitioner.

 

As far as your relationship with your family -  It also makes sense that right now when you feel down, you want to have someone you can trust to help you out in some way, nurture you in some way and yeah - I really do not know how that can be fixed.  I really wish I knew what you do there besides mourn and grieve.  I feel the loneliest when I come to some difficult situation where I know that "most people" are able to turn to their parents and I can't.  The nastiest trick is that so often, not only am I unable to turn to my parents, but I've come to realize that I am often unable to turn to anyone else because I do not know how to trust someone else or let someone else help me (particularly without feeling horribly selfish).  (I am able to trust DP but I have to broaden my scope a little so I am not only leaning on him.)  I only realized this recently, and I recognize that is a pattern and a thought that is consistent with my upbringing (it's protective), but not with reality.  I have begun to know there are people who want to help me and love me, who I can have honest boundaries with, who will respect me, but I don't know how to connect with them yet.  But I hope that in the next few years I will begin to have the bravery to learn how.  I don't think I ever could have gotten to the point of knowing how deep my yearning to connect with others was until I had had ample space to mourn how much I'd lost as a kid, in terms of safety and kindness.  And am still mourning it.

 

So all that is to say, OP, yeah, I really don't know what you do with that.  It's painful and it really sucks.  I think on some level being able to acknowledge the pain like you are doing is really important.  To be able to say, like you've said, that this is lonely and you feel abandoned.  And that you are allowed to feel sick and sad about it, because anyone would.  That you aren't a mess just because you are going through a period of stress and you need help but there aren't a lot of places for you to get that help.  And you have the additional barrier of not exactly knowing or feeling comfortable with reaching out for help because that help has probably never really reliably been there.  You are just having a normal human reaction. 

 

Is there anyone in your life that you feel safe with and trust that you can call on for the tiniest favor, like to sit with your kids, or just your 2.5 yo, while you go on a fifteen minute walk?  Even if you think, "Oh that person is too busy for me to ask," or "It would be an imposition," can you trust that they can say no to you if it really is something they can't do, and that doesn't mean you were bad or selfish for asking? 

 

As far as resenting your husband.... I went through that after I had DD.  I would always just get huge with rage when I did the dishes, which I did all the time.  I would get so mad and think about what an a******** my DP was.  And then I would judge myself for hating DP, and I would say to myself, 'Why are you such a b&&&&?  Why can't you get over it? He doesn't have to do them when you think he has to do them. Why can't you just be happy?  Why is this such a struggle?"  We tried all sorts of things to keep things fair and I kept score, etc.  And one day, I learned about just stopping and paying attention to my body.  So the next time I went to wash dishes, I was just dizzy with rage.  And instead of going right into my old refrain of "he is a jerk, no I'm a b*****" etc, I just stood over the counter and felt everything my body was feeling.  My heartbeat, my flushed skin, my hands, the sound of my blood. I said, "Here is my anger.  It's trying to protect me.  But from what?  What is dangerous here?"  And I tried to notice my anger without judgment, without trying to keep it or push it away, but treat it just like the sound a barking dog makes.  There is something out there, but is it a cougar or a squirrel?  My dog is a little sensitive because she's had a lot to protect me from.  My anger and resentment aren't trying to hurt me or anyone else... they are just trying to tell me something.

 

And then I remembered what it was like to be a little kid constantly being physically punished because I hadn't wiped every drop of water off of the sink after I was done washing, or I didn't do all the pots, or I didn't do it right, or I was lazy, or irresponsible or bad.  And so on.  And then I was like, "Oh my god, of course I hate doing the dishes.  Of course it makes me furious.  It's like I'm about to be hurt all over again.  It is like my mom is standing right there with a stick."   And after I realized that... I realized I didn't have to do the dishes.  I didn't have to stand there with my own mental stick punishing myself until I "did it right."

 

I could say, "Hey honey, can you do them," or I could just let them pile up, and it was ok and I wasn't bad or lazy, or selfish, or irresponsible.  I was a grown up and it was my house and I could do what I wanted.  And I stopped hating him for not reading my mind and doing them when I thought they needed to be done.  And I stopped feeling bad washing the dishes.  When I went to do them, if I got mad, I'd stop washing them.  And then sometimes I'd think, "But I hate how messy it looks or how it smells in here."  And I'd wash them for me, because it made me feel good, not for anyone else. I'd wash them because I wanted clean dishes, not because it said anything about my character.   I'd set a timer and wash for ten minutes and then pat myself on the back for a job done "good enough."

 

So that is the other thing I would recommend if you haven't heard of doing it (I never had until my therapist recommended it) because it's helped me with so many of my feelings - just stop, and notice what your body is feeling when you start to get sad or mad.  And trust that what you are feeling is for a reason, even if the reason is not immediately apparent.

 

Tons and tons of internet hugs for you, mama.  You've got a difficult situation and you are doing the best you can do.  I really believe that.  We are always doing the best of what we are able to do, even if it doesn't seem like it.  When we know better, we do better.  When we have the resources to do better, we will do better.  You are doing your best and of course you want to sleep for a year and wake up when it's better.  You don't sound ridiculous - you sound very in control but underneath overwhelmed.


DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#7 of 9 Old 10-09-2012, 02:36 PM
 
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Exercise is the only thing that has helped me, now I don't snap at my husband or my kids!  I bought a treadmill so I can jump on it when it is naptime.  But I want to say that it is really IMPORTANT that you recognize that you are depressed - that is the first step.  And you are seeing a counselor, which means you are being proactive.  But being a mom is sometimes very lonely and boring, so make sure you get time for yourself and do something you love.
 

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#8 of 9 Old 10-10-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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Maybe it's PPD, maybe it's not.  I think more importantly is your question of how to feel better and happier.  (I think labels can be both helpful or a hindrance and should be used with care).  And I think you raise very valid questions of the limitations of medications (which are lifesaving for some of course, but life-hindering for others).  Some more information from you might be helpful.

 

How much sleep do you get (total hours) per night?  How much, if any, during the day?  

If not getting enough sleep at night, does ds like to watch TV at all?  Before kids I had the ideal that we should be a TV-free house....but I gotta say it's been a sanity saver as I was able to keep the older one entertained while I lay down to nurse with my baby.  It was the carrot I dangled so that my older one looked forward to the baby's naptime.  Even if I didn't sleep, I at least got some "rest".  I am definitely prone to temper tantrums and negative thoughts when I don't get enough rest or fresh air!

 

Do you have a morning routine to help start off the day right?  E.g. A brisk walk outdoors for 10 min before dh goes to work, e.g. shower, 5 minutes of peace with a cup of coffee, etc.  The start of the day is key to how the rest will go!  Getting outside first thing helps me.  

 

Do you have a double stroller....or a stroller and backpack, so YOU can get some exercise?  Sorry you can't run.  I can't either.  For a while, I couldn't walk much, but now that I can, I feel much better.  Personally I find the best time to get outside with the kids is immediately AFTER naptime.  That way they're happier to ride....and I don't waste a precious naptime...and THEY get to experience the benefits of the outdoors while awake and happy.  

 

When you start to feel angry or short-tempered with ds, do you have any tricks that help to diffuse or change the energy in the room?  E.g. turn on the music, do something silly, etc.  With my older one, Giving her food or drink often was distraction enough to ward off tantrums and redirect her.  I'm guessing (if you're like the rest of us) you feel bad when you lose your temper in front of the kids....so a good strategy to feel better is to figure out your temper triggers, and ward them off before they start!

 

Are there parents with children of similar age in your neighbourhood?  Neighbourhood play groups?  Connections, connections, connections....it takes a village to raise a child.  For me, being around other people keeps me on my "best behaviour". kwim?  And every meeting with someone new, is another possibility, hope, etc....even if nothing ever comes of it.  You just never know who you're going to meet who can relate, and might be interested in kid swaps/playdates.  Your ds is at the age that I found really tough (still too young for playing well with others, but old enough to be strongwilled)....so just remember it will probably get better soon and before you know it he'll be off to school and you may be longing for these days again!

 

Things getting worse after dp returned to work...is probably a sign of needing more support and help.  Sometimes a way to get it (and not feel guilty) is to first offer some support and reach out to another mama.  Not having your mother would be so hard!  I hope there are others in your life who can act as mentors for parenting....and if not, you have MDC at least!

 

A 4 month old baby is also at the age where things will get easier and they will start to become more animated/entertained by the older one.

 

If I were to prioritize the top things to do it would be:

1.  GET OUTSIDE every day so YOU can get exercise with the kids, rain or shine.  Try to do this when they are already rested and have full tummies (e.g. first thing in the morning is often best) so that you don't waste a naptime.  You need the naptimes to spend time looking after you (or ds, if you find you are already rested enough).  

2.  Like pp's said - pay attention to your body.  Ask yourself, "HAve I had enough fluids?"  "Have I had enough to eat - high protein"?  Nutrition is so important and there are plenty of resources to guide you.  Blood sugar crashes and dehydration are so closely linked to mood....

 

Start with above, basic self care, stick with it faithfully....and the rest will follow.  But if you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or the kids, then please get professional help asap.

Good luck and take care :)

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#9 of 9 Old 10-15-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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I had PPD and used to take drugs - for my kids' sake. Once I got an awesome job, I stopped taking any pills and was fine since then

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