I suffered from it. Twice. Once after a pregnancy. And another time during pregnancy.
Pregnancy related depression, pregnancy related mood disorder, postpartum depression, prenatal depression…call it what you like. It’s horrible, no matter what title you stick on it.
My first bout of pregnancy related depression was shortly after the birth of our first son. I quickly grew to hate life. I hated getting out of bed in the morning. I hated being around other people. To say it felt like there was a thick, dark cloud hanging over me would have been an understatement. I went days without showering. I didn’t smile. Couldn’t laugh. I found no joy in being with my children–even the newborn I ought to have been devouring with love. Life held no pleasure for me. I didn’t cry all that much. I wasn’t exactly sad. I was just empty. Emotionless. Dry inside.
The next time was during my third and final pregnancy. The same sense of overwhelming confusion and inability to function normally, crept in mid way through the pregnancy. This time it was because of my sudden discontinuation of the medication I had been on since my previous bout with PPD. I didn’t want to “hurt the baby” by taking the medication. So I went off it. Two weeks later I had stopped eating and drinking; I was unable to care for my current two children.
Each time, I bounced back fairly quickly–with a combination of medication and counseling. I’m still on the medication today, now almost two years after the birth of our third child.
I ran out of my medication for a few days, a couple weeks ago. I just kept forgetting to get to the pharmacy and pick up a new prescription. Granted, things are pretty stressful right now–with the upcoming launch of my book, and all. Not to mention life with three young children. And a winter that feels life it will NEVER end (it snowed another 4″ here, just yesterday)…but I started to spiral downward pretty quickly.
I am one of those few women who will probably never be able to function without antidepressant medication. This confession might come against great scrutiny. But like a diabetic without insulin, I am not able to function properly–properly meaning, caring for my children adequately,and handling life’s common stressors without falling apart–without medication. For me, depression is a medical condition that was exacerbated by pregnancy. And I hate it. I hate being dependent upon something artificial that I have to put into my body once a day. But, the alternative is worse. It is unsafe and unacceptable.
Katherine Stone does a great job highlighting current issues revolving around pregnancy related mood disorders. To find out about the bills in congress that will hopefully increase funding and support for research into causes of and treatments for pregnancy related mood disorders, follow this link.
For more information on pregnancy related depression, check out this resource.