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A Sobering Topic: Post-Partum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD


Forum: June 2013 Playroom

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  #1  
April 25th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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This is a bit long, if you just want some information on any of these things, please skip to the bottom for links

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Shortly after I had Alex I began to have a lot of ups and downs. I never felt like hurting myself or Alex or doing anything stupid. I was the exact OPPOSITE. I became convinced that if someone held Alex and walked around with him they'd drop him and his head would explode like a melon. For a long time I freaked out if I found out somebody took him out of the house by way of the front door and he wasn't in his infant carrier. We have concrete steps and I had horrible visions of him falling out of somebody's arms and going SPLAT! all over the front steps. I became *obsessed* with his car seat. When it came time for solids I spent an hour or more planning the perfect "menu" for him for the next day and fretted about intervals. I still have the crazy lists scattered around the house. I throw them away now, of course, but it's disturbing to see so many still around.

At about the same time the news was filling up with stories of mothers hurting their children or outright killing them. Other tragic events also unfolded and horrified me but the ones dealing with children were the ones I focused the most on. They upset me so much that I would go to bed crying just trying to cope with what must have been the last moments of those children's lives. One of the first involved a mother removing the helmet they put on infants to treat flat heads before tossing her 7 month old off of a parking garage of the Children's hospital that was treating him. Here I was freaking out about somebody dropping Alex and hurting his head and there was this mother GUARANTEEING that exact outcome. It shocked me to the core and I cried for weeks about it.

As time went on I began to lose more and more sleep because I felt like I had to constantly check up on Alex. Every time he snuffled in his sleep I'd wake up. I'd try to go back to sleep but I would think "What if he was trapped somehow in his crib and that was his last and only way of telling me that he needed help?" I convinced myself EVERY SINGLE time that if I did NOT check on him right then and there that I would find him dead in the morning. So began an endless cycle of checking up on him, interrupting my sleep, interrupting my relaxation time, etc. It got so bad that on one especially memorable night DH came into the nursery to find out why I wasn't in bed and found me rocking Alex in my arms and saying over and over again "He's going to die. I'm going to die. Everybody is going to die." DH still ribs me today about it saying that not once did I mention (or seem particularly worried) that HE would die.

But because I wasn't thinking about hurting anyone or myself it just seemed like my natural "protection" instincts were running haywire. So I got banned from CNN by DH and I would try to chant at myself "I can't do anything to help those children. I can only help my child" and so on. Within a few months things normalized. I was getting more sleep, Alex was thriving and life began to distract me. But I would still struggle with the fear that tragedy would strike at any moment. I would be driving to work or out for a bit of a "me" excursion and the image of Alex laying on a morgue table (or something similar) would suddenly enter my brain and I'd start sobbing. If I was out and about on my own I'd just go home. If I was on my way to work I'd call home from the parking lot. This would happen at least once a month for the last year or so (when things became technically "better").

Now flash forward to this pregnancy. Everything now is going fine. But within the last month or two the horrible thoughts of Alex or this new LO dying or my death occurring have started creeping in more and more. Some days I have a hard time taking Alex to daycare because I'm so scared that someone will go in and shoot up the place. It's hard to give him "one last hug" and walk away. I feel twinges of panic whenever I'm going to work and DH is loading Alex up in the car to go out. I have to suppress the urge to scream "NO! Stay home! Stay where it is safe!" I've started checking on him multiple times a night again.

I finally talked to my midwife about it because if I go through weeks/months of this again I know it will be worse because I won't have the luxury of sleeping on and off all day. I will have a toddler who will need attention and activity. He will need to go out and play. I'm absolutely desperate to not have to go through it all again. She sent me to their staff psychiatrist and today I met him for the first time. He assured me that I was not crazy and that what I was talking about wasn't unusual or uncommon. However, he did feel that I would benefit from further therapy. He felt that I was definitely exhibiting signs of Post-Partum Anxiety and that the fact I was "feeling" them increase before this baby is born is important. I'm not keen on taking medication but I do have some just in case I have a horrific episode (RE: rocking in the chair and muttering about death).

Here are some links with more information about Post-Partum Depression/Anxiety/OCD I highly encourage you to print this information off and give it to your SO and a few family members. Tell them to become familiar with the signs and determine a "cut off" point (either by time or activity) by which time they should confront you and bring in medical intervention. This can mean they accompany you to an OB/GYN visit and they tell the doctor what they have observed. Remind them that these things may not manifest for a whole year post-birth so they should stay vigilant. Many women will experience some of these things and some of them for some of the time. This is all normal. The biggest thing is to just be aware of the POTENTIAL for deeper issues so that you're not left with them all alone if they occur.

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Meltdown in Motherland - NYTimes.com
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  #2  
April 25th, 2013, 11:56 PM
MamaSkunk's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Oh my gosh I went thru something similar when DD was 6 months. It did stop but it was bad. I just figured my mom protective instincts went into overdrive. Hugs! Good topic to bring up since we are close to our due dates tho.
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  #3  
April 26th, 2013, 02:26 AM
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Thank you for sharing this with us!
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  #4  
April 26th, 2013, 04:54 AM
bribugg13's Avatar SAHM to Pirate & Princess
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I also had horrible PPA, and it's never fully gone away. Instead I think it manifested itself as depression/anxiety over the years, something which I've battled my whole life. So, I'm also back in therapy and hoping to get through these difficult times.

Part of it this time is that I've not connected at all with this baby, I have this horrible feeling that I never will and I won't have any kind of relationship with her. I don't "dote" over this pregnancy like I did with Connor's, I can barely tell you what week I am in unless I look it up on my phone, and I just have this "whatever, don't care" kind of attitude about being pregnant. Luckily, my therapist didn't tell me I'm a horrible mother But with all of my huge life changes going on at the moment (moving to a new state, building a house, living with my in laws, moving away from my family, oh yea and being pregnant!!), it's been hard for me to even focus on my pregnancy. I'm just hoping things will be better once she's actually here!
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  #5  
April 26th, 2013, 05:23 AM
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I had a hard time with my second. I never really acknowledged the fact I was pregnant, even though we were trying for a second and I was so happy when I found out. I didn't realize I was doing it at the time but looking back I realize I totally separated myself from the pregnancy. When he was born I felt like I had just given birth to someone else's child (I even told my husband that a week later). I had no connection to him what so ever. Once we brought him home I wanted as little to do with him as possible. I realized I resented him because I thought he would ruin my relationship with my other son. I went to the doctor and they were able to give me a patch to help even my hormones out and after about 6 weeks I was much better. I think it is very important to make sure you are very honest with your SO or a family member about your feelings after the baby is here. Make sure it is someone you can trust who you know wont judge you and make sure you tell them how you are doing emotionally, that really helped me.
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  #6  
April 26th, 2013, 07:10 AM
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I go through up and down periods myself. I also envision my family's deaths and all the terrible things that can happen. Even last night, DH and I went to a movie, and every time someone got up I went through the scenario of what would happen if that person was a psychopath with a gun, like the guy in Aurora, CO last year. Major anxiety. It'll hit me at the oddest times, and suddenly I'll start obsessing over all the terrible things that could happen to DD.

But then other times I seem to have complete apathy towards her. When she was first born I felt no connection to her whatsoever. I did everything I was supposed to do, I cared for her and made sure she had everything she needed. But it was almost like being on autopilot. I blamed it on sleep deprivation and outwardly showed affection for her when other people were looking, but deep down I didn't feel anything. When she was 1 year old, I went back to school full time in addition to a full time job. I'd work all day and shut myself away in the bedroom and study all night. And I was grateful that I didn't have to deal with her, that DH took care of everything. I literally have almost no memories of her for that entire year.

Just before she turned 3 we decided it would be best for me to be a stay at home mom. And suddenly I was stuck all day with this little person that I felt like I had no relationship with. But then, as our relationship grew and strengthened, that's when the anxiety started to kick in. I have a much stronger relationship with DD now. I can honestly say I love her with all my heart and I would do anything to protect her...but even so, I still go through these periods of apathy where I'll take care of her needs, but emotionally I've checked out.

I'm seeing a therapist now, and at the beginning he said it sounded like I have low-level depression all the time, but I have cycles of deeper depression. Unfortunately, other than that statement, he's been pretty useless. I explained to him about the cycles of anxiety/apathy and how when DD was born, I didn't have any connection to her, and that I'm afraid I'm going to feel the same way about this baby. He basically told me that's normal in someone with postpartum depression, and it's not that big a deal if I don't have an instant bond with my child. Last time I saw him, I was having a really hard week. I mean, I was completely depressed. I'd done little else but lay in bed all week crying. I felt like I was going nuts. I went into the therapist's office crying from the get-go and told him how I was feeling and all he said was that it's normal to feel overwhelmed with a second baby coming, and then changed the subject. *sigh* I need a new therapist.

I think that depression and anxiety is way more common than it seems, people just don't talk about it because there's still this stigma attached to it. If you're not over the moon thrilled with your pregnancy and your new baby, then you're a bad mom. It's not true, but that's the perception. It's nice to be part of a community where it's OK to talk about this kind of stuff, and know that there are others going through the same thing. We need all the support we can get.
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  #7  
April 26th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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Ugh, Joanne, I agree you should definitely find a new therapist. How frustrating for you that he can't even be supportive and acknowledge that there is a problem! Time to kick him to the curb! I've been through so many therapists I've lost count lol, it's definitely trial and error until the right one is found.
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  #8  
April 26th, 2013, 09:16 AM
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For me, towards the end of my pregnancy with my first I started getting really scared I would have problems with PPD. Thankfully it didn't happen and I had the same feelings with my second, I would spend the last few weeks pretty terrified that I would experience PPD and thankfully, again it didn't occur. But, I have always dealt with anxiety. Everyday I see visions of my boys dying grisly deaths. Sending my oldest to preschool for just a couple hours a few times a week has been really difficult ever since Newtown. Every time I take them anywhere there's that fear in the back of my mind that something bad will happen. A couple years ago I used to almost never allow anyone to take my children anywhere without me. Going to therapy seriously helped me. She told me straight off the bat that if I felt we weren't a good fit she would help me find someone who was, and it turned out she was completely wonderful. She helped to realize that I couldn't keep living in fear of what could happen, that it was taking away from my life. In a weird way, losing my parents helped to to realize that even more. I always had this feeling that if someone I loved died, I wouldn't be able to go on, and after losing my dad and I was able to keep going, it made me feel even stronger. I still deal with the anxiety, but it's no where near as severe as it used to be. Thank God. I still see visions in my head of awful things that could happen, but I try my best to push them out and replace them with something else. Anything. I think my therapist had it right, you gotta find someone who is a good fit with you if you want to get anywhere.
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  #9  
April 26th, 2013, 09:44 AM
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I want to thank all of you ladies for sharing your experiences with the rest of us. I am TERRIFIED of PPD. All my life I've struggled with some depression and a little anxiety from time to time. Luckily, I've been able to deal with it appropriately on my own. But I'm really scared that I'm just going to go crazy when baby gets here. I'm scared that I'll feel no connection with her when they put her on my chest. I'm afraid that I'm just not going to want to be around her. I've already had horrible visions of her dying (I've struggled with horrible thoughts and visions since I was very young - I can't go to sleep without the television on because I see crazy stuff when I close my eyes and there's no distraction). Only recently did I research this and find out it's part of anxiety. I've never wanted to hurt anyone or anything, but I have terrible thoughts of doing it or someone else doing it to someone/something I love and it scares the hell out of me because what if I just snap? What if I completely lose myself and just go crazy? I've already talked to my SO about possible PPD and what the signs are and that it's so very important for him to recognize it so that he can help me get help and my mom already knows all about it. I feel very lucky to have a support system in them, but just the idea of all of this coming up in a few short weeks really scares me.
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  #10  
April 26th, 2013, 12:53 PM
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I love this group! Thank you for sharing your stories so openly ladies! I know that they will be so helpful for all our mommies as we get closer to our due dates!
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  #11  
April 26th, 2013, 01:19 PM
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I definitely have struggled with PPD/PPA after each pregnancy. I literally already have my prescriptions filled to start the DAY I get home from the hospital because I know how serious it is for me. I have lived with depression, anxiety and severe OCD since puberty. I have had a lot of problems with OCD and anxiety while being pregnant and it has been really hard not having my medications. I spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying constantly over things.

My therapist says that depression is worrying about things that have already happened. Anxiety is worrying about things to come. So when you have them both, its a never ending, horrible cycle. And breaking the cycle can be really really difficult. I am glad to know there are others out there that struggle too. It is definitely comforting to me.
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  #12  
April 26th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Thank you for sharing your stories ladies!! It is so important that your DH/SO/anyone close to you can recognize the signs of PPD/PPA. Having experienced severe depression in college, I thought I would be able to see the changes in myself and ask for help. I couldn't.

My pregnancy with Lily was a surprise and I struggled with it in the beginning because I just wasn't ready (who is?). Add my grandmother's death to the mix in the first trimester, and I should have known. Fast forward to her being born. I was inexperienced and insecure when it came to babies. I was terrified that I would do something wrong. The first week was fine because I had visitors and help from my mom. But the uncontrollable tears started the next week. It got so bad that I would just put her in the bouncy seat in the bathroom while I sobbed for nearly an hour in the bathtub. This happened everyday. I called DH in tears all the time. At one point I remember asking him if we could just take her back to the hospital. She was cute and a good baby, surely someone else would want her because I couldn't do it anymore. I slept poorly even though she was a great sleeper. I kept imagining someone breaking into the windows in the nursery and stealing her. Every little sound on the monitor had me convinced she was either dying or being kidnapped. I think at this point DH knew something was up and would call my mom to have her check on me. My mom started inventing new errands that she needed to run to have an excuse to ask me to come with her. After 12 weeks, I was so glad to return to work. Most the other women I worked with had a terrible time coming back and being away from their babies, but it was a relief for me. That feeling caused guilt but guilt was better than sobbing at the bottom of the bathtub. I eventually got back to feeling normal, but that first year DH was really Lily's main caregiver. He took her and picked her up from daycare, have her all her baths, put her to bed at night, all while I was at work.

With my second pregnancy, I was already having some minor depression issues related to job loss and finances. I talked about my past experience with my midwife and my worries about it happening again. We decided to start on a low dose of Zoloft (I had taken it with success in college) when I was 36 weeks. She wanted it to be fully effective in my system when the baby was born. It is safe to take while breastfeeding too. I still had some ups and downs, but they weren't overwhelming and debilitating. I am really glad I made that decision. Abri was a challenging baby. She had reflux so she screamed all day and rarely slept. I'm afraid of what I would have done had I had PPD with her.

I will be talking with my midwives again as I get closer to the end. I'm in a better place emotionally with this pregnancy, but I know my past and family history.
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  #13  
April 26th, 2013, 04:12 PM
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I have OCD/anxiety also and normally I can control it with coping mechanisms I learned as a child but after ds1 was born I severely hit rock bottom. I literally could not get off the couch, wasnt eating or sleeping, and felt like I was just going through the motions of caring for him. I have never felt that way before, usually I'm the opposite and can't sit still when I'm anxious so this was a whole new experience for me. I had no idea what was going on. It was a horrible horrible time and he was not an easy baby, he cried 8 to 10 hours straight and it was almost always while DH was at work so it was all left to me to deal with it. He had acid reflux but at the time i didnt know it so i felt like a terrible new mom and even when he was diagnosed I felt guilt that he was in pain and I didn't realize it. On our second night home, DS cried from 11 pm to 6 am without a break and DH and I were sitting on the couch looking at each other and through tears I told DH that I couldn't do this again, that he would be our only child. Thinking back on that night I get a little chuckle out of it considering i obviously changed my mind. But he is certainly worth all the rough patches we both went through, he is such a sweet and affectionate kid.

My sister was truly my savior, she realized how bad I was and made the doc appt for me and went with me and told the doctor what was going on cause all I could do was bawl, I was so ashamed and scared. I don't want to make it sound like DH wasn't supportive, he's a wonderful husband and always there to listen without judging but he didn't push the issue because I would get upset. I never like to talk about how I'm feeling because I feel ashamed, embarassed, and just a failure. So he felt he was making it worse if he forced it. My sister on the other hand is my match and isn't afraid to argue and fight with me lol. This time I've already brought it up to my doc to avoid rock bottom with this one so I will probably get Zoloft at my 36 week appt so it's in my system when it's show time this time around. I'm terrified it will happen again but this time I'm aware and on the look out for it. It was so subtle last pregnancy I didn't realize I had PPD till it was really bad or how bad I felt till the meds kicked in and I started feeling my normal self again. Looking back I see that it started in the hospital, I didn't leave my room one time till we left to take him home and when people visited I would get the feeling that I just wanted them to come back later and I never let my DH leave except to shower. That poor guy slept on the crappy hard pull out every night with me. So hopefully with getting meds next visit and I've got some plans to mentally keep myself stable while in the hospital I won't go down that rabbit hole again. I'm pretty confident about it now that I know what to look for and the early signs that I'm losing it.
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  #14  
April 26th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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OMG! What you described is ME to the T, even to this day?????!!! My daughter, Chloe, will be 4 (FOUR) on April 30 and I still get these horrific thoughts and images of disaster in my head and constantly wake up throughout the night or feel if I can't hear her she is dead or if she sleeps in a bit and I wake up before her then she choked on something or suffocated somehow and is dead. I am so scared all the time! I just thought this goes with being a parent but it's so bad like I am always nervous, chest hurting, feel sick to my stomach and like a freak of nature when I watch the news about children and flip out and cry and imagine those things happening to Chloe omg it scares me to death so bad and even get scared I will die and she will be left crying for me and it is definitely becoming stronger as time for baby #2 approaches... just thought I'd share and let you know you are so not alone! I just thought sure I may have some general anxiety but I didn't know there was a real thing like post partum anxiety.. only knew of the depression part. <3 thank you for this!
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  #15  
April 27th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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I'm glad that this thread has been helpful for so many It certainly has made me feel better hearing that therapy and other methods have been successful in avoiding (or at least substantially minimizing) the unnecessary emotional ups and downs.
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  #16  
April 27th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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Just wanted to say thank you all for sharing. I can't imagine it's easy to share such difficult experiences. I think that if any of us who maybe aren't expecting to experience PPD and do may be more likely to recognize it and get help sooner because of what you all have shared.
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  #17  
April 29th, 2013, 06:49 AM
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This thread is awesome.

I think it's such a silent epidemic. During my pregnancy with DD I was insanely anxious and depressed. I managed to go to work everyday but really insane fears and anger consumed my thoughts. I had been taking lorazepam for anxiety attacks prior to being pregnant and even though it is not recommended during pregnancy I did get the OK from my OB to take it when absolutely required during my pregnancy and afterwards. It was a double edged sword though because the anxiety of causing harm to DD while taking it made it almost pointless to take in the first place.

Luckily this pregnancy i've been lucky enough to not suffer the same way but i'm still concerned about how I will feel afterwards.
A few weeks after DD was born and the adrenaline and new baby rush wore off and lack of sleep set in, I was pretty sure I was losing my mind. I think I had this delusion that no matter how hard it was it wouldn't matter because i'd love her so much everything would be just fine. I had read stories before having a baby about people who hurt their kids, shook them etc. and I couldn't understand how or why anyone could ever do that....And suddenly I understood very well. DD never slept and screamed all day long and I would be lying if I said those thoughts never crossed my mind (obviously it never actually happened but just the fact that I would have a fleeting thought about it scared me).

I think too many women stay silent for fear of being judged by their doctors/family. I know I was worried about even saying anything to my OB because I thought for sure she'd take my baby away and tell me I was crazy and unfit to be a mother. I went to my doctor and I said you'll probably think i'm insane but I don't like my daughter. I love her more than anything but I don't like her. Everyday blended into the next and I really didn't see a light at the end of all of it.

Anyways just talking to someone about it helped immensely (and she assured me I wasn't crazy haha). Slowly but surely things got better but I so strongly urge people to talk about how they're feeling whether with friends/family/physician. I can assure anyone that no matter how crazy you think you sound, there are SO many others who feel the same way whether they say it out loud or not, and it's nothing to feel shameful or guilty about
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