Tuesday, July 17, 2007

PPD... Or Was It?

Marin is not letting me sleep for more than about 2 hours at a time. Sometimes, it's more like 45 minutes between wakings. I am totally exhausted, and yet I'm still able to function. I feel like this sucks, but overall, I'm ok.

In a recent conversation with East Coast Anne I was saying how clear it is to me now that I had postpartum depression in the year(s) following the twins' birth. With them, in a similar sleep-deprived situation, I would have been feeling all panicky and desperate and totally stressed about how! I! was! going! to! make! them! sleep!

I had other symptoms too: feeling easily overwhelmed, feeling like I was wound too tight, feeling like I might snap at any time, feeling trapped, feeling easily discouraged, feeling like if one little detail of my world went array that my whole world would fall apart. I was anxious about the girls' nap schedules, their eating, their bedtime. I was rigid.

I was able to get out of bed, shower, and generally function. I did not think about suicide. I did not have any of the classic "symptoms" of depression. Most people, even David, did not easily recognize how tense I really was.

So my question is, was it depression? I've seen recently that they are now calling it Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Is that what it was?

When my parents separated in May 2006 I started not sleeping. I was up worrying, and not really about the divorce, about anything. My OB suggested I try Zoloft, as it was good with both depression and anxiety. I am still taking it (a very low dose, and according to Lactation, safe for breastfeeding), and every time I've tried to go off of it I feel that familiar edginess. I feel *almost* out of control. So, daily Vitamin Z it is. Honestly, I feel so normal and calm and capable when I take it. (I am not endorsing this drug, blah, blah, blah, might not work for everyone, blah blah, talk to your own doctor blah blah.) (Also, Helllllooo, drug reps, how You doing? Call me, we'll work out a deal.)

I know many other moms who've experienced similar symptoms. Anne wondered if it was just "first time momness". Maybe for some, but in my case I am sure I could have benefited from some sort of medication.

Perhaps this thing is PPD, or perhaps it's something else. Something they'll come up with a clever name for in the future. If you have experienced something similar, would you describe it as depression, anxiety, or something else?


Erin said...

I had serious anxiety. I mean, I got up too, and took care of the baby, and generally got by. But I was a wreck. A total wreck. A lot of it was, like you, related to anxiety about sleep deprivation. And much was just due to feeling totally incompetant and lacking any confidence. It take a while to find your Mommy Legs, and feel like which you may not be perfect, you're doing okay as a parent.

Thanks for being so honest about it & about deciding to take Vitamin Z. I think it takes much strength and humility to decide that you need to go an extra step to feel better, for yourself & your family.

Swistle said...

I wish there were blood tests for diagnosing it. They're always saying, "Certain amounts of Feeling X is normal, but above that is not normal," but it's impossible to tell in the mid-range whether something is "the usual" or not. This is my fourth time through the post-partum stage, and I've come up with this gauge: If I feel bad A LOT, I'm calling the doctor. If I feel mostly good, with temporary spikes of bad, I assume that's normal for the hormones and the circumstances.

Swistle said...

And I don't mean "A LOT" as in "a freakish and obvious amount of the time," I mean it like, "I am feeling bad, and it seems like I'm feeling bad too much."

Katie said...

Hi! I found you from Swistle and MoMommy. I love this post. It is so true. I was/am a complete freak about how many hours my baby slept. Always tallying, always calculating, always complaining about it. I think I was struck with PPD around 11 months post partum. It was also winter in Alaska, so it might have been that. I could function and I could fake it, but I was a wreck. I was in total denial about it. When I look back, though, I realize I must have been depressed. Life is much better now, but now I'm thinking about getting pregnant again and it terrifies me!

moosh in indy. said...

I call it motherhood.

feener said...

with my first i would call it the baby blues (now), but while i was going thru it i probably thought it wsa worse, i recall by 3 months i was getting into a groove and feeling ok. however with my second, who had colic, it was not just baby blues. i went and talked with someone b/c i was going out of mind. she is 10 months and i look back, and believe it was depression. i still feel like i am not in the best place, but slowly creeping out.

Mommy Brain said...

PPD is way more common with mothers of multiples because the hormone drop is twice as much with twins. (And more if you have triplets, quads, etc.) Add the whole "two babies are three times the work" thing and it shouldn't be a surprise.

I had a lot of emotional stuff tied in with my inability to breastfeed. Once we visited a lactation consultant (and I was several weeks post partum) I stopped crying at every feeding. It was a rough couple of weeks and I wish I had been more informed. Of course, it was also my first pregnancy and I had nothing to compare it to.

There's a really good self-scoring assessment at: http://www.postpartumstress.com/epds.pdf