MY BATTLE WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: A TEST THAT CHANGED MY LIFE…
Many of you know that The Linda Project (former blog) was born from a place of pain and heartache. The year I created The Linda Project I had gone through a very dark and scary time. I battled a severe case of postpartum anxiety and depression. Postpartum anxiety and depression is something that I heard referenced from time to time, but I never thought about it much. The only time the topic was raised was during a short five-question survey I took while sitting with Owen in the NICU. At the time the questions seemed absolutely ridiculous. Are you anxious? Yes, of course I am, I’m literally sitting in the NICU with my baby. My baby is three pounds. Are you having trouble sleeping?Yes, I’m worried sick. In that moment, I discounted the questions, because I think it would have been abnormal for anyone to answer any differently. After that, I never got questioned about my mental health again.
After Owen was released from the hospital, we went into survival mode. Feedings every two hours, endless doctor appointments, limited amounts of sleep, and before I knew it I my maternity leave was over and I was back at work. At the time, I didn’t realize the amount of anxiety I was feeling wasn’t normal for a first-time mom. I kept making up the excuses, because our situation was so different. Owen was very small, I had an emergency c-section, Owen spent the first three weeks of life in the NICU, and the excuses went on and on. Plus, I loved this little human so much that sometimes I found tears in my eyes just looking at him.
It wasn’t until after I lost my Aunt Linda (nine months later) that my postpartum anxiety and depression got to a place that I couldn’t handle. It literally began to take over my entire life to the point that I couldn’t feel any feelings of joy. I still felt love for Owen and Matt, but I was in a constant state of sadness. It was scary and I felt alone. It took me a few more months to finally admit to myself that I should go to the doctor and get some help.
SEEKING HELP IS NOT ALWAYS EASY
I remember that first appointment vividly. I went in and told her my story, she gave me a short questionnaire, prescribed me some medication, and I was on my way. There was no rhyme or reason as to why she prescribed the one that she did, but I remember trusting her. At this point, I really didn’t know what else to do. The first time I took that medicine, I felt incredibly sick. My stomach hurt, I couldn’t sleep, etc. This was the start of a very long journey.
The next time I went to the doctor, I thought I would do my homework. I researched more and found a doctor that specialized in women’s health and mental health. I thought she would be perfect! How can I go wrong? Again, same episode, just a different day and a higher dose of meds. This went on for at least four or five more visits. The doctors would change my medications and up the doses…making me sicker and sicker. While all of the medication changes were going on I was also going through therapist after therapist. I just felt that NOTHING was working. I wasn’t connecting with these people. I felt judged, misunderstood, and the harder I tried, the faster my life felt like it was falling a part.
I hit rock bottom. I was having a hard time getting myself to work. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I had gone to the ER for panic attacks (they turned me away and said there was nothing they could…except send me home with another prescription). I felt hopeless. I didn’t know what to do. I finally gave up and let go of trying to control this.
GOD HAD A WAY
That’s when God stepped in. It felt like the minute I stopped controlling the situation, I was able to give Him the space he needed to step in. He sent me an angel in the form of a nurse. It was a nurse from a doctor’s office I had just started going to. She got me an appointment with a therapist that she swore could help me. I was skeptical. I didn’t even know if I would take the appointment, but somehow I was able to muster the courage to tell my story one more time. It was that day that I met Crystal from Iris Repro that I knew I was going to be OK.
THE TEST THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING…
Crystal led me to a DNP (a doctor of nursing practice) who LISTENED to my story. She listened for the entire hour and 15 minutes as I sat there and told her about the hell that I had gone through on all these medications. I told her I didn’t know if I had it in me to try another. She told me that before she would prescribe ANYTHING I would take a test from Genesight. The results would show her how my body would react to the medication BEFORE prescribing it. This test was outside the standard of care, but at this time Matt and I or my parents would have paid anything. Luckily it was only $330.
After cost I thought, oh my gosh, what is this test going to be? Is it painful? Not in the least. It’s a simple swab of the cheek. A cheek swab literally saved my life. The report came back and every single medication that I had been prescribed was on my “do not prescribe” list. Every single one. I sat there with tears in my eyes. I felt a wave of relief. I finally had proof that I wasn’t overreacting or being extra emotional. My body physically could not handle this medication.
Slowly, I was introduced to a new medication that changed my life. With countless therapy sessions with Crystal, the new medication, and a lot of self-care I fought my way back and gained my life back. Honestly, I think my life is even better now than it was five years ago before any of this happened. It was truly the grace of God who led me to exactly what I needed to survive this. Since then He has blessed our family with another beautiful baby boy. August turned one last month and I’m happy to report that everything has been going wonderfully.
THERE’S ALWAYS HOPE
It’s hard for me to even relive this story tonight. It was painful. I felt shame, guilt, and every other negative emotion you could think of. But, God was laying this on my heart to share. If I can help one person find comfort through this post, it is worth it. If I can help one person who is struggling with finding the right medication to use Genesight (this is not sponsored) and experience relief, it’s worth it. If this post can touch one other momma who may be going through something similar, this is worth it. We are all human and we all experience trials and heartache in life. I think what we do with those experiences is what shows our true character.
Blessings to you and your family,
Three things I’m grateful for:
- Owen, without him I wouldn’t be who I am today. Plus, he’s absolutely adorable
- Being whole again.
- Feeling joy
- Having the courage tonight to share this in hopes of helping others (bonus one)