I know about postpartum depression. Not personally, but I know people who have suffered it's horrid reality and it's a scary thing. Something I've been wondering about lately is what the opposite of PPD looks like and if it exists for others. Because I think that's me. I'll back up.
Before I had kids I was a bit wild. I partied hard. Too hard. I was on a path that would of led to no good things. I was depressed and dealing with regular panic attacks. I attempted to clear my clouds by partying (dumb). I attempted to clear my clouds by smiling and laughing and going with whatever flow there was to mask what was lying just beneath the surface (didn't work).
Fast forward a few years.
I was lucky enough to fall in love. I was lucky enough to fall for a guy who wanted the same things that I did. He swept me off my feet and a whirlwind later we were getting married and planning for kids. It didn't change my brain chemistry but, damn, being in loved sure did help. I weaned off of my depression and anxiety medication (doctor supervised) when we decided to try for a baby after our honeymoon. 20 days later, Mr. Pants was the real deal.
Suddenly I felt great. My panic attacks all but vanished. My depression, gone. The change in my body and hormones served me very well. Sure, there was a normal amount of anxiety surrounding being a new mom to a fragile and unpredictable tiny person. But there were no looming clouds. There was no gripping fear. It was gone.
When you birth and breastfeed a child, your brain releases large amounts of the hormone Oxytocin. They call it the bonding or love hormone. And so for the next year I give credit to that wonder drug being magically released while feeding my baby. Then I was pregnant with Plum 12 months later. Rinse. Repeat. I've spent the last 5-ish years without the clouds in my personal space. Without the panic attacks. Feeling new. Feeling fine. Flooded in Oxytocin's love embrace. It was nice.
And now I'm sure you know where this is going. Feeling fine is getting harder and harder for me. Plum is still nursing but things are most definitely winding down and ye old mama milk production is dwindling. And shit, those clouds have been sloooowly moving in to my personal space. I can trace it back to this past July. And now that brick that sits on my chest signaling panic is noticeable and causing me to need my old back up plan. My sleep isn't restful. My brain is foggy and jumbled. And well, I'm not going to get pregnant again and partying is out, so now what?
I'm sharing this not because it's any huge revelation that I have done and am currently doing battle with depression, especially to those who know me. No, I share it because I know there are others and maybe reading this they will know they are not alone. Maybe writing it reminds me that I am not alone. That sounds barfy and weird but it's truth.
Of course, I know in my logical brain that I'm not alone. I have massive amounts of loving support around me. But depression is a tough bitch. It lies. It tells you to hide. It whispers in your ear telling you that you can't. It zaps your energy and makes your body ache. It interferes. It is illogical. It is an asshole.
I've been a bit on the sporadic, misguided and all-over-the-damn-place recently. So I've taken some steps. Le petite bebe steps. But steps. You know, back to the doc. Back into meditation. Back into breathing deep and talking to myself. And now here I am talking out loud about what is going on. Because that's the zinger with mental health. We have to talk about it but we are afraid to raise our hands and say, "Oh hey! That's me!" because we fear what all of it means.
So I guess that's what I am doing right now. I am raising my hand and pointing to myself with my thumb to my chest. Yep. That's me.
And while I hope that it's not you, if it is, you are not alone.