Where to even begin with all the treatment options for my diagnosis of Postpartum Depression (PPD)? It is truly overwhelming, especially for someone in the middle of depression when making decisions is nearly impossible. The indecision added to the overwhelming insecurity make for a very tricky situation.
I will share with you all that I did. Clearly I cannot guarantee you will have the same results (I have NO medical background, but even those that do can't guarantee anything). What I hope most for those that have PPD and those that love someone who might have or has a diagnosis of PPD, is that you will hear all the options and you won't feel guilty about whatever treatment(s) you choose to use.
After that breakthrough night on the couch of sharing with Chris that I was pretty sure I had PPD, I had to make some decisions though. It was time.
Here are all the steps I went through for treatment.
#1: I made an appointment with a psychiatrist
I decided I just needed to go and get a valid diagnosis. I researched psychiatrists in my hometown and found one that doesn't push meds or think they are necessary in every case and uses therapy and close evaluation regardless of medicinal intervention. I told myself I would go, but I didn't have to follow their recommended treatment if I wasn't comfortable with it. (For those that live in the Houston area, I highly recommend The Women's Place at the Pavilion for Women.)
#2: I told my mom, my behavioral psychologist mom
This is a big deal because her core method of practicing is using behaviroal psychotherapy to treat people and to remove or seriously limit medications to only those needed (her clients are those with severe mental illness, usually in the state mental hospitals). She is a miracle worker in this field. My entire life I've been educated on alternative treatments for psychiatric diagnosises. Not in a judgmental way, but I'm more educated on the harms of being overmedicated without dealing with the actual issue. I chickened out and didn't make the call to her until I was on the way to my appointment because I didn't want her to talk me out of it.
Her response shocked me, something like: "Oh Becky! How did I not see this? ...This makes total sense... I wish you had told me sooner! ...No, there isn't judgement, most cases of PPD need to be corrected with medicine, it is the only way to reset the body." I was stunned and relieved. So thankful to get that insight before I went.
#3: I was told I needed medicine
At the appointment, after my hour and a half consult I was told, "You have moderate PPD. Mild PPD can be treated without medical intervention, but moderate PPD really requires it." I was told all that I had heard my mom say before: Take the meds, continue coming for therapy every two weeks and follow assignments for at home, this will continue for a few months once symptoms gone away, then we will taper off.
I still hated it, so I grabbed the prescription with no intention to fill it.
#4: I took my prayer life to the next level (I'm so ridiculous, I know)
First, I firmly and fully believe in the power of prayer. I firmly and fully believe that Jesus is able to heal and did and does the miraculous. I decided to pray and ask a few others to pray that this would go away instantly. I was believing that it would all go away. I wasn't open to God using my diagnosis in other ways. I wasn't open that humility would be needed for my healing, not an instant prayer fix. That is how I was being ridiculous. His ways are perfect, not my ways.
#5: I got on the essential oil bandwagon
This was before essential oil people got all crazy on social media. I had heard about it and thought it was worth a try. So I ordered the kit and all the oils that could possibly help with PPD. Then I lathered myself up as often as possible.
#6: I self-helped myself
All the things you can or should do to lift your spirits from a funk, I implemented them.
#7: Then I filled my prescription and took that pill
For me it came to a place of why would I waste any more time? My baby was now 9 months old and I had been feeling this way for the past 6 months, I needed me back. Pride was the only thing hold me back. So I took that pill.
My physical/mental results:
Within a couple of weeks I felt the dark cloud lift. I knew something was different, I was coming back!!!!
The prayer people can contribute it all to prayer, and I would agree.
The oil obsessed ones can contribute it to oil, and I won't deny it.
The overachiever doers can contribute it to the self help practices, and I would concur.
And the pill poppers can contribute it to that magical pill, and I would nod my head in support.
After about 3 months on the meds, I tapered off of them with no issues. I still continue to use the oils, prayer and self help because those things can't hurt and are proven to help.
My personal results:
I wanted to share this separately because no one shared this with me. It was the part of the journey that was least expected for me and has been the hardest part to deal with. I shared already that it was a full year after baby was born before any of my treatment started working (9 months without a diagnosis + 3 months before treatment started changing me). Taking us to current date that was about 1 1/2 years ago. If I'm being totally honest the "feeling more like myself" has taken a lot of time. I believe that had more to do with how I reconditioned myself during that year before diagnosis or treatment results. During this time we moved and changed churches, so my social surroundings changed when I was in my undiagnosed state. So I had never, for lack of better wording, been myself around the people I was most frequently around. I had to relearn how to be social (SO strange because I was too social before PPD). I have had to relearn how to have conversations. I have such compassion for shy or introverted people now, I have felt how hard and uncomfortable having a normal conversation with normal people can be.
I share this not to discourage you, but to let you know it might take more time to learn how to be you again, especially if you went a long time before whatever treatment you use starts working.
To encourage you, I really feel like I'm more me than I have ever been before. When the Bible says in James that trials makes us stronger, it's not joking. I'm a stronger version of myself. My battle with depression and all the insecurity that came with it has brought me a new confidence. I have never been so confident and comfortable in my own skin before.
The other challenge for us/me was deciding whether or not to have another baby. We always knew we would want more children, but I was terrified to go through what I went through with PPD. I remember clearly in college when God called me into ministry (which turns out included being a Mommy) that I would never say no to an opportunity because of fear, I would only say no if I felt like He was saying no. Finally, after months of talking and praying about trying for another baby, I realized the only thing holding me back was fear. So we started trying for another baby!
Lots of people have asked me what I plan to do this next time, since Chandler makes her debut in just a couple of months! My answer is simple: I'm not going to play around this time. I lost a full year of my life, really more than that if you take into consideration all that I shared above. I'm simply not going to waste any more of my days. I'm doing everything I did before, including taking those pills, and will start that right away. I am adding in additional natural supplements and we have changed a lot of the way we eat as well to support not just physical health, but emotional health. To be clear about the most asked question: yes, I will still take that magical pill and I will not feel bad about it this time.