It was difficult admitting something was wrong, it took courage to schedule a doctor’s appointment, but actually following through and going to the appointment was the absolute hardest.
I worried and worried and worried about this appointment. I tried to find reasons to cancel, but at the same time I didn’t want to cancel because I knew I needed help and could not continue to live like this.
Going to this appointment meant that I couldn’t just ignore the problem, wishing it away. It was admitting that method wasn’t working and wasn’t going to work and that I needed help. It meant that I would have to divulge all of the little details of what a worried and anxious mess I had become and how much I was still struggling as a new mother—and how ashamed of that I felt.
My mom was at the house to babysit and I am thankful for that because as the appointment time neared, I felt very anxious. I had a breakdown earlier in the afternoon when I felt so overwhelmed with the simple tasks of being a mother and that added to the pressure. I asked my mom to watch the baby girl while I laid down on the bed to rest and get it together for about 20 minutes. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. When hubby came home, I told him I didn’t want to go because I was scared—but he kept encouraging me. And so we went.
As with every doctor’s appointment, I worried about stepping on that scale—knowing the number was an embarrassing reflection of my self-care and self-control. I was relieved that the number was in kilograms and I didn’t have to face it because I don’t know the conversion off of the top of my head. If I had seen the number in pounds, which I did see later on, I probably would have cried right then and there on the scale.
You know how when you go to the doctor and you tell the nurse everything only to have to repeat it again to the doctor? I didn’t want that to happen. I planned out that I would be very vague with the nurse because I didn’t have the emotional energy to go through it twice.
I worried about how I would describe what was going on with me, but I am thankful for what happened next. The nurse asked me a series of screening questions and the questions described exactly how I had been feeling all along. There were a few tears as the truth of each statement hit home.
The doctor was prompt and I was relieved not to have a long and anxious wait. She simply asked me what was up—and a million thoughts came into my head. Where to begin?
I was glad that the Type-A person in me had decided to come prepared. To help relieve my anxiety, I had typed up a list of symptoms and how I was feeling. I gave her my list as well as the article that I originally found when I began to suspect something was wrong—and had hit the nail on the head for me. I had highlighted the parts that described what was going on with me. She wasn’t a bit surprised because she has had me as a patient for a few years now and has come to know my ways. We had a little laugh about that.
She reviewed everything, asked me more questions—many of which I didn’t want to answer, but I did—maybe not as truthfully as I should—the truth is hard. For example: Are you keeping up with the housework? Have you been socializing? Do you have any friends? I felt like I didn’t have any friends and that’s incredibly embarrassing, but I didn’t want to tell her that. But after the appointment, hubby did point out that I have friends—but maybe I just haven’t been spending any time with them. There were lots of tears.
I was incredibly relieved when she began to validate my feelings and let me know that there was hope. She told me that since she knows me, she knows that it took a lot for me to get to where I was. She assured me that asking for help was the hardest part, but that I had taken the first step to recovery.
She diagnosed me with post-partum depression. I thought for sure I had anxiety, but she told me that depression often manifests itself through anxiety. The depression screening questionnaire diagnoses clinical depression at a 9, I was at an 18 which is moderately severe depression.
We have a recovery plan. While she usually has patients call back in a month, I am to call back in two weeks if I’m not feeling better. I have a follow-up appointment in a month. I had blood work taken to test my thyroid and will get those results next week because the symptoms can often be similar.
I felt euphoric after the appointment. Well, a tired euphoric. Relief. Hope. I even wanted to believe that I was better simply for having admitted I wasn’t well. But to my disappointment, the symptoms returned in full force by the middle of the night when I was trying to sleep.
I just cannot believe that up until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t realize I had a problem. I never, ever would have thought I had post-partum depression. I didn’t realize that everything going on in my head and the overwhelming feelings weren’t normal. Now that I know the symptoms, I can look back and see occurrences all along—the symptoms getting a lot worse in the last couple of months.
With all of the classes hubby and I took before baby arrived, you would have thought we would have been taught what post-partum depression really looks like. I pictured mothers with post-partum depression being sad and “depressed”, crying all of the time, and unable to get out of bed. This can be how some mothers experience it, but there are many others who experience very different symptoms.
I am glad I took the first step and will do whatever it takes to get the “real” me back again, however difficult it is.
I plan on continuing to write about my experiences and my feelings because it has been therapeutic for me and it is a part of my journey.
Next step, recovery.