Today’s interview is with Heather, a fellow moderator at the Online PPD Support Page Forum. We hit it off quite well as our oldest children struggle with many similar symptoms due to sensory integration for her son and Alli is currently undergoing testing so we don’t have a specific diagnosis yet but I have certainly found a fellow traveler in Heather when facing difficulties with Alli. Heather has been through quite a bit in addition to her PPD experience and handled her episode without anti-depressants. Through her words I hope to illuminate the path of natural treatment that some women choose to take. Anti-depressants are not for everyone – we all travel a different path towards recovery. This is Heather’s.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience with Postpartum Depression.
I started to have Anxiety when I was still pregnant and some IT’s as well. My IT’s though were just simple. I used to obsess about what we would do if he wasn’t born a boy. Although from the ultrasound there was no doubt it was a boy. In fact they said, that’s either a boy, or a girl with 3 legs. So I constantly obsessed about it being a 3 legged girl. I also was suffering from some PTSD from a roll-over car accident I had been in. So of course I had some worries about the baby being defected as a result of the accident since I was pregnant when it occurred. On the day he was born I had a reaction to a pain killer that they gave me in the hospital and I slept through my labor and delivery. I was completely incoherent. I have short spurts of memories. I woke up when he was 7 hours old to find my son having oxygen administered to him. I suffered from some PTSD too then from the birth.
We had to also get some testing done to rule out a genetic condition called MMA. That fortunately was negative, but it was still a stress. When my son was almost 5 months old my husbands niece died from complications of MMA. She was just 3 years old. Sydney and I were sooo close, her death really hit hard especially since I was not there, we were on vacation. At that time I started having harmful IT’s about myself and Cardon. I hated myself for them because here I was not bonded with Cardon, not liking him and having hurtful IT’s towards him and my Sister in Law was grieving the loss of her only child. I then started to seclude my self from people. My in laws were really toxic towards me and my situation, we had moved to a new area and I didn’t know anyone, so I was all alone.
My family lived more than 700 miles away. My husband was working and going to school so much that we would go days without seeing him. I would go days without getting dressed and especially without showering because I had horrible It’s in the shower. I also would go days without sleeping, or days with sleeping whenever my son slept (3 naps a day and 12 hours at night) I went dry and stopped breastfeeding, and that only made things worse. By may I couldn’t hide it anymore and started to seek help but was lashed out against by people. It was not safe for me to be on my own so we moved in with Travis’ Grandmother to have her help look after me. While there I started counseling and stayed in counseling for 3 months then was released with a “clean bill of health.”
However, Labor day weekend I had a total breakdown, in a ball on the floor begging my husband to take me to the hospital. I wanted to be admitted to the psych ward. Instead he sent me to be with my family for the weekend. Doing that he had to call in sick to work so he could care for our son. Well he was put on probation and then quit because of the unfairness of the situation. At that point we decided I needed some serious help and sought out a Kinesiologist. Within a few months I was back to “normal”
I know that you dealt with PPD through natural treatments. Would you share what worked for you and some resources for other women to turn to if they don’t want to use anti-depressants?
I have worked with a homeopath for about 10 years now, because I am intolerant to all meds including antibiotics and pain killers. So I worked with him and he tried to stabilize my hormones. It wasn’t working all that well though because I could only confer with him over the phone as he was in Salt Lake and me in Los Angeles. My mom at the time was seeing a kinesiologist that was recommended to her by our homeopath. So I sought out a kinesiologist in my area. My mom paid for the sessions since we couldn’t afford it and insurance wouldn’t cover it. Kinesiology is energy work on your body. There are different energies in your body and with asking different questions you can find out what is off, and then that same trained professional can help your body get back to its own normal levels. It was found my seretonin was off as were several of my neurotransmitters. I used fish oils to help my neurotransmitters function properly again. http://www.kinesiology.net is a recourse that goes into detail about different forms of kinesiology. Also http://www.tbmseminars.com is a site to look for a practitioner. Tbm is a varied form of kinesiology.
What effect did PPD have on your marriage?
PPD was really hard on my marriage especially before Travis fully understood what was going on and quit living in denial. He went to one appoint at my PDOC’s with me. It was also hard because we were constantly under attack from his family. He would try to defend me to his family and try to defend them to me. He was trying to please everyone and it just didn’t work. As soon as he finally gave up and decided to stick to one side (mine) things got better.
Would you say through your PPD experience you grew and realized how to better nurture and take care of your body and mind?
Yes and no. I was pretty in tune with my body and mind before, but I did learn that I cant do everything on my own and I do need help and ITS OK to get help.
You’ve gone on to have another child after PPD. What was that experience like?
Well its been a whole different experience. My pregnancy was totally different, I was more in tune with little changes. I was able to stay on and increase my fish oils when needed. My labor and delivery was done totally naturally and I was actually a participant in it, and was coherent when she was born. That really helped in bonding. Things have been totally different, I cant express how different it has been. I started on a high dose progesterone cream within hours of the birth and was on that for several weeks before weaning off of it. I think that really helped. Also people around me were more aware and we surrounded ourselves only with the people who would be supportive. I did need to receive 2 kinesiology treatments during pregnancy to re-stabilize myself, but other than that I have had no relapses or reoccurance of PPD. I did have my thyroid tested at one point after the birth when I was starting to struggle some and it was on the low end of normal so I was put on some natural supplements to help balance the thyroid and I have been fine.
How did your husband handle your first episode and do you think he was well prepared to handle things if you relapsed after the birth of your daughter?
At first my husband was in denial. He did not handle it well at all. He would lash out at me and be hurt. He would blame me and tell me I could be better if I wanted to (something his family told him) then he started to see what it was really like once he was home more, and he started to be more supportive. Yes he was well prepared the second time. We had established open communication and had a plan in place. He came and told me once that it was time to go see my kinesiologist. At first I was mad at him. I yelled at him and told him to leave me alone. He did, he didn’t push. Of course after a day or so I realized he was right and went. But he had already planned that if I didn’t go in a couple days he would try to broach the subject again and then get my mom on board, which was all a part of the plan. Fortunately it didn’t come to that.
What do you find most challenging about motherhood? Least challenging?
My son is my biggest challenge. He has sensory disorders and that is very trying and can be very taxing.
Least challenging would be loving my kids.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your PPD experience?
That I can overcome anything. If I lean on my spouse and God, I can do anything. I came from the brinks of sanity, so close to committing suicide, to where I am now. I couldn’t have done it without allowing other people to help me.
You’re a moderator at the Online PPD Support Page. How much does it mean to you to be able to support other women as they too struggle towards recovery from PPD?
It means the world to me. They gave me so much and I am so grateful to be able to give back and help other women who are right where I once was. It also helps me to realize just how far I have come.
Last but not least, if you had one piece of advice for an expectant mother, (new or experienced), what would it be?
Take it easy. Don’t stress. Relax. You may not know how to be a parent, but guess what, kids don’t know how to be a kid either, we learn together. Parents have the ability to read and get advice from others, but kids don’t get a manual, so relax and take things as they come and you and your kids will be better off.