#PPDChat Topic: The Great Divide: Failure to Communicate after PPD


Dirty Talking with the hubs about PPD


Harry: Why are you getting so upset? This is not about you.

Sally: Yes it is. You are a human affront to all women and I am a woman.

Harry: Hey I don’t feel great about this but I don’t hear anyone complaining.

Sally: Of course not you’re out of the door too fast.

Harry: I think they have an OK time.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: What do you mean how do I know? I know.

Sally: Because they…

Harry: Yes, because they…

Sally: And how do you know that they really…

Harry: What are you saying, that they fake orgasm?

Sally: It’s possible.

Harry: Get outta here!

Sally: Why? Most women at one time or another have faked it.

Harry: Well they haven’t faked it with me.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: Because I know.

Sally: Oh, right, that’s right, I forgot, you’re a man.

Harry: What is that supposed to mean?

Sally: Nothing. It’s just that all men are sure it never happened to them and

that most women at one time or another have done it so you do the math.

Harry: You don’t think that I could tell the difference?

Sally: No.

Harry: Get outta here.

 

Fake it till you make it, right?

SO many moms I have talked to have shared that they have not told their significant other the true depths of their suffering as they move through their Postpartum Mood Disorder.

He goes to work.

I don’t want to burden him when he gets home.

He deserves to come home to a happy home.

He won’t understand.

He thinks I am using a PMD as an excuse to make him do everything.

He deserves time with his friends so I’ll lie and throw myself under the bus.

Ladies?

Your husband cannot read your mind.

Gentlemen?

If your wife is smiling on the outside but it’s obvious there is something going on, sit her down and ask if she’s okay. If you’re struggling too, let her know. It will help her feel less alone in her hell. (And trust me, it IS hell!)

A good relationship is centered on trust. Trust relies on open communication. Open communication fosters a strong sense of intimacy. Intimacy suffers when open communication falters. When open communication falters, trust cracks wide open. When trust cracks, good relationships are monumentally at risk for destruction. Relationships at risk for destruction are toxic to all involved – there is a ripple effect that reaches out in every direction, including your children.

Postpartum Depression is nowhere near as exciting or pleasurable as an orgasm. (And never will be.) But recovery will only lead to a pleasurable place IF you’re honest. An honest recovery as opposed to a faked recovery is infinitely more pleasurable for all involved. We owe ourselves honesty, we owe our partners honesty, we owe our CHILDREN honesty, we owe our medical professionals honesty.

Because without honesty, we have nothing.

I am just as guilty as the next mom for lying about my Postpartum Depression. I minimized my symptoms, lied to my husband when something was wrong, lied about hating him, about resenting him, sucked it up when he came home – how could I tell him about my hard day when he had been at work for just as long as I had been at home? I threw myself under the bus. The only person I hurt in the process was myself. I let it slide until I was having good days – until he got home. All my built up resentfulness would burst through the door along with him – and suddenly I morphed into super bitch. He couldn’t do anything right:  he was in the way, he was a bad dad, MY life was interrupted the instant he arrived home annoying me to the zillionth degree. But none of it was really his fault. Why? Because I didn’t share with him what was really going on with me. Once I started talking WITH him instead of yelling AT him, things began to improve. It took both of us nearly five years to begin to truly communicate with each other after the birth of our first daughter, making it almost three years after the birth of our second.

The other night I came at him the wrong way about something as we were putting the kids to bed. We moved on with what we were doing instead of arguing in front of the kids. Once the kids were down for nap, I apologized for handling it poorly. He apologized as well. We moved on with our evening and put it behind us. The old us? Would have argued in front of the kids. We would probably still be arguing about who was right or wrong. Instead, I’m throwing the remote control into his shin, nearly gimping him for life, and we’re cracking jokes about it on Twitter. I am SO madly in love with the new us.

Postpartum Depression sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. Did I mention it sucks?

But given the chance, it allows for such amazing and miraculous growth within yourself, within your marriage, within your relationship with your children.

Be honest with your significant other about your journey, your feelings, your emotions. Get dirty. Get into the nitty gritty. Life is messy. Emotions are messy. We cannot wrap everything up in a neat package like we do before Christmas. Not everything has a shiny sparkly bow on top. Sometimes they look like they’ve been in the gutter with Edgar Allan Poe after a bender. It’s hard to admit you are not okay. But until you do, you’re just lying to yourself and those around you. You? Deserve better. So do those around you.

Write it down. Reach out. Get the help you need. There’s no need to continue to fight in silence or in loneliness. There is hope. There is help. You are not alone. You are so not alone.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The WE factor in Postpartum Mood Disorder Recovery


When a new mom struggles with Postpartum Mood Disorders, her absolute first line of defense and support is her partner/spouse. If she has no support from the person to whom she is closest, the chasm into which she finds herself opens deeper, wider, and threatens to swallow her forever. A new mom turns to those closest out of sheer instinct. It’s a bit like falling off a cliff and reaching out for anything you can grab a hold of as you fall. If there’s nothing there or it breaks under the weight, you continue to fall with an unrooted twig in clasped in your hands and dirt under your fingernails.

Oftentimes, loved ones are the first to notice something is not quite right with Mom. They notice the lack of sleep or the increased sleep. They notice the irritability. They notice she does not want to hold the baby or spend time with them. They notice the housework piling up and Mom curling up in the corner. But they do not know how to tell Mom. They do not know where to turn for help. They do not know what to do. Instead they stand there. Watching. Helpless. Sliding toward hopelessness.

This is why education about Postpartum Mood Disorders is so absolutely important.

Husbands/Partners are especially vulnerable because they are left picking up the slack if Mom does not improve or seek treatment. Often this may create resentment between a couple and harm the marriage, sometimes irreparably. A harsh environment of anger, irritability, resentment, and discord seeps into the home as a result. This very environment has nearly destroyed my own marriage. Even six years later it still persisted, it’s ghost inserting itself into every interaction and conflict. We are FINALLY dealing with this negativity head-on now.

How do you prevent something like this from happening? I wish there was an easy answer. But alas, there is not.

A Postpartum Mood Disorder sneaks into life much like a thief in the night. It steals things like happiness, sanity, serenity, and harmony. Evil little bastard, really. Thing is, just as with any other life event, you can prepare for its arrival even if it may or may not happen. It’s a bit like installing a security system with alarms to go off to keep you safe. Even if this is your first pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders including how to recognize depression in your husband/partner.

Up to 50% of dads with a depressed partner will experience a form of depression called Paternal Postnatal Depression. It’s real, it happens, and two depressed parents make for a very tense household. There’s yelling, shouting, uncomfortable silence, judgment, and misunderstandings which lead to very ugly places. Trust me, I’ve been there. I would not wish the past six years of my life on anyone. Not even the devil himself. It’s been worse than hell.

As you struggle to fight your way back, please remember that your husband has been right there with you. Hopefully he jumped into the trench with you instead of staying on the sidelines watching you battle your way down field as you kick PPD toward the goal of Good Riddance. But if he stayed on the sideline, don’t count him out. He might be scared. He might be depressed himself. Or he might be self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. And just as you have expected space in which to heal, he too deserves the same space in which to heal himself. The both of you deserve permission to not be okay if that indeed is what’s going on with you.

If your husband is not responding to any of your attempts to get him involved, it may be time to take him to a doctor /therapist appointment. He may have questions he needs answered. Or he may be unsure of anything he can do to help. Or he may be struggling himself. Regardless, many men find solace in hearing facts straight from a professional. It’s not personal, ladies. It’s just the way some men operate. The degree/training matters.

But what if your husband/partner disagrees with your choice of treatment? If your treatment option is working for you and has been discussed with a medical professional, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what anyone else things, even your husband or partner. YOU are the one who has to live with you. YOU know what works and what does not. Do not let anyone bully you into switching to a form of treatment you are not comfortable with or does not work. It is okay to shop around for a good doctor or therapist but do not use “I did not click with Therapist X” as a reason to stay away from help, as @postpartumprogr pointed out in yesterday’s #PPDChat.

There were quite a few ladies at yesterday’s #PPDChat discussing this very topic. But I wanted to open it up to those of you who read the blog but don’t/can’t make it to our Twitter Chats on Monday.

A few of the questions asked at Chat were:

Did your husband notice there was something wrong before you did? Did he tell you? How did he tell you? How did you react to this news?

What advice do you have for other dads/partners who might be struggling to figure out how to tell their loved one she/he needs mental health help? What approach worked for you?

What are some simple things Dads can do around the house to help Mom out after the birth of a baby? What were some little things your own husbands did for you that made a big impact?

Dads? What advice do you have for Moms? Anything we can do to try and help you out in the midst of all of this? Realize we are not capable of a lot when we are incapacitated by a Postpartum Depression but a little knowledge and insight goes a looooong way.

Please share any resources you have found invaluable not only for Postpartum Mood Disorders but for marriage as well.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ on this Tuesday!

(P.S. If you choose to answer this on your own blog, grab the above button and link it back to this post with your response! Thanks!)

PPD Survivor Shares her Story for the first time


On Tuesday, this was a comment left by a mom who had never shared her story with anyone besides her husband (who lived it with her). I emailed her to ask if she would be comfortable with me giving it a post of it’s very own. Her story begins when she is 34 weeks pregnant and continues through to postpartum. I hope you find it as inspiring and as strong as I did…..

This is my first time to share my story in any capacity…. I don’t know if I’m ready, but here goes nothing…

My depression started around 34 weeks into my pregnancy… I had never heard of PPD and I didn’t know what ante partum depression was… I started to realize something was wrong somewhere between 30 – 34 weeks. I’m not afraid of medication, and think of it as an aspirin would be to a headache.

I have had depression and anxiety before so, I somewhat, recognized the signs. I told my husband that I wasn’t quite feeling right, and he encouraged me to speak with my OBGYN. At my next appointment I told my doc that I was worrying excessively, and not feeling quite right. It was really a whole new type of depression for me.. I never could and still have difficulty describing the way I felt. But worry was a BIG concern. The OBGYN said it wasn’t a big concern, and not to worry lots of new mom’s worry a lot.

My husband is a member of the “mind over matter” club. While he, I’ll say, tolerates, my need for meds to get my depression under control, he definitely is one of those, “Just push through it,” kind of people.

I saw my OBGYN on Tuesday, and she prescribed me Prozac, I ended up going to the E.R. on Sunday because I felt very overwhelmed; with what exactly, I do not know… They gave me an Ativan shot, made sure I calmed down and sent me on my way, with no real information. Or possible expectations. I then saw my OBGYN again on Wednesday, explained what had transpired over the weekend, and she prescribed me some Xanax. I felt so horrible that day, that we went straight to the nearest pharmacy and filled the script so I could take one. That Sunday I woke up and I felt worse than I thought I ever could. I told my husband that he had to take me to the E.R. So they could take the baby out so that no harm would come to her, if I did end up harming myself.

I thought this was a completely rational thought process; and was even more distressed when they told me that instead of delivering my baby early, they were sending me to the Nut House. All of this scared my husband to death, not only was he in fear of losing his wife, but that there was a possibility that he could end up without a wife and a child, or raising a baby on his own. And it was definitely one of the two, because the baby could not stay in me anymore.

I think that is when he realized, after two weeks of doctors and E.R. visits, that something was really wrong and a real threat existed not only to my life but to our unborn daughter’s life as well! I went to the psych. ward at a private hospital, where they were fairly knowledgeable about pregnancy related depression. The one thing that is VERY FRUSTRATING in my case, is that, since I was pregnant I was having a OBGYN come in and check on me daily, and since I was high risk (because of a blood disorder) I had a specialist coming to see me daily as well. They kept telling me it would be okay for me to get some Ativan, which had provided tremendous relief at the E.R. Visits, but the psychiatrist that was assigned to me when I arrived, REFUSED to give me anything other than Benadryl and Celexa, neither of which were providing any immediate relief.

As I have learned over the past year and a half since this all occurred, most psych. Wards have limited visitation, and mine was no different. My husband could come to the evening visitation and spend an hour with me. The first few days all I did was cry the whole time he was there. He was so scared. I was breaking his heart and that just made me feel even worse. I really just wanted to give him the baby and leave (you know d-i-e…) I didn’t want to burden him with all of my problems anymore. The thought of me not being around anymore, was the thing that was really bothering him. He got it in those moments.

I got out of the hospital and managed to hold it together until 38 weeks!!! YAY ME!!! When my OBGYN, asked if I wanted to go ahead and deliver, I practically took myself straight to the hospital right then. Coincidentally, I went into labor on my own the day I was scheduled to deliver. My delivery was easy… But there were some complications with my epidural, which lead to added stress. It is the most horrible feeling in the world to think back onto that day and to look at pictures and to know in those moments there was no joy, no love, and no want, for my beautiful, brand new baby girl. You can see the blankness in my face and the fakeness in my smile in all of the pictures… It breaks my heart to think of it. Will she understand, what was wrong with me then? Will she know how much she has ALWAYS been loved and wanted!

This was my husband’s first baby, but my second. I have a, now 10 y.o., daughter from a previous relationship, so I had been through the nursing and diapering and everything before. I was uncertain of myself because of my depression and anxiety, but I knew what I was doing automatically. My husband second guessed everything I did. He questioned my positioning of the baby while nursing, and was convinced that she was not getting any milk, despite the fact that the nurses had told him multiple times that everything was going fine. As one would assume this only compounded the problem I was dealing with.

A couple of days out of the hospital and other than the epidural complication I thought I was feeling much better! I look back now and think that the depression was just masked by the Vicodin they were giving me for pain after the delivery. I probably had about a weeks worth of Vicodin, and within a few days after that, I was back in the E.R. I won’t go into all of the how I was feeling… But I ended up back in the psych. Ward.

Telling my husband the second time felt easier to me… With the flawed logic of depression, It seemed very simple. I leave (aka die) and then he doesn’t have to worry about me, he now has his child, life will be easier without me… Yada yada yada… The same visitation schedule existed, naturally, I had just been there little less than a month before… My husband came to all the visitations and brought our daughters. (the first time I lied to the oldest about where I was, she still doesn’t really know why I was there either time) again, in the moment, he was understanding, apologetic, and sympathetic. He just wanted me to do what ever I need to do to get better, and come home to our family.

We had tough decisions to make. Since I was nursing, and since I had the same psychiatrist that I had had previously, she was equally unwilling to provide me with any REAL meds, until I agreed to stop nursing ( as I type that, I think I hate her for that!) Up until the point in which I agreed, I pumped and dumped, my milk every few hours in my room there in the ward. That too was heartbreaking, but I was finally at a point mentally where I knew I had to get better and go home, and without me at home, there wouldn’t be breast milk anyway! So I stopped pumping and finally got some relief!!!

When I first came home my husband was great!!!! He did the laundry without being asked, he made sure there were meals for everyone, he helped out with our new daughter a lot. But as time passed and things have gotten better his back to his same old self. Mind over matter. He really does spend a lot of time wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

I’m glad to report, that I’m now doing great, as long and I don’t have to talk about the time around my daughter’s birth, (this post has resulted in the need to take some Ativan!) And you don’t talk to me about having another baby, which my husband definitely wants to do, and I’m not so sure I can handle it… I can’t even type out what happened to me without having a panic attack!!!! But for the most part I’m GREAT! ;o) I’m down to 30 mg of Cymbalta a day, and Ativan as needed (which is rare!). We are working on weaning off the Cymbalta, but I’m in no hurry! I want to be well and I want to be here with my family.

I’m looking forward to sharing this post with my husband. I think I have stated fairly well, what I will need him to do better next time. I have also printed of a “Me First” letter (got it from a post on a PPD site) and will be well armed if we decide to have another baby! I wish my husband had a better understanding of depression. I which he could remember how VERY REAL everything we went through during our daughter’s birth was. Maybe then he would have more compassion for my now fleeting struggles, and be WELL prepared for the next time!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 08.18.09: Telling Your Partner


Original photo by Pingu1963 @ flickr

Original photo by Pingu1963 @ flickr

We’ve touched briefly on seeking support and how you overcame the stigma of admitting something was wrong.

Today I want to take that topic to a more personal level.

How did your partner take the news?

My husband was so confused right after we had our first daughter. One minute I’d be fine, the next – yelling at him for simple things – like criticizing how he blew his nose or something equally inane. Or one of my favorites – the laughing hyena fits. Oh how I hated those! They hit at the most inopportune time! Him: “My day sucked.” My response: laugh so hard milk I had drank that morning would come spewing out my nose. Yeah, peachy, huh?

Once I kind of figured out what might be happening it really helped us both immensely. I stopped believing he had been born with super powers which would magically allow him to know precisely what (and when) I needed him to do with the baby and he started asking what he could do to help out. Before you knew it, we were navigating the perilous yellow brick road of communication quite successfully! (Did I mention he even talked to his parents about PPD for me? How sweet!)

By the time my second episode occurred, he knew more than enough to recognize old habits and encouraged me to seek help. We did have a bump when I was hospitalized but I think anyone with a loved one with a need for mental health hospitalization would be understandably stressed.

Third time around he was just as big an advocate as I was, knew a ton, and fortunately, sailed right through the experience with me. We were both very blessed to be able to fully enjoy the newborn stage with at least one of our children. That experience is something neither one of us takes for granted.

So – what I’d like to talk about today is how you told your significant other that everything was not alright in New Momville. How’d that conversation go? Did you initiate it? Did they? What was the reaction? What did they do to support you as you recovered?

I do want to take a moment to mention that if you have an unsupportive partner, talk with your caregiver about this. See if you can arrange to have your partner attend an appointment with you so that the doc can explain to them how important it is for you to have support at home. Good support at home is essential to a solid recovery and as your partner, they are on the front lines. In fact, it’s always a good idea to take your partner with you to your appointment because they may be witness to behavior you are not aware of in yourself.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday!