Postpartum Insomnia Series – Part 5: VAN

I want to thank Van for sharing her postpartum insomnia experience with us.  She reached out to me via my blog back in January and we’ve corresponded via email since then.  She is nearing the end of her postpartum depression (PPD) journey.

From the time she first reached out to me, I realized her symptoms were very similar to mine.  Every time she reached out to me, I felt like I was experiencing PPD once again. I empathized with her so much, I just wanted to give her a hug and try to do more for her.  But she was very far away.  Thankfully, we were able to exchange emails.  The primary difference between her experience and mine was that she gained weight and craved food, while I lost weight quickly and had no appetite.

Like me, she had a traumatic childbirth experience, hemorrhaging, and a 1-week stay in the hospital.
Like me, she was caught blindsided by insomnia and panic attacks within a few weeks of giving birth.
Like me, she was frightened and had no idea what was wrong with her.
Like me, she was desperate for answers and understanding.

Her frightening experience has resulted in a desire to help other mothers going through PPD.  I figured what better way to start doing so by sharing her own experience on my blog!

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QUESTION:
When/what was the first indication that something wasn’t right, and how long after childbirth did the first sign occur?

ANSWER:
Looking back in hindsight, I felt something wasn’t right shortly after I gave birth but I didn’t think much of it. I attributed it to a traumatic birth (I haemorrhaged and lost 1.5 litres of blood), no sleep, and exhaustion. I remember feeling overwhelmed and very scared. I kept on thinking “What have I done? I don’t want this baby. How am I going to look after this person?” All I wanted to do was get away from this little person, but knew I couldn’t.

Due to my blood loss, infection and complications with the baby, we had to stay in hospital for a week. It was a day after I gave birth and during my hospital stay that the panic attacks started. I remember pacing up and down the ward, not knowing what was happening to me.  I felt an overwhelming surge of adrenalin that made my heart race and made me feel like I was going to die.  It didn’t register that something was wrong.  I just attributed it all to exhaustion, and staying in a busy ward with no sleep.  I thought things would be okay once I was home. I spoke to the midwives about it and they said that what I was going through was normal.  Since they dismissed it, I did too.  It wasn’t until after I was home and the insomnia and panic attacks continued and worsened that I finally acknowledged that something was really wrong.

QUESTION:
Did you suffer from insomnia? What other symptoms did you experience, if any?

ANSWER:
Yes, I suffered from severe post-partum insomnia. I have suffered bouts of insomnia in the past, but didn’t really have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My past insomnia experiences weren’t as prolonged or severe as my post-partum insomnia. I am not too sure whether it was the anxiety and panic attacks that caused the insomnia or the insomnia that resulted in the panic attacks. For the first four months, my life was pretty much a living hell. I’d have panic attacks 3 times a day, sometimes lasting 2 hours at a time. I was very hysterical and desperate.  Aside from the insomnia and panic attacks, I had a huge appetite and ate 7-8 meals a day. Every 2 hours I’d feel hungry and I didn’t know when to stop.  I would eat throughout the night too. I gained a lot of weight during the first 4 months post-birth. I later found out that sleep deprivation causes changes in the digestive hormones.

I constantly had a dry mouth. I also felt like I had a constant lump stuck in my throat and that my windpipe was closing up. I couldn’t feel my body.  It felt like my nerve endings weren’t working properly.  If you pinched my cheeks or arm I couldn’t fully feel the sensations. I couldn’t feel heat either. My heart would palpitate so much it felt like I was having a heart attack. I felt nauseous pretty much every day.  I couldn’t feel my legs, and felt this constant pins-and-needles sensation on the soles of my feet.  I didn’t know whether that had anything to do with the epidural. I later learnt that all these sensations were symptoms of anxiety. Every time I closed my eyes to try and sleep, all I could feel was the surge of adrenalin through my body.  It felt as though there was a battle between my sleep hormones and adrenalin.  It was a very horrible feeling. I could never relax and I was constantly alert. I developed a fear of sleeping because of all this.  Every night I would get scared about sleeping, wondering whether I would be able to sleep or not. I became very paranoid. I was scared to go out. I became slightly obsessed with certain things. I had certain rituals that if I didn’t/ did do them I thought I wouldn’t get better. I was very desperate to get better and I was so afraid that I wouldn’t. I feared that this would be my life forever. Every day was a battle. I felt I was dying every day. Since I wasn’t sleeping, my mind was very foggy like there was cotton wool in my head.  At the same time, I was very alert and wired. I constantly felt dizzy. Ten months after giving birth I still feel dizzy sometimes.


QUESTION:

Did you see a doctor right away, and was he/she able to help you?  What course of treatment did he/she prescribe? Did he/she diagnose you with a postpartum mood disorder?

ANSWER:
I didn’t see my GP until 10 days after I gave birth. I didn’t sleep at all during those 10 days. I have vivid memories of the day I saw my GP.  I walked into my GP’s office and broke down.  I was hysterical. Tears streamed down my face as I begged in desperation for someone to help me.

My GP wasn’t much help, and he certainly wasn’t reassuring. He prescribed me Zoplicone to help with sleeping and Propanolol for the panic attacks. He said he has never seen anyone like me before and never heard of post-partum insomnia. I wasn’t given a formal diagnosis, but I was referred to the peri-natal team. They did some assessments and concluded that I was very depressed. But I kept saying I wasn’t depressed….. what I needed was sleep. The peri-natal team referred me to a psychiatrist who only wanted to give me anti-depressants, which I didn’t want to take. I was prescribed Paroxetine.  I had to wait 2.5 months post partum until I had my first CBT session. I had 6 sessions in total, once a week. After the 6th session they released me, as they decided I was well enough and didn’t need to continue. If I had a relapse at any point I was suppoed to contact the peri-natal team. So far, I haven’t had to.

 

QUESTION:
If you had to take meds, what was it/what were they and how long did you have to take it/them?

ANSWER:
I took Zoplicone for my sleep and took that for 2-3 month. On some nights I was able to sleep for 2.5 hours with Zoplicone.  On some nights, though, it didn’t help me sleep. I took Propranolol only for a week because I felt it was making my anxiety worse. I was also prescribed Paroxetine, but I never took it because I was so scared of the side effects it’s been known to cause.

 

QUESTION:
Did you have enough resources to help you with your recovery?  What kind of resources did you have (e.g., support group, postpartum doula, psychiatrist, partner reduced work hours/worked from home)? Did you have enough practical help (e.g., late night feedings) with the baby?

ANSWER:
Fortunately, I had a very good support network of family and friends. My mum stayed with me for 5 weeks. She was brilliant and looked after me, my husband and my baby. I remember one night, in particular. I was having a panic attack, and my mum held and rocked me and sung me a lullaby. That night occurred during the lowest point of my experience with my post-partum disorder. My husband was also very supportive.  He did all the night feeds for about 3 months until I felt I was able to do them.  During that time, he still went to work every morning. He was amazing.   He supported both me and the baby. The focus was for me to sleep and get better, so I slept in a separate room from my baby and husband so I wouldn’t be disturbed. My mother-in-law also came to help with the baby while I was recovering.  My friends visited regularly.  l called my friends whenever I had a panic attack, as I found talking to others helped me through my panic attacks.  Although I had a brilliant support network, nobody really understood what I was going through. I remember one afternoon when I was having a panic attack. I was alone upstairs in my bedroom crying, and my heart was beating so much that I thought I was going to die from a heart attack. I remember feeling so alone and terrified, and crying and praying for all this to end. It wasn’t until I found Ivy’s blog about post-partum insomnia and disorders that I felt less scared.  Reading her blog and other people’s experiences helped me realize that post-partum depression really does exist and it wasn’t just me.  This realization helped with my recovery.

My peri-natal team was very good.  Someone came to visit me every week for 3 months to check up on me. My CBT therapist, Annie, explained to me that my body had gone into survival mode after a traumatic birth, which could be one of the reasons why I was having panic attacks and experiencing chronic insomnia.

I was so desperate to find answers to what was wrong with me that I was constantly on the Internet trying to find answers. I became a bit of a hypochondriac, thinking that I suffered from everything I read about. I thought I had diabetes, thyroiditis, and adrenal fatigue. I consulted a nutritionist and explained what I was going through. I did an adrenal fatigue saliva test and my cortisol level was very high, especially at night. No wonder I couldn’t sleep! He designed a food plan for me to lower my cortisol levels and told me to take certain vitamins and minerals. To my surprise, I was able to sleep better after being on his food plan. Since I was very reluctant to take medication, I sought alternative therapies. I found crystal healing helped with my recovery. Although the crystals may very well be just a placebo, I still sleep with them. On nights I feel a little anxious, I hold my crystals and I’d fall asleep.

 

QUESTION:
When was the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel and you were starting your recovery?

ANSWER:
I can’t really pinpoint when I started to feel better.  It was a gradual process. I took it one day at a time. Slowly, I got out of the house more, I obsessed less over what I ate and when I ate, and I stopped obsessing about my heart rate and Googling my symptoms. The panic attacks became less frequent. I got more solid hours of sleep. I didn’t ruminate as much about how I felt and how my mind was fuzzy. But recovery was such a long process. Sometime it felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. I remember emailing Ivy on one of my low days asking her “Will I get better?” She reassured me and said yes. I always looked forward to Ivy’s emails as they made me feel like I wasn’t going crazy.  Slowly but surely I recovered and began to enjoy motherhood and being with my son.

 

QUESTION:
Did you have any more children after this PPD experience, and if so, did you do anything to prepare yourself and were you able to ward off PPD the subsequent time(s)?

ANSWER:
The whole experience did put me off having another baby initially, as I didn’t think I could go through the whole ordeal again. But now, 10 months after giving birth, I think I could do it again because I now know what to expect if I were to have another baby. If I were to suffer from PPD again, I wouldn’t be so afraid and I know it would only be temporary and things will get better.

 

QUESTION:
If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself before you got pregnant?

ANSWER:
I would advise myself to read up on PPD. I don’t think there is enough awareness on PPD. If you are a first- time mother suffering from it, it’s a very scary situation to be in if you don’t know what is happening to your body and mind.  Throughout my pregnancy no one mentioned PPD. Healthcare providers emphasized pregnancy, labour and giving birth but never once talked about the post-partum period or possible complications during pregnancy and childbirth.  If I had known about PPD, I wouldn’t have felt so scared and isolated. I would also look into hypnobirthing and/or active birthing to have a better and more natural childbirth experience. I would hire a doula to help with childbirth and the first few weeks post-birth.

 

QUESTION:
Did anything positive come out of your PPD experience?

ANSWER:
My experience has had a huge impact on me. I really want to help women going through PPD. I think I’ve grown as a person. I’ve learnt to appreciate the small things. I’m more compassionate and less judgemental and generally happier than I was before my pregnancy.

 

QUESTION:
What would you want to say to women currently suffering with PPD?

ANSWER:
What you are going through is horrible, your hormones are trying to find a balance, and sleep deprivation is beyond awful.  At times you will feel like you are going crazy, but you aren’t. You have hormones that are making you depressed, angry, anxious and/or unable to sleep.

Every day is a battle. Take each day at a time, and do things you think will help you get by each day.  If you think having acupuncture will help, do it.  If you think going shopping will help you get through the day, do it. Do whatever it takes to get through the day.

Get help and support. Get your partner to look after the baby. At the moment, self care is important, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Get medical, practical and emotional support if you haven’t done so already.

I know it doesn’t seem like you will get better, but you will! Slowly but surely you will see snippets of your old self come back and you will be laughing again soon. This is only temporary.

Celebrating My 6th Blogiversary

Well, ladies (and perhaps some gentlemen), I’ve managed to keep my blog going for SIX years.  If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you might’ve noticed the gradual transition of my blog’s focus, tone and frequency.

But through it all, my intent has remained the same….to make sure that those who need the kind of support and reassurance that I couldn’t find and didn’t have access to during my postpartum depression (PPD) experience ten years ago can find my blog and feel a little less alone in their postpartum experience.

For the moms who are going through PPD with insomnia as an initial/primary symptom and are bewildered, like I was, as to why in the world I would not be able to fall asleep when I was so exhausted and recovering from a traumatic childbirth experience, hospital stay and blood loss.

For the moms who develop panic attacks and are bewildered, not understanding what is going on with them because they have never experienced panic attacks before.

For the moms who got pregnant after many years of trying through IVF, thinking all would be blissful once the baby arrives but instead are blindsided by the sudden onset of PPD.

These are the moms who are finding my blog.  Moms who longed to hold their babies in their arms the way they had envisioned they would but could not enjoy their first weeks with the baby because of the darkness of PPD that enveloped them.

I know I am still helping some moms. I know from the comments they leave. I know from the occasions a mom reaches out and asks me to email, text and/or call her.

I want you to be well and to get the right help as quickly as possible so you can.

For those who have been following my blog these past six years, thank you.

I hope to continue to come up with blog posts that people find in searches and that help make a difference in a mother’s (or father’s) life.

I have a few author interviews and other posts coming up.  Please stay tuned.

Next Came the Panic Attacks….

Let me start off this post with a little primer on just what panic attacks are and why many women with postpartum depression (PPD) may experience these frightening and debilitating episodes.   You will hear me say this over and over again:  Knowledge about PPD before having the baby is so important and parents-to-be should never think they will be immune from it and avoid reading about it.   Had I known that I was experiencing PPD, which was temporary,  I could’ve avoided the panic attacks from happening.

PPD usually occurs by itself, though it may also be accompanied by postpartum anxiety (with or without panic attacks). Women with a personal and/or family history of anxiety and/or panic disorders are at risk for developing postpartum anxiety.    Some anxiety/concern about your baby is normal, especially if this is your first and/or only child, and your fear has to do with visitors picking up the baby and either not holding her right or passing on their germs.   But some women are, like me, prone to anxiety and worrying.  These women who, as first-time mothers, may have anxieties about their mothering capabilities and worry constantly about whether the baby is taking in enough milk or formula, something’s wrong with the baby if there is no bowel movement for 1-2 days, the baby fails to reach certain developmental milestones in the usual timeframes (e.g., smile, laugh, react to your voice), the baby cries too little or too much, etc.  Many of these anxieties stem from the fact that this is your first, and perhaps only, shot at parenthood and you have no previous experience to compare this to.  I will go into more detail in my next post on IVF as a contributing factor to anxiety levels and PPD.

Strangely enough, before my insomnia started, I didn’t feel particularly anxious and I thought I was handling everything pretty well. It was after my insomnia kicked in that my panic attacks began. I thought I had a handle on the mothering thing, even my nightmarish first few postpartum days. Sure, I periodically checked on her at night to make sure she was breathing, and I was concerned I wasn’t feeding the baby enough, her poops were normal, she was going to get sick for the very first time with a cold, and I would not be able to find the right care provider to enable me to go back to work.  But there’s only so much anxiety my body was willing to take, especially since my body was already physically weak to begin with.  The following chain of events contributed toward my growing anxiety until my body gave way to panic attacks:

  • traumatic delivery experience that resulted in a partial hysterectomy resulting in loss of ability to have any more children
  • negative experience in the hospital–e.g., constant sleep interruptions in the hospital, constant moving from one room to another and changes in hospital staff, multiple attempts to replace IVs in my arms/hands, food deprivation (I only had about 2 meals the whole week I was there….otherwise what I had were ice cubes for the most part, plus an occasional broth or jello), below-par treatment of certain hospital staff, searing pain (felt like someone was burning me) in my abdomen that came & went for 2 days after the surgery
  • constant sleep interruptions from the noises the baby made throughout the night, plus night feedings
  • baby’s bad case of eczema and cradle cap
  • baby’s one week colic
  • anxiety from not being able to fall asleep when my insomnia kicked in

What are panic attacks?  Panic attacks are intense and debilitating episodes of anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms often occurring out of the blue, seemingly with no reason at all.  Frequency and duration of attacks will vary. They may occur as often as several times a day and last a few minutes. I experienced panic attacks at least 3 times daily for several weeks (Feb 13 to Mar 19) – at sunset, at bedtime and upon awakening. It scares me to think that this would’ve gone on for many more weeks or even months, had I not sought treatment when I did.

According to the Diagnostic Manual of Psychiatric Disorders-IV (DSM-IV), a panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four or more of the following, mostly physical, symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes and may last longer:

  • Palpitations (racing/pounding heart)
  • Trembling or shaking body and/or hands
  • Numbness, tingling and/or coldness in the extremities
  • Feeling chilled, having hot flashes, sweating, waking up in a sweat, sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Nausea, stomach pain and/or diarrhea
  • Feeling dizzy, shaky, unsteady, light-headed or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath or feeling as if you’re choking or about to suffocate
  • Feeling like you’re losing control and/or going crazy
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling agoraphobic (fear of going outside)
  • Feeling like you’re going to die

Quite paradoxically, the fear of having more panic attacks brings them on – it becomes a vicious cycle.  Panic attacks are such a frightening and debilitating experience that it is only natural that those who suffer from them will feel apprehensive and on edge about the onset of the next attack.  I was caught in a vicious cycle of fear of not being able to sleep, which drove my anxiety up to a level my body obviously couldn’t handle, which then triggered my panic attacks, which caused me to fear trying to go to sleep, and so on and so forth.  Did I mention that my panic attacks would even happen while I was sleeping?!  That’s how bad it was.

My Experience

As I mentioned in my last post, I feared I would depend on Ambien to sleep for the rest of my life.  It was that fear that dragged me into a cycle of fear and despair, which developed into full-blown panic attacks that caused me to shake, my arms to go numb and my body to go so cold that a thick blanket wrapped around me didn’t help. I would wake up in the morning with my feet and hands all in a sweat but my body freezing cold. I couldn’t bear the thought I was going to be like this for the rest of my life.  I felt so despondent that I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had nowhere to turn, no one to talk to that understood. If at that point I didn’t receive the help that I ended up receiving in the form of Paxil (and Xanax), I don’t doubt that I would’ve wanted to die to escape the torture I was going through on a daily basis.

February 13, 2005:   I tried to substitute Ambien with Tylenol PM on the advice of one of the nurses at the OB/GYN office. Thinking that I was saved from dependency on Ambien, I was thrilled and relieved at having stumbled on such a simple OTC remedy. When I took the Tylenol PM and it didn’t help me sleep at all, but in fact made me feel worse…..I had trouble breathing and my head started to spin…..I had my very first panic attack. I was frantic. I didn’t know what to do. At that point, I was totally at my wits’ end. I waited as long as I could before paging my OB/GYN. I knew I should only do that for emergencies, but I didn’t know what else to do. I needed someone to talk to. He didn’t sound pleased at all when I explained what had happened. I explained that I was still experiencing insomnia and experiencing what seemed to be a panic attack because I was out of Ambien and Tylenol PM didn’t work for me. I asked if he could prescribe me some more Ambien. He said “I’m afraid not. I can no longer help you. You need to see your regular doctor.” Since I was looking for a new doctor, he referred me to his own doctor. Right at 9:00 that morning, I called to make an appointment with that doctor. He had an opening for me 2 days later. Two days is not a really long time in a normal person’s perspective, but from a panic-stricken person’s perspective, it felt like an eternity. I had to force myself to get through the next 2 days without being able to consult with anyone. It was such an awful experience….quite beyond words.

February 15, 2005:  I told this new doctor what was going on (reiterating the fact that I had had a baby on December 10th, I had my uterus removed on December 13th, and a month afterwards, I started experiencing insomnia and have been on Ambien for the past 2 weeks). He prescribed me more Ambien. I had another panic attack that night. I felt so helpless and needed to talk to someone so badly that I paged the doctor. I left a message for him, apologizing for feeling compelled to call him despite the fact that this was not a medical emergency. He did not call me back.

February 16, 2005:  The nurse called me back saying that the emergency number was for medical emergencies only. I explained what was going on and she scheduled another appointment for me that afternoon.  During that appointment, the doctor listened briefly to my symptoms and prescribed Paxil (anti-depressant) and Xanax (for the panic attacks). I told him I understood why he’d prescribe me an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, but why Paxil? He explained that Paxil is a broad-spectrum medication that is prescribed for depression and anxiety, that there is such a fine-line separating the two and that anxiety is most oftentimes attributed to depression. He reassured me that the Paxil is not addictive but Xanax can be addictive so I had to take that only when I absolutely had to. He warned me that it would take at least 4 weeks before the Paxil would take effect. And let me tell you, the next 4 weeks felt like an eternity to me. It used to be that there weren’t enough hours in a day, with my main complaint being that time was flying by way too fast. Now each day crawled by as if there were 48 hours in a day instead of 24. It was tortuous. He had me take 12.5 mg of Paxil everyday for one week, at which point I would have to double the dosage and stay on it for several months.

Being that this is the first time in my life I was prescribed a medication to be taken for an indefinite period of time, and this meant I was on 3 medications at once, I felt more anxious than ever. It’s crazy that I’d go from never taking any drugs to taking three at once. But I was desperate to be back to my old self again.    I didn’t like the idea of being on 3 new drugs simultaneously, especially when they didn’t appear to have any immediate effects, they made me feel strange (not myself), and the doctor didn’t provide adequate explanation in terms of how he chose these and why.   It was shocking to see that I needed medication for so long.

Each day, I’d stand by a window, staring out at the snow (there was so much snow that winter!) and pleading for God to help me get through all this. I’d find myself running around just to keep busy and avoid the sensations I’d inevitably start experiencing each night, as the sun went down. I just wanted to shrivel up into a tiny ball and disappear. As night approached, in the back of my mind, there was dread that I would soon be trying to go to sleep. I’d start having a panic attack where coldness would creep down both arms, I’d have a tough time breathing, and my stomach would turn to knots. Very quickly the cold would take over my entire body and I would start shaking. I just wanted to tighten myself into a ball…anything to stay warm. We kept the house at a consistent 70 degrees all winter long to make sure the baby wasn’t ever cold. There were drafts by the couch where I’d sit to watch television, and to compensate, we kept a radiating heater there. But that didn’t help me much during my bouts of coldness. I’d be shaking with cold, even under a blanket and with my husband’s arms around my shoulders. One too many times, I gave him a miserable look and told him how scared I was that I didn’t know what was going on with me and I was afraid that I’d never get better. There would be tears in my eyes but I couldn’t cry. Most of the time, he didn’t know what to say. It was way after I had fully recovered from PPD that he finally admitted that he had feared I would never get well, never return to my old self, and never appreciate watching our daughter grow up.

March 19, 2005:  The Paxil kicked in and I was off the Ambien for good!  Hurray!

August 18th, 2005:    Initially, the doctor told me I’d be on the Paxil for 6 months. By the time August rolled around, I felt I could stop taking the medication. I asked my doctor about starting the weaning off process. He told me I should take my time. I told him I wanted to be off the medication by year end. He reduced my dosage back down to 12.5 mg.  You can imagine how happy I was!

March 18, 2006:   It ended up taking me about 7 months to get off the medication completely, after first halving the dosage and then taking the medication every other day to every 2 days and every 3 days.  During the weaning off process, I experienced what I thought had to be vertigo…the sensation of losing balance while walking and everytime I turned my head.  It was a weird feeling indeed and the main sign that I wasn’t ready to be completely off Paxil yet.  Finally, at the direction of my new doctor (I finally got up the nerve to drop my original doctor), I stopped taking it on March 18, 2006. She told me that Paxil taken at such long intervals and at such a low dosage was basically not taking any Paxil at all, and I should be able to stop taking it immediately. It is critical that you wean yourself off the medication in close consultation with your physician. Look what happened to Brooke Shields when she went off Paxil cold turkey. She suffered a major relapse.  So at a minimum, you should be taking your medication until you feel you’ve returned completely to your old self, and then taking as long as necessary to wean yourself off.

Seeking Treatment

A sign that you may need medication–but let the medical professional tell you so– is when your symptoms are so bad (e.g., inability to sleep or stay asleep for several weeks, panic attacks, loss of appetite, quick weight loss) that they get in the way of your day-to-day functioning and taking care of your baby properly.

If you’re not experiencing severe symptoms and you have adequate support, you can give a few sessions of therapy a try to see whether it alone will be sufficient. Of the many stories I read about, I was amazed at the number of women who were so ashamed at how they were coping so badly-and it didn’t help that they didn’t know they had PPD-that they endured their symptoms for many weeks, months or even over a year. Perhaps their PPD didn’t debilitate them to the point that they could no longer function. I don’t know about them, but my PPD was SO BAD, I felt my only option was to seek medical help immediately. In my situation, therapy was not a practical option. But I dreaded the thought of having to rely on any medication. In fact, just the thought of having to take 3 medications simultaneously for insomnia, depression and panic attacks-all for the first time-increased my anxiety even more. As soon as the medicine kicked in, my insomnia disappeared, I was able to return to work, smile, appreciate all that I used to enjoy before my PPD set in, able to go outside without feeling overwhelmed, and function near 100% on a day-to-day basis….all without having to see a therapist.

Since my condition required immediate intervention by way of medications (first Ambien, then Xanax and Paxil) to enable me to function day to day-otherwise, I’d be rolled up into a ball crippled both physically (panic attacks numbed my arms and legs, I couldn’t sleep at all) and mentally (my state of mind was on the verge of complete and utter collapse), I am obviously going to present the case for psychotropic medications. There will inevitably, and unfortunately, always be the naysayers and Doubting Toms of the world who are ever eager to attack a person’s position on a topic as hotly debated as meds versus no meds. Hey, all I can say to that is, more people should learn to mind their own business. It’s fine for people to think that doctors seem to automatically prescribe medication for everything. In a way, I believe that the statement is true from a general trend perspective, particularly with respect to children being treated with medication for not having enough attention span to sit still for a few minutes at a stretch. But that’s my own opinion and I keep that to myself, rather than preach it everywhere….a hum, Tom Cruise, are you listening???!!!   Without knowing another person’s situation-and only immediate family and the individual himself or herself (if they are mature adults) can really know what their personal situation is, and sometimes even parents don’t know or understand what is going on with their child-how can you claim to know what is right or wrong for someone else?

In Conclusion:

A word of advice from someone who has been through panic attacks (while suffering from PPD) to a mother who is currently suffering from them:   You WILL get through this with the right treatment.  Do not endure this on your own.  Get help now.  Do not wait.  Do not worry about what other people may think if you take medication to help you be well again.  It’s not their business.  It’s your life and you must take control of it, so you can return to your old self and enjoy your baby.