I didn’t grow up talking about my feelings or checking in on my mental health. We all went through tough times but we never discussed it, we just buried our feelings and got on with life. That worked for me until after I had my daughter and suddenly found I couldn’t ignore my problems anymore.
I didn’t immediately bond with my newborn daughter.
It’s not that I didn’t love my daughter when she was born, there just wasn’t that instant bond you’re supposed to have with your new baby. I didn’t instantly fall in love the way I thought I would (and the way I always heard I should have). Because of this, I wondered what was wrong with me, but I still kept my feelings inside and didn’t tell anyone, not even my doctor or my husband.
I couldn’t leave the house.
The first six weeks after I got home home with my baby, I didn’t leave my house unless it was to go to my mom’s house or to doctor appointments. Part of this was because I didn’t want the baby to get sick or catch germs, but a larger part of it was because I couldn’t make myself get up, shower, and get dressed most days. I thought I was simply in a funk—you know, new baby, new routine. This was all normal, I told myself. There was nothing wrong with living in pajamas for six weeks.
Going back to work was one of the worst things I could imagine.
Before giving birth, I loved my job. I worked basically 60 hours a week, took my job home with me, answered my phone at midnight, etc. It was on that level. Then, just as suddenly, I didn’t love my job. I was struggling to get to work each morning, dreading meetings and phone calls, and watching the clock tick until the end of the day. I knew I wasn’t giving the job 100% but I couldn’t figure out why. Of course, at this point I didn’t think it was me—I thought it must be the job. I even searched for other jobs online for weeks thinking that maybe I just needed a change.
I drifted away from friends.
My life was different now—new baby, new schedule, new life. That was bound to put a bit of strain on my social life, but there’s no reason I should have completely lost contact with my entire friend group just because I had a baby. However, at the time, I didn’t see it as a problem. I simply was busy or tired. It wasn’t a priority for me to speak to friends anymore, but I had no support system but I just couldn’t see that.
I stopped caring about what others thought of me.
This can be a good thing but for me, it was a problem. I didn’t care what I looked like when I left the house anymore. I used to always do my hair and makeup and look presentable when going out, but then suddenly I was leaving the house looking like a total wreck. While you shouldn’t have to be dressed to the nines just to run to the grocery store, this sudden change should have been yet another sign that things weren’t right for me.
It took years to face what was really going on.
It was finally about three years into this “funk” (which is what I thought it was) that I decided something wasn’t right. I ended up at my doctor’s office telling her how I’d been feeling the last few years. After years of holding everything in, it all came spilling out. My doctor figured out that I had postpartum depression that had been going on for years and started me on Zoloft.
Taking an antidepressant was the best decision I’ve made.
There’s still a bit of a stigma around antidepressants, but it’s getting better. I didn’t tell anyone at first that I was taking Zoloft, but soon after I started it, I began feeling so much better. My moods lifted, I wasn’t so tired all the time, and I started feeling like myself again. It was nice to get back to “normal,” but I still didn’t think I necessarily needed an antidepressant.
That pill every morning was a life saver.
That Zoloft dosage I took every day made me feel like an entirely new person, but it wasn’t until I skipped it one day (by accident) that I realized how much I truly need it. I felt horrible that day until I figured out my mistake. I never thought a pill could control my life as much as this one did, but I suddenly realized just how important it was that I sought help when I did, and I was grateful that my depression had finally been diagnosed.
Years later, I’m still on it.
I do my best to take it every day because I know the effects of not taking it (and I’m sure others people see those effects as well). I now realize that I need antidepressants and I’m OK with that. Like a diabetic needs insulin, I need Zoloft and I’m not afraid to admit it. I don’t think taking any medication should be looked at negatively if it’s something that helps me and my well-being.
It took me a while to get here but I did.
I was in denial for a long time about my mental health. I had been shutting people out of my life, bottling up my feelings, and pretending I was OK when I really wasn’t for way too long. All that changed when I took the brave step to talk to my doctor and seek help. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
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