Training Helped Me Through the Dark Times of Postpartum Depression
I'm going to get a bit personal here. It's going to be a long one, but this is a serious issue that affects millions of women around the world.
You see, 14 years ago in December I gave birth to my 2nd child, a handsome and most amazing son, Jeremy. My heart was so full of love for this new little guy in my life. It was about a week before Christmas and my husband, Damian and I could not imagine a better Christmas present.
But that loving feeling didn't last long. About a month or two later I found myself not liking this so called "bundle of joy". I, dare I say, hated him.
Before Jeremy was born, my daughter, Maddie, and I were on such a groove. We had a great schedule. She got up around 7 in the morning. We ate breakfast, went to the gym, played, had lunch, nap around 12:30/1:00. She woke up around 3:00, we played some more, read books, had dinner, bath, then to bed around 7:00.
That routine was rudely interrupted once Jeremy entered our lives that December. Because I breast fed Jeremy, I was up a few times during the night to feed him. I also couldn't get myself to the gym. Nursing a baby every 2 hours and changing diapers for 2 kids became a full time job.
Jeremy wasn't on Maddie's schedule. He seemed to sleep when Maddie was up and would be up when Maddie was asleep. As far as me sleeping, well, it wasn't happening.
My husband was an RN and did a lot of night shifts, so he was at work most nights and asleep most days. We also had a rental property, so Damian was doing things for the property when not at work or asleep. I basically was on my own. I had no back up, no support.
I found myself completely overwhelmed, and eventually just going through the motions. I began to resent this little sleep stealer, routine interrupter. One night, after trying to calm a crying Jeremy, I couldn't take it anymore. As Jeremy lay in his crib crying, it was all I could do not to shove the pacifier down his throat. I could feel my arm tense because I just wanted him to shut the hell up! I finally left him to scream in his crib, went into my bedroom and sobbed. I kept saying to myself "What kind of mom am I to hate my son?" I actually hated him!
The desperation was intense and dark. I eventually just went through the motions of care and life.
My relationship with Damian took a nose dive. I hated him, too. He couldn't understand why I was so miserable and cranky. He thought I was just a bitch. I, myself, thought I was just going to be a bitch from now on, so might as well get used to it. Thank goodness my husband took the step of getting us to a marriage counselor.
After meeting with us a few times, the marriage counselor looked at me, sitting there unshowered, greasy hair, wearing overalls, and said "You have postpartum depression and if you don't do something for yourself things could get much worse."
My jaw dropped. So did Damian's. You mean I'm not a crazy, uncaring bitch? Although I wasn't happy to have been diagnosed with postpartum depression, I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest.
To begin getting back to me, I had to begin to wean 5 month old Jeremy from breast feeding. I was quite sad about that, but I had to make more time for me and give Damian a bit more responsibility with his son.
This biggest thing was getting back to the gym. My first day back, I left both kids with Damian. I was kind of excited to get back, but also blah about it. I found myself just wandering around thinking "what the fuck do I do?" I had been lifting for years, so I knew my way around a weight room. I picked up a pair of dumbells and tried some arm curls. I was like a floppy rag doll. No energy, no interest. What the hell?! I used to LOVE this stuff!
When I got home, I told my husband about what happened during my workout. I suggested that maybe we splurge and get me a trainer to see if that helps. His wonderful response was, "We'll do whatever we need to do to get you back!"
Hiring a trainer turned out to be the best thing I could have done. I now had adult contact! For those of you who have children, you know how important that can be! She taught me how to work out more effectively, so making it to the gym only 3 times/week was enough (I had always been a 5-6 day/wk girl!). My post-pregnancy body began to disappear and I began seeing that pre-pregnancy body come back. I began to be less overwhelmed, more engaged with my children and my husband, and began to love my son. I loved my son! The dark cloud I had been shrouded in was finally beginning to lighten!
Now, I didn't say the dark cloud was lifting, because depression wasn't completely gone. I did eventually need to go on anti-depressants, but training helped me through the roughest, darkest part of post-partum depression. It got me out in the world. It made me feel strong again. It made me focus on me and what I needed to do to heal.
If you or someone you know is going through postpartum depression, know that taking action is important. There is light at the end. Get help, either from family, a therapist, and/or a trainer. If you suspect someone has post-partum depression, please don't sit by idly. Speak up and help them! Don't let this go untreated.