This mommy's mind...
...was alone. All alone and starting to sink fast. Everyday was a monotony of nursing, diaper changes, physical therapy, nursing, diaper changes, cooking, nursing, etc, etc. Every night was an exhausting repeat of the day minus the cooking. And I know all you moms (and dads) know all about the monotony of a newborn. What you might not know is the crushing, unending feelings of deep despair and gut-wrenching failure. I cried almost as much as Punkin' Butt and twice as hard. I felt so deeply ashamed that I was not happier - why wasn't I over the moon about this precious new life I had brought into the world? Why didn't I feel the instant thicker-than-water bond that The Bearded One did? What was wrong with me? What kind of horrible person is depressed by a newborn baby? I would become so overwhelmed that I would snap and yell at her to "Stop. Just stop. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE STOP CRYING!!!" Then I would start bawling because I just screamed at a newborn for doing what newborns do. There were times when I just had to put her in her crib, walk away and call TBO and say, "Don't ask. Just come home now." And home he would come. Thank goodness for understanding bosses.
This went on for 4 months before I realized that this was not normal behavior. So I called my midwife and she said, "Hmm, sounds like you might have postpartum depression." Thanks, but how do I fix it? Turns out Xanax and Zoloft is how you fix it. At least according to her, and for a good while, it worked. I stopped screaming at PB, I stopped crying, I started putting on real clothes and got out of the pj's. Hell, I started showering again. Woo hoo! I even found a fantastic local group of mommies that I joined and who were a huge help in letting me know I was not alone in the mommyhood. (More on these fabulous ladies later.) I was getting my life back, finally. But something happened that I didn't notice at first. I started to become more easily agitated, fought more with TBO, that sort of thing. We chalked it up to being new parents and figured we would work it all out. Because hey, I was feeling good! Not just good, but GREAT. I was becoming more social, getting really involved with the group, keeping up with everything at home, starting new and exciting projects. Everything was good. Too good, but I didn't know that yet.
Towards the end of that first year with Punkin' Butt, The Bearded One and I seemed to be fighting more and more, and I started to become more and more agitated more and more easily. So I started to see a "therapist" (I use that word with her very lightly) who started me on neurofeedback as a way to retrain my brain to be happy and had my family practitioner raise my Zoloft to the next highest dose. Mistake number three: therapists are not psychiatrists and have no business managing your meds. Should have done my homework there. Because if I thought I was agitated before the dosage increase, I was a downright rhymes-with-witch after.
For two weeks straight, I didn't sleep. I don't mean I had trouble sleeping. I'm talking 2 hours a night, max. I was inundated with energy, ideas and thoughts. My brain would not shut-up. And the fighting. Oh, the fighting. I would pick fights with TBO just for breathing in my direction. Poor Punkin' Butt just couldn't do anything right. And lord help the cat if he so much as thought about touching me. I was a nasty, mean, spiteful person to be around. And my brain just would not stop running a mile a minute. So back to the therapist I went. And that's when she said the one word that changed my life forever. Bipolar. Turns out if you give someone who is bipolar an antidepressant only, it will more often than not send them into a state of mania. Which is what was happening to me. So back to my family practitioner I went so she could take me off the Zoloft and start me on mood stabilizers. And so began the longest, hardest year of my life.