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Atanasia on having PPD with her second and not responding well to medication

image of a beach - essay on PPD medication

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

I had postpartum depression with my oldest daughter, and it was scary. But I told my doctor how I was feeling, I got meds and they worked. Everything was going to be OK.

I wasn’t nervous to have a second, because most moms I talked to said they only had PPD with their first. And I was on meds. I knew what to expect now. I was fine.

My second child was born mid-Covid pandemic. I had been working in a hospital, seeing Covid patients and was pregnant with her for 8 months. I was fine. She went to the NICU. But I was fine. Until I wasn’t.

Related: To the mama who had a baby during the pandemic

She was about 3 months old when I started to feel the PPD creeping in. I told my doctor and she increased my meds. Things got worse.

A few weeks later, I was laying in bed, sobbing, wishing I would die and someone else would take care of my kids.

I had never been THAT Low before. I called my doctor again and told her something wasn’t right. I told her how I wanted to die because as much as I loved my kids, I thought they’d be better off without me. That they deserved a better mom. That someone else would be able to do what I couldn’t do for them.

Related: You can’t be a perfect mother. So be a ‘good enough’ mother.

She sent me to a psychiatrist. I waited months to get an appointment. Months where I got worse. These episodes became more frequent. I started having panic attacks where something would trigger my anxiety and I couldn’t breathe. I would sit in my car hysterically sobbing and thinking this was it, I was dying. I punched the walls—bruised my entire body literally beating myself up. I missed days of work. I couldn’t take care of my kids.

One day I went to the ER, where they gave me new meds. I saw the psychiatrist and he gave me new meds-he said, “Wait 6 weeks for the results to kick in.”

I cried every night knowing I couldn’t take another day of this. 6 weeks was a lifetime. I had reached such a low point in my life. Every day I wished I could just give up. I told my husband I couldn’t take it anymore, but he never stopped supporting me. He gave me just enough hope to hold on.

Related: 5 steps to stop an anxiety spiral, according to a therapist

I finally got started doing TMS-which stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It’s a daily outpatient therapy for depression that tends to work for people who have failed three or more antidepressants. And after a few weeks, I felt it. I felt the life coming back to me.

It started out small, like I suddenly felt somewhat interested in watching a TV show I liked or reading a book. And then later with bigger things-things that would normally trigger panic or anxiety attacks, but instead I was able to cope. After 6 weeks of treatment, I dare say, I felt ALIVE again. I had hope for the future. I got excited for things, and I felt joy in small moments in my every day life.

I think the most important thing to know if you’re going through PPD is that it CAN get better. You will get better. Look at all the women who have survived this and KNOW that you can too. You are not alone. You will be okay. I don’t know what will help you, but don’t stop trying until you find something that does.