During each of my therapy sessions for the past few weeks, my therapist has said, “So you’re not depressed! …?” (She says it in an enthusiastic tone and somehow then manages to turn it into a question. Therapists can magically turn anything into a question.) Today, we decided that, with Walter approaching six months old, it’s unlikely that the depressed moods I experienced starting in February will develop into full-blown postpartum depression. Women most commonly experience the onset of postpartum depression during the three-to-six month period postpartum. While it can, obviously, happen before or after that time window, approaching six months lets us breath a little easier. This is according to my psychiatrist. Even our pediatrician will probably be keeping a closer eye on me for the entire year, as my favorite go-to, “Plain Mama English” site, Postpartum Progress, suggests. My therapist and I joked as we called it a “Postpartum Dip.” But that’s exactly what it was. It was a postpartum dip, in which low moods threatened depression.
I can’t say whether my brain chemistry reacted well to the increase in my dose of Effexor, which I began really quickly after the low moods hit. I don’t know if it was acting really quickly to get help that did made the difference. I don’t know if it was my amazing support system at home, online (#PPDchat on Twitter, mamas! They promise an “Army of Support,” and they are not kidding about that!) and among distant friends and family over the phone. I’m sure it helps that I would rather admit to any feeling, no matter how “shameful” or unusual or strange, than let any mental health problem escalate. Basically, I’m more afraid of being hospitalized again than I am of telling anyone anything that is going on in my head.
Any, all or none of these things could be the reason why I didn’t develop postpartum depression. I haven’t been kicked out of my support group. I will write more, soon, about what I do still feel; my mental health problems didn’t vanish. I simply don’t fit the criteria for PPD. I can’t tell you what a huge relief that is. Depression is a monster I’m not used to battling every day, whereas my anxiety can be managed with tools I’ve been using for years. It’s not new. It’s not rare, for me. I go to bed tonight full of hope and gratitude.
Oh, and if you’re reading this and I consider you part of my support system: you are not off duty. Ever. Except if you’re sleeping, because sleep is important and creepy to interrupt. But that means that I’m never off duty for you, either! Unless I am sleeping.