I’ve been posting about my postpartum depression symptoms and treatment in the past tense. When my daughter was born two years ago, it took me three months to get diagnosed and start treatment. My treatment included a low dosage of sertraline (Zoloft) and weekly therapy. Within a week, I was seeing results from the sertraline, and I really clicked with my therapist, Michelle!
I continued therapy for eight months, first weekly then gradually to monthly, and I stayed on sertraline for over a year. Treating postpartum depression is a short and long-term process. For me, the immediate concern was eliminating the intrusive thoughts and helping me function like my normal self. This was the sertraline’s job. For the long-term, I learned how to manage my symptoms in therapy and better adapt to the many changes in my life.
The thing is, postpartum depression is totally treatable and women typically respond very well to effective treatment. However, for some women, it doesn’t completely go away. When my therapist first told me this, I was caught off guard. I fully expected that by taking my meds and showing up in her office every week, I’d be fine in no time. Like curing a common cold, right?
There was never a moment where I declared myself cured. Even right now, I’m at about 95%. Here are three pesky symptoms I can’t totally shake, but I know how to manage now.
Over-Stimulation and Noise Sensitivity
Picture this. I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner, let’s say three burners are going. M is performing Itsy Bitsy Spider for the 245th time in the living room. Lester Holt is reporting live from DC on my TV. My ponytail is falling apart, and my bra is digging into my shoulders. For most people, this is life at home. It’s a little loud. There’s multiple things going on. No big deal.
For me, this is a situation. My brain just cannot process it all or tune anything out. All these different noises show up in my brain as mass chaos, like the static from an analog TV that lost its signal.
Before treatment, I would have run to my bedroom and hid under the blankets. When my brain became overwhelmed, it craved darkness. It needed to reset.
Now, after treatment, it still drives me bonkers and I get impatient, but I don’t run away. What’s the worst that will happen? I’m annoyed. I retrained my brain to believe I am still safe in this situation.
Technology-Induced Panic Attacks
I still lose my sh*t when I have computer problems. I was like this before the baby, and will always be like this. I freak out when my Windows Updates run automatically. I get the urge to chuck my laptop when Chrome crashes.
Before treatment, I broke into a sweat, started crying, and couldn’t breathe. Ah, the joys of panic attacks. Now, I no longer have a complete panic attack. I just get mad and walk away. I also am more keening aware that this is a trigger for me and so is B. He usually tries to alleviate the situation by taking care of computer maintenance and issues for me. He’s a good one!
Ok, so this isn’t really a symptom as much as an outcome. Postpartum depression aged me. To be fair, so has parenting and moving across the country multiple times! However, the depression and symptoms that came with it are what really got me. That crevice between my brows has deepened. My face is more angular. The glistening silver streaks framing my face are more prominent. Aging is part of life, and I’m generally ok with it. (Note: I say this as I turn 30 next month).
In most respects, I am back to my usual self. However, there are a few areas that may never totally go away. I feel great with my progress, I am comfortable with in my own skin, and I am especially grateful for my therapist who guided me along the way.