Dealing with PTSD, Depression, and PPD
Take your mental health seriously.
As someone who has suffered from three types of depression, I want to shed some light to those who suffer from it or know someone who is. I am not a doctor, these are just my experiences.
Depression is something that a lot of people have. More than three billion people a year as diagnosed with clinical depression. From studying it, my understanding is it starts as early for some as six years old. There is a number of things that could bring this on, from abuse, to chemical imbalances in your brain, to loss of a loved one, to hormones, you name it. That's why it is so common! Now just because it is common, that doesn't make it easier to deal with.
For me, my depression started around nine. I was abused regularly, didn't get proper sleep, and didn't eat properly when I was being abused so none of those helped.
Then, when I was a young teenager my best friend commit suicide. That took a toll on me. I started taking antidepressants and it helped for awhile but it wasn't something I wanted to be on for a long period of time. Everyone is different and if that is what works for you and helps you then by all means! It just wasn't right for me.
Depression for me, made me feel invisible. Not that I wanted to be the center of attention... Just more like, nobody knew what was really going on with me and it all constant that I felt that way so it felt like depression was who I was. It wasn't just a battle, it was me.
I told my parents at one point that I had tried to overdose and should die in a few hours and explained the amount of over the counter medication I had taken. Instead of rushing me to the ER, I got a speech about how my soul is damned to hell because of it. It didn't work. I still don't know how. I was horribly sick for a few weeks.
I later resorted to self harm in my early teen years. Its not something I am proud of, but it is what it is. I didn't resort to that for very long. It started as a small cut, nothing major. But it made me feel again, even if it were just for a moment. At the time I thought it was no big deal since it was small. Until one day, a few months later I was using a sewing kit on my thigh so my mom wouldn't find out. That was when I drew a line.
I am trying to be as honest as possible with you. So believe me when I say it wasn't that easy to let it go. There were days, years later, that I wanted to again. I haven't again that night with the sewing kit. But then this happened...
When I was seventeen, I was raped. I know I have mentioned this in a few of my pieces now but that is huge for me. Before, I didn't want anyone knowing what happened to me. I felt humiliated and I tried so hard to keep the whole thing a secret. It wasn't until I wrote my first piece and after I shared it, the feed back I got was incredible. People were telling me how they were sexually assaulted as well and how they took my story as inspiration to know that there are others like them.
But anyways, after it happened, I changed. Drastically. I was cold, angry, hurt, depressed, and terrified.
I would stay up all night and watch the door he broke through to make sure he didn't come in and do it again.
I wouldn't eat unless I absolutely had to.
I would spend hours at a time in the shower, crying.
I would have nightmares when I did sleep that felt so real that I would wake up, and be soaked in sweat and tears.
I had PTSD, better known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
With this, my depression was worse than ever. I remember rocking back and forth on my bed trying to get the images out of my head.
With PTSD comes triggers. Triggers are things that bring you back to the moment it happened. Maybe it was a smell, sound, touch, person, place... something. Something triggers it and brings it all back. For me, it was when he found out that through all of that, that night he got me pregnant and I had a baby from it. Seeing him again after he got court ordered visitation, and handing him MY baby... it destroyed me. I felt things so deep, I didn't know I could. The panic, and hurt, and anger... It took over. I did my best to hide it but inside, I was falling apart. I pulled myself together and then, years later when my sister confessed that she heard it all. She walked away and let it happen because she was angry with me. She didn't even remember why she was angry at the time either. She didn't tell me out of guilt, it was to brag. I know she was telling the truth because she was quoting things he said to me and how my voice shook as I cried and begged him to stop. That was my trigger. It brought it all back and what was 'taken care of' and kept under control for so long was suddenly rushing all back to me. I could feel his weight on top of me again, I could smell his breath, and hear his voice. It was happening all over again, over, and over, and over.
PPD, aka postpartum depression is something I have had after both of my children. Basically, after having a baby, your hormones are everywhere. In having that, it causes PPD. Not everyone has it, but it is very common. For some it goes away after a few weeks, for some after a few months, and for some after a few years.
I personally think the lack of sleep from having that baby does not help at all. Its important to get into a routine so you allow yourself more sleep.
For my first child, I was put on antidepressants shortly after the biological father (that I referred to above) got involved. I handled PPD okay on its own but once he was involved in my child's life, I needed help.
With my second child, it wasn't as bad and it didn't last long.
Its important to get whatever help you need during this time especially because you have a child (or children) to watch after.
Dealing with It All
As I stated earlier, I have been put on antidepressants twice now for short times. But since that isn't something I personally feel comfortable with, here are a few ways I have coped with all three things above:
Exercise! Its been proven to help with depression but it also helps get your mind off of it all and focus on something better. Its refreshing and I always feel better after a hard workout. Not only is it healthy for your physical health but it helps you mentally as well. You don't have to go hardcore with it, just go on a run or something. You would be surprised with what it does.
For those that aren't into hardcore running and lifting, squats, and etc... Yoga is a great alternative. I use it for those moods where I am just a little more lazy and don't feel up to a workout. I'm not into all the mental stuff they teach you with yoga, I find that stuff kinda fishy, personally. But the stretches are definitely relaxing and I feel so relaxed and recharged after some good stretching sessions.
Whether it be in a journal or writing small stories to distract you, this is a personal therapy for me. Heck, write a whole novel if that is what helps you!
Now, you can't have him... But finding someone that you can talk to, binge watch Netflix with, or can get you to laugh is the best therapy. He has been my rock ever since I met him. A support system whether it be your spouse, family, or a friend, it is key to not feeling like you're doing this alone.
In dealing with all of this, I talked to a therapist online. It helped for a number of reasons. A lot of the time in talking to that support system, though they may mean well, they just don't get it all of the time. There were times my husband just said the wrong thing and I felt alone again. A therapist may be a better option in situations like this. It may also help keep this part of your life separate so you don't feel like it is taking over each aspect like I did. I am a stay at home mom, so a therapist online was the best option for me, but do what works for you.
Get out of the House
Staying cooped up in the house all day, every day is not going to help you with any of this. Shop daily for groceries, or walk at the mall if you have one close to you. Figure something out but don't lock yourself up all the time, it will definitely make things harder to deal with. Go on a drive if you need to! A day in your pajamas and staying at home may help too. It just depends on what kind of schedule you have and what you normally do, but the bottom line is, don't lock yourself in a room alone with depression. It's just not a good idea.
Now, I'm not saying always be on a diet. I love my chocolate! But if all you eat is junk, your body isn't going to run properly. Therefore, its going to be a lot harder for your mind to overcome a lot of this if it is running on junk.
I'm a mom. Enough said! I don't get proper sleep. I haven't since my first was born! But if you have family or a friend that can take your kid(s) for a night, do it. If you can nap when they do, do it. If you can get your spouse to get up with them in the morning so you can sleep in, do it. The dishes can wait, the laundry can wait, but your mental health cannot. You can't run a machine nonstop or it won't work right... The same goes for your body. Take a break!
I hope these have helped inform you in some ways to help take care of your body and knowing you aren't alone. There is no shame in seeing a doctor to get some extra help when and if needed, either. Be your best self! Take care of yourself! You're not alone.
Below is a few helplines for those struggling with depression. If you feel suicidal, feel like doing self harm, or harming others, call the number below or call 911. Take your mental heath seriously.
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-TALK (8255)
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663