Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I Run For...

A couple of months ago I started "running" again. The range of reasoning to do so has greatly varied over the course of just a few weeks.
First, I was going to run because it felt good to not weigh a bajillion pounds after being pregnant.
Then it turned into training for some sort of make believe race that existed only in my mind because I couldn't commit to signing up for one.
After that, I ran to get out of the house and not feel like I was constantly giving myself to another living thing. It was very liberating.
Then it changed to getting in shape.
Finally, where I am now, it's for mental health. I've thrown away any other reason why I might be doing it. I'm not training for anything. I'm not trying to run faster or longer. I imagine over time, I would get slightly faster and be able to run longer without crying about it, but that's just an added bonus.

For now, I run to maintain regain my sanity. About 8 weeks after Lena was born, I crashed. The first several weeks were euphoric. Maybe even a little manic, but I didn't realize it. I felt so good. Too good. About two weeks postpartum, I got a call from the mental health nurse at the hospital just checking in, and I was all "pshht. this is a breeze. I feel like a super woman. I LOVE MY BABIES SO MUCH."  But I sort of started to crumble. At my 6 week check up, I expressed concern to my OB, but he actually blew me off! So I figured, it must not be that bad. Another week went by and I acknowledged and expressed my need for extra help from my husband and my mom. Not just help with the girls, but an understanding that I didn't have much control over my bizarre thoughts and moods.

I would say I tried coping for about 2 weeks but my anxiety, intrusive thoughts and endless sobbing were not getting better. It was getting much worse.
Little things would set me off and I couldn't get myself back together. I would show up to what should have been a fun girls night, but my eyes were all puffy from crying because I saw a cop on the side of the road and I was worried I would get pulled over for...nothing. Not speeding, not drinking, not anything. But I was wracked with anxiety over it.
It was the week of Thanksgiving and after a dinner out with some neighbor friends where we lightly discussed postpartum depression in an almost humorous way (as I tend to do), I returned the call to that phone nurse from many weeks ago. When she answered, I just burst into tears. I felt so foolish. She immediately told me what a remarkable thing I was doing by choosing to get better. I cried even harder. She was so, so helpful and helped to get me in the right direction.

With just a few days before we left on our Disney vacation, I was prescribed some meds and within those few days, I really started to feel a difference. When Lena cried, I felt like I could handle it. When there were toys strewn about the entire house I didn't want to burn the house down and move. When my husband didn't say "that was the most delicious dinner I've ever eaten" I didn't assume he was going to run off with some broad and start a new life. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but these were serious thoughts inside of my crazy head.

I'm stepping forward and speaking up because I KNOW this is a problem that many, many moms (and non moms!) face. But there's so much shame. I don't know why that is. If you tripped over your pant leg because of a unfortunate pants/heels combination and sprained your wrist, would you keep it a secret? Okay, maybe you would. But I wouldn't. You speak up and warn others that you should be careful if your pants have an open cuff and you wear a non-wedge heel that could get caught in there. You could save someone the embarrassment of falling in front of all of their co workers.

But I digress.

After I started sort of bringing it up to some old friends, and some new, I learned that postpartum depression and anxiety is super common (but not any less serious because of it) and that like going for a run without children, it's very liberating to talk openly about it.
At 15 weeks postpartum, I'm feeling much better, and a little more in control. I don't hesitate to ask for help, and I refuse to be a martyr. If you ever feel like you are in this same boat, don't be shy or embarrassed. Speak up, and if you don't know where to start, just send me an email and I'd be happy to chat.

While I normally try to keep things lighthearted, I felt it was important to bring this topic to light as well.
It's sort of a big step for me to put this completely out there, even though I am a chronic over sharer. So even a high five via the interwebs is encouraging.

Here's to a happy, healthy 2013!


  1. OK. So seriously, it's like you're living in my brain. Your post brought me to tears. Although I knew I wasn't the only one and can now talk openly about the experience, there is that weird shame thing lurking around. My OB blew me off too, and I struggled through it. I didn't bond with the B until she was a year old, and thought about bailing everyday. (It's awful, but I went online and researched how much childcare I would have to pay, just to know.) She's 2 now and I'm just starting to feel "normal" again. Sending you a virtual snotty and teary hug, and I'm free to chat too. :)

    1. I don't want to make you cry! There are so many different ways that moms can feel it. Fortunately I felt very bonded to my girls, but the anxiety about something terrible happening was crippling at times. I'm glad you have a handle on it now! Ack. The things we go through to have a family... :)

  2. Your post made me totally teary...I never had postpartum depression but I am fairly open about the fact that I had a lot of anxiety/PTSD after I hemorrhaged delivering my youngest daughter.

    I find that being open about how I'm feeling makes things easier for me and for those around me. Like you said, if you were on crutches someone would offer to carry your bags for you, when you're anxious sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and tell you it's going to be OK.

  3. Now I totally wish we lived near each other and could run together. Just think if we could combine running with complaining about kids...the ideal sport and mental release! :)

    1. Except that I'd be too winded to talk while running. :)

  4. As I sit here reading your post I just keep shaking my head yes. Everything you are describing I felt. After my first son was born, PPD happened to me. I tried to manage it for awhile but I knew something was wrong. I just felt off, different it went beyond 'baby blues' or whatever. I was prescribed meds and I felt better, almost immediately - that may have been in my head them happening so fast but I did feel better. Like me again. I'm glad you're taking steps in the right direction and that you took the help. You're so right that there is such a stigma around PPD - its a shame really. I think taking about it and sharing our experiences and stories is a good thing. Thank you for sharing yours. I'm not one to leave links to my blog on other people's pages but here is my story if you ever want to check it out.