I was stressed during my pregnancy, really stressed. It wasn’t the blissful glow that other women experience. We wanted a very natural birth and at the time our extended social circle included very high-tech medical families. We had just moved to a new town so I felt very isolated. The birth of my daughter did not go as planned: a non-emergency cesarean section. All of this contributed to a very dark gloomy feeling. Though I knew I should find a local social group, I struggled with almost every aspect of parenting while slowly descending into postpartum depression. I barely cared for myself, focusing only on keeping my daughter alive and in general good health. My dear husband suffered as our marriage and finances took a nosedive.
Some families I know of are very natural to the extreme and others are very Mainstream. I feel like I’m right in the middle, swaying towards more natural. As such, I didn’t want to take anti-depressants or any other drug, for fear they’d challenge my ability to breastfeed now or negatively affect future fertility. So I silently suffered.
Almost four years later, I found a new-to-me kind of doctor. This integrative medicine doctor knew how the body worked in its perfect state and then applied that to a weakened body. He recommended a variety of biomedical tests and with results in hand, recommended a health protocol that got me well again. The results were not magic, but they were remarkable. At 5 weeks of treatment, I had one day of Happy. One day of Hope. One day of Normal. Then a day or two of the ‘normal’ dark and gloomy I’d experienced for the last 4 years, excused with “Oh, but I just had a baby.” Then I experienced another full day of Happy, Hopeful and Normal. Back and forth until today: happy, springy and light again, every day, all the time.
As I healed, I started listening more to my daughter. Not just for if she was hungry or tired or needed to go to the bathroom, but really listened to her. She had had a distant mother for the first 4 years, the only years of her life. It took us time to rebuild that trust and I fear, given some research, that our attachment will always be challenged by my now-resolved depression. This applies to my marriage and with my husband. I’ve heard that the first few years after having young children are the most challenging for a marriage, but add depression to the mix and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. As I got my spunk, spring and love back, so did our marriage.
My masters thesis, entitled, “A Cost Analysis of the Treatment of Postpartum Depression: Western Medicine vs. Three CAM Therapies” explores the causes of depression, current Western Medicine treatment and Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatments, including pricing of common treatment protocols. The research and writing of this thesis was an intense exploration, both academic and personal. I experienced the healing, from heavy darkness to light and springy, but this is how I did it, and how it works.
Through healing my body, I was able to take the focus off the everyday exhaustion and emotional recoil and focus on emotional stability and growth. I was able to discern where I ended and others began, how my needs could be met while others’ needs could be too, without feeling left out, less than, or dismissed. My connection to my daughter has only grown stronger and as social situations arise in school or with friends, I am able to strengthen her while not diminishing her friends and social circle. My marriage has never been stronger. I can now imagine our 50th wedding anniversary; knowingly gazing at him as we share the love we have for each other while smiling at ‘having been to hell and back’. We have been to hell but we came back. We came back from the brink of destruction because we both wanted to, because we fought for our marriage. But I don’t think I could have done it with a broken body and a wounded spirit. Both my body and my spirit are healed now, as is my marriage and relationship with my daughter. I look forward to the growth, the adventure and yes, even the challenges, knowing that I can be strong and healthy, body, mind and spirit.
If I can help, please reach out to me. If you need help, reach out to someone, even a trusted friend or family member. I want to help and here’s how we can start: