I didn’t tell Mark, my husband, about the “diagnose” and the pills for two months. Not because we don’t have an open relationship or because I was afraid of any judgment that he might make but because I am an eternal skeptic. My thought was that if I really had postpartum depression, then the Zoloft would make it go away and if the Zoloft would make it go away, then my husband would be able to tell. So I hid my antidepressants in a sock for two months taking the little blue pill at the same time every morning after he went to work. I was just waiting for the day when he would say, “something has changed about you, you seem happier!” Maybe not in those exact words but something to that effect.
My journey into “depression” was a slow one. One of those things where you slip into it so gradually that the people around you seem to forget what you were like before. I was never a good pregnant person. I thought that my second pregnancy might be better but it wasn’t. I am also a short person so I never felt like there was much room for my babies. I had a hard time breathing, sleeping, moving, and gained 50 plus pounds with each pregnancy. I had reoccurring migraines and I was in constant pain.
I feel as though this would be a good time to give you a glimpse of my pre-pregnancy state. I always had issues with my legs. From the time that I was young, I can remember my legs hurting. My mom would rub me down with icy hot and then put heating pads all around my legs at night so that I could sleep. I went to numerous doctors as a kid trying to figure out what was causing all of the pain. They figured out that I had one leg that is longer than the other. This was causing my hips and back to be thrown off when I walked and caused a good deal of pain. I went to physical therapy with no real relief. Then when I was 15 I got a staph infection in my left hip. I was in the hospital for two weeks without them knowing what was wrong with me. At one point they had told my mom to gather our family to say goodbye because I was getting worse and they were sure that I wasn’t going to make it. I remember waking up in the hospital one day to see my room filled with my family praying over me. Their heads were bowed and I was able to look at each of them without anyone noticing. I remember thinking to myself, “I am dying and they are all here to say their farewells, this is what dying feels like.” I then dozed back into the depths of a morphine slumber. Thankfully my journey in this life wasn’t over and I was lucky enough to get a different doctor over a weekend that decided to operate on me. I survived it, barely. I didn’t walk on my own for months and was given two liters of antibiotics, per a heart stint, two times a day for two months. The only driving factor in my recovery was that I had just made the cheerleading squad the month prior and I was not missing camp that year.
Hopefully the back story paints a better understanding of what led to my physical condition during the period of time that I was on Zoloft. Nothing happens in a vacuum every event in life is built upon a previous one. At the time, I was recovered from these past injuries but when I became pregnant and especially after my second pregnancy, the old pain seemed to come back with a vengeance. I was in pain most of the time during my pregnancies. That’s why I say that my spiral was a slow and unrecognizable one. It started during pregnancy and was chalked up to pregnancy weirdness. When I began to suffer well after pregnancy, it was chalked up to baby blues. Then when it continued well after the six weeks of healing, it was either I was crazy or I had postpartum depression. As there seemed to be no other choice, I went with postpartum depression.
I suffered from pain and exhaustion and in turn the people around me suffered. I didn’t realize how much being in pain affected every part of my life. Aside from my legs and back, I had constant migraines. I remember a time when my daughter sitting on my lap was painful. I remember a small bump on a corner turning into huge bruises. I remember lying still on the couch yet feeling like my whole body was pulsing in fiery aching numbness. After a while all of the pain became background noise. It was at a level that everyone around me, including myself, was used to dealing with it. I thought that it was normal to feel that way. That being in pain was just the way that I was and that my only choice was to be stronger and deal with it. After I had Malik these symptoms compounded because of extreme lack of sleep and I broke. That day in the doctor’s office it was as if I couldn’t take one more moment of discomfort. And that’s how I ended up on Zoloft.
One month into my “treatment” I wasn’t feeling any different. At the six week mark was when the magic was supposed to happen, I thought for sure that Mark would take note. I was feeling as though I did have a bit more initiative. I was taking a shower more than twice a week and was able to get up in the middle of the night with my son, with less minimal prayers to the power that be, to please make him go back to sleep. Malik was three months old by the time that I told Mark I was on an antidepressant. He, being the humble and loving man that he is, laughed at my reasoning and then noted that he had seen a change but kindly asked if I felt any better. But the truth was I didn’t, I didn’t feel better. If I had to measure it I would say I maybe felt 2% better than that day I went into the doctor’s office and was “diagnosed” with postpartum depression. I still lacked energy and was in pain most of the time. To be honest if I had to remark on one main attribute that Zoloft gave me, it was lack of care. I felt emotionless and hardened. I could yell at my kids with no shame. I was never abusive but I am definitely not proud of the calloused way in which I was able to act toward the people that I love. I never asked Mark in that moment but I know that this is the change that he was referring to.
*Check in next week to see what happens next! If you missed the first few "My Journey" posts catch up on those here!