I just filled my prescription for Lexapro again for postpartum anxiety and OCD. It doesn’t really feel like a big deal, but I know that THAT makes it a pretty big deal.
The first time I drove home from the pharmacy with medication to treat my extreme irritability, anger, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, racing heart, and feeling of impending doom, I felt shame and sadness. I felt defeated. I vowed to stop taking it as soon as possible. I told myself as soon as I could exercise again, and as soon as I was eating and sleeping again I would be able to wean off of it.
This time, the 3rd time I’ve made that drive, I simply thought, “Okay, I’ll put this next to my toothbrush so I remember to take it tonight before bed.” And since I know that taking action helps ease my anxiety, I woke up today feeling GREAT because I knew my prescription would be ready to pick up, and I was taking some damn action and was going to fix. that. shit.
If you’re not familiar with my story, here is a very brief summary: I’m certain I had this after my first was born, but I never knew it was a thing, and since I never felt depressed or cried much or wanted to hurt myself or my baby I never got help. After my 2nd baby, I finally got help when she was 9 months old when I was in a really bad place and was lucky enough to finally learn that postpartum ANXIETY is a thing. I knew to expect it again after I had my 3rd, and was back on meds when he was about 6 months old.
So, of course, I knew to expect it this time, too, and I’ve been really paying attention to my mind and body. It seems it always sets in between 4 and 5 months postpartum, and that’s exactly what happened again. The last couple weeks have been more than my typical anxiety over stress and deadlines and having 4 kids, and some other big life changes we have planned. The intrusive thoughts and the obsessively worrying about things I KNOW are not true and not likely to happen have been my biggest warning signs, and honestly the things I just want to go away the most.
I spoke at the University of Texas, Austin’s Maternal Mental Health and Wellness Conference last weekend, and one of the questions I got was if I’d tried other ways to treat my anxiety before going on meds. I can confidently say I have. After having Wallace, I made a big effort to do all the things some well-meaning people say you should do to try to keep perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, like postpartum depression and anxiety, from setting in.
I’ve been going to Barre3 classes just as frequently as possible since my 6-week checkup. I’ve been making it a point to feed myself real, healthy food. We’ve been getting boxes of Hello Fresh delivered weekly so I didn’t have to stress about menu planning and grocery shopping. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. We’ve had a housekeeper coming semi-regularly. Scott has been a rockstar, as usual, and picks up, does the dishes and the laundry while I’ve been nursing Wallace and getting him to sleep. We’ve prioritized my sleep, and I rarely get less than 7 hours a night. I have an incredible support system.
And yet, my PPA/OCD does not GAF.
My baby is 4 months old, and this is just what my brain does when my babies are 4 months old. That may seem frustrating, but it’s also, oddly, comforting. There’s nothing I can do. It just happens. And I’ll just take the meds because I know they work. No big deal- not anymore.
I didn’t plan for this to coincide with the first day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week because this is not a kind of thing you plan for, but indeed, it is. If you’re wondering if you’re struggling with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, this is a great list to reference, and the one that changed my life for the better.