How Medication Saved Mine, and My Babies Life
Content ⚠️: Talk of Postpartum psychosis, suicide ideation.
For years and years I’ve rejected medication out of fear. I know, I know what you are probably thinking. I’m a recovering addict who used to smoke meth and I’m afraid of putting legal medications into my system?! At least, this is what I would have been (and am) thinking. But that’s the insanity of addiction. But this post isn’t about my illegal drug use, it’s about taking the leap of faith and finally accepting help via legal medications prescribed by a Psychiatrist.
And guess what? It’s working. But one or the reasons why it’s working, is because I’m taking it exactly as prescribed. Which means, that I’m also doing something that I’ve been telling myself that I can’t do FOR YEARS and years. I’ve actually been taking my meds and not just once a day, but three times a day. For ten days now, I’ve taken my medication as prescribed at the time I’m supposed to without missing a single dose. For an addict like me who has struggled taking my testosterone once a week, this is a huge deal. But it’s not a big deal for my ego, it’s a big deal for heart and it’s healing process. I’ve been telling myself that I can’t for so long and it’s literally been keeping me sick. But I can. And even better, I AM!
Now, I’m also all about transparency and not at all ashamed of seeking outside help. We all need extra support sometimes and this is one of the ways that support can look. For me, that looked like inpatient hospitalization, therapy twice a week, and medications. Right now, the medication may very well be what’s making my life manageable and I want to take a moment to talk about why.
I still have a lot of internalized shame around being on an anti-psychotic and two anti-anxiety meds, which is why I want to spend time talking about them. In the last ten days that I’ve started medication, almost all of my symptoms have either stopped or gotten much better. When I say symptoms, I’m referring to the impacts my Postpartum Mood Disorder and Psychosis was having on my life. I noticed these things start to show up at three months postpartum and if I could do one thing different, I would have asked for help then, before it got feeling like a crisis. This past month after experiencing a trigger, those symptoms were amplified and joined by ones even more scary.
I would spend all day, every days simply wandering around my messy house, wondering where to start or was it even worth doing, all while sobbing and wearing a baby on my back. When I would think about someone coming in to help me with Wilder, I would have panic attacks in fear of exposure to COVID but if I thought about not receiving help I’d have a panic attack in fear of being so close to my breaking point and knowing it. When I would have to take Wilder out into public, like to a grocery store (being a single parent who was living alone in at the time deep in the wood without any type of food delivery service – this was challenging to avoid), I would have sever anxiety and panic attacks. Prior to pregnancy, I had never experienced a panic attack, although anxiety is an old, dear friend of mine. Life was full of anxiety and panic that would hit me like a ton a bricks, and out of no where. Washing dishes and BOOM – there’s a vision of my baby, who’s body is blue from drawing in the bath tub. I’d race into the bathroom cussing at myself for leaving Wilder in there alone only to realize in that same moment that Wilder was still playing happily in the living room where I had left them so that I could do the dishes. Or I’d be laying in bed and then suddenly have visions of my heart dog dying and us saying our final goodbyes or even worse, not getting the chance to say goodbye at all. Even typing these things sends my heart into a hurried state of being.
Being Neurodivergent, I’ve always been sensitive to noise and touch but postpartum, my sensory processing disorder has been amplified to the extreme. I’ve had moments of feeling like my skin is crawling when my baby touches me. The feeling of having someone pulling on my clothes constantly makes me cringe. And what I’m most ashamed of, is the rage and extreme anxiety I feel when my baby cries. I never experienced this as a nanny or even with other people’s babies, only my own. So, I never let my baby cry and it worked, until it no longer did. Then the intrusive thoughts began and so did the feelings of needing to disappear before something bad happened. Now, parents and people alike kept telling me, “it’s normal to have the urge to throw your baby out the window when they won’t stop crying sometimes.” But what I was experiencing wasn’t normal and being told it was, kept me sick for longer. If you’re having those thoughts whether or not it’s once or every single day, please seek outside support and extra help. You may not be in psychosis, but you don’t have to be in need and accept help.
One of the most scary things that I experienced in postpartum psychosis was hearing things that weren’t actually there. What this looked like for me, was hearing a radio playing alongside the sound machine all.night.long. OR conversations happening and coming through the sound machine. But the scariest, was when I would hear Wilder scratching the walls, it was so loud it would wake me from a deep sleep. I’d roll over already frustrated with Wilder but find them in a dead sleep, no where even near the walls. Or I’d hear Wilder wake up crying but then find them sound asleep. I just thought I was tired, and maybe that was part of it.
I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I kept telling myself that was normal for a new parent.
I knew I needed help, but was too afraid to ask. I was too afraid of someone I didn’t know showing up and taking my baby. But I knew my baby wasn’t safe, so Wilder went with their Granny Kiki and spent the week learning how to sleep on their own, in a crib. Which, is one of the most important pieces to me getting well – having my bed and body back, for now.
But the moment that I didn’t have my baby the noise got even louder and my shame and guilt even heavier. I was certain Wilder would have been better without me so I spent eighteen hours driving around Portland-Astoria searching for the right bridge to jump from. I landed at the Ross bridge and stood there for hours – looking over while swimming through the insanity inside of my brain. After a bystander walked past me for a second time at 2am, they stopped and silently stood next to me, but that’s an entire post all on it’s own that’s we will get to. But in that moment before I wanted to jump, I saw Wilder’s story play through and held on. This wasn’t Wilder’s story and Wilder did in fact deserve their papa bear.
Using drugs was never a thought and that, is a miracle.
But, as someone who has struggled with depression all of my like, being a parent changes that now, I have a responsibility to treat that depression if I want the honor of raising the most amazing tiny human ever.
So, I took a leap of faith and committed to going to any lengths to get well. When a psychiatrist at the hospital I had voluntarily checked myself into for 72-hours, recommend Abilify and two anti-anxiety meds I quickly jumped on board. Not as someone who pushes medications, but as someone who was literally about to jump off of a bridge and needed something to change.
And friends, I’m so relieved to tell you that things are changing.
The medication is working. I’m not walking around like a sobbing zombie overcame with panic. In fact, I haven’t had one panic attack since being on medication. I’m getting done and able to focus in ways that feel unfamiliar to me. My intrusive thoughts have left and most nights I’m able to sleep. Sometimes I still hear the radio playing or Wilder crying, but it no longer feels unsafe. I’m not stuck in a fog of tears an a reality that’s not actually there. I’m still me and even more so, finding the best parent me possible.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this.
But being on medication is quite literally saving my life right now, and in turn, my babies life.
Letting go and following directions (exactly as they are given) is simply another gift recovery has taught me and more so then ever, today I’m so deeply grateful to be sober.