This is part 2 of my postpartum depression story. If you are looking for postpartum depression support and what going to a counselor is like, you’re in the right place. For part 1, click HERE.
Where do you even start when looking for a good counselor?
Growing up, I never did counseling nor knew anyone I did.
When I thought psychiatrist, Kelsey Grammar came to mind.
Seriously. Tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
On my way out of my OB appointment, I asked for a referral and the receptionist handed me a typed white paper listing all the counselors that previous patients had seen for postpartum depression.
I scanned through and chose the least intimidating name I could find.
Sharon… OK, my counselor’s name will be Sharon.
I pictured laying on a leather chaise lounge in her immaculately decorated office surrounded by ferns – because all psychiatrists have house plants, right?
My First Session with Postpartum Depression Counselor
Her office ended up being only minutes away from my house – and she operated her practice out of her own home.
She was in her early fifties with short, brown curly hair and a kind face but a don’t-mess-with-me expression.
After greeting me at the door, she led me into a small room with a plaid couch lining one wall and a desk with chair opposite of it.
“This first meeting will just be a getting to know you session. Just start telling me why you’re here and I’ll take notes, “ she said.
And so I started.
I hate talking about myself especially when it comes to problems. It’s makes me feel like I’m complaining.
So I told her how I cried every afternoon and she dug further.
Within 5 minutes, tears ran down my cheeks as I spilled every insecurity taunting me about me about motherhood. About how I scared I was that my daughter would suddenly stop breathing and how that fear prevented me from sleeping.
About how much I hated breastfeeding, but felt that if I stopped, I put her more at risk of developing SIDS or getting cancer.
She passed me a tissue box. I pulled Kleenex after Kleenex to dab my eyes and blow my nose.
By the end of our session, my eyes glowed pink and I had a mountain of tissue at my side.
Sharon left me with one nugget of insight that started my road to healing…that changed my whole outlook on motherhood.
“Your only job is to nourish your child. You don’t have to breastfeed to do that.
If you want to use formula, you are still a good mom and your baby will be fine.”
Once home, I walked into our kitchen. I pulled the pack of Similac from the top of the refrigerator, scooped a level portion of white powder into a bottle, topped it with water and shook.
I sat down on my red living room couch with my daughter snuggled in close and rubbed the rubber nipple across her bottom lip.
She opened wide and started eating.
This is nice.
No removing my shirt.
No awkward position changes.
Ya… I can do this.
That afternoon, I called my OB and asked for instructions on how to stop lactating.
I bought a head of cabbage and lived in tight sports bras for 3 days. Magically, the milk disappeared. My body belonged exclusively to me again which is exactly what I needed.
Not nursing took away so much stress that I wasn’t even aware about. Letting go of it, gave me the needed distance to start calming down,
My daughter gained weight at her appointments.
And I started to sleep. OH! The blissful sleep!!
Once my sleep returned, it became much easier to manage many mood. The daily afternoon crying gradually ceased.
I ended up seeing Sharon for 6 more weeks after that. At my last appointment, she told me how proud she was of my progress. She said most patients don’t do what they’re counselors suggest.
That’s me… always following directions. It’s a blessing and a curse.
That was 9 years ago. My daughter is now a healthy and active 4th grader.
Maybe even better than fine because she had a happy mom.
Although my depression has returned throughout the years, knowing I have it and seeing a psychiatrist regularly helps keep it under control and me happy.
Being in the throes of depression plays with your mind.
It makes you doubt yourself, dampen your joy and cause irrational fears that keep you from truly appreciating what you have.
That’s why when you’re in it, it’s so hard to get help.
You think you can change or if you have a better outlook or get more sleep….
But if nothing seems to helping, don’t blame yourself. I wish I didn’t.
Give yourself permission to talk about being sad.
You rock, mama.