I remember being told over and over again that SSRIs could be the answer BUT they came with side effects. While these side effects affect some, they do not affect all*. Side effects like:
I would become a zombie and lose my entire personality.
I would lose my libido or my desire to have sex.
I wouldn’t be able to feel the full spectrum of emotions.
The medicine would make me want to commit suicide.
I would become extremely tired all the time
I’d gain a bunch of weight and have a hard time getting it to stay off.
Any happiness I may be feeling was due to my “happy pill.”
While some of these things are true for some people sometimes, all of these things aren’t true all the time for everyone. I was afraid before I went down the psychiatric route that I would end up a sex deprived zombie who wanted to kill herself. That couldn’t be further from my truth.
To be honest, I did experience some of these symptoms. I experienced all of them at one time or another on my journey to the perfect combination of medication to battle PMDD. I still struggle with some of these side effects like weight retention for example. I realized that, for me, SSRIs helped me open my eyes. They helped give me a space to stand that was sturdy and safe and allowed me a chance to stand up for myself. They allowed me a chance to see through the fog that was PMDD.
There is such a stigma around depression, anxiety, and anything related to hormones. It’s like admitting you have hormones is somehow a bad thing despite the fact we all have hormones. We all get anxious and we all get sad. It’s a fact of life. With all that said, we know that PMDD amplifies these feelings. PMDD is in charge sometimes and we’re just being dragged along for the ride.
I know some people are afraid of trying antidepressants (like I was) and that’s a fair stance to have. But to be afraid to try something because of the perceived negative side effects is just reckless. I know on my PMDD journey I exhausted all options before landing on SSRIs.
My belief is this: try a new approach. Give it your all. If it doesn’t work after a certain amount of time, move on to another option but never give up. Keep fighting the good fight.
* I am not a medical professional in any way. This is a personal blog established as a place for support for those afflicted with PMDD. If you or someone you know needs information related to PMDD or SSRIs, please contact a trained health professional. Please call 911 or your doctor immediately if you are considering suicide. ❤️
I remember wanting to hit my son in the face. I remember feeling this way for days on end every single month.
I have a 4 year old. The constant chatter, the screaming, the desperate need for attention. I just want to sleep. I just want to feel nothing for a while. I just want this pain to pass. And yet he comes to me to snuggle, to play, to hug and all I want to do is push him away.
When we argue about something, something horribly mundane, I yell. I yell so hard and with every ounce of my strength. I can feel the anger bubbling inside of me like a volcano. I scream so loud I see stars. I feel like I am going to pass out the rage is so strong. This is how I feel towards my 4 year old. The son I created.
I blame him for me feeeling this way. I blame him for being alive. I blame him for injecting me with so much emotion. Hes the reason i have PMDD. He’s the reason all of this is happening. He’s the reason I have PMDD!
I curl up in a ball in my closet. I lock the door. The pain will pass, my tears will dry and I will wake up tomorrow renewed.
The sight of blood in my panties gives me hope. A new cycle. I’ll be myself again.
We moved into our new home a few months later. Guess who did the unpacking? Yup, me. I needed to keep myself busy when I wasn’t busy with our son. I always felt like I had to keep going, never resting. I became a stay at home mom. It felt like a no-brainer. I always hated office jobs and the idea of being with my little guy all day sounded great. R just started his new job and things were beginning to feel more stable.
It was around this time that the first monster in my life – Postpartum Depression (PPD) – made a very strong appearance. Or maybe it had been there all along? It’s hard to say. All I remember was being unbelievably angry all the time. I felt like a pot boiling over with rage. Most of my rage was unfortunately directed at my son. “It’s his fault I have this demon inside of me. It’s his fault I am broken.” These were the thoughts I had and it built up so much resentment for him. I lashed out at him and snapped over every minor trivial thing that a baby could do – threw something, hit me, cried. If he yelled at me, I would yell back. I would yell until my face was red, my cheeks flushed and I was seeing stars. Most of the time, I didn’t know why I was mad. I just knew I had to get this pain out and he was the cause.
I would yell until my face was red, my cheeks flushed and I was seeing stars.
At the time, I had no friends. We had just moved here and I just had a baby so the idea of getting out there and making new friends was the last item on my to-do list. I am an introvert with anxiety so the idea of mom-dating was daunting. Yet during this super hard time, I made a few mom friends, joined classes with my son and frequented playgrounds and library times looking for other moms who were like me. I felt like I was failing, struggling and the only one who couldn’t get this mom thing figured out.
Luckily, I met one mom who I really clicked with and she reminded me that my struggle is not a unique experience. Everything that was happening with me was happening with her. I realized a few things:
its okay to not want to be with your child every moment of every day
It’s okay to miss your old pre-baby life.
It’s okay to walk around Target with no real shopping list.
It’s okay to take a shower.
It’s okay to let the baby cry.
A fed baby is the best baby.
All first time moms feel like failures.
No one knows exactly what they’re doing all the time.
Despite being out of the house and socializing, exercise, healthy eating habits and generally good sleep, I was still a ticking time bomb of anger. I snapped at everyone but mostly my son and husband. I pretended everything was okay with my inlaws but secretly (at least I thought at the time) I was hiding all of my pain from them. I wanted everyone to think I had it all together.
I didn’t know why I was sad, why I was mad and what was happening to me.
I had a lot of crying spells. A lot of time was spent crying on the floor of my closet. I didn’t know why I was sad, why I was mad and what was happening to me. At this point, my son was over a year old and it didn’t feel like PPD anymore.
We were living in a temporary apartment my husband’s company provided when we brought my son home. We had very little of our own personal possessions. Most of our things were in a storage unit awaiting a trip to our new home.
Your first child, who arrived early. Living in a temporary apartment in a new city. Husband about to start a new job. Your family living 15 hours drive away in the Northeast. And you’re trying to teach yourself how to breastfeed. The baby won’t latch and he’s crying and you’re crying. You’re pumping every few hours. You’re feeding every few hours. You’re trying to breastfeed more but you’re both getting frustrated. You’re trying to eat, sleep, shower and use the restroom all during that same time. It feels like you’re going to give birth again from the pain every time you use the toilet for the next few weeks. The fridge is sparsely stocked with mostly oatmeal and cookies. The apartment complex you’re in has a fire alarm, which sounds like a siren directly in your living room, that goes off every single morning between 5 and 6am for no apparent reason which justifiably freaks out your newborn. The icing on the cake – none of your clothes fit and all of your clothes that would fit are sitting in a storage unit with contents you won’t see for months.
It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Yet despite that, I thought I could do it all and I guess I did for a while…
We eventually got out of our apartment and moved into my in-laws downtown home. To be free from the sound of a siren, close to other family members and able to experience nature again felt like a dream. Not long after moving into their home I gave up on the breastfeeding fight. I remember thinking to myself while I was pregnant that breastfeeding was going to be easy. My mother breastfed most of my four siblings. She made it seem so easy. I wish I had taken more classes, checked into his tongue tie and tried more with lactation consultants. I worried myself sick over this. I laid awake at nights, feeling the enormous weight of milk in my breasts and thinking to myself that I was a waste of a mother. I could not accomplish something as simple as feeding my child – the one skill a mom just instinctively possesses.
I decided it was time to fully formula feed when my son was officially 2 months old. I was personally formula-fed as was my husband. My in-laws, despite their good intentions, didn’t understand why the act of breastfeeding was so paramount to me. I remember spending the early days mixing formula in a guest bathroom in the middle of the night for my little boy. The idea of going down a steep flight of stairs in total darkness in the middle of the night frightened me, especially considering my body was finally recovering. The solution we arrived at was turning the guest bathroom into a small formula mixing station. It was close to baby and didn’t require me to have to traverse the stairs of a historic home in the middle of the night. I remember hiding out in that guest room, only emerging to use the bathroom. In retrospect I can see I was hiding in there to escape the questions, the looks and the attention that I thought I would get because I changed our child-rearing plans.
I remember one time that my mother-in-law got me to leave the house. We were looking for furniture for my new home. It was still the summer and it was close to 100 degrees. I had my son in the infant carrier that was resting in our stroller. He began to look lethargic and generally hot at one point. We stopped in the patio department and I scrambled through my overly stuffed diaper bag to find a thermometer. I finally found one only to see his temperature was severely elevated. I didn’t realize being in a car seat carrier, in a covered stroller, in the summer would be this hot for an infant. My enormous diaper bag didn’t have the one essential I needed – formula. I bought some ready-to-feed formula and my son drank it with fervor. I carried him throughout the store after that, worrying incessantly that he would be forever damaged from this and that I was a terrible mother for forgetting something as simple as a bottle of formula.
Being a first time mother is hard. One of the harshest critics being yourself.
In the summer of 2014, my husband R and I moved from California (after about a year) to the great state of Georgia for his new job. At the time of the move, I was just about 9 months pregnant with our son. I was no longer allowed to fly so we had to drive cross-country in our Subaru Forester…with our two cats. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad of a trip as you might think.
I was the happiest a person could be.
Pregnancy was overall a pleasant experience for me. At the time, I was the happiest a person could be. Pregnancy brought so much joy to my life – emotionally speaking. I felt a wave of happiness come over me that just stayed with me for the full 9 months despite being on temporary bed rest (due to placenta previa) and being uncontrollably itchy (due to a new condition that sprung up while pregnant: urticaria) and covered in hives.
After arriving in Georgia, we began a 14 day quest to find a home to buy. It was hot, like all southern summers, and our real estate agent was worried I’d give birth in one of her houses. I looked at around 25 houses before we settled on our first home. It was a two story traditional in a small subdivision outside of Atlanta.
Shortly after finding that home, I awoke in the very early hours of the morning to find blood on my sheets. Cue the emergency trip to the hospital. I wasn’t planning on meeting my son for another month so I didn’t have an obstetrician picked out or even a pediatrician. I had not stepped one foot in that hospital until I was being led through a lobby in the early morning hours worried if my baby was okay. My water broke while I was waiting at the hospital and my labor was induced. About 36 hours later, my son was born. He was born in the summer of 2014. He’s a Leo; a ball of energy and excitement that craved all of our attention. While resting up in the hospital waiting to go home, we signed the offer letter for our new home. It was an exciting few days to say the least.