Last night I laid in bed for over an hour before I finally fell asleep. Jack was sleeping soundly next to me and yet my mind wouldn’t shut off and give in to slumber. Instead I lay there with negative and paranoid thoughts until I started to question why it was happening. Then I examined the past few weeks of what I have been calling “perpetual PMS” – the lack of energy, short temper, headaches, and feelings of disconnection, and I realized that I have started down the depression road again. It’s interesting how long it takes me to figure it out, even after living with this affliction for (officially) 13 years now. Luckily I have recognized it before things have gone too far, and I can put a plan into place to take better care of myself.
Last night I also became aware of how breastfeeding has made an impact on my life over the past 18 months. Following the miscarriage of my first pregnancy, I struggled with severe post partum depression. It was beyond anything I had experienced prior to that (or since); the grief of that loss was expected, but the hormonal landslide that occured ripped the floor from beneath me. When I look back on that time, I don’t recognize myself at all.
After that period, which involved lots of medication and therapy, I worried that I would experience severe depression again even after a successful pregnancy. This made the decision to breastfeed that much smarter in my case, as I had read that breastfeeding can help a new mother avoid depression. It has certainly seemed to work for me; the level of depression I felt after Jack was born was mild and managed with relative ease. As I lay in bed last night, I realized that the more serious symptoms of depression I’ve been experiencing have increased as I have decreased breastfeeding and pumping sessions. There are other factors, of course, but for now, I have one more piece to add to the depression puzzle in my life. I also have work to do to get myself back in shape!