I’ve struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety since shortly after my second child was born in December of 2016. I started seeking treatment at three months postpartum in March 2017. I’ve now been on medication for 19 months.
In my last post, I wrote about how I first went on 50 mg of Zoloft to treat my ppd. When that became ineffective after about 5 months, we increased my dosage to 100 mg. After a couple of months on the new dose, I started thinking about how I didn’t want to be on medication forever to handle my emotions. I wanted to learn some alternative coping methods. So I found a counselor and went to my first session.
Y’all, counseling is the best. I honestly think that everyone should see a counselor from time to time. It is so helpful to be able to have a safe place to vent. An echo room to really hear what you are saying. Someone to give you basic (or not so basic) ideas on how to handle yourself. Someone to remind you to take care of yourself, and give you some ways of doing so.
Self care has become a refrain in my life these days. Obviously, there is the basic self care of eating (well), drinking (water), and sleeping (at least 7 hours – I really need to work on this one). But then there are the ones that you don’t always think of – participating in activities that feed your soul, taking time to rediscover who you are apart from the roles you play (in my case, momdom), or ensuring that you’re doing check IN activities instead of check OUT ones (I reeeeeally suck at this – I’m totally addicted to my phone).
Counseling helped me to figure out a lot of those latter kinds of self care. One day when I was talking to my counselor about how I feel like I’m drifting, I mentioned that I used to be so involved in music. As I was talking, she told me that she could hear a real passion in my voice, and she thought that getting involved in music again would be an essential part of my healing. So later that day, I sent an email to our church choir director and set up an audition (our main choir is very good and is made up of both professional and volunteer singers). I joined in January, right after the end of the outrageous busyness of the holidays.
I’ve been in choir for seven months now, and it’s been so wonderful. It guarantees that I have one night each week that I get out without the kids. I get to interact with other adults (score!). I get to sing some absolutely gorgeous, and often challenging, music. I’m making new friends, and I am so happy to be here.
Counseling is also helping to teach me to be kind to myself. This is a skill that I have very little practice. I’m well versed in the skill of being down on myself, of beating myself up, of dwelling on my failures. Now I’m trying to leave that skill behind. If I do something that I don’t like, I’m trying to just let it slide off. I’m working on giving myself room for grace. When I give myself grace, I’m able to start giving grace to others.
Before ending this post, I’ll give you a rundown of a few other practices that I’m finding helpful:
- Reading books – both fiction and nonfiction – instead of just watching TV (let me know if you’re interested in hearing what I’m reading these days!)
- Using a couple of apps on my phone – namely Happify and Lumosity. Happify guides you through activities to increase your happiness, and Lumosity is all about brain training. Woo!
- Meditation. I use the Headspace app because I enjoy guided meditation. I’ve been working through a series on anger and how we can let it go (and now I’m singing Frozen).
- Time out of my house. The girls and I do SO MUCH BETTER when we get out of the house at least a couple of times a week. I don’t know if it’s the change in scenery, the fact that there are other people around, or even just the car ride, but we all get along so much better if we leave the house some. Sometimes it’s just to the grocery store. If the weather’s nice, I take them to a park and push them in the stroller to give me some exercise, then let them get some by running around on the playground.
- And speaking of exercise – movement. Jesse is super into working out, so we go to the gym together on his days off. I try to make it once or twice more during the week, and if we don’t go there, then going walking outside or doing some yoga at home.
- Playdates. These are the freaking best. Having other moms and their kids over is so good for all of us. We drink coffee, we chat, we let the kids destroy the playroom. It’s awesome.
What about you all? What do you do to help keep yourself centered? Have you ever been to counseling? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments section!
8 thoughts on “On the road to recovery”
Great stuff, Rachel! I haven’t read your blog before because we just met but I really appreciate your direct, open, and clear writing style. Thanks for sharing! I need to do more “check in” activities.
Hey, Kristen! Thanks for coming to read!! And yeah…you and me both. 😅
I just learned about an app called “Moment” that helps track how much time I spend on my phone.
Oooh, I’ll have to check it out!
I’m learning how to love myself and find my self worth again and reading your blog has been such a great thing. You got me writing again, about something I’m fiercely passionate about and I am so grateful! I miss you so much friend and I’d love to catch up soon ♡ (I move to Nevada in 10 months!)
Great posts, Rachel. I pray these will continue helping you to recognize the goodness within you and process the “badness” so that it doesn’t dwell within. Counseling has proven crucial to me a couple times in my own life. Getting the stuff in us out in front of us so that we can examine it, challenge it and let it go is a huge part of emotional and mental healing.
Say more about check in activities. I’m intrigued by that concept.