Postpartum is not ONE SIZE FITS ALL. I believe everyone’s journey through postpartum is unique. I had 3 kids in 4 years and each of my postpartum experiences were very different. What I have learned is that postpartum is not a linear progression into healing. Sometimes you think you have made it through, and you are met with a bout of anxiety, rage, or depression months or years later. Some studies have shown the postpartum season can last up to 3 years after having your baby. 3 YEARS. There will be ups and downs during the process and many scientific points along the journey when you want to be more in tune with your body and mind. For example, when your milk comes in– when your cycle comes back — when you start weaning –when you stop weaning– when your baby turns one– these are all times you MAY experience postpartum anxiety or depression.

After my first two babies, I had what I had read was the “typical baby blues” and small bouts of anxiety or depression, but it was never something I couldn’t fix with some self-care and help from friends.

HOWEVER, around 10 months after having my third baby, I started weaning from breastfeeding. She has started eating more solids and it felt like a natural progression for my body. Well around the same time, I started to experience SEVERE insomnia. And not just a couple nights here or there but night after night of sleeplessness. I ended up unable to get a full night’s sleep for over 9 weeks!! Of course, this lack of sleep started to affect my day-to-day anxiety (or perhaps my anxiety was the cause of my insomnia.) Either way, this was completely WRECKING MY LIFE. After a week of sleepless nights, I was barely able to function.

I was inexplicably falling apart.

I started to have panic attacks every night. I was practicing every sleep hygiene technique, meditation, taking every supplement, and sleep aid until I decided to go get some answers.

As with any health issue, I always want to understand the root cause – as much as I love and appreciate all the drugs out there – I know I needed to understand the WHY behind it all. I visited a functional medicine practice to get my blood drawn – I got back a comprehensive blood panel that I hoped would show me the reason behind my insomnia and perpetuating anxiety that I was suddenly experiencing. Unfortunately (and of course fortunately), there weren’t any glaring numbers on my chart. So what the hell was going on??

My doctor did notice a lot of my levels were on the low range of “normal,” specifically my testosterone and progesterone. My adrenal numbers were higher than normal and he said I most likely was suffering from adrenal fatigue and some fluctuations from weaning. He put me on a protocol with different supplements to get my levels back to a range he liked. After 3 weeks of the new protocol, I still was not sleeping. I felt somewhat better during the day, but I knew I needed a second and third opinion. After seeing a sleep doctor, my primary care physician, and my OB, I was told my body and mind had reached it’s limits. I WAS AT MAX CAPACITY.

My OB believed due to my MAJOR shift in hormones from WEANING and the intense stress I had put on my body in having 3 babies in 4 years, my levels were as high as my body could sustain. It was clear I needed support from an SSRI.

I was prescribed Zoloft and within 3 weeks I was starting to feel better. My sleep improved and I could start to feel the anxiety tune down, although very subtly and slowly.

I think Zoloft coupled with the supplements have brought me down to a level my body can tolerate. Women go through so much during the post-partum experience and seeking help from professionals is the only thing that got me through this extremely taxing period of my life. I want to share my story in hopes someone else struggling will know it is absolutely OK and sometimes NECESSARY to go on medication. It may be the only thing that saves you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of PPA or PPD, lean in and LISTEN to them. You may not know what they are going through but you can let them know it is OK to go speak to a professional and it is more than ok to get on medication, if needed.

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