The first weeks after birth I mentally got worse and worse. I can hardly remember anything from this time or from my little one so I can’t exactly say where it went downhill. Breastfeeding was unsuccessful as latching on still did not go well and I more and more dislike to pump. Pumping felt very degrading to me and at some point, I just did not want to do in anymore. So I had to give up as it also mentally very heave for me. I hardly ate because I felt so miserable. This, in combination with breastfeeding, made me lose the pregnancy weight fast and I became even weaker.
Also physically I did not do so well. My pelvic floor was damaged so bad it hurt to even walk and turn in bed. This already hurt before the delivery but afterward, it became much worse. The stitches from the episiotomy did not hurt luckily. The damage to my pelvic floor at one point was so bad that I was unable to stop feces. This was very embarrassing and of course, did not help my mental well being.
My boyfriend took a week from work and received the second week from his employer. After these two weeks, I was on my own. The first day he was back at work felt weird. I was extremely alert and restless. I just could not relax. Taking care of myself and doing household chores took me a lot of effort. Brushing my teeth and combing my hair felt like a day job. To me, it felt like time just moved very slowly. Looking back, these were the first symptoms of the depression.
I also had great difficulty with being alone. My sister in law advised me to make an appointment with my doctor. She already suspected something more was going on. Normally I have to wait over a week to see my physician. Now I could see her after 2 days. Apparently, my appointment had increased urgency. Feeding my baby, in general, had become an issue because of the bad experience with breastfeeding and pumping. At one point I had a very hard time to even feed my baby with a bottle. I was increasingly having a hard time taking care of my baby.
A day later I completely fell apart. I had panic attacks one after another. Hyperventilating, dizziness, tingling all over, just everything that comes with it. I could hardly walk, let alone take care of myself or my baby. My boyfriend came home and in consultation with his employer, he could take several weeks of care leave to take care of me and his newborn. Luckily, the next day I had the appointment with the physician.
She immediately saw that this was more than the baby blues. She prescribed an antidepressant and slowly the dosage was increased. She also referred me to a psychiatrist. Just to be sure, she also checked my blood. This was all normal.
Because of the long waiting period (3 months!) for the psychiatrist, I also saw someone from the mental care support of the physician office. She mediated with several psychiatrists to shorten the waiting period. Another facility gave women with PND priority as it is a whole family that is affected. This facility had a waiting period of 6 weeks.
The time until the appointment with the facility was though. Before antidepressant start to work, the symptoms became worse. In short, I felt like all I have been doing those days was aphetic looking out of my eyes. I could hardly do anything. I could barely do personal hygiene. I had great difficulty eating and drinking. I felt numb and empty. I also felt very guilty because I did not feel any affection or connection with my baby. I cried a lot. Sometimes this was caused because I felt guilty or because I felt so needy sometimes there was no reason at all.
Every time, just as I began to feel a little better the dosage was increased. With every increase, the symptoms first became worse before it gets better. I spoke with my physician every week. Either face to face or over the phone. I also met with the women from the mental care support but this did not help at all. It was nice that I could take to someone but I did not feel like I made any progress. She gave me a book to help me with the panic attacks. I had to do assignments to find out what caused the panic attacks but I got stuck pretty fast. I still had multiple panic attacks per day and she wanted to know what caused them and what goes through my mind when they happen. I did not know what caused them and had no thoughts when they happen. The only thing that was constantly on my mind was that I no longer wanted to be in this situation. I just wanted to step into my car and leave. Away from everyone and everything. This also is a symptom of depression. Unfortunately, I had to wait a couple of weeks before I could see a psychiatrist.