Postpartum Depression – It Does and Can Get Better


I realize this post has nothing to do with art. But women suffering, and in this case dying, needlessly really upset me. 

Yesterday many of us watched as a mother with a small child in her car rammed into a barricade on Capitol Hill and was shot to death after she seemed to panic and run over a Police Officer. It turns out she was suffering from Postpartum Depression.  This to me is so sad because it doesn’t have to be this way.  I decided to share my story – in case it helps relieve this dark cloud for someone else much sooner than what she thought was possible.  We as women have stood by way too long and allowed the medical field to tell us that 1 year of postpartum depression is normal, and that there is nothing to be done except maybe some drugs that for the most part just make you feel worse, and won’t be prescribed for at least that first year anyway because doctors think postpartum is “normal”.  

A few years ago, I suffered a miscarriage. Obviously I had sadness at that event. And I worked through those feelings with my highly skilled clearing partitioner (a form of therapy that for me is much quicker and much more beneficial than traditional Freudian based therapy). But there was a much deeper something else I was feeling that would not go away.  I was constantly crying and feeling super depressed.  I would start to go do something and then think “Why bother?” or “What’s the Use?”  It was a daily struggle to function, much less go out and be part of the world.  And during my periods – when my hormones were the worst – I was a completely mess. I could barely function.  I knew this wasn’t the normal me, but I didn’t know what to do. And time was not making me feel any better.

When I finally did talk with someone about it, I was told that from a doctor’s point of view this was “normal” and that unless this type of depression continued past a year, that I just had to “deal with it.”  I really didn’t know what to do. And because I hadn’t told that many people being depressed, or about the miscarriage – I didn’t have a lot of support.  So I went to a friend who was also my massage therapist at the time, and told her I had this massive depression which was worse because I was PMSing- and I don’t know what to do, so I was coming to her for a massage hoping it would just shift my mood.  After my massage she told me that 5 years earlier she too had a miscarriage – and that her new acupuncturist (a woman) had told her the hormonal changes, difficult periods and depression experienced since then were not actually normal. And that with a few sessions she could and would be better.  

Well, at that point I had nothing to loose so I went. My acupuncturist did explain that my body had changed due to pregnancy.  And that I had to adjust to whatever that new normal was for me. But that there was hope, and she could help.  After that first treatment – for the rest of that day I actually felt worse (which can sometimes happen). But then I woke up the next morning and felt better than I had in a long time. I was still crying and sad, but not to the same extent.  I went back the next week for another treatment, and again felt even better. I had a total of 4 treatments before I was “back to my old self.”  (There were other things that took longer to get into a better cadence – for example my breast kept getting lopsided and finally settled into 1 cup size bigger than before the pregnancy.)  But emotionally I was back to the happy, positive, proactive me I had been before the miscarriage.

I occasionally still go back to acupuncture when I feel my hormones are a little out of sync, my periods hurt or that super sense of smell you get during pregnancy returns.  All this with no pills, no sitting on a couch to talk about how depressed I am. None of that – just a few acupuncture appointments.

For those who are on prescription drugs. I applaud you for having the courage and the strength to go get help and talk with someone. That too takes a lot of strength.  And here’s the great thing about acupuncture – you can do it while still keeping on whatever prescription your doctor has you on. Just let both western and eastern medicine practitioners know your new path – and things should get better even faster. (Some depression drugs cannot be gotten off easily – they require tapering for a few weeks or months, so I am not suggesting you go against your doctor’s advice, as I of course am not a physician.) 

My hope for you, for me, for all of us women around the world is that we don’t have to suffer alone or silently.  And the reason I started out this post saying it doesn’t have to be this way is simple. Once we have had a baby or had a miscarriage – why aren’t our doctors recommending acupuncture first? Why aren’t we leaving the hospital or doctor’s office with a pamphlet about the possibility of postpartum, that recommends trying acupuncture?   Especially when prescription drugs would interfere with breastfeeding and other things.  Why make us wait and suffer needlessly?  To me we are lucky enough to live in a world full of options.  And if one of those options is quicker and less harmful than another path – why not try that first or in conjunction with others.?

What are your thoughts? Have you also had postpartum? And if so – what helped you the most?

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