It took me weeks to figure out what was going on with me after giving birth to my baby. I didn’t know anything about the insanity that I felt, let alone that it had a name. I would lie in bed for days on end with my baby boy, just crying uncontrollably. Feeling like I couldn’t do anything. Like I was a failure because I couldn’t feel anything. All I could do was cry. I felt like I didn’t even want to be around anymore. My husband decided I should see a therapist, one who seemed not to know what was wrong with me, or how to help me.
My husband decided to do some research and remembered an Oprah Winfrey show. A woman named Brooke Shields was on a segment in 2005; a year before I was going through this. Brooke had exhibited the same symptoms after childbirth as I did. The feeling of giving up and not feeling happy, but not knowing why. She described her self-hate, the uncontrollable crying, the not being able to get out of bed, and feeling numb. Brooke spoke about how severe postpartum depression can be, and how important it is to seek treatment. So that is exactly what I did, as I now knew that ignoring the symptoms of postpartum depression can be very dangerous or life-threatening.
I have been prescribed a drug called Prozac. It seemed to help me a little. It allowed me to function, get out of bed, and stop the uncontrollable crying, but it never allowed me to wind down or relax. I still felt sad deep down. I could not understand why the medication was not helping. I started telling myself that the way I felt was normal, or that it would pass.
Not long after starting Prozac, I started having symptoms such as a migraine, and insomnia. So I decided to ask my doctor for something new, as my depression seemed to be coming right back in full swing. I was given prescription after prescription of Ambien, Ativan, and Xanax.
About two years later I gave birth to my daughter. I tried my best to prepare myself and make myself feel ready for the uncontrollable sobbing and sadness and detachment that I thought I would feel when she was born; None of which happened.
Instead of depression and sadness, I had extremely bad anxiety. I could not go a day, or even an hour, without envisioning something terrible happening. The anxiety was overwhelming, and I could not settle until everything around me was right. I was trying to be a perfect mom and wife, and I was what you could call a manic about it. I told myself over and over, “this is perfectly fine.” “What mom doesn’t get anxiety over their new baby.” “What mother/wife doesn’t try to be perfect!” My thoughts constantly ran in circles in my head for about a year. I was breastfeeding and wasn’t on any medications at the time.
It didn’t seem to me like anything was ever going to get better until I started talking to my old friend from college. I was telling her all about how I’ve been feeling, and how meds didn’t help when I was on them, and that this time I just cannot keep myself or my thoughts calm. She suggested I try something that I never thought would help. She felt maybe it would help more than the pharmaceuticals the doctors pushed to me, that didn’t seem to help me much the first go around with postpartum. My friend said she heard that this helps many persons with anxiety disorders. She asked me to try smoking marijuana! I thought, “no, I’m a mom! Moms don’t smoke weed!” I decided, after all, to give it a try.
For the first time in years, I was able to sleep; for more than just a few hours! I could calm my thoughts and relax a little, and not worry so much about the small things. I was able to function without going too overboard with things. For the first time in years, I was actually happy! I was able to enjoy being a mother, and a wife, without the extra anxiety or panic attacks about what might, but probably won’t happen!
Postpartum depression is something a lot of women face. It can be very hard to overcome, and sometimes the medications just do not help. Cannabis is still illegal federally, but 29 states have now legalized the drug for medical purposes. Eight states have voted to allow the recreational use of marijuana.
However, there are no states that allow postpartum depression as a reason to validly obtain medical marijuana. Post-traumatic stress disorder was recently approved for medical marijuana treatment, so I believe postpartum depression is well on its way to being approved.
I’ve recently moved to a state where it is legal for recreational use to continue to do what works in treating my postpartum. There is a lot of skepticism about marijuana, but there is about pharmaceuticals as well, and honestly, I’m just happy to be able to live the life I’ve wanted to for so long now.
Smoking marijuana does not make you a bad mother. It makes you a better mother if it is the only thing that can help you overcome the postpartum symptoms, to care for your children. Please see your doctor and do not ignore the signs if you feel you are going through postpartum. If medication does not help to bring you back to being the person you want to be, or once were, try marijuana. It just might save your life.