I have anxiety and depression.
I wish I could say HAD because I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety over the years and keep it at bay, but now and then, it creeps back up. Sometimes, its because of the weather changes and other times its because I’ve been in the house too many days in a row. Or there are times where I don’t prioritize yoga and breathing, so I lose myself a bit, but it’s short, sweet and easy to manage.
These last couple weeks, however, have been the hardest struggle.
I solely nursed my 5 month old. She wouldn’t take a bottle from the start and continued to refuse it every time I tried. So I just nursed. I knew this meant not being able to hand the feeding off to any one else and not being able to just go run errands. She was stuck on the boob and I had to stay near. Then she got a dairy protein sensitivity at around 6 weeks old so I quit all dairy. Let me tell you… cheese is my all time favorite thing in the whole world. I love cheese more than wine, so quitting dairy was no easy feat, but it was for my daughter and I’d do anything for my daughter.
A couple of weeks ago, Kareena got sudden diarrhea (like 8 poopy diapers a day) and her yellow, seedy poop, quickly turned green and mucus-ey. I took her in to the doctor after day 4 and he suggested that she could be lactose intolerance. He said I may have eaten something that roughed up her small intestines (like something too spicy) and now she can’t handle the lactose in my milk OR she has a late onset lactose intolerance. So we switched her to Similac Alimentum for four days and I pumped to keep my supply.
The first feed, I gave her the milk by a syringe because she wouldn’t take the bottle, but by the next feed, she all of a sudden became an expert bottle feeder. A part of me was relieved and screamed I’m off the hook, but the other part of me missed her latch. I yearned for it actually. Her poop changed within 24 hours wand her small intestines had healed after a couple days. When the doc gave us the go, we switched back to the boob and it felt so good to latch her on. I never thought I would miss it as much as I did. Holding her close to me and locking eyes with her as she ate brought me so much tranquility.
By the next day, her diarrhea was back and progressively got greener. I called the doctor and he confirmed that Kareena cannot handle my breast milk so I had to make an immediate switch to formula. \
My milk was physically hurting her…My heart broke in a way I’ve never felt before.
I wasn’t ready. She’s only 5 months old and I had a supple supply. Enough to have two freezers full of back up. It wasn’t fair. Last time, I struggled to keep my milk and had no choice to supplement, but this time, I could’ve kept going. I could’ve made it one year.
I had to wean my supply before I was emotionally ready to stop nursing.
I felt guilty, upset and confused. I expected a change in hormones and some mood swings, but I got hit hard with a bout of depression. I honestly didn’t know this was a “thing” until I googled it.
The first night, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing and my breasts were sore, tender and full. The second day I developed cold like symptoms and mood swings I expected. But by the third day, I was in the darkest space I’ve been in a long time.
I wanted to just cry and I didn’t know why.
I could feel my mind detached from the present and stuck in a cold, negative place. I had no patience with my kids or husband and could only view everything from my depressed state.
I wanted to hide. I wanted to run, I wanted to scream.
I lost a part of me when I couldn’t nurse anymore and it took an emotional toll on me I didn’t know was possible. I knew from my past that I couldn’t just sit there and wallow in this alone. My thoughts would only spiral into the darkest realms that I refuse to revisit.
So I let my husband in.
I messaged my mom friends and let them in too. I didn’t keep it bottled up inside me. I wasn’t ashamed. I was going through something tons of others moms have been through. I had to stop nursing before I was ready. I have a history of anxiety and depression. It was nothing to hide.
In South Asian culture and many cultures, I presume, mental health illnesses, even those related to pregnancy and postpartum, are brushed off. They are hidden and not spoken about because what will people think? But the fact is, many mothers suffer from anxiety or depression at some point and no one should have to hide it. Reaching out to people near you and letting them know what you are going through will help. It may not help immediately, but having that support can eventually bring you out from the dark place inside your head.
My husband cuddled me that night and let me cry. He told me I am an amazing mother and I sacrificed so much for my daughter already. I felt heard by him and my friends.
I felt loved and supported.
I know that because of my anxiety, I might be faced with a depression episode again in life and that’s okay. I know I have a community to reach out to when I need them. I know that I have people near to my heart who will pull me back into the light.
If you are suffering from depression, reach out to your near and dear ones. As hard as it is in that moment, force yourself to tell someone I’m not okay. They might not always have the right things to say, but they may give you the love you need. Maybe they’ll tell you you’re not alone in your thoughts and that they’ve been there too. Don’t allow yourself to wallow alone in your struggle.
I’m starting to come out of my funk now, but I still catch myself falling into a negative space. I’m lucky to have the support that I do and I remind myself that this too shall pass.