Hello, my name is Michelle. I am a hairstylist, photographer and mama to the sweetest little boy, Jude.
I am sharing my story with hope that it inspires others to open up and ask for help.
I struggle with postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD, and hypomania. My story began after my beautiful baby boy was born (May 1, 2018) with having the typical “baby blues” and as the days of crying fewer and further between, I never thought much about postpartum depression. When Jude was around one month old, I started to obsess over numerous things which began to interfere with my want to spend time with him. I ran on very little sleep so that I could get endless lists of unimportant things done. I also developed some very irrational fears which kept me up whenever I did lie down to rest. Most of my unusual behavior was blamed on lack of sleep and I never questioned it. It was at this time I became very overwhelmed by having people around me; it took so much out of me having anyone in my house. I didn't want to see anyone and just wanted to be left alone with my baby. I became very withdrawn from relationships, especially with my partner, Nicholas. I “hated” him, everything he did irritated me. No matter how hard he tried, nothing was done right. He continued to love me anyways and I am so grateful.
Around the three-month mark, my mom convinced me to talk to a doctor as my irritation was not normal. I was put on medication for depression and anxiety and waited out the six weeks to start feeling better. When I wasn’t, we decided it was best to increase my dose. I waited it out for a couple more weeks and started feeling worse. I was having intrusive thoughts but had no way of explaining it because I did not understand what was happening and was too afraid to tell anyone in fear of what they might think.
Shortly before Jude was six months old, I was referred me to a psychiatrist. I was actually relieved to be diagnosed with hypomania along with postpartum anxiety/depression and OCD because it meant I wasn’t going crazy and would be put on medication that would help me. I was informed that being solely on anxiety medication without mood stabilizers was what brought out the symptoms of hypomania. The following six weeks were the worst for me, figuring out the right cocktail of medications doesn’t happen over night, so in the meantime my anxiety was out of control, I had racing thoughts and I began having panic attacks. It felt as though I had no control over my body which scared me; my family was so supportive at this time and was sure there was always someone with me to help take care of Jude. I remember feeling so frustrated that my baby was already seven months old and I still was suffering so much, and while I am lucky to say that there were so many good days in those passed months it still felt as if so much time had been wasted on not feeling right. Finally, around eight months I was able to relax, a weight came off of my shoulders and I had control over my body again.
Although the right medications played a huge part in getting me back, positive affirmations have always been so important to me, telling myself all of my good qualities even on the days I didn’t believe them. I also started setting intentions for my day which gave each day purpose. While I still have bad days or weeks, I can say I am thankful for my situation. It was a huge learning experience that taught me so much about giving myself grace and trusting who I am.
The support of my family has been overwhelming and I am reminded each day how important it is to have a community surrounding you, that being able to ask for help is huge, doing things for yourself isn’t selfish, and remembering you are more than the obstacles you face.