On and off for years, I have dealt with depression. I think it began around puberty and was probably triggered by the divorce of my folks. Eventually, I was able to get the support I needed, therapy, meds, support groups, the church I grew up with.. It was manageable.
When I found out I was pregnant, Post Natal Depression was something that I felt I needed to find out about. And with the news we were having twins, I expected it. What happened was slightly different. I felt like I had prepared myself for the worst and for the first few months, it wasn't that bad. Living with the lack of sleep was probably the worst bit. It wasn't quite depression, but maybe just being overwhelmed. First time parenting is enough to make you go nuts, let alone the task times two.
But it took a couple of months before the depression kicked in. The usual feelings, sad, crying, second guessing myself in my newly acquired role as parent to two lovely baby boys. In my mind I just kept telling myself that this was how it was going to be. They would start crying and I would start crying. This horrible feeling of hopelessness and despair started to kick in every morning upon waking. I knew it was time to go talk to someone. I headed to the GP and relayed the details. Yep, sounds like good old Post Natal Depression. Of course it is. Anti-depressants, referrals for parenting groups to chat about your feelings, pamphlets. All the goodies.
So, I was back on meds like the old days and everything seemed to be going well.
Then after a few months of being on meds, it all turned to custard. It seemed to have gotten much worse than before. So we upped the dose, 50mg a day to 100mg. So not just upped, but doubled. By this time, I had my period back as well.
A few weeks later, back down to dread and tiredness and crying. Back to the GP I went. This time, I was seen by someone different as the usual doctors were on holiday. This one suggested a blood test. Hmmm. Ok. It was to check a few different things to rule out other causes. Fair enough...
A couple of days later I get a voicemail from the GP. There was a script at the desk waiting for me and I should get started on it as soon as possible. Your iron levels are low.
So it turns out, my body was not storing iron properly. And out of a normal scale from 18-160, I was at 12.
Within an hour of taking this new medication, I felt like a new person! I was happy, smiling, I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. I had enough energy to play on the floor with the boys, and get my head around every situation and dilemma. I was back to myself, and maybe a bit better!
So now, I wonder about the state of my depression. Is what I felt PND? Or just the effects of loosing a lot of blood due to giving birth? I've only read a few things that say the two, PND and iron deficiency, may be related, but nothing concrete.
Sadly, I think GPs are too quick to say "PND" and just get you medicated. I won't be ranting on about pharmaceutical companies or anything here, but it might be worth a second look. Considering how much blood and nutrients leave your body during birth, I'm surprised that they don't check everyone! I also think once a new starts getting her period again, she should get checked.
I know from my experience, once I started getting my period again, it was heavier than it used to be. I figured it was normal, considering my uterus had been stretched to the size of Milwaukee.
Obviously, this has been my experience and it may not happen often to other new mums, but it's worth a second look. Now that I'm on my iron medication, my level is at 23. Not great, still low, but better. It's manageable again.
I said to someone recently, "This is, hands down, THE hardest job I have ever had. And I've had some shit bosses, but these two are so demanding and cranky!"
Luckily, I'm definitely not in it for the money!