Two days after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD), I considered separating from my husband. That is how unhappy I had become. So, to get my life back after PPD, I would essentially need to get myself and my marriage back to happy places. And for me, getting help for my PPD was the first step in getting everything back on track.
Taking medication for depression helped me see things clearly
I began taking depression medication after my doctor diagnosed me with PPD. About a week and a half into being on the medicine, I realized I hadn’t cried in a few days. Then, a week or so later, I felt lighter and less panicked. A couple weeks later, I realized I was coming out of a sort of fog.
“You don’t know how bad you got until you get better,” is how I described it to one girlfriend.
After being on medication, it felt like I was on the outside looking in, and I could finally get a new perspective. The dust had been wiped away, and I could see everything clearly. What I saw were all the areas of my life I had neglected—due to the depression or perhaps in relation to it—that I now needed to work on.
Realizing I had lost sight of my priorities
Now that I was out of my depression fog and seeing clearly, I could see what areas of my life needed improvement. I had stopped putting effort into myself each day. I wasn’t eating well, getting me time, exercising or doing a handful of other things. Doll and I weren’t communicating well or having much sex.
I realized that these things—my happiness, confidence and marriage—were once my priorities. Keeping those things as my priorities was how I kept them in check. As such, a decrease in the level of effort I put toward each would obviously have repercussions.
I understood how I’d gotten into this position. In fact, I’d been in a similar place before, and I knew some of what was happening was cause and effect. I wasn’t doing things to help me feel good, therefore I wasn’t my best self. As a result, everything else suffered too.
So, I reached for the toolbox I created all those years ago to become a better version of myself. Within it, I found everything I needed to shift my focus back to my confidence, happiness and marriage.
Working on my self-confidence, happiness and marriage
To begin working on my self-confidence and happiness, I focused on including basic things in my schedule that made me feel good. This included things like exercise, eating healthy food and putting effort into myself, such as getting ready in the mornings. (Remember, this is during a time when we’re all living, working, schooling, etc. from home during the coronavirus pandemic.)
In my state of depression, I had succumbed to a “life is happening to me” mindset. So, putting a walk in the park on my to-do list or making a simple, healthy lunch for my family were small things I could do each day to take control of my life and to positively impact my own life.
Working on myself was the first step toward working on my marriage. It allowed me to extend myself some love and grace, which made it easier to begin extending those things to my husband again.
For weeks, even months, my focus remained on my confidence, happiness and marriage. I only had so many hours in the day, and I needed to use those for working, loving on my mental and physical health and spending time with my husband and our baby.
Telling my husband what he could do to help
There was a difference between this time and the last time I had to use these tools to get back my best self. The last time, I kept my head down and did the work without including my husband. However, this time, I had the experience to recognize what was happening and what we could both do to help the situation. As a new mom, I also didn’t have the energy or patience to do the work on my own.
I recall telling doll while we were in our bedroom one day, “Listen, I know what’s happening. We’ve been here before, trust me. I’m going to work on things, but you need to do so too.” And I told him the things he could do, based on our previous experience, to help speed up our marriage recovery.
Taking a girls’ trip
Some of my girlfriends and I had planned a girls’ trip before the pandemic began, and it came at the perfect time for me. (We just had to change our location and make it a staycation.) So, we spent three days together at an Airbnb in Nashville and had a magical time.
That staycation was also the longest I’d been away from Doll and Poppy since Poppy was born. It gave me a chance to miss my husband and flirt with him via text, which I didn’t even know I needed.
Being able to miss him, flirt with him and sext him from afar made everything different after that weekend. When he came to pick up from the Airbnb, our spark was re-lit.
Communicating and being honest with my husband
Doll and I were communicating better and more openly after my girls’ weekend. We started sharing thoughts and feelings that we hadn’t heard other people share before. These were things like missing the way our lives were before we became parents and feeling like it would be easier to be unmarried with children.
I had these thoughts for a while but was hesitant to share them with doll. So, when he agreed with these thoughts, I felt relief. We discussed our feelings openly and came to the conclusion that the bright and shiny thing across the street isn’t always bright and shiny when you reach it.
It was also clear to me that the greatest perk of being unmarried to doll was that I’d have alone time a few days a week. So, I knew that meant I was craving “me time.” I needed to refocus my efforts on making sure I was getting enough of it.
Resolving my resentment toward my husband
I began to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I could not help but be snippy and snide with my husband. It suddenly occurred to me that I had so many resentments toward him, which were causing me to react and respond hastily, not lovingly.
These were feelings and resentments that I had accrued during my recovery from PPD. For me to truly let go of these feelings, I had to share them with my husband. So, I typed them out and emailed my husband a two-page Word document of resentments.
Continuing to communicate and be honest with my husband
I immediately let go of all my resentments after doll read my email, and we discussed it. However, as the weeks went on, some of my resentful feelings returned because I felt like he hadn’t made certain changes we talked about.
Eventually, I would erupt, we would have a solid conversation and things would be better for a little bit before the cycle started again. Each time, there were new resentments or previous resentments that hadn’t been fully addressed from the time before.
Throughout the process of continuing to address resentments, I would consider separating from my husband twice more. However, each time, I remembered that my marriage was once my greatest accomplishment, so it was worth the fight. I also knew doll was one of my greatest blessings, so he was worth the fight.
Realizing I loved myself more than I love my husband
Realizing that I would choose myself over my husband was the turning point for us. For so many months, we could not align, and I felt like no matter what I did, I ended up not getting what I said I needed from my husband. Then, one day I realized that if doll didn’t have the tools he needed to help me, I would figure out how to give them to him. And, if I continued to ask for support that I didn’t receive, I would choose myself over him.
Everything was different after I shared that realization—my truth—with my husband.
Getting back to a happy me and happy marriage
It was not a quick fix, but we have our happy married life back. I was diagnosed with PPD at the beginning of June 2020 and that last breakthrough conversation I described above took place in the middle of October 2020. I continued to remain on my medication until early January 2021 and am happy to report that I/we are still good and happy.
Every day is not perfect, but we are back to a place where we discuss our feelings openly and align with each other daily. Moreover, we are out of the first year of parenthood, and we are learning as we go.
When I started my depression recovery journey, I chose to focus on my happiness, confidence and marriage because I knew that approach had helped me before. And, I was right. Prioritizing my self-confidence, happiness and marriage above everything else allowed me to get back to the best version of myself and our marriage.