“Just a 16″ on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

I have done exceptionally well this pregnancy and postpartum. I made it through the entirely pregnancy without an episode. I survived the first five days postpartum with a baby in the NICU. I am going to pat myself on the back right now because I structured life well and took care of myself. I cut back on work, I worked only when I could, I stayed out of politics (somewhat). Good for me.

That paragraph is my attempt to see the glass as half full.

Somewhere in the period of six weeks or twelve weeks or sixteen weeks postpartum, risk for depression peaks. With whatever hormone ride is driving that peak, things like baby surgery intervene to plot against you. I was doing very well until Alastair’s diagnosis and it was like that one small push that sends you stumbling around and trying to catch your balance. He has a procedure on his tendons Monday which requires general anesthesia. That means surgery. There’s nothing like surgery for your own baby that will get you a 16 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score. I tell myself, “Sixteen really isn’t that bad, last time you thought your baby was filled with demons.” (Clinicians get concerned when you’re a 11-13 out of 30.)

When we start congratulating ourselves for not being psychotic, that may speak for itself.

Every day since I found out I was pregnant I focused on taking care of myself. I now have renewed urgency to do so and the fact that I see the urgency and can plan what I need gives me hope that things will get better soon. In the past, I was in a pit so deep I couldn’t see that the list below would ever help. Getting past the surgery will surely help as well.

1) Smiling and laughing. I know it’s cliche and seems so simple for such terrible circumstances, but research does show that smiling (even a forced one) and laughing help. There was a study a couple of years ago on the effect of laughing on breast milk. More laughter equals more melatonin in milk which equals better sleep for baby. It’s probably not chance that in this house baby isn’t sleeping as well these days. Luckily, Alastair is a very happy baby and smiles a lot. I see it as my duty to smile back every time even if I don’t feel like it. We’re filling up the Netflix queue with comedies as well. Good suggestions??

2) Appreciating. I know this is cliche too and if you are reading this and really struggling, you’re going to want to kick my ass, but when you’re on the edge between just “struggling” and “really struggling,” this is a good strategy. (If you’re in the “really struggling” category, get someone in person and in the profession who can help you). Back to “appreciating.” I have said several times lately that I need to take a vacation anywhere really, but need a place with fresh air and an outside deck. That’s about the most ridiculous thing considering that we live in the Sequoia National Forest. We are thirty minutes from Giant Sequoia trees. We have fresh air and decks on each side of our house. To start the baby steps of “appreciating,” I’ve started taking pictures of everything that’s beautiful or interesting. We have permission tonight to hike on someone else’s property to get a picture of our house on its hill. That should be cool.

3) Exercising. Most people are aware that exercise increases your serotonin levels naturally. Serotonin is a fell-good hormone around which anti-depressant medications are centered. Exercising is like Zoloft with the benefit of muscle development, at least it can be if you actually do it. Deep in a pit you’re not going to do it and don’t kick yourself over it. One of my personal cues that I am not too deep in is that I actually can get out and do it. I take a walk with the stroller twice a day on steep terrain and I’ve been doing spring cleaning on the grounds. I can feel my muscles coming back.

4) Nutrients. I take a liquid multi, a B complex, omega-3 fish oil, magnesium, and desiccated liver. Hey, with all of that I don’t know why I need to eat. Kidding. I am trying to eat well too. My food quality appears to be directly related to the presence of my mother, however, who just left for the week.

5) Sleep. Without sleep, you probably need not bother scoring yourself on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. It must be one of the single biggest factors postpartum with all of the sleep loss inherent in raising a baby. I have used an over-the-counter sleep aid either when I know it’s a bad night or if a bad night happened I take one as insurance the following night. I am sure it passes into the milk but I know that can’t be the worst thing to happen here. My midwife would prescribe me a sleep aid but some can be associated with depression, so check on that issue if you are hunting for one.

That’s the news here. I’ll post some pictures of my “appreciation” exercises. :)

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8 Responses to “Just a 16″ on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
  1. Evening hike “of appreciation”

    I’m working on “appreciating” and took a really cool hike last night to that end. Our house is on the top of a hill with a 360-degree view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We’re technically in the Sequoia National…

  2. Surgery is over + gardening and exercise = 3 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score

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  3. Savoring

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  7. Appreciating: Sheets on the clothesline

    My camera is one of my favorite tools to help me appreciate my surroundings. “Appreciating” was one of the strategies I used in April to get through a rough patch; I took pictures of anything that was quirky or…

  8. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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