OVERCOMING DEPRESSION WITH EXERCISE
I have to say I'm absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be a guest on Brittany's blog today! I want to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Emily and I'm a new (ish) mom. My little girl is one year old now and I love all being a mom to her. I love working on my fitness, drinking coffee, hanging out with my girls and of course my hubby.
Ever since I became a mom, I've found a deep empathy for other moms and the difficult challenges and trying experiences of being a woman.
I have been following Brittany's Instagram for a little while, and the opportunity she's given me, not only to write about something I'm very passionate about, but also to collaborate with her in helping other mammas by telling my own story is both a humbling and satisfying experience. If my story even helps just one woman I would be so grateful.
My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and I experienced postpartum depression following that. It had a devastating effect on my relationships and my outlook for the future. But let me start from the beginning...
It was early on in my marriage that my husband and I learned that I was pregnant. We had conceived by accident, but it was a happy and welcome surprise. I was almost 3 months along when one afternoon I began to have some cramping and spotting. Fast forward a couple hours later and I was in a sort of labour like state of contraction pains. It was such an awful experience physically and emotionally. The kind of pain I felt was all the more scary for me because I had no clue what was happening or what I could even do to do help my body.
The next day I was so sore but the contractions had ended and the doctor told me I was no longer pregnant. This was later confirmed by an ultrasound technician at the hospital. Devastation was a light description of how I felt, and little did I know at that moment that my emotional state wasn't going to get better any time soon.
While it was hard and took some time to heal physically from the miscarriage, the emotional toll would prove to be even more of a challenge. A month or so later my body seemed to be back to normal but my mind and heart were definitely not. I felt so isolated from everyone I loved. I felt as if I would never actually experience joy again; that happiness was a luxury for other people. Because of these feelings I actually pushed the people I loved farther away. My husband, my family and friends, my colleagues. Everything in my life suffered because I couldn't bear to see others around me experience happiness. It seems like such a strange thing to say, but honestly it's exactly how I felt. Nick (my husband) firmly and wisely suggested I go to see my doctor. She confirmed that I did indeed have postpartum depression, and prescribed some anti-depressants for me to take. Now this particular perscription of antidepressants that she gave me I was meant to be on for a minimum of one year. I went home and took the pills for a couple days, wrestling with the fact that I was now reliant on them to alter my mood. For some reason that just didn't sit well with me, and I decided to look into a more natural method of treating my depression.
I came upon multiple studies showing that exercise was incredibly beneficial for people suffering from depression:
I also wanted to pursue counselling. I chatted with Nick about it, and he agreed with me that committing to anti-depressants for a full year was a little scary. So together we decided that I would not take the meds and instead I would try exercising for 30-40 minutes daily. I would also find a counsellor to talk to.
(Going off anti-depressants is not something I am recommending at all, so please understand that I'm not advising people to ditch their medication! I'm just telling you my own very personal approach to my own unique situation.)
I committed to working out 30-40 minutes each and every day. I either got up early in the morning or did a workout after I came home from work. I also saw a counsellor twice over the span of two months. Nick and I both started to notice a huge difference in my demeanour and temperament. I was no longer low energy and unhappy. I wanted to get out and hangout with friends and family again and I wanted to go on weekend trips, and get back to working full days at my job.
Exercise became my time to release, and I began to crave it. I could feel when I was in a bad head space and needed to work hard physically and sweat it out. It paid off in great dividends for me both physically and emotionally.
Postpartum depression is an all too common experience for many new moms; and I really wish that it wouldn't be such a taboo thing to talk about. As women and mothers, we need to take the time to support each other through all the ups and down of motherhood. We need to feel comfortable admitting that things aren't going well, that we aren't doing ok and that we need help and support. My personal journey found a key turning point in exercise and finding someone to talk to that I could trust. (A trained clinical counsellor). I found what worked for me and would not hesitate to encourage a woman who is struggling to continue to seek out help when she needs it. Help is there. It's available and it's only one step away.
I hope that if this story resonates with you in any way it will have been positive and helped you wherever you are at. What I went through was really tough but it now has a positive meaning. If I can help even one person by telling my own story then it makes the pain of that time in my life just a little easier to bear.
If you would like to follow Emily's story you can find her here:
Instagram - @themomgrind
Blog - www.themomgrind.site/WP/