Episode 56: Nikki’s Story and the Climb Out of the Darkness

This week, Nikki shares her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety. She is the mother of two little boys and lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Nikki experienced anxiety after the birth of her first child, but she had a history of anxiety. She assume the postpartum anxiety was within the range of normal new mom feelings. It was not until her second child was 10 months old that she realized something had to change.

For Nikki, the anxiety came first and as it worsened, it caused depression. She felt like she couldn’t go anywhere or leave the house. She felt like she was constantly on the verge of something horrific happening. (Oh my goodness, I can relate!) As Nikki got more and more isolated and lonely, the depression worsened.

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Nikki sometimes had panic attacks but her anxiety was mostly in her head. She felt irritable and experienced rage over things that did not matter. She also had insomnia but did not know it at the time.

Nikki did not have time for self-care. She felt like she had to do everything herself. She is so glad she eventually asked for and got help. In January 2017, she called her gynecologist. They wanted to prescribe medication but asked her to see a therapist first. This was scary and Nikki was afraid the authorities were going to take her kids away. (Again, I can totally relate.)

Nikki saw her therapist twice a month and Zoloft quickly helped her stabilize. She had a relapse during the stress of the holidays, went back to therapy and had her medications adjusted. Now she is feeling great.

Through her recovery, Nikki learned she doesn’t have to feel good all the time. I love that idea. Motherhood is beautiful but it’s also tough. We should not have to enjoy every single moment. We are allowed to have crappy days.

Last year, Nikki participated in the Climb Out of the Darkness. It was a very symbolic experience, struggling up the mountain. Her team climbed Stone Mountain and I can tell you from personal experience that hike is no joke.

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This year, Nikki is leading Team Dacula and instead of a hike, they’ll be doing a lovely walk on pavement. The symbolism of a hike is great, but sometimes, we just need a walk to bring people together and honor the struggle to overcome maternal mood disorders. 

As part of her recovery, Nikki’s therapist asked her to make mom friends. Easier said than done! Her local friends were not struggling, so she started Maternal Mental Health Support. This is a group on Facebook that anyone can join (I’m a member!) and they also meet in Atlanta for Mom’s Night Out and playgroups. Bravo, Nikki!

Nikki has learned the importance of self-care. When we become moms, it’s easy to lose track of who we are. Nikki suggests trying to remember what your hobbies were before you had a baby and then adjust your expectations. Nikki loves scrapbooking. Now that she is in the trenches of motherhood with two little boys, she tries to spend a little time being creative everyday, stealing quick moments to make cards. She loves having something visual to show that she accomplished something.

Sharing her story has helped Nikki recover from postpartum anxiety and depression, but she cautions moms to share with safe people. Don’t share your story with a judgmental mom who thinks everything is the baby blues. She doesn’t need to know your journey. At least, not until you are 110% recovered. (And maybe not even then.)

Nikki mentioned the PSI Warmline, a great resource for moms struggling with maternal mood disorders. The number is 1-800-944-4PPD and a person with information about local resources will call you back.

Thank you, Nikki, for sharing your adventures!

To support Nikki’s climb, you can donate right HERE.

To join Team Dacula, head right HERE.