Hey there! I’m Katie Dale, familiar with the storms of mental illness, and I blog about my faith and how it has informed my brain-based disorder at BipolarBrave.com. I also have a memoir out about my journeys through the psych wards and how I found peace of mind with psych meds (by the grace of God) – you can find it on Amazon here. Since my former profession of case manager at a behavioral clinic, I’ve stepped into the role of stay-at-home mommy to Kylie. And I get to travel the world with Chris, my man in uniform. Aside from that, I could live off mac ‘n cheese, and I still hold onto my aspiration to run a sub-20-minute 5k. Come find me and say hi on social media @KatieRDale. Stay bold, brave, and real.
Moodiness comes with maternity, that’s a given. Add to that a layer of a mood disorder diagnosis, and you better brace yourself.
In my experience, the last two years (being pregnant twice for 21 months except two in between), have been such complicated times in terms of emotions. Not to mention having lost my firstborn right after birth. I still credit my stability regarding that to my faith in Christ and resiliency of life experience plus psych meds.
To Medicate or Not
In terms of my mood disorder, for me, my meds were a must. There was no option (if I wanted to keep my sanity) to go off my psych meds, in my opinion. I took my medication (mood stabilizer and anti-depressant) consistently as prescribed, and after consulting with my psychiatrist and a Maternal Fetal Specialist, had the support to continue to do so.
As I completed this past pregnancy and gave birth to my daughter, post-partum moods flared.
Lack of sleep revealed a nature that rivaled my last episode going off my meds in 2012.
Anger. Rage. Irritability. Straight up b*tchiness (excuse my French)!
Not only did the lack of sleep ruin my devotion to an average 11 hours of sleep a night (eleven?! ha, I can’t even sleep that anymore), but it made me just so unpleasant. The stress of trying to figure out breastfeeding was so over-the-top frustrating for me. I can’t count how many fights I got into with my husband, cussing him out at times, crying (SO much crying), and just plain meanness that came out of me! It was almost like being manic — but without the creativity… (so no quit-witted comebacks or euphoric highs). It was stormy.
Fed is Best
The factor of being encouraged to breastfeed and trying so hard to figure that out tested me to the max. You hear a lot these days while figuring out how you want to feed your baby, “breast is best.”
Well, except for when it’s not. When I couldn’t apparently produce enough milk, I got discouraged. I felt like a failure. I mean, I just wanted to feed her at the breast, because that’s the most ideal way to nourish your baby…
That feeling of lowness got me a little sad and mad, and I took it personally for a while.
Until my husband insisted I make another appointment with the lactation nurse and we actually measured before and after feeding weight of the baby down to the ounce. 5 ml. That was all she could get from both sides (think 1 TEAspoonful)!
My lack of production is likely due to my mood stabilizer, Abilify. But it was a relief to know it wasn’t a personal issue as if I wasn’t pumping or feeding her frequently enough. I couldn’t help it. There wasn’t really anything I could do about it.
Except feed her formula now. And we’re still figuring that one out. But she is getting fed, and she is growing, and that’s all that really matters. She is healthy and beautiful!
A few things I learned through being pregnant with a mood disorder:
- Consulting with the psychiatrist and Maternal Fetal Specialist was a must – certain psych meds do pose a risk to pregnancy. For myself, I MUST remain consistent with taking my psych meds.
- Give yourself grace and time because you will be tested
- Find happiness and joy in the little things
I am glad – so glad – my husband and I chose to withhold birth control and give pregnancy a try. For a while there, I was not wanting to be a mother. But that’s a whole other blog post.
So for today, I am stable, I have my sanity, I have my health, I have my marriage, and I have my beautiful babies. That is, for myself, the best plan I ever could have planned or imagined.
Though this post-partum period has been one of the hardest times of my life, it’s also been one of the happiest.
God is good. Thank you Jesus for psych meds and beautiful babies, and the courage to be a mom!