• Renee Bernier

Embracing Darkness,Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Everyone has an opinion on whether or not to go on antidepressants to help with postpartum depression. I have tried a lot of methods over the past several months to help myself cope with the overwhelming and sometimes scary parts of my emotions during this time. I decided to commit to 30 days of exercise where I’d get my heart rate elevated and committed to eating as “clean” as possible. Less dairy, bread, alcohol etc. I challenged myself to get moving every day and it did make a difference. It helped me to shift energy was either low or stagnant. It was difficult. I will say that moving every day was so important for me to shift my moods. My massage teacher once said that emotions are Energy in Motion (E-Motion), when I felt low and stagnant, I would put Lily in her stroller, and we’d go for a brisk walk.

I also enjoy other types of movement such as high intensity workouts where I do an exercise for 1 minute to my fullest and switch, I usually chose 4/5 movements and went through them 2-3 times and I love biking! I use many of the exercises that my physical therapist gave me for the HIIT. She was also a life saver during my really low points, she helped me return to my body after the incredible metamorphosis that takes place in the body while pregnant and afterwards.

I have been practicing embodied mindfulness and keeping my house neat and speaking with a therapist. There is so much work that goes into rediscovering the self after motherhood. Some women are lucky to transition into this phase almost seamlessly, yet most of the first-time new mothers I’ve worked with and am friends with will agree that becoming a parent is not an easy thing.

Despite all my hard work and effort, the explosive emotions and deep sadness would still bubble up through the month and unfortunately it is my loving partner who receives this dark part of myself. I knew I needed something more than exercise and diet, although they are important to keep me more level and I am happy to have created more healthy routines, I needed something to work with my brain chemistry. So, I have been using a cannabis tincture in small doses several times a day. When I remember to take it (and now I have reminders on my phone) it has been so helpful. I am trying to receive a medical card for this, but the hospital has been dragging their feet because there are not that many “mental disorders” that is on New Hampshire’s approved list. So, I have been jumping through hoops to receive it. I want to be able to work with someone who knows what strains are best and will work best with my body chemistry. I would rather try several strains of a plants than several medications that have a laundry list of side effects (I am not bashing medication, I know it is helpful for millions of people, I am just not ready). I feel angered that women aren’t getting the access to a beneficial form of treatment for depression and anxiety. When, I was in a manic state I asked my OB for an anti-depressant and I the order was filled that afternoon. I have yet to take it. Meanwhile I have to wait possibly months for my paperwork to be approved by the state on whether or not I can ingest a plant.

I am feeling better but have low days as every person in the world does, especially in 2020. I am here to say take one day at a time and find the support you are looking for. I am lucky to have such a supportive family, but I was also lucky to have amazing nurses, PTs, lactation consultants, therapist, and friends that have helped me in this dark time. We need each other and it’s okay to reach out. If you find yourself in a similar situation or want to talk with someone who is also struggling with their mental health postpartum, please reach out. There are many avenues of support for you

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