Postpartum Depression and Me...and My Finances:

I had a pit of dread logging into my bank account app. I knew the feeling, I knew it from both feeling it myself and hearing my clients talk about it. I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT HOW MUCH I SPENT. But I did, I entered the numbers from my bank activity log into the spreadsheet with my budget categories and let the sickness settle in. How were we $1000 over budget this month?!?!

I began to panic. I log in to my bank account every day, I have spreadsheets for spreadsheets, lists for lists, this was my whole job. HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN?! As the anxiety attack progressed I began looking through the numbers
Dining out was set to $100 a month - we had spent $233 by the 2nd week of October
Pets are usually at $60 a month - my cat went on a rampage so it was almost $500 between vet visits, new litter and new litter boxes
But the doozy? AMAZON - almost $800...on WHAT?!

As I went through my order history I was astonished at how much and how often I was spending. But I also noticed the spending was not on me...Diapers, wipes, Tylenol and Orajel (ugh teething), baby food, FORMULA. Thank goodness for the family helping with clothing because this child is 9 months wearing 12 month clothing.

I knew children were expensive but I had included those costs in the budget, I had planned for this...and yet I hadn’t planned to be so over budget. What was happening?

Am I an impulsive shopper? Sure. If you put me in a store I will find something to buy. Am I incredibly anxious to the point of being OVER cautious about money and saving? Yes! My husband and I have worked hard to bring some stability and safety to our finances over the last few years and our emergency fund got us through the first year of COVID.

But I was unprepared for the feelings of complete loss of control, the emotional mayhem and anger and confusion that I was railing against on a daily basis. I was buying things that I thought I NEEDED for the baby, for the house...but I was just buying ANYTHING to make myself feel better.

I was acquainted with the out of control feeling that had run rampant on my finances in my early 20s, but this was new and different. I no longer could talk myself out of adding things to the cart, I was moving money around trying to make my purchases and bills work.

I did not immediately realize that I was experiencing postpartum depression (PPD), and for me, the process of being able to identify what I was feeling and verbalize it, was what allowed me to get the help I needed.

As I started reaching out for help, I noticed I was able to distinguish a little better between what was a need and what was a want. I was also able to regain some control of the emotional spending habits that had felt so out of whack the past month.

Some things I did:

  • Made sure to take care of myself ASAP: I have listed some of the resources I found helpful below.
  • Checked all important bills were paid first - I had missed several after getting out of the hospital. This is where TRACKING comes in handy
  • Made an appointment with therapist (check with providers if you don’t have insurance or not the right kind - sometimes they can do a sliding scale or payment plan).
  • Called doctor to make appointment to see about support groups, therapy, medication (if necessary/needed). Do your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Joined this online group with FREE online support groups: Group Support Central. They have specific groups for Postpartum and membership is free.
  • Talked to work about options (see if work offers FMLA, reduced hours, temporary leave, etc.)
  • I am working reduced hours until I figure out a more sustained plan. However I had to maintain 30 hours for my Public Service Loan Forgiveness (sigh, student loans)
  • Made a few sample budgets to give options (reduced pay, hiring help, etc.)
  • Reached out to family/friends to let them know what was going on - and received some great referrals but also LOVE AND SUPPORT :)

Here are some local resources some of which I used and were helpful right away, but can have wait lists or only take certain insurance:

I took small steps to help me feel more in control and remind myself that we are all HUMAN and we are not PERFECT. But I have to remind myself of those things every day. At the very least, I have started checking my bank account daily again without feeling like I’m going to end up in a puddle on the floor - and that to me, is a win.

This is a judgment free zone at the FEC and if you need someone to help you run the numbers, come up with a plan or just talk it out, we’re here for you.