Here's a bit of an expansion on that. I mentioned that I had two dreams that led to my decision to take meds; they were so vivid and spoke so clearly that I still recall them in detail seven months later.
Tickle was two and a half months old, and I couldn't admit to myself yet that I was experiencing PPD. And then I dreamed.
I saw a drawing. That was it: a simple drawing that could have been a cartoon clipped out of a newspaper. It was an alphabet quilt, colored in brown scale on a bright white background. Each square of the quilt was its own letter, with a corresponding animal family: A for alligator, B for bear, and so on. But in each panel, one parent played energetically with the child and smiled happily, while the other parent sat by themselves to one side, either looking away or looking at the other two as they played, wearing an expression of worry or anger or sadness.
I especially remember the zebra family. The baby zebra was so happy with the little wooden train (with an expression that Spousal Unit calls "unfettered joy"), pushing it while the mom smiled and lovingly rested a hoof on his back. But the zebra dad was sitting by himself, looking away, visibly upset.
On waking, I immediately realized that yes, I'd been feeling depressed. It's not like I'm a stranger to the feeling; I've dealt with it most of my life. But I was able to acknowledge that it was more than hormones and difficulty adjusting, because the thing that struck me most about the dream was that in each panel of that quilt, a parent was missing out on his or her child having fun and growing up, unable to appreciate the good times.
I knew I had already missed out on too much and had to do something about it.
Two weeks later, I had been trying to follow a new routine, doing my best (but still failing) to actively hold back the worst of my depression while continuing to see my therapist. If I were to take meds, I had to start right away for them to have any effect before my maternity leave ended. I'd filled the prescription and even brought it home, but still felt unsure about taking them.
(Looking back, I don't know that I even remember why I was so divided. Part was probably not wanting to depend on a drug for happiness, which is a flawed view - it's more about allowing me to experience a proper range of emotions. I think it mostly had to do with taking them while breastfeeding. My doctor had given me the most well-researched prescription and assured me that any amount that might reach Tickle was negligible and harmless, but still, I worried. Because I'm really, really good at it. If it were an Olympic event, I'd take home the gold every time.)
And then I dreamed.
In the dream, Tickle was born as twins and immediately whisked away from me. Birth had been so intense that for a while, I thought it had been a dream, especially without the babies at my side; the nurses and doctors wouldn't tell me anything, either. But after repeated confrontation, they admitted what had happened, and I went off in search of my daughters in the cold, industrial-sized hospital. I finally found Tickle in the dark hospital NICU, which was lit up with awful red lights. I clutched her to me and it was clear that she had no issues at all - she was small and so very new, but healthy as could be. They had only taken her away from me because they (whoever they were) thought it was best for her. But I knew that was wrong. I knew that she needed me.
Holding her tightly, I left the NICU and encountered the hospital director and a few other staff, who had been trying to chase me down and keep me from finding the babies. I was so upset that when the old balding director provided a weak apology for the situation, I clutched newborn Tickle tightly in one arm and swung out at him with my right.
You know how in dreams, you always end up moving as though through water? Fighting is completely ineffective and you can never run fast enough. But that wasn't the case with this dream. I gave the director several solid punches, all while yelling at him and holding my little girl close. I was able to defend and protect her, because I would do anything for her.
I woke up feeling exhilarated and empowered, and knew that desire to do anything for her extended to improving my mental health. I took the first pill immediately, with a smile on my face.