Did you know one in seven women get postpartum depression (PPD) after having a baby? Think about all the women you know and love. Think about all the happiness they expected to feel when they held their beautiful baby. And then think the shock when they didn’t feel the joy or love or happiness. Instead, they felt sadness, distance, panic, and maybe even rage. PPD is real, and it’s hard, and these mamas need our support. So, if you’re like me and you’re one in seven or your partner, or best friend, or daughter is, I’m here to tell you this mama went through it twice and made it out on the other side, and you will, too.
My First Bout of Depression
After I had my daughter four years ago, no one really said much to me about PPD or postpartum anxiety (PPA). At my six-week checkup, my doctor asked how I was, and I answered, “Fine.” And that was that. What wasn’t said was that I not only experienced the baby blues, I was drowning in them (which I later learned was PPD). I was overwhelmed, sad, constantly full of tears, and having irrational thoughts. It took almost 10 months to seek help, and after a few weeks of therapy, it was suggested that I see a psychiatrist to be prescribed antidepressants. Within weeks I was not crying so much, I was able to feed my daughter without the overwhelming fear that she would choke, I felt like the dark cloud of depression was lifting, and I finally got my life back.
But then three years later my husband and I wanted to try for a second baby. I knew I’d have no problem getting off antidepressants since I no longer had PPD/PPA; I had a toddler for crying out loud! Well, I was proven wrong very quickly…
I became sad. Deeply sad. I cried all the time. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Weekends were so hard because I didn’t want to get off the couch. My little family that depended on me so much just had to function without me. I remember laying on our swing in the backyard while my husband and daughter ate dinner together. I couldn’t even force myself to sit with them. As much as I wanted another baby, I was a mess, and we thought maybe it wasn’t the best time to try and then we found out I was pregnant.
So, I was not only battling severe depression, I also had debilitating morning sickness. It was, hands-down, the worst time of my life. Nothing brought me joy, nothing felt like it was worth living for. I saw my therapist weekly, and she was helping me tackle my depression without medication. However, at 13 weeks pregnant, I decided to get back on antidepressants. This was an incredibly difficult decision as a precious tiny human was depending on me to make the healthiest decisions every single day. But with the help of my therapist, I came to the realization that this baby didn’t only need me to make healthy decisions for him, he also needed ME to be healthy. My therapist explained that being severely depressed can negatively impact an unborn baby as well as my three-year-old. My daughter needed her mom, and not one that was too sad to play or talk or smile; she needed one to be present and happy. So, after another very rough month, my morning sickness began to subside (slightly), and my depression began to lift. I felt like I was living again.
Soon after having my second baby I suffered again even though I was on medication. I felt extremely anxious, devastatingly sad, beyond overwhelmed, and like my family would be better off without me. But what was in my back pocket this time around was knowledge. I spoke up at my six-week appointment, I spoke up at my medication check-up with my primary doctor, I made sure to make appointments with my therapist, and I attended the Beaumont Postpartum Adjustment Group weekly. With the knowledge of knowing I suffer from PPD and PPA, I was able to address it head-on and get to a healthy place much sooner than 10 months postpartum.
A Ray of Light
Through all of this, the one thing that has kept me here has been my husband. I cannot emphasize this enough that when choosing a partner, pick the person who will step up when you can’t, the one who will make you a root beer float and drag you to the patio instead of lying in bed for one more hour, the one who just by sitting next to you on the swing makes life bearable. My husband has always been my home, my safe space, my calm. I have loved him for over a decade, but it took me battling a mental illness to realize I not only love him, I simply cannot do this life without him next to me.
Now, I don’t have this all figured out. I still struggle. I still have to force myself to enjoy some moments, and some days are still grey. But most days, I can find the light, and I can shower my children with smiles and love. I can enjoy the nice weather and make plans for the weekend. I’m here to tell you PPD is hard, it’s dark, and it affects all of those around me. But with the help and support, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you or a loved one needs support, please seek help on the following links:
Postpartum Support International (includes the links for two Beaumont support groups and Nature’s Playhouse)
Postpartum Support International: online meetings