The Brutal Truth About Postpartum Depression
It is early in the morning and my two babies are still sleeping. I am very tired, but here I am at 3am awake trying to squeeze in just a tiny bit of what I feel is “alone time” before kids awaken for the day. Sometimes, when I wake up at this hour, I feel like crying. Sometimes, I do cry. I feel guilty for taking this alone time to myself as I feel I should still be in bed with my two kiddos. I feel as if I am a bad mother. But that is just one of the lies that postpartum depression tells mothers everyday.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression following the birth of my first child over two years ago and began taking medication-Zoloft-for it. After giving birth to my daughter three months ago, it is no different. I still struggle with the depression. With her, my PPD started during my pregnancy. I had gotten off of Zoloft to conceive her and I restarted it later on into my pregnancy after the critical development phases had passed. It seemed to work a little, but I do not believe there really is a “cure” for any type of depression-it is just something you have to wake up and choose to fight every single day.
If you were to see me on the street, you would see me smile and wave. I would even give you a hug. I smile in my workout videos and photos. But a smile is just a mask that we choose to wear to cover up the pain we are deeply feeling inside.
Here’s how PPD affects me personally:
- I feel as if I am going through the motions of life and not soaking up precious moments.
- I snap at my son and have little patience with him these days over the smallest stuff.
- I snap at my husband and barely want to make time for us.
- I long to just be alone most days regardless of already feeling lonely.
- I cry sometimes for zero reason.
- I ignore phone calls and text messages from loved ones because the thought of talking or socializing can seem overwhelming to me.
- I do not enjoy the things that used to bring me joy.
- I frequently ask my husband to hold my baby girl because sometimes I just do not feel like having a child on me or near me.
- I struggle to find happiness in my day at times.
- Sometimes I hate myself.
- Sometimes I feel lost.
- I struggle to FEEL.
I have been fighting this battle for 2+ years now and I can tell you that it does get better with time, but it gets worse after each and every child you have. It’s just the truth-although it affects us all very differently. When I chose to talk to a doctor and to get help, it was one of the wisest and boldest moves that I have ever made. I didn’t care for the idea of therapy and to pay someone to tell me what I already know for approximately 60 minutes and not one minute over. Instead, being a former nurse, I knew medication would be the best benefit for me-and it was. A lot of ladies are afraid to get on meds, but I will be the first one to admit that I take anti-depressants daily and they are a blessing.
What a lot of people do not realize is that giving birth is not only physically hard, but it is emotionally difficult as well because the pregnancy hormones really screw you up once they leave your system. You don’t recognize yourself anymore. Sometimes, you feel so lost even though you are deep inside such an amazing moment. It makes zero sense to feel this way and that is why postpartum depression is so hard to deal with.
Postpartum depression is very different from just the normal “baby blues” after delivery. When you give birth, your hormones go freaking insane. They were really high and then all of a sudden-they drop very low. This can leave you feeling sad, crying periodic tears, and just feeling wacky. So, how do you know if you’ve got Postpartum Depression instead of just the blues?
Here are a few symptoms of Postpartum Depression to look for:
- You feel disconnected with yourself, your family, your kids, your new baby, and the world.
- You feel sadness even though there is nothing wrong. You cry and cry for no reason.
- You feel nothing at all. You feel numb.
- You do not feel bonded to your new baby or might not want to hold/care for them.
- You feel overwhelmed by even the smallest task.
- You feel like an unfit mother and this leads to feelings of guilt.
- You have a hard time opening up to people about your feelings.
- You are irritated or easily angered, snapping at the ones you love.
Here are some lies that PPD tells you:
- You are a bad mom. This is probably the most common lie and feeling that women feel who suffer from PPD. They feel guilty for the way that they feel. Some days, I do not feel like holding my daughter and I will ask my husband to hold her. It isn’t that I don’t want to hold my beautfiful, sweet daughter-sometimes I feel as if I am incapable of giving her what she needs though I know this isn’t true.
- You are a terrible wife. Each time you snap at your husband for something so small, you will feel unfit as a wife. You might even have fears that your husband will leave you and find someone else so he won’t have to put up with your baggage, but this is not true. Talk to your husband! He is your best friend and biggest support to get you through this hard time.
- Something is wrong with you. Having PPD makes you feel as if something is terribly wrong with you and that you need to simply go “be happy” or “enjoy your kids.” But it is not that easy… God, I wish it were.
- You would be better off not around. Yes. I am not talking about just a simple trip to the grocery store while your husband watches your kids. I am talking about suicide. You feel as if your kids would be better off without you or the guilt may be too much to carry on your own. If you have feelings of suicide, this is a huge red flag. Many women take their lives due to PPD-please do not be the next. Talk to ANYONE. Talk to ME.
- People will judge you. Most ladies are afraid to tell people in fear that they will be thought of as “crazy” or an “unfit mother.”
Here are some brutal truths about PPD:
- It is more common than you think. As many as one in seven women will develop some form of depression or anxiety after having a baby.
- It can begin during pregnancy. This is why women need screenings during pregnancy, and the option of medication and talk therapy for treatment, beginning from the first BFP.
- Most women will suffer in silence. Most women don’t see a health-care provider, except for the pediatrician, in the first few weeks after delivery. New mothers need more medical attention than they’re getting.
- If untreated, it can last for years. Not only can PPD last for years, if left untreated, it could turn into Postpartum Psychosis-a severe form of PPD which can cause hallucinations and require hospitalization.
- Treatment is needed. It does not have to be medication, though this is a very common route to go. It can also mean talking to a therapist. But please know this-there is nothing wrong with being on meds. NOTHING.
Here’s what you can do to get help:
- Talk to your spouse, a trusted family member, or a friend. This was the first step for me to heal. I talked to my husband about it and we made a plan to get me help. I am so thankful for a supportive husband! You do not have to talk to your spouse although it is what I highly recommend. Just find someone you can trust who loves you unconditionally and who won’t judge you. Someone that you feel safe with.
- Make an appointment with your doctor. This was the second step I took to healing from my PPD. Making that initial appointment was hard because it was tough for me to admit something was really wrong with me. It was hard to talk to a stranger about it. But because I did, I got better and I got what I needed.
- Go to therapy. I am not huge on therapy, but this does help some people. My personal form of therapy is talking to my husband and having a good cry with him, but others may prefer to go talk to a therapist or professional-this is a great thing to do. Counseling is amazing!
- Try medication. Seriously, meds saved my life. There is nothing wrong with taking a pill to help you out. We take Tylenol for headaches so why not try an anti-depressant for depression?
- Take it one day at a time. This sounds sooo cliche, but it is truly something you have got to do. It is a daily battle and I am not going to lie to you-it is hard as hell. You have to wake up everyday and decide to kick PPD’s ass.
- Join a support group. There are a couple of really good Facebook groups that I am a part of that you can reach out to. The great thing about this option is that nobody knows who you are and there is zero judging! The groups are Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Anxiety Support Group.
- Get healthy. Yup, I am not just saying this because I am a personal trainer. Studies have shown that eating healthy and working out regularly is nature’s natural anti-depressant. I offer many guides and tools to help you acheive a healthier life that can be found right here.
- Make you time. Yeah, easier said than done, but you need it. You need it in order to find yourself. You need it in order to think, to heal, to get better. Ask your husband or someone that you trust to watch the kids while you go do something for yourself. This will help you to miss your family and to appreciate them more.
- Find a hobby. My hobby is working out and it makes me feel good. I also love photography and I recently discovered a love for painting and finding new books to read. Finding a hobby and doing that not only helps to bring enjoyment back into your life, but it also helps you to find YOU again.
I am not here to tell you that there’s a cure for PPD because there’s not. I wish everyday to God that there were. But I am writing this to tell you that I am dealing with it and its OKAY. Even though you may not feel OKAY, I promise you can do this.
Today, I still struggle with those feelings that I mentioned, but I AM BETTER and I am GETTING BETTER. It is a multi-step process and change does not happen overnight. My marriage and relationship with my babies are so much better because I sought out help.
I am sharing this with you all and speaking out publicly about this because these things need to be said.
You can fight this battle.
You are not alone.
You are a good mom.
It will be OKAY.