As promised last week, today I will be talking about my struggle with postpartum depression. Last week I took a clinical look at depression as a whole, but today I’m going to do a more personal discussion. Postpartum depression generally begins to show its ugly face about 4 weeks after having a baby. When I had my son, I was 22. Now I personally don’t think age had much to do with my depression. Some women have babies at 20 and others have babies at 44 and might recover perfectly. On the other hand, some twenty somethings or forty somethings find themselves struggling. When I had my son, I was 22 and had just moved a different county entirely. I was away from my usual support group and I felt pretty much alone. I also had no prior experience with kids. This means I had never as much as baby sat a child or taken care of another human being. I knew very little about babies and the whole postpartum experience. Shortly after my baby was born, my husband (who is a sailor) was deployed. To go along with that, I had a difficult time accepting my new changed post partum body. For some reason, I had no clue how long it took to lose the baby weight.
To top it all off, I had a sickly little baby. He had so many medical issues and I found myself having to visit the doctor’s office and even the emergency rooms way too many times. He basically cried nonstop and it seemed like he just was struggling so much. All this was extremely frightening considering that I knew no one around me. It was just me and my baby trying to make this foreign city into a comfortable home for the both of us. Now, my husband was able to call and email me as much as he could, but I really needed an extra pair of hands to relieve me of some of my maternal duties. I was losing my mind with lack of sleep and also poor nutrition as there were days when I was not able to eat three meals because I was so frazzled and my baby was crying constantly.
Because I had only hear positive stories about motherhood, for a long time I was too ashamed to reach out for help. At the time, I had never heard about postpartum depression, so I thought I was alone in my struggle. This filled me with guilt and I basically cut myself off from the people could have reached out to over the phone or via email. Whenever someone would call me on the phone, I would either ignore their phone call or keep the call short to hide my pain. I was scared that someone would find out about my depression, so I tried to put on a mask. I have to say, no one ever knew how much I was struggling. I would describe my depression as a dark, horrible vortex that sucked out all my joy. From time to time I would feel like hurting my child or I found myself not wanting to live anymore. I also had days in which I did not like my child. It was like I lost the warm, cuddly feeling that I heard mothers were supposed to have. I never actually did anything to harm my child or myself and I am eternally grateful for that.
Of course I spent endless hours crying my eyes out and just feeling ugly and horrible. I thought my depression would never end and that my life would be a downhill drive. If you just had a baby and you can relate to some of the things I went through, it is possible that you could be depressed. Do not be ashamed because millions of women all over the world go through postpartum depression each year. The first step is to admit that something is wrong, and the next step is tell someone you trust so that you can get help.
Next week, I will discuss some of the things that got me through my postpartum depression. Although motherhood is a beautiful thing, it does have its good days and bad days. Having bad days does not make you a bad mother. It only makes you a human mother.
I hope I made you think.