Three weeks ago, I started my three-week series on post partum depression. first, I took a more clinical look and discussed the signs of symptoms of depression, then I talked about my personal struggles, and today I will talk about some of the things that helped me. Please take note that depression is not a light topic and that it could be treated on a case by case basis. There is no true one size fits all cure. I am just sharing some of the things that were helpful to me. Now, before I started struggling with depression, I had no prior battles with any other form of depression. I generally was very happy go lucky- very much like a butterfly flying freely in the meadows. I started to see a change in my mood and feelings about a month after giving birth.
The first step was for me to admit to myself that something was off. I pretended a lot and tried to shove down all my feelings, but the moment I said to myself, “Look, you have a serious problem,” that was when I was able to seek and get help. I knew that constantly crying, not wanting to leave the house, having scary thoughts and just feeling like a different person was atypical. The next step was finding out more about postpartum. Before I went through this experience, I had heard about ‘the baby blues’ briefly on a TV show. I did not pay much attention to it, but my constant crying reminded me of what I had watched years back. I began to search furiously about the baby blues and that was when I stumbled upon post partum depression. That gave me such tremendous relief as I finally felt like I could attach a name to all my scattered thoughts and feelings.
My third step was to find someone whom I could trust and whom I knew was going to empathize with me. For me, that person was my husband. I did such a good job of hiding my feelings and mood, that he barely knew how truly tortured I was feeling on the inside. This was so scary and I am so thankful that I never did anything to harm myself or my child. Once I told my husband all about what I had been going through, there was a tremendous feeling of relief. Imagine carrying boulders on your shoulders for months. Once I told him my secret the pressure was off.
Our next step was to seek professional help. Being that I had no clue who to go to, we made an appointment with my primary care physician and she was able to link us with the appropriate help. I finally felt as if I had a team of people that understood me and I was not crazy after all. It turned out that my hormone levels were unusually imbalanced and that triggered a barrage of physiological issues for me.
Because I felt the need to stay at home constantly, I almost had to push myself to even walk out of my door. There were times in which I did not leave the house for days. Because my husband was gone so much for work, that was my saving grace. When our baby was out of diapers or some other essential item, I was forced to actually leave the house. That helped me a lot. Interacting with other adult human beings helped me feel so much better.
I also joined a mothers’ group at church that allowed me to be around others, get advice and support from them, and just blow off some steam. I started to make friends in my neighborhood and just keep as busy as I could. I developed hobbies and basically was out and about (with my baby in tow) all day long. This helped me tremendously. I also was able to find people I could confide in. This was a time to have my family around me as well. Being that I was a stay at home mom at the time and my husband was deployed for a while, I slept over in so many friends and family members’ houses that I have lost count. These people were so kind to my son and I and they really nursed me back to health.
All I can say is use your resources. If you have close friends, family members, a religious community, a professional or someone you can lean on, put the pride aside and ask for help. Lastly, the most cathartic thing for me was to share my story with the people around me. Personally, there is something about talking about my inner demons that helps me feel cleansed and happy. I am so grateful that those days are behind me. You do not have to struggle again, and post partum depression does not make you a bad or unfit mother. IT MAKES YOU A HUMAN BEING!!