I have been delaying writing this post on postpartum depression because it is something so difficult to talk about for me. Postpartum depression was apart of my story. It was something I survived and overcame alone. I didn’t talk about it with anyone. I put on a happy face and pretended that my postpartum depression didn’t exist. It is time for that to stop now because mama, its okay to not be okay.
Since may is mental health awareness month and this week is specifically for maternal mental health awareness I decided it was the right time to share my story. After all, talking about it is how awareness spreads and if this post helps even one person seek help or causes someone to offer help, well that would be everything to me.
Before I dive right in to this I want to say, if you are a mama struggling with postpartum depression and want to talk please contact me through my contact forum, or social media links. I can be that person to listen, someone to vent to or just someone that can relate in some way shape or form to what you are going through. You can also call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with someone who will listen.
Still pregnant and preparing for the postpartum period? Check out my post on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM RECOVERY for more info!
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within the one year after giving birth. The high risk period is usually in the first 5-8 weeks postpartum however it can occur at anytime. Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to any woman who is postpartum even if there isn’t a history of previous mental health illness in their family. Roughly 10% of all postpartum women experience postpartum depression.
This isn’t to be confused with baby blues which occur in the two weeks following childbirth and then improves and goes away. That is a normal phenomenon that occurs in nearly half of postpartum women.
How do i know if i have postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression can look different for everyone, but some of the common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are:
- Increase in crying
- Mood swings
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling very overwhelmed
- Inability to concentrate
- Insomnia and restlessness
- Intense sadness
- Feeling withdrawn
- Intense fear or anxiety
- Change of appetite
- Loss of interest in activity you previously enjoyed
- Destructive or suicidal thoughts
Please seek help from a medical professional if you have concerns.
What does postpartum depression feel like?
Postpartum depression will feel different for every mama. No two people will have the exact same feelings, experience or situation. With that said these are some of the thoughts and experiences that I had. Perhaps they can be useful as you read through them. Maybe they can shed light onto some of the things a postpartum mother might be experiencing. Or even spread awareness on postpartum depression.
Please seek help from a healthcare professional if you or anyone you know is suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression made it hard to bond with my baby
On the outside I looked like this super happy, put together mom. Smiling, laughing and hugging my precious little newborn baby.
On the inside I felt lost and confused. I would see her little face looking up at me and half the time I would only feel worry and fear over what I had gotten myself into.
I love my daughter, I know I did then too. I would still miss her the second I was away from her. I would cherish the quiet moments after breastfeeding when she would look up at me. We did have a connection right from the beginning and I will hold that near and dear to my heart forever.
But the worry and the fear of the unknown were overwhelming for me. I was fixated on trying to solve every single problem – for issues that hadn’t even happened yet. I felt like it made it hard at times to connect with her, to just be her mom. It was hard to be present in the moment.
I felt like the worst mother in the world
I couldn’t help but compare myself to other mothers out there. How did they do things so easily? How did they smile and go out and have a normal life? I could barely get out of pajamas without feeling like the entire world was crashing down around me. I couldn’t help but think I was the only one struggling. Sure I could put on a happy smile and fake it like the best of them but I felt so inadequate and undeserving to be this sweet little girls mother.
Now I know that my thoughts werent realistic but they were how I felt at the time. Now I want to share with you a secret, every mom struggles in their own way. And everyone else’s life looks perfect from the outside. As hard as it is, really try not to focus on how other moms appear to be handling things. We all are fighting our own hidden battles.
You feel alone.
I was totally caught up in my own negative thoughts and convinced that everyone would think I was just nuts if I expressed how I really felt. Like if I stopped this charade of being a perfect mom and wife they totally wouldn’t understand me. These feelings I was having and bottling them up inside made me feel completely alone even though we had so many visitors. I had never been surrounded by more people in my home than in those first few months after my daughter was born and I had never felt more disconnected to those around me.
I felt like i was broken
It was like I did something wrong or I wasn’t wired to be a mom. I felt like a failure, like I was somehow letting everyone down. I somehow felt like it was all my fault.
I felt exhausted
I was no stranger to being tired. I was used to shift work with 12+ hour shifts. I also experienced insomnia throughout my entire pregnancy but this… this was an entirely new beast.
I know every mom feels tired. Sleepless nights with a baby are so hard. But this was more than that. This was different.
I couldn’t sleep. I remember laying there wide awake worrying about not sleeping. It was months of me getting an hour or two a night and not because my baby was up but because I couldn’t slow my thoughts enough to sleep.
The exhaustion became overwhelming. Everything was some huge task. I was sinking and because I was invisible, no one could get me out. No one could save me. I was being consumed by how tired I was to the point where I could barely focus on anything anymore.
My happy facade that I had created was slowly fading away and the sad shell of my previous self was emerging. I couldn’t keep up anymore.
I felt hopeless
Some days I would just wake up and feel like it was completely pointless. I was going through the motions of feeding, rocking, sleeping, and changing my little baby. It got to the point that I couldn’t see past the daily routine. I couldn’t see the future or how things would change rapidly as she grew.
I told my husband how pointless everything felt to me and how sad I was. I had a complete breakdown and let out all these feelings I had been keeping bottled up. I can still picture him staring with concern at me, probably wondering if he would ever get back the woman he knew me to be.
If you are at this point where things feel hopeless please speak with someone who can help. There are resources available to you, and it will get better. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with someone who will listen.
Then I felt Okay
After that moment, things changed. I started feeling better. I grew the strength to keep talking. The strength to ask for help. I could breathe again. I think my husband secretly started just taking over tasks and really focused on making sure I was okay (I love him more than he will ever know for this). But I slowly started feeling like myself. I truly believe my husband saved me from the negative spiral I was in. He gave me the life raft I needed to float again.
I am here to tell you…
It get’s better. My postpartum depression journey is now in my past. I now enjoy life again. I enjoy my family. I love myself and my husband and my little baby girl. I love being a mom. I learned how to cope and how to manage. It gets better mama.
Please reach out and talk to someone. It can be anyone you feel you can confide in. You don’t have to suffer in silence like I did for too long. You are not alone. You can get through this. There are people all around that can help. You are a good mom, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you right now.
If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression or any mental health illness please contact your healthcare provider. You can also call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with someone who will listen.
You are doing so great mama, just keep swimming, it will get better.
Have you suffered from postpartum depression? How did you feel? What helped or didn’t help you? What advice do you have to offer?