I always naïvely associated Postpartum Depression with the women who have drowned their babies in the bathtub, I always thought of it as an excuse for women who are being emotional and hormonal to use when they know they are being irrational. This is all what I thought, until I was diagnosed with PPD.
“Postpartum Depression is depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue.” At least that is how Google defines it, what that doesn’t say, is 10-15% of women who have children suffer from it. It also didn’t say, that I would suffer from it.
When I found out I was pregnant my doctor warned me immediately to watch for Postpartum Depression signs after having my son. It was something that I was constantly reminded of throughout my pregnancy. I brushed it off, because I couldn’t imagine how the most beautiful and best thing to happen to me would cause me to be depressed.
After I had my son, I was on cloud 9. Everything was beautiful, he was beautiful. The perfect mixture of my husband and I. When he slept, he smiled. When he looked up at me, he looked at me with amazement. I returned the look with nothing but pure love in my eyes, and in every ounce of my soul.
I was on the lookout for signs of PPD and I didn’t think I had them. I was fine. I was okay with my son, no bad feelings toward him at all. But, I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else taking care of him. I didn’t want my husband’s help. I didn’t want families help. He was my son and what kind of mother would I be if I asked for help? I didn’t want others to hold him and if others did hold him, I would hold my breath until he was back in my arms again. I started getting overwhelmed when a lot of people were around him and I. I felt like I had to hide. I didn’t want everyone to be near my baby. He was new, he was fragile, he needed me to keep him safe.
I started getting upset with everyone who held him because I would knit pick everything they did wrong. I would look at it as they were screwing up and think they were going to hurt my son. I started tearing down my husband. I started not wanting to be around anyone. I didn’t want to share MY son. No one else could take care of him except me.
I went to my follow-up appointment, it happens 6 weeks after you have a baby. There was a “test” I had to take, and it was graded.
“Do you get anxiety when you are away from your child” Yes
“Does having others take care of your child scare you?” Yes
“Do you trust your spouse with your child” No
“Do you feel okay with letting others hold your baby?” No
“Do you need quiet alone time away from everyone often?” Yes
I was diagnosed that day with PPD. Technically PPA (Postpartum Anxiety.) I was heartbroken. I was okay, I felt fine. What do you mean my feelings weren’t normal?!
The recovery for PPD was hard. I was on anti anxiety medicine, which made me tired. I still felt overwhelmed. I needed breaks from people still. I wasn’t the same happy go-lucky excited person that I used to be. I needed space. Most importantly, I was ashamed. I didn’t want anyone to know that the reason I couldn’t hang out or visit was because I was upset and just wanted to be alone. I didn’t want anyone to know I was not okay.
Now that I feel better and am doing better, I look back and think how ignorant I was thinking that I would be immune to this.
If you think you are suffering from PPD, please get help. You don’t have to feel such anxiety or sadness. It doesn’t mean you are an awful mother. It does not mean you aren’t fit to be a mother. It means your body is tricking you, it is making you feel like you have to do this alone, and you don’t.
Featured Image via Briana Jungwirth