This will probably be one of the hardest blogs I have ever written, but one of the most important at the same time. There is so much that I want to say, and so much that I want to make everyone aware of. Depression is such a taboo topic, no one likes to talk about it and no one wants to admit that they have it. I think that’s why there is so much dark area about it.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months after childbirth. It also can happen after miscarriage and stillbirth. It can make you feel very sad, hopeless, and worthless. You may have trouble caring for and bonding with your baby. Postpartum depression is not the same as the “baby blues,” which many women have in the first couple of weeks after childbirth. With the blues, you may have trouble sleeping and feel moody, teary, and overwhelmed. You may have these feelings along with being happy about your baby. But the “baby blues” usually go away within a couple of weeks.
After I had my son I had a mild case of PPD. I was crying a lot and always felt sad. I reached the point where I emotionally shut down. I was sitting in the chair holding my 2 month old son and went blank. I didn’t feel anything; I couldn’t cry. I knew at that point that it was time to get help. I didn’t want to admit that there was a problem, I didn’t want to be one of those people that needed medication to be happy, but I had to admit that I couldn’t do it all and that I needed help. I think that is the hardest part of postpartum depression. You are not any less of a mother if you admit that you can’t do it all alone and get help. In fact seeking help makes you a better mom because you are doing what is best for your family.
In rare cases, a woman may have a severe form of depression called postpartum psychosis. She may act strangely, see or hear things that aren't there, and be a danger to herself and her baby. This is an emergency, because it can quickly get worse and put her or others in danger.
I’m now going to let you into a very personal spot in my life. After my daughter was born I had a much stronger case of postpartum depression bordering on postpartum psychosis. When I wasn’t crying I was angry all the time. I felt like my life was a waste, and nothing mattered. I didn’t feel connected to my child, in fact I felt like she hated me and worse yet I felt like I hated her. I regretted having her and felt like she was a mistake. I would never hurt myself or my children, that’s not who I am, but there where lots of times when it took everything I had not to run. I could see myself walking out the door and not coming back, getting in the car and just driving. I had no clue where I would go or what I would do, but I wanted out. The love I have for my husband was the only thing that kept me there on several occasions. I felt like I had no one that understood what I was going through and I felt like I was doing it all alone. I’m not the kind of person that opens up easily about what I'm feeling and I don’t like to admit that there is a problem because it makes me feel weak. I knew that I needed help and I knew that things weren’t right, but wasn’t strong enough to ask.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can follow postpartum blues. They can feel like more of the same, or worse than before. Postpartum depression can also happen months after childbirth or pregnancy loss. In some cases, symptoms peak after slowly building for 3 or 4 months. Possible PPD symptoms require evaluation by a doctor
-Depressed mood—tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with or without severe anxiety.
-Loss of pleasure in either all or almost all of your daily activities.
-Appetite and weight change—usually a drop in appetite and weight, but sometimes the opposite.
Sleep problems—usually trouble with sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping.
-Noticeable change in how you walk and talk—usually restlessness, but sometimes sluggishness.
-Extreme fatigue or loss of energy.
-Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, with no reasonable cause.
-Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
Symptoms of Postpartum psychosis include:
-Feeling removed from your baby, other people, and your surroundings (depersonalization).
-Disturbed sleep, even when your baby is sleeping.
-Extremely confused and disorganized thinking, increasing your risk of harming yourself, your baby, or another person.
-Drastically changing moods and bizarre behavior.
-Extreme agitation or restlessness.
-Unusual hallucinations, often involving sight, smell, hearing, or touch.
-Delusional thinking that isn't based in reality.
Early treatment of postpartum depression (PPD) is important for you, your baby, and the rest of your family. The sooner you start, the more quickly you will recover, and the less your depression will affect your baby. Treatment choices for postpartum depression include: counseling and antidepressant medicine.
I didn’t want to have a medicine controlling my life. I didn’t want to feel like the medicine was the only reason that I was having a good day. But now I realized that I would rather have a good day with the help of a medicine then to keep having bad days. I know that I won’t be on the medicine the rest of my life and I know that I will be back to my normal self, but in the mean time I'm ok knowing that I feel human again.
Postpartum depression effects 1 of every 5 mothers. So why is there so much silence? We are not alone; we don’t have to feel like we are in the dark and doing this by ourselves. I know that I can’t do it all alone and I know that I need help. “It takes a village to raise a child.” There is so much truth to that statement. One person can’t do it all by themselves, they need the help and support of a village.
If you are a new mother or know a new mother please don’t be in the dark. Getting help is the hardest part, but from there it really does get better.
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