I have post-partum depression. There. I said it. I've read that as many as 1 in 8 new mothers experiences a post partum mood disorder, so why do so many still live in darkness, afraid to get the help they need?
I knew PPD was a real risk for me going into pregnancy, as there is one particular risk factor I had to tick off. After fighting off the normal baby blues a few weeks after giving birth, I made my way across the amazing and occasionally rocky shores of motherhood fairly easily. Sure, it wasn't always easy, and not every day was good, but I was by no means experiencing any depression or mood disorder. None the less, I continued to evaluate myself regularly and have K. keep a watchful eye out for the signs.
Once I hit the three-month mark, things got a lot easier and I began feeling confident that PPD was not an issue for me. I regret ever letting that thought pass through my mind. Not even two weeks later, Baby Bird began struggling with acid reflux, and K. began working 11-12 hour days, 6 days a week. The poor child screamed and fussed for hours each day. I cried several times a day for two solid weeks. The entire time, a little flag raised itself in the back of my mind, alerting me that if PPD was going to set in, this would be an opportune time to take advantage of my exhaustion and stress. Then, things got a little better in the final week of K.'s three-week crazy work schedule - Baby Bird was doing better, and I felt much better able to cope once I got a bit of rest - and then they got much worse again.
This past week, I began to realize that even when I wasn't actively feeling sad or depressed (I still feel happy often enough), I am feeling completely overwhelmed by things that just shouldn't be overwhelming. Every little fuss of Baby Bird's would trigger an anxious sinking feeling in my stomach. I wasn't able to enjoy the activities of daily living, and I could never think of anything I might enjoy doing when I got an opportunity for "me-time". I would just go wander around the mall because I didn't know where else to go. I didn't want to go for a walk by myself because I was fairly certain I would end up walking down the sidewalk sobbing. Finally, today I noticed that I was having trouble finding the motivation to pick up the shampoo bottle in my shower and actually go through the motions of washing my hair. Finding something to eat in the kitchen was going to be a big ordeal. I just wanted to sit there and have someone else make all my decisions for me, because even deciding if I wanted toast (Yes or No) was too much to ask.
Not every day feels like that, but having more than one of these days "once in a while" was a big sign to me that I needed some help. Happily, I recognized the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression well before they escalated to thoughts of harming myself or Baby Bird. I was still able to take care of him safely and well, but I preferred to not have to do it alone, and it took every ounce of energy I had in my body to do so.
My biggest fear was having meds pushed on me. This is completely hypocritical of me - I have a degree in psychology and I have always recognized that mental illness is a biochemical problem that sometimes needs medical intervention. However, I am breastfeeding, and no matter how many studies say certain meds are safe for breastfeeding, I'll never completely buy into it. I'm at my heart a complete naturalist, and I don't want my innocent boy getting any part of an anti-depressant. Long-term studies on the safety of such medications through breast milk have not yet been conducted.
So far, I have received a referral for therapy, which I'll start on August 22nd. The doctor did not want to go the meds route at this point (which is good, because I would have fought him on it until therapy failed, I was screened for other conditions, and a psychiatrist did a complete psych screening).
I really had my reservations about posting all this, however, I want to help overcome the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and I want to raise awareness that this really can (and does) happen to anyone. Do yourself a favour and, if you are expecting, take a close look at the signs/symptoms of PPD and other mood disorders. Tell someone you trust to keep an eye on you after the baby is born. And if you are a new mother thinking that this all sounds a little too familiar, please tell somebody you trust and talk to your doctor. I don't have to feel like this, and neither do you. PPD is temporary and treatable.
|Original source: unknown. Here simply because it makes me smile.|