If you have children, you have probably been told about Postpartum Depression. But have you been told about the actual dangers around Postpartum Depression? I wasn’t. Having my first child was supposed to be a joyous occasion for my husband and I; for the most part it was. With all of the day dreams I had, I was excited to step into my new role as a mother. After having a major miscarriage the September before my son was born I knew I wanted to be a mother. I fell into a really bad depression and could hardly function. By January we were pregnant and overwhelmed with joy. I was taken off of work and put on bed rest due to having a history of complications staying pregnant. We thought everything was finally looking up for us, what I never told anyone is that my depression was getting worse. I played it off like I was fine and even started to believe that myself.
As my due date grew closer I became more anxious. Not about having my son finally with us, in fact it was about everything else. We lived in the neighborhood both my mother and I grew up in with the same neighbors yet I started locking my doors, even during the day. I was constantly scared someone was going to break into my apartment. I always had it in my head that my husband was cheating on me even though I knew he wasn’t. I had never been an anxious person before and couldn’t understand what was happening to me.
After Emmett was born, I was happy for a while. I was relieved to be home with my husband and to start my new life as a stay at home mom. Two weeks later the crying started and I couldn’t stop. All I did was cry, I hated myself, I hated everyone. I felt like I had let this little boy down already, I knew it wasn’t true, but the thoughts kept coming. Emmett was around three months old when I finally called my doctor and told her about how I was feeling, she confirmed it was postpartum depression. I started an anti depressant and everything seemed to be getting better. I wasn’t as angry, I was feeling productive in my role as a mother and a wife. I was working out and losing all of the weight I had gained, I was starting to be my “old goofy self” again.
The medication helped me get my life back on track and I was truly happy. By Emmett’s first birthday we had gotten pregnant again, we wanted our kids close in age but didn’t think it would happen as soon as it did. I had to stop my medication immediately because of the effects it could have on the baby during pregnancy. I was not informed I needed to wean off of the medication and soon became angry again. The stress of pregnancy and a toddler was wearing me down. I was sick constantly and Emmett was getting to be a lot on me, even though he was just being a normal toddler. I once again started getting anxious over everything and could hardly function. I was falling deeper and deeper into my depression and anger and couldn’t see what it was doing to me.
Three months before Norva was due Matthew accepted a job that was two hours from where we lived. This meant he was going to be gone during the week and only home on weekends. Because we only had one vehicle I had to pick him up Fridays and drop him off Sundays. It was a lot on my heavily pregnant body and mind. Especially being alone with Emmett during the week. I had a lot of help between my cousin who lived with me , my sister who lived next to me, and my mother who came almost every week, but it wasn’t the same as having my husband around.
When Norva arrived I thought that all of the depression would finally be over. I wanted to so badly to believe that, but it was so different from what actually happened.
My depression hit an all time high after having my daughter. I was lashing out at friends and family, I was angry and yelling all of the time, all my husband and I did was fight, and I never saw any of this. I couldn’t understand what was going on around me, I couldn’t see what I was doing to the people who loved me. I couldn’t even see the toll it was taking on my kids to have a mother like that. A mother who was always upset or mad, a mother who would get frustrated at the smallest things, a mother who would be in a bad mood all day because of something silly. My son had started to bite his nails and I couldn’t make any connection with my daughter who was only a few months old at the time. Breast feeding became more and more difficult, all I wanted to do was give up. I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be a mother, I felt like they would be better off with out me, that my husband would be fine with out me. I went between thoughts of suicide and running away from my family. In this time frame we made a major move. It is is where everything got worse and worse for me. It was winter time, I was secluded in a town where I didn’t know anyone, my husband was still gone for days at a time, and I was alone with two small kids and no vehicle. I had no help and felt like I had no allies. This is when I knew I had a problem and began looking up the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. What I found is that I didn’t have the signs for just postpartum depression, I also had the signs of postpartum anxiety.
Just as I was figuring this out, I was always making excuses as to why I couldn’t get help. Some excuses were even so far fetched that I didn’t even believe them. I knew I needed to get help, but I felt like such a failure not just my kids and husband, but to myself as well. I no longer recognized the person looking back at me, I could no longer recognize the sound of my own voice, and I couldn’t place who was thinking these thoughts about suicide, there was no way that could have been me. I spent so many nights crying trying to figure out where the real me had gone and looking for any trace of her I might still have left. I could never find the happiness I once had, or the passion, things I used to love doing I now hated or couldn’t do anymore. I hated everything and everyone, mostly myself and what I had become.
In March of 2017 we made another major move, this time closer to my husband work. This meant we would be together as a family everyday and I would be able to get the help I needed. But at first I didn’t. The first two weeks I felt amazing, I was happy, we were all together as a family again. I was getting out and exploring my new town and meeting the neighbors. My postpartum depression and anxiety soon came back with vengeance. I became so angry with my husband for moving me so far from my home. I was so angry that I had no one I could call to sit with the kids for an hour while I de-stressed. I felt even more secluded than I did when I literally had no one. To say my marriage was on thin ice would be an understatement, we were both just waiting for the other to say it was over. Once again, instead of getting help, I just blamed everyone else, this time my husband got the worse of my lashing out. He no longer wanted to be around me, we both could feel the tension and knew something needed to give.
When our marriage hit an all time low and I left for a weekend, I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the lack of responsibility I felt. It was a much needed break that gave me time to get the clarity to see my life, where it had gone, and what I needed to do about it all. I decided when I returned back home I would be calling around for a therapist to finally do something about this. I told my husband of my plan and that I would require his help and support to make all of this work. I made sure we were on the same page 100% before I jumped into anything.
After a week of calling around, I found a therapist I felt comfortable meeting with. We have had several meetings since and I can honestly say it is doing so much good for me. I told her about all of the feelings I had and my thoughts to look into medication. She suggested working out as well so I joined a gym that week. I also recently started a new anti-depressant and can feel such progress in my life and see my relationships improving. I am no longer lashing out at people, my mood has improved and I actually feel happy. I am making huge strides in the gym and my physical well being, all around I feel like I am getting back to normal.
When ever I talk to people about this time in my life, I am completely honest with them. I don’t want anyone to go through what I have been dealing it. I know the strides I am currently making are not a quick fix and that this will take time. But I am ready for that fight and get my life back.
If you or someone you know has had a child in the past 12 months and are showing any signs or symptoms, please call your doctor. You don’t have to fight this alone. According to http://postpartumprogress.org 15% of women are affected by postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression signs:
- Excessive crying
- Sever panic and anxiety attacks
- Intense anger or irritability
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Thoughts of death of suicide
Postpartum Psychosis signs:
- Obsessive thoughts about baby
- Delusions and hallucinations
Thank you for taking the time to read my experience with postpartum depression and what it did to me. I hope this post can help you or someone you know. Having a good support system is so important. Remember you are loved and you are worth it.