Normalize Postpartum Depression, Normalize Depression 

Before I start, I want to mention that this post could be a trigger for some to read. If you are feeling extra sad already…

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Before I start, I want to mention that this post could be a trigger for some to read. If you are feeling extra sad already today, then please come back to this later. My goal though is to normalize postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety because no one should feel ashamed.

“This is an illness that takes away a woman’s ability to access joy … right at the time she needs it most.” -Dr. Katherine Wisner

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Dr. Wisner could not have said it better. Postpartum depression and anxiety eats at you during the time that you are already so vulnerable due to the adjusting hormones. We tried for quite some time for our daughter with very little luck, until one day I decided to take a test – because I had it. I had zero symptoms, I was sure it would be negative like the many, I repeat MANY, tests I had taken before. I remember the day I told my husband we were finally pregnant with baby number two. We had plans to meet him for lunch, so I quickly and joyfully put together a shirt for our son that said, “Only Child – Expiring November 2019”. We were both ecstatic. We blissed in joy for months, but then prodromal labor hit at about 34 weeks. What is prodromal labor? Basically, labor that does nothing, the contractions are close together and you feel like you are in labor, but nothing is happening to the cervix, fun right? No, it is absolutely exhausting. I became irritable and short tempered because I was in close to constant pain, but I attempted to stay as positive as possible because in just a few short weeks I would have a sweet baby girl. 

Fast forward to three weeks after having this beautiful baby girl, I couldn’t stop crying, I was angry all the time, and frustrated with everything. I cried about everything and I fought with my husband about the small things. I felt like I was trying to swim up to the surface, but I was drowning. I was drowning in fear, doubt, anger, frustration, & lack of time… and it was all pulling me under. I wasn’t me, I wasn’t my happy self. I was juggling working full time, a full time internship, finishing my Masters degree, & being a new mom to baby number two so, of course, I chalked everything off to sleep deprivation. Days went by, then weeks, and then months feeling like things were just getting worse. I continued to live like this out of fear of judgment and being considered a bad mother or broken. It took my very loving husband telling me in the kindest way that he could that I was unbearable to be around. Initially, I was furious and went into the mindset of he doesn’t understand, but deep down I knew I was unbearable to be around. I couldn’t get rid of these feelings – the feelings of being a bad mom, the horrible body image, the worrying about everything, the agitation, the hypochondria, & simply the exhaustion. Have you ever laid looking at the ceiling at night, knowing that you need to go to bed, but you can’t because your brain won’t shut off – the exhaustion that causes is profoundly debilitating. I was hanging on by a thread & barely getting by.

I knew I needed to talk to someone. I knew I needed help. I knew I needed medication. After three weeks of my medication I WASN’T DROWNING! I could swim again, I could feel emotion at a “normal” level, I could express myself without easily agitating or crying. & now after months on my medication I have stepped out of my comfort zone to advocate and normalize postpartum depression/ anxiety. Plenty of mothers go without being diagnosed or have to self diagnose to get the help they need, talk to your doctors. Don’t live the way I did, instead live the way I do now – happy & joyful.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Did you know Postpartum depression is a common complication during and after giving birth?

Did you know 1 in 9 women have symptoms of PPD after giving birth.

Did you know if you have had depression or PPD before then you are more likely to have PPD again, but you can have PPD if you have never been depressed.

Did you know PPD usually appears after a month of giving birth, but can appear as late as one year. PPD is not the same as the baby blues as the blues normally go away after two weeks. (WEBMD)

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

What are the signs?

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed.
  • Crying more than normal.
  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or angry.
  • Sleeping too much or not at all.
  • Loss of interest in things you enjoy doing.
  • Unable to maintain daily lifestyle.
  • Avoiding family, friends, or support systems.
  • Having trouble bonding with your baby.
  • Doubting your ability to care for your baby.
  • Feeling like a failure as a mother.
  • Sometimes there are suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming your baby – if this is the case please get help immediately. (WEBMD)

What should you do?

Reach out to your doctor. Reach out to friends. Explain what is happening to your spouse. If you feel suicidal, please call the suicide hotline at 800-273-8255. Do not fear getting the help you need and do not believe you will be viewed negatively. This is common and it is time that we normalize PPD!

** Anonymous **