January 21, 2013

The aftermath of postpartum depression

I have been thinking about writing this for a while now.

The word "aftermath" suggests that there is an end to postpartum depression.

I want to be very clear on something..for me postpartum depression hasn't just "gone away".
What I mean is that although I have found some relief from the intensity of the symptoms,I don't believe that I will ever fully be "over" the impact it has had on my life.

I struggled with PPD for almost two years of my life;nine months of that was actually perinatal depression (while I was pregnant).

For two years my life was disrupted;turned upside down in a way that you don't just "recover" from overnight.

I can't speak for all women either;there's a good chance that every woman experiences things vastly different than I have.
I believe that PPD runs it's course uniquely with each individual woman;some possibly never get "over" it and some have highs and lows that linger for years.

I don't know for sure what caused my PPD...I imagine that it was a cocktail of things:
The hormones from pregnancy and birth;from breastfeeding and the return of my menstrual cycle postpartum.
It may have been related to my unrealistic expectations of myself;the perfectionist that I pressured myself to be.
It wouldn't be far fetched to suggest that environmental stressors-relationships,parenting,poor diet-all had something to do with it.

The thing I can be sure of though,is that it wasn't my fault.

All of those racing thoughts in my head;the negative self talk.....those things were not "realistic" and they weren't fair.

I feel that our culture puts so much pressure on new moms and unlike other countries around the world,the U.S and other developed cultures has the highest and most severe rates of PPD in the world.
We don't support each other;we don't look out for new moms and young families.

Responsibility for the family tends to fall exactly there: on the family.

It's not ideal to have no support and to have all the added pressure of jumping right back up and continuing to manage life as if you didn't just give birth.

We abuse the postpartum period-the Babymoon-by suggesting that it's a weakness to lay around with our new baby;it makes us a failure to ask for help with our other children;we're lazy if all of the household chores aren't done in those early weeks.

When I sought out help for my PPD,it took me months to find someone who would even work with me financially.
This type of battle just to get support made my struggle with PPD worse...I felt so alone-even more so than I did before I decided to seek help.

My mind is a bit clearer now and I have found the courage to stop the negative self talk.
I've gotten my perfectionism under better control and I'm able to forgive myself for not being "perfect".

The journey I have had with PPD will forever affect the way I think;it has made me more aware of what mental illnesses can be like and the frustrations of not getting help when you need it most.

There is no guarantee that postpartum depression won't rear it's ugly head again....and that bothers me.


I have found some powerful tools that have helped me overcome the worst of it in the past-the most powerful tool of all is seeking love and strength through the Lord.
I learned to stop often,not just during times of anxiety or sadness;I would stop and say a little prayer asking for guidance and support.



I wish that I could reach out to all of the women who battle PPD and hold them,pray with them.

PPD isn't fake,it doesn't mean that you are weak.....it means that you are trying to be too strong and you need more time and support.

I don't understand the lack of support;why is there no help available for women with a very real,very serious need.
In a country with all the medical technology who spends more money on "health" than any other country in the world,how do we NOT have help ready for these women?

The reality is that these women normally struggle alone.

I implore all of you reading this:
If you know a new mom or a mom who seems to be struggling with a full plate,reach out.
Pay attention to how she's feeling,ask her what she needs.

Most women who have PPD don't ask for help;they often don't even know what is "wrong" with them.

As human beings we owe it to our mama's,babies and families to pay attention and help one another.

It's the worst place in the world to be when it feels like no one is there.



11 comments:

  1. Very true, though I am not religious I found support in my family. When my son was 4 days old I was a crying, fearful mess. I packed up my husband, my son and my then 2 year old daughter and went to my moms house for a week. I couldn't even drive I was so anxious. My mom, my husband and my sister all took turns caring for my son because feeding/looking/holding/caring for my son became to much for me to bear. The anxiety was so crippling the only time I wasn't on the verge of a panic attack was when I was sleeping and it was extremely difficult for me to fall asleep. I chose to stop breastfeeding so I could take medication that would help me. Not being my sons only food source allowed me to focus on getting better. I have received so much criticism over my decision but I stand by it. I couldn't eat, I lost 26lbs in 10 days when I had only gained 15lbs my entire pregnancy. Eating one piece of toast was torture. I could only look at my son from several feet away if someone else was holding him and he was calm. He turned out to have reflux and couldn't handle dairy but before we knew that he screamed for hours on end and there was nothing we could do to comfort him. PPD is awful, I firmly believe I wouldn't have gotten through it without support. It didn't help that I nearly died from hemorraging when I gave birth to him at home, it was a very close call, I had a long recovery. Both PPD and my near death among other things has made my decision to not have more children an easy one. I still struggle from time to time with the depression when my son goes through rough patches. Thankfully he's nearly 7 months old and is healthy and will grow out of his reflux around a year old. -Jamie

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story Jamie <3
      I am glad that you were able to do what was necessary to get help for yourself...our children need us the best we can be,and emotional/mental wellness is no exception.
      Folks who haven't been there don't quite "get it" and it's often refreshing just to hear from someone who has been there...I know that got me through when nothing else would.
      Hang in there!

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  2. Thank you for sharing, I myself struggled with PPD after my second baby and you're right I didn't know what was wrong with me for a while. A support system makes a huge difference. Thanks again,

    Brandy
    ChicDiapers

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    1. Raising awareness is important not only for the women who experience these emotions,but also for everyone around them...there are so many myths and misconceptions yet about postpartum depression.
      I myself though I couldn't possibly have PPD because I didn't (thankfully!) want to hurt my children....the spectrum of PPD is wide and people need to learn more about it.
      Thank you for stopping by!

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  3. Great post! I have suffered from PPD on and off since my second child was about 6 months old (he is now 8).

    Thankfully I recognized it early on and sought help from my doctor. But as far as a support system, I didn't have one, at least not right away. PPD isn't something you want to admit to or talk about. When I finally did open up about it, I found so many other women that were suffering as well.

    I agree, this is a huge women's health issue that does not get the attention it deserves and needs.

    I host a pregnancy link up on my blog and I'd love for you to link this post up to it and hopefully it will reach those that need it. Or link up any posts you may have that relate to pregnancy, birth or babies (as I see you are expecting, Congrats!).

    http://myjoy-filledlife.blogspot.com/search/label/My%20Pregnancy%20Journal%20Link-Up

    Blessings!

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    1. Thank you for your comment!
      I want to continue to share-I find it very healing and I know that for me personally,just knowing I wasn't alone and hearing from other women made a great difference.
      I will definitely stop over to your blog! I am enjoying getting to know other women and share stories together :)

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  4. thank you for this post.

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