Days after my oldest was born, I found myself walking around in a fog. I was still recovering from a painful cesarean delivery—one I hadn’t planned for or expected. I was trying to adjust to my new normal: sleep deprivation, stressing about trying to nurse my baby and looking beyond recognition.
“Welcome to Motherhood,” I told myself.
I knew better than to think everyone had the same experience. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder to myself “Is this as good as it gets?”
I basically spent the next seven months simply trying to keep my head above water. Many times, I felt like I was about to drown and it wasn’t because I was just simply tired or stressed out from my drastic life change.
When my oldest was seven months old, I found out I was pregnant with my youngest.
I had struggled so much over those few months and felt it was going to be nearly impossible to grow a baby while I was still very much dealing with one on a daily basis. How on earth could I survive dealing with two when I barely felt like I could manage with one?
I would see pictures of my friends and their happy families and sweet babies and I had two thoughts: either everyone is really good at faking it or I may be the one who has a problem.
It took quite some time for me to process that I might have Postpartum Depression.
I was fighting that possibility for so long due in part to fear of judgment from other moms and judgment of my own self. There is still an unfortunate stigma tied to postpartum depression. Society leads us to believe that it is somehow our fault or that we should just snap out of it. In an effort to encourage mamas who struggle with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, I’ve put together a list of things that might be helpful for their friends, who want to help.
Things To Know
- Postpartum Depression is a mood disorder, not a state of being. A woman who suffers from PPD/PPA will not always deal with this. Sometimes we need medical help or therapy and with that we can beat this. Offer your own support because with your help, we can get through this.
- Your support (or lack thereof) can make or break us. If you see us struggling, please reach out. We may not have the courage to tell you the real problem and might not be able to communicate what we need from you. By reaching out, we can gather strength through your support and encouragement.
- PPD/PPA does not mean we want to harm our babies. Postpartum depression can trigger a lot of unhappy thoughts, but it is not the disease that causes women to act on those unpleasant thoughts. That is postpartum psychosis, which is a whole different ballgame of thoughts, hormonal impulses and if left untreated can cause horrific results. Depression may cause us to think terrible things, but it doesn’t cause us to act on those thoughts. In fact, we love our babies fiercely which can trigger the guilt even more.
- Depression looks different for every mama. It can mean we stop caring for our bodies and our health. It can mean we might let the house get into a state of chaos. We might stop talking to our friends or engaging with anyone other than our children. Depression can mean anger and yelling or sadness and tears. Just because it doesn’t look like you expect doesn’t mean it isn’t depression.
- Postpartum depression looks a lot like not caring for anything. Depression can mean deep emotions which can leave onlookers shocked at our anger or sadness and can often manifest in apathy. The problem is the depression can exhaust us. It is exhausting to care about anything and leaves us struggling to engage emotionally.
What Did I Miss?
There you have it. My list of things you should know about a mama with PPD/PPA. Do you have anything else to add? Please leave it in the comments.
Please share this list with anyone who struggles with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Offer help or support. Let that mama know you’re there for her and that she isn’t alone.