Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Two words that completely changed my life. Before my diagnosis, I knew the basics about PPD. I had no issues with mental health after my first son and during the joy-filled months I prepared for my second son’s arrival, I never expected to soon be faced with this overwhelming illness.
What I Thought It Looked Like
I thought PPD presented as crying most of the time and always being sad. Why didn’t I know that it can present in many different ways? I think it’s because postpartum mental health is still not as important as it should be. I never knew that 10-20% of new moms experience PPD, or that it can show up as late as one year post delivery. What I thought it was and what it was for me were total opposites.
What It Looked Like For Me
Postpartum depression presented for me as major irritability and anger. I originally thought that maybe it would just take me some time to adjust to having two kids versus one. Maybe it was normal to feel so overwhelmed by all I needed to do that I just didn’t do anything. The anger was horrible. For five months, I was angry at my husband, my children, and myself. I couldn’t understand why the little everyday things made me so full of rage. I became angry when my two-year-old son asked for a snack, when the baby cried due to being wet or hungry, when my husband did something to help, etc. Anger ruled my life for five months . . . until the day I had a complete breakdown.
I Finally Spoke Out
While we were on family vacation, I had a meltdown. I cannot even remember what the cause was and only know that, in that moment, I knew something wasn’t right. My husband knew something wasn’t right. I began asking some friends if they had ever dealt with any postpartum emotional issues and, to my surprise, many of them said they had. Why hadn’t I known about this sooner?! I
truly believe that I would have spoken out earlier had I known that what I was feeling could be classified as PPD. Every single day was completely draining mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was not the wife and mom I needed to be. Once I realized there were many others in my own circle who had personally dealt with PPD or other postpartum mental health diagnoses, I was able to seek the help I desperately needed.
Then Came Baby Number Three
Three years after my experience with PPD, I found out I was pregnant again. The one and only dark spot in my entire pregnancy was the thought of enduring another journey with postpartum depression. Once my daughter was born, everything seemed to be going fine. It wasn’t until a few months after her birth that I began to feel that shift inside of me again. It presented this time as intense irritability and anger, feeling inadequate, insomnia, and extreme fatigue. (Those last two were really hard to have at the same time!) Thankfully, due to my previous experience with PPD, I was able to speak up sooner and get the help I needed. I did have another complete meltdown, but I was able to recognize it for what it was.
I’m currently almost 10 months postpartum and doing so much better. I still have my moments when I feel as if I’m not enough, but I’m positive most mothers feel that at times. I just have to remember that no one can be a better mother to my children than me. God gave these specific kids to me for a reason. They are the most precious gifts.
How I Overcame PPD
Simply put, I overcame this when I took control of my mental health. I spoke to my doctor and began taking medication to help re-balance myself and learned what things I needed in order to feel recharged and able to care for my family. I spoke to my husband about what I needed from him and from myself. Today, I continue to do most of these things to keep myself in balance and be able to care for my family and home.
So What About You?
Are you in a place where you don’t feel like yourself but believe you have no one to talk to who could possibly understand? You’re not alone! I promise! Don’t wait to speak out about how you’re feeling simply because you believe you should be able to handle it all. Please don’t feel ashamed that you’re not living up to the moms you see on social media who have it all together. (I promise they don’t.) Speak to your husband, your doctor, your friends. Take control of your mental health. If you still feel as if you have no one to talk to about your feelings, please talk to me.
I simply want you to know that you are not alone. Please know you have nothing to be ashamed of in speaking to a therapist, taking medication, or simply taking a few hours to yourself every week to recharge and be ready to care for your family again.
You are SEEN. You are HEARD. You are so very LOVED.