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May is Maternal Mental Health Month, readers, and we’re bringing you true, but touching, stories from moms just like you who have shut down the stigma of postpartum mood disorders (PPMD) and shared their experiences with us in hopes of bringing awareness to this important topic. We’re sharing some obvious and other hidden symptoms and facts about PPMD and including resources for support. Stay tuned all this month for these stories and more.
Me, Too – Defeating Depression Series
Post originally appeared on Amaris’s blog: Crumbs & Glamour and reprinted with permission.
It’s always in the shower when I have my real shaking my fist at God moments. When no one’s around and it’s just the hot water washing away my tears. When I can weep bitterly and no one will hear me. But this time was different.
I moseyed my way to the shower, I hadn’t taken one in what seemed like weeks, I just felt like an indifferent and filthy blob that needed a deep clean. I was hoping the shower would clean my soul. That the water would wash away all my anger. That maybe if I made it hot enough it would burn away the tormenting thoughts within me. I was hoping for a spiritual cleansing where God would miraculously intervene. And maybe he did, but just not how I would imagine. I had no energy to do anything. So, once I got in the shower, I just sat down and cried.
And then I thought to myself, “I can’t live this type of hell anymore. It’s time I end it. I can’t go another year experiencing constant sadness and indifference. Neglecting my children because I just can’t get my sh*t together. My husband and children would be better without me.”
What I thought was the end of my life on earth, was actually just the beginning of my story with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety.
My oldest child, Drew, is nearly 2 and a half, so to be certain, that’s how long I’ve been dealing with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (PPD&A).
Truthfully, I think I’ve been depressed since I found out I was pregnant with him, but I know FOR SURE I’ve been dealing with PPD&A since he was born.
I had a little bit of a break when I became pregnant with Reese (my 2nd born), but I was pregnant… soooo, my hormones and emotions were pretty crazy then, too.
Let’s start from the beginning:
Naturally, I’m an extrovert. I’m fun-loving, happy, spontaneous, free-spirited, crazy, wild, fearless, definitely shameless, blunt, politically incorrect, vocal, etc. etc… I am me.
Depression and anxiety weren’t things that I knew.
Did I know death? Yes.
Did I know divorce? Yes.
Did I know insecurity? Yes.
But I didn’t know depression, severe sadness, indifference, anxiety, or things that go with depression or anxiety.
So, coming from my background, when PPD&A hit, I had no idea what I was dealing with. To be as real as I can, I thought I was in some horrible sin and that God hated me.
Typical PPD only lasts a couple of months. That has not been the case with me. I’ve been dealing with extended postpartum depression and anxiety. So, after Andrew was born, I dealt with it for 11 months… Until I got pregnant with my second.
My journal entries, for practically a year, were “Why God are you so far?” “Do you care for me?” “Are you here for me?” “Do you love me?”
But again, I didn’t know that there was anything the matter… so life just continued on, as I felt like I was falling apart on the inside.
When I became pregnant with Reese, that cloud was lifted. Kinda.
I wasn’t necessarily depressed, but I continued to deal with anxiety, fear, control, intense hormones, etc…
I delivered my beautiful baby girl and was soaring with happy feelings.
By 5 weeks postpartum, I was severely depressed.
Worse than what I experienced after Andrew’s delivery. I found myself crying for no reason, gloomy, withdrawn, didn’t want to be around anyone, and considering suicide. It felt like hell.
I finally began to put the pieces together and noticed it was very similar to what I had experienced after my first pregnancy. I came to the conclusion that it was postpartum depression.
I went to my doctor and told her I needed help, I told her I would prefer a natural vitamin or supplement (if there was something)… but if it didn’t work, I was prepared to go on an antidepressant.
Postpartum depression and anxiety, for me, feels like everything is cloudy and dark.
I experience unexplainable sadness and guilt. Every task seems a million times harder. It’s hard to motivate myself and go anywhere. Some days I wake up in the middle of the night with unexplainable anxiety- so severe I’m on the verge of vomiting.
Like I’m a boat that has a leak in it; I’m constantly having to use my energy to stop the leak and stay afloat. Because of that, I have little to no energy for other things.
Fast forward to today:
My doctor did recommend natural supplements, and they work great for me.
I take two herbal supplements from Nature’s Sunshine (if you want to know what they are shoot me a message), they help a lottttt.
But to have a raw moment with you- life is still not perfect.
I still have my days (my weeks) that are cloudier and not super happy.
Some days I can’t get much done. That’s okay.
Some days the dishes will pile up. That’s okay.
Some months I miss the gym because I’m just too tired or overwhelmed. And, it’s okay that I don’t go.
My point is this: sometimes you just have to have grace for yourself.
Be patient with yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year.
There is a season for everything.
And when life is sweet, say thank you and learn to celebrate.
But if life is bitter, say thank you and grow.
Everything will be okay.
We’ll all be okay.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Missed the last post in this series? Read Meaghan’s story here.
Quick Facts about Postpartum Mental Health
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, putting American families at risk each and every year.
Mothers are often told that in order to care for their babies they must take care of themselves first, just as we are told on a plane prior to takeoff that we must put our oxygen mask on first before we put one on our child.
Postpartum depression is now often referred to as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, or postpartum mood disorders (PPMD).
There are four subtypes of PPMD: depression, anxiety with or without depression, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms [of PPMD] can start to show within a few weeks of childbirth, but sometimes it can take up to a year.
Mothers with Postpartum Depression may not wish to engage with others or their babies, lack concentration and focus, and may feel worthless, hopeless, guilty, and sad.
No one is ever at fault for having a Postpartum Mood Disorder. There is nothing a new mother could have done to prevent it, and she most certainly did not ask for it. And she cannot simply will it away.
Where to turn to for help – Resources for parents experiencing symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders