That thing that no one talks about. The shame, the guilt, the sadness, the anger, the rage, the random hurtful thoughts. It's overwhelming and consuming. This is something that can not be dealt with alone. So let's talk about it.
What is PPD? Here is a definition from Wikipedia.
Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect women after childbirth. Symptoms may include sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. While many women experience self-limited, mild symptoms postpartum, postpartum depression should be suspected when symptoms are severe and have lasted over two weeks.
Symptoms of PPD can occur any time in the first year postpartum. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Low self-esteem
- A feeling of being overwhelmed
- Sleep and eating disturbances
- Inability to be comforted
- Inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable
- Social withdrawal
- Low or no energy
- Becoming easily frustrated
- Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
- Decreased sex drive
- Occasional or frequent anxiety
Are you a mother going through these mental, emotional and physical changes? You are not alone my friend. I was diagnosed with PPD shortly after having my beautiful baby boy. I was constantly frustrated with breastfeeding, not getting enough sleep, having no appetite to eat or drink anything, and having no interest in anything or anybody for that matter. I was severely depressed. Guess what, I am still going through this.
I thank God that He gave my husband the wisdom, discernment, and courage to confront me about it. I had not idea what was going on with me. Why I was only feeling intense sadness and anger toward everything and everybody. I had no interest in life anymore. I even considered ending my life. These thoughts bombarded me everyday. Sometimes I still face these lies, that this, me being mentally and emotionally unstable is my fault. That I'm a bad mother. That if I can't do everything, then you're worthless.
My husband approached me one night and told me he was looking up postpartum depression and he thought I had it. I wasn't offended at all.. I think I was too tired honestly to care. I just sat there for a minute and said, "well... ok then, what do we do?". He suggested we go see the doctor to confirm it was indeed a problem. She encouraged me and of course gave me some meds that might help. So far they have worked to a degree, but I think honestly the best thing for me has been to face it and talk about it. I sought out council and have been meeting with a mom (who now has three kids), but went through it with one child. Honestly, talking about it, hearing her talk about her experience and feelings has really opened up my heart to not only be honest with her, but to be honest with myself. Of course I still have my ups and downs, but I quickly recognize it now, or my husband will pursue me and take time to sit and talk with me about what is going on.
At first, I felt so embarrassed that I had to deal with this... thing that I had no control over. It's literally a chemical imbalance in your brain, and all you can do is walk through the trenches. It sucks because you keep getting stuck in the mud and trying to get your leg to break free and sometimes you do and sometimes you fall flat on your face in the mud. But a solider is never alone. There's always someone there to help get you back on your feet and to keep plowing through.
Listen, Postpartum depression is a very real thing and a real issue in our society. If you don't have a support system. Please go see your doctor. They can refer you to a professional counselor. But get support! Whether that's a good friend, counselor, another moms, your spouse, whoever. You need to talk with someone, and you don't have to go through this alone. We need to make this issue more aware to women and men! I bless you if you've never had to go through this, but if you know of someone who is going through this, or is showing the symptoms listed above, please, please have the courage to talk to them. Although, be warned, you might get yelled at, just being real. A lot of women will be in denial about this and it takes them a long time to realize they are going through PPD. So be gentle and have grace for them. Be a support for them.
I want to take just one more minute of your time and just show all the difference between PDD and Maternity Blues and/or Baby Blues. This is something ALL woman go through. The major difference is you only should have the Baby Blues for a few weeks and be getting better as time goes on. With PPD, you tend to get worse and worse as time goes on. Being disconnected to everyone, feeling angry, disappointed etc. Listed below are the symptoms of Maternity Blues.
- Weepiness and bursting into tears.
- Sudden mood swings.
- Anxiousness and hypersensitivity to criticism.
- Low spirits and irritability.
- Poor concentration and indecisiveness.
- Feeling 'unbonded' with baby.
- Restless insomnia.
Again, you are not alone. There are people who want to help you. And guess what, you will get better. Trust me. It does get better. I know you're thinking everyone says that about having a baby, when you go through stuff it's hard but worht it, but it's really true. Just like you didn't stay pregnant forever, you won't have PPD forever. You can do this.
As a wonderful 2-year-old girl said in a little ol' movie called The Help. You's kind, you's smart, you's important.