For those of you who don’t know, May is the mental health awareness month. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been hearing many different women sharing their stories of PPD/PPA and I can’t help see myself in their shoes. Many of the things they were talking about I had went through. I was never diagnosed with PPD/PPA and maybe I never really had it, however hearing all the similarities between their stories and mine brought me back to those first six months of James’ life.
So I thought id share my experience with you.
I was never an anxious person. I always loved going out, being seen and making new friends. I have had friends who struggle with depression and I knew what the symptoms were. I think this is why when I started having all these awful feelings and thoughts I was quick to dismiss PPD/PPA.
For a while I chalked the tension and worry into “baby blues” . While my pregnancy was not easy it wasn’t the worst. My first two trimesters I was puking constantly, even with medication. However I was still able to eat and gain healthy weight towards the end–nothing too serious. Then soon after, the swelling came– along with the aches and pains. I kept telling myself that these were normal, that once I get this baby out I’ll feel like myself again. When the baby came I expected to bounce right back. I told myself give it about a week, you’ll feel normal again. Weeks passed, then months and I still didn’t feel like myself.
I felt trapped. I felt like I wasn’t a person anymore. Between the sleepless breast feeding nights and the long lonely days at home by myself, I slowly started losing a grip on who I was as an individual. I felt like I was just a robot designed to keep a baby alive. I was caught into a horrible cycle of wanting to eat to feel better but then overeating and hating myself. I wanted to feel normal for my baby but I didn’t know how. Over time I realised that I wasn’t going to feel like myself again because I was different. I was now a mom. I had other priorities to think about. I couldn’t live my carefree life, day drinking on my days off or glasses of wine on a friday night.
If I could pinpoint the time where I believe the PPD (postpartum depression) started to kick in it would be the day before my husband’s birthday. We decided to go to a casino near by to celebrate. Nothing too major; it was like five in the afternoon and the baby was only a month old. I remember thinking to myself why do I feel so strange. I questioned myself, this should feel normal. Asking myself, am I not having a good time? But I was! It was just like every other time my husband and I would go out. That’s when it hit me. This Isn’t who I am anymore. Everything about my life before being a mom wouldn’t feel the same because I had changed. Now that I can step back and analyze things that was the moment when I knew nothing would be the same.
Baby blues are normal they say but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between what’s normal and what’s not. There were times when my baby would have a great day; he would nap like he’s supposed to, latch on really great, even be content with his swing. Yet at the end of the day I’d still feel like I was failing. Not just failing as a mother but failing life in general. I would go hangout with friends or even to my mother’s house and be fine. When I got home all those fears came flooding back. I would feel alone, sad and confused. My emotions were everywhere. I would feel like I wasn’t a good wife because some days I wouldn’t have the energy to get out of bed. I felt like I was failing everyone. There came a time when I couldn’t remember the last time I was genuinely happy. When that time came I knew I had to do something about it. I had to change.
I remember sitting in the stylist chair getting my hair cut, talking it through with my hair stylist aka one of my closest friends (no it’s true. She’s an amazing person and friend to have). I remember crying to her spilling my guts and her exact words were “that sounds like PPD honey.” At this time, I knew the responsible thing to do would be to see a doctor. However at the time I didn’t have any insurance. My friend advised me to find a way to get insurance so that I could seal help.
Like many Americans and new moms though I chose to wait it out and see because getting insurance isn’t always an easy and timely route. Either way talking to her really put things into perspectives for me because she has went through this her self. Also actually saying the words out loud rather than in my head made it all so real. I never knew if what I was going through really was PPD/PPA. However what I felt was a roller coaster of emotions that were never ending.
I believe things mentally started getting better once James hit a year and a half. I could just feel the tension over time lightening up. I would wake up some days and truly feel happy again. My advice for you moms going through PPD right now is that life goes on. Right now may seem like the hardest time of your life but if you fight through it, you will get better. PPD isn’t your fault and it doesn’t have to control your life. Whether you’re just going through baby blues or full on PPD, keep talking about it. Check in with your friends and family and know you’re not alone. -AL