I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while but wasn’t sure where to start. It’s still not an easy thing to talk about. Postpartum depression.
Having a baby is one of the most wonderful things in the world. I loved being pregnant and couldn’t wait to see my sweet boy. I envisioned being a mother and caring for my baby, rocking him, kissing his sweet face. What I did not ever expect was for postpartum depression to hit me.
It started 2 weeks after I had my son. I thought it was just the baby blues. I had never been so exhausted from lack of sleep. I figured sleep deprivation was my issue. At my 6-week postpartum checkup, I was handed a depression survey to fill out. I remember lying on the survey. So many questions were how I was feeling, but I was too ashamed to admit it. So, I lied and acted like I felt perfectly fine. I did the same when I was handed a similar survey at one of my son’s pediatrician appointments.
I. FELT. SHAME. I was slowly understanding what was going on, but I refused to admit it. I figured if I denied it then it wouldn’t be true. I recall thinking so many times, “I love my baby with all my heart, why am I feeling so sad?”.
The thing is, postpartum depression and anxiety is more common than we know. The social stigma attached to it causes so many women, myself included, fearful to seek help. I was ashamed, confused, and so angry with myself. I felt like something must be wrong with me. I felt like a failure.
I pushed the reality of postpartum depression down for 10 months. TEN LONG MONTHS. I would confide in my best friends and with some moms in my Facebook groups, but was still so ashamed. It wasn’t until my best friend demanded that I see my doctor and offered to go with me that I finally decided to be honest with myself and go. I went alone and was completely honest about how I was feeling for the past 10 months. I broke down crying in his office. He hugged me, told me it was all okay, and that I would overcome this. We talked about therapy and self-care, and medication if I was willing. I agreed to all his suggestions, and he prescribed me an anti-depressant. He said it didn’t have to be forever, and just take everything one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
The moment I left his office I sat in my car and cried. I cried because I felt relief. I was finally honest about my feelings and it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t carrying this “dirty secret” around anymore. I knew that day was going to be the beginning of healing.
The medication wasn’t a magic pill, but it certainly helped tremendously. I became friends with other women online who were going through the same thing. I began therapy. With each day, I was feeling stronger. I started losing the feelings of shame and began acceptance. I had postpartum depression and I was going to be okay.
Postpartum depression does NOT mean you’re a bad mother. It does NOT mean you’re a failure. It does NOT mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that you’re struggling with emotions and need help coping. It means that you’re suffering from something that is far more common than what we realize.
Confiding in my best friends helped. Their support kept me strong. Connecting with other women going through the same thing helped. It made me understand I was not alone. Having an honest conversation with my doctor helped me accept what was happening and start my healing process. I’m not saying that medication is for everyone. You have to find what works best for you.
I had postpartum depression and I AM okay.