I’ve been wanting to blog for a while now, but haven’t had the energy. I was going to say “haven’t had the time,” but I’ve spent too many nights zoned out in front of the television, watching Netflix for hours on end, to honestly say “I haven’t had the time.” So, we’ll say energy.
Truth bomb: postpartum depression is not fun.
Another truth bomb: I let it get to a pretty scary point before I sought help.
There’s this taboo when it comes to talking about depression or postpartum depression or any sort of mental illness. But I refuse to follow the rules, because the more people who are open and honest about it, the more people will feel safe and comfortable reaching out to friends, family, or their doctor for help. So, there it is. I have PPD. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.
At first, I was just tired all the time, no energy, and given that I was still adjusting from having just one child to having two, that’s to be expected. Then came the brain fog…I was missing appointments and having to reschedule things because I just couldn’t remember anything. I ran two stop signs in the same day (luckily there were no other cars) and didn’t even realize it until someone pointed it out to me.
There was the numbness…I was going through the motions, doing what everyone expected me to do, saying everything everyone expected me to say, and not feeling a darn thing. I mean, I knew I loved my girls, and that I should be happy to have another baby, and I smiled whenever anyone asked me and said everything was amazing. But the truth was (and still is some days) that I wasn’t feeling any of it. I felt like a robot. And then I would look at my beautiful girls and ask myself what the hell was wrong with me, that I couldn’t appreciate what I had and ENJOY being home with my girls, something I’ve always wanted to do.
The insomnia. Oh LORD, the insomnia. I am blessed with perfect sleepers, both my girls have slept very well from 6 weeks on…but I’m regularly awake until 4:30A.M. I just can’t sleep. Nothing I try helps. I either lay awake in bed, annoyed that I can’t sleep, or I lay on the couch watching shows on Netflix, knowing that trying to sleep will be useless. Here I am, blogging at 2:30 in the morning, because I am WIDE AWAKE, and nothing I do will change that. I didn’t even realize insomnia could be a symptom of PPD until I looked it up the other day. Insomnia is a jerk, and the struggle is real.
The anxiety is a given. Panic attacks. Feelings of worthlessness. I told my husband I felt like everyone would just get along better and be happier if I left. I wasn’t being dramatic, either, I really did feel that way, 100% honestly. I was sobbing, and just completely and absolutely convinced that my girls would be happier if I wasn’t there, because I am so depressed and not handling life well. I have literally never felt so worthless in my entire life as I have been feeling these last few weeks.
There’s the “what if” thoughts. They come out of nowhere and won’t leave you alone. “What if there’s an earthquake and we don’t have anywhere safe to take the kids?” “What if we get in a car accident and one of us is badly hurt?” “What if Briana got away from us in the parking lot and got hit by a car?” There were several days where David would get home from work and I would immediately bombard him with demands that we buy this safety kit, move that furniture, do this or that or the other thing to keep this random event from happening. He listened patiently and nodded a lot, and then promptly ignored my demands. I felt like I was going crazy. I was obsessive. But I couldn’t stop. The thoughts are intrusive and unwanted and horrible, and you can’t make them stop.
The biggest thing is the anger. It’s so…pervasive. I literally feel as if I am trapped in a cage in my head, watching this crazy person yell at everyone and say the most hateful things, treat the people I love the most horribly, make my toddler cry, scare the baby, and test the limits of my husbands patience and understanding. Several times I have stopped in the middle of a tirade and desperately told my husband, “I don’t want to yell, I don’t. I don’t know why I’m yelling.” And then I’ll try to calmly discuss whatever had set me off, and five seconds later I’m in full blown monster mode again. It’s…terrifying. To me, I mean. I hate feeling like I’m not in control of myself. I hate scaring my kids. I hate hurting people’s feelings. I have spent a lot of time apologizing to people around me in the last few weeks.
Briana will say “Mommy, you’re freaking out. I love you so much. Are you okay?” It breaks my heart. David says Bri still loves me, and that everything is going to be okay. I try really hard to believe him.
I have spoken with my midwife and emailed my doctor, and we have a plan of action to tackle this head on and get me feeling better. Truthfully, I would have spoken up sooner, because I could TELL what was happening, but I was a) irrationally afraid that someone would take my baby away because I “couldn’t take care of her” like I should be, b) I didn’t want to be put on medication that would prevent me from breastfeeding my daughter and c) I had convinced myself that I just needed to “snap out of it.” If I just acted like everything was okay and kept a smile on and posted happy things on Facebook, everything would be fine.
I was wrong.
I’m sharing this, my experience with PPD, because I want people to know they aren’t alone. I want other mothers going through it to know that it’s okay to ask for help. I want their family and friends to know what to look for. I want people to be aware that sometimes, it isn’t just the baby blues, and the mom is going to need help and support to get through it.
I want people to know they’re not crazy, they’re not horrible mothers, they’re not robots. I want them to know that even though they feel like everyone’s life would be better if they left, they’re wrong. You’re going through a rough time right now, but reach out for help. You’re going to be okay.
I’m posting some links with some information about postpartum depression. If you think you have it, call your doctor right away, so you can get the help you need. Life will get better. You’re a good mom. Breathe. Everything is going to be okay.
“Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.”
(As stated on the National Institute of Health’s website.)