My Postpartum Depression Confession

This post is difficult for me to write.  It’s terrifying to reveal my deepest, darkest secrets to the world; but I’ve done it before and I’m going to do it again.  Last week, I recognized my postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms by reading about someone else’s journey to diagnosis.  I’m willing to publicize my secrets in the hope that another woman might recognize her symptoms in my story.

Even though 15 to 20 percent of mothers experience PPD, there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to it.  Perhaps that stigma is more evident to the person suffering from PPD.  I have the fear that others might view me as weak, or less of a mother.  I have a fear of admitting that I need help.  I can’t “snap out of it.”  I feel guilty that I haven’t been myself for months.  My husband, son, family, friends and even my work all deserve more than I have been able to provide.

While it’s terrifying to admit what I’m about to reveal, a friend just told me that what she loves about me is that I’m real.  So here I am.  True, raw emotion.  Uncensored.  Scared, but hopeful.

When C was first born and even while he had colic for those two long months, I felt like myself.  Exhausted and exasperated, yes.  But I was still me.  I still really felt the happiness and laughter in my life.  Despite the exhaustion from the lack of sleep caused simply by having a newborn, I was energetic.

I stopped breastfeeding at the end of June, which coincided with the end of C’s colic.  By the end of August, my body had stopped producing milk (yes, it took a long time!).  I can trace my PPD symptoms to that period of time.  My PPD has continually progressed since then.

There are constantly about 20 different thoughts racing through my head.  It’s hard to keep up sometimes.  I can’t concentrate on things.  I forget what people have said to me, or what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes I’m watching a TV show, but am so distracted that I can’t remember what happened.  I haven’t been able to read a book since before I had C.  At first, there was just no time and now it’s just impossible to concentrate.

I get frustrated, irritated and angry very quickly.  C’s crying makes my whole body tense up.  I clench my teeth.  I yell too easily and too often.  I realize that I shouldn’t be upset, but I can’t stop myself.

I’m almost always overwhelmed, which contributes to the irritation and yelling.  Piles of papers have been scattered on our counter for months.  I can’t sort through it.  I can’t file away important papers.  It’s just too much.  I’m getting anxious just thinking about it.

I feel hopeless.  I wonder if things will ever get easier, if I’ll ever be able to “handle” being a mother.

I experience a heaping dose of guilt on a daily basis.  I feel guilty for being overwhelmed, easily frustrated and for yelling.  I feel guilty for not feeling more competent.  I feel guilty that I’m not the same person I was before C was born (or even in the few months after).

While I still laugh and experience happy things, I don’t feel happiness as deeply as I used to.

I’ve experienced appetite changes.  I’m hungry more often.  I don’t necessarily eat more, just more often.

I have problems sleeping.  Granted, sharing a bedroom with C does not help.  C is perhaps the lightest sleeper on the planet and wakes up if we move or breathe too loudly.  Regardless, I am always exhausted and even when I get a good night of sleep, I don’t feel rested.

This is perhaps the most difficult one for me to admit: intrusive thoughts.  When I’m driving, I can’t stop thinking things like, “What if I hit that tree?” or, “What if we hit that car?”  When I have C playing in the kitchen while I cook, I think things like, “What if this knife slips out of my hand and hurts C?” or, “What if the refrigerator door falls off the hinges and crushes him?”  No, they’re not rational thoughts.  No, I know that I would never hurt myself or C.  But they’re there.

After finally recognizing that this is not just my “new normal,” like I had feared, I called my OBGYN office on Monday.  My doctor’s first opening was two weeks later, but since I had mentioned postpartum anxiety and depression they got me in the schedule to see a nurse practitioner this week.

Today, I was diagnosed with moderately severe postpartum depression.

I will be starting an antidepressant tonight.  I’m scared of the adjustment period.  I’ve heard that other women with PPD have experienced severe highs and lows for the first few weeks until the medication levels off.  In less than two weeks, we’re going to be leaving home to visit with family for the holidays.  I’m scared of going through this adjustment in front of them.  I’m scared of being judged.  But, I’m hopeful.  I’m hopeful that I will be able to feel joy as deeply as I once did.  I’m hopeful that my son, husband, family and friends might get the best from me once again.  I’m hopeful that I’ll find “me” again.


If you or someone you know might be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and/or anxiety, the following websites are great resources for evaluating symptoms and finding help.  If you are having feelings of harming yourself or your child, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911.

Postpartum Progress
Postpartum Support International
U.S. National Library of Medicine

Comments

  1. Me too… I know just where you are at. I really do. I feel exactly how you feel and somedays i wonder who i am and what i am doing…

    I wont lie to you, it is hard, even though i am on anti depressants and even though i now have all the hope in the world, when i get tired, when things begin to pile up again, when my anxiety flairs…. Well the tears still flow and my heart still hurts from so deep i dont know how to overcome it…

    But i truly believe that just the first step helps in the recovery and knowing that you need help, seeking that advice and working through it has to be one of the bravest things as mothers we can do.

    Just know that you are never alone in your battle and if you ever ever need a shoulder to cry on there is such a fantastic community out there that you should always know that you are never by yourself… That we will always be here for you…

    And always remember that:::

    “Hope knows the sun has risen even when the clouds cover every ray of light”

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I love that quote. I’m so happy to know that there’s a supportive community out there – others, like you, who really know what I’m going through.

      Thank you,
      Kristin

  2. (hugs)

    Three things:

    you are amazing.

    you are loved.

    you are no longer alone.

    And one more thing – you’ll get through this.

    Sending love & hugs,
    lauren

    PS. Join us for #PPDChat on Mondays at 1pm & 830pm ET on Twitter. The hashtag is also available for support 24/7.

    • Lauren, thank you for your kind, empowering words. It’s a wonderful mantra.

      I’m so glad to hear about #PPDChat and certainly plan on being involved.

      Thank you,
      Kristin

  3. You are so brave, I have thought all off these things. I was so afraid of people judging me, sometimes I still am. But on twitter I have met others, who get me, who encourage, and ensure me that I will get better. And that helps a lot. The adjustment to medication was hard for me, but it made my life SO much better. Sending you lots of love!

    • I’m so happy to hear that after this step, healing begins – and is possible. Thank you for your words of support. I look forward to connecting with you on Twitter.

      Thank you,
      Kristin

  4. Let me start by saying how proud I am of you for sharing this. It is terrifying to admit what we are like at our darkest but it is also freeing. Think of it this way . . . you are not longer the prisoner of these feelings.

    I also have to say that this post hits oh so close to home for me. I have, and to some extent are still dealing with, each of these experiences. It sucks. It hurts. Sometimes it is humiliating but it is not me . . . it is just a part of me at this moment in time.

    I am still in the midst of getting better . . . but I am getting better. Slowly but surely I am beginning to feel more like myself again. You will get there as well.

    You are not alone in this. Whenever you need help just put it out there and there will be someone to answer that call.

    ((hugs))

    • That is such a great way of looking at it – no longer being a prisoner of these feelings. In a sense, I feel slightly liberated by taking this step.

      Thank you for reminding me that “it is not me…it is just a part of me at this moment in time.” What a great thing to remember when things get difficult.

      I’m glad that you’re feeling more like yourself again. Thank you for your support. I look forward to connecting with you on Twitter as we both continue on this journey.

      Thank you,
      Kristin

  5. Good job reaching out for help. This post was excellent and o so familiar. Take it all a moment at a time.

  6. I could have written this myself, word for word. I’m so proud of you for opening up, and sharing your story. Not only might it help someone else, but it will help you. I know writing my blog has helped me. Keep it up. You wont regret it.

  7. Thanks for writing this post. It does help other moms to read honest posts like yours. Ditto to what Lauren said in her comment. Never forget that you will get through this and that you are loved and not alone.

    • I’m so glad that I put all of this out there. A few women in my life have already told me that now they know they also have this problem. It’s wonderful to know that you’re no longer alone, and that there is help.

      Thank you,
      Kristin

  8. Aunt Debbie says:

    Kristin, I am so sorry I did not see this happening to you, and as always, you have so eloquently explained what others feel but cannot describe. I am so very proud of you and cannot wait to hold you in my arms. Your family loves you, and we accept you with all of your imperfections, just as you accept us with ours. :) Come home for hugs, Sweetie, come home.

  9. I wish I could hug you for sharing. Really, I do.

    I had an extremely traumatic birth with my first, and I still cannot bond as well as I feel I should (writing that hurts more than I can ever truly convey). I continually suffer all of the changes you’ve listed above. And I constantly feel guilty for anything and everything, even when it has nothing to do with me.

    I wrote on another post of yours about writing things down and how I also write ways things can always be worse (but that’s only on days where I can pay enough attention to do so… I did leave that part off in hopes of cheering you up). When I can write things down, it certainly does help for that day.

    A couple months after DD was born (back in 2009), I did see my OBGYN and told them about my anxiety, rage, etc. They didn’t mention PPD, and neither did I (I didn’t even know what that was). They put me on Celexa which was a nightmare. For two weeks, I couldn’t sleep and I’d wake up screaming at times because of how vivid my dreams were. I was more exhausted going to sleep than I was if I forced myself to stay awake. I quit taking it cold-turkey and never tried talking to anyone about it all again. :/

    So anyways, this post was like a lightbulb going off for me. I really do need to see someone, and I am NOT alone. I do not have to sit here and think that it’s all me, and that I’m a horrible person for feeling like I do nearly every minute of every day. This gives me the courage I needed to stand up for myself and ask for help. I’m sure my DD will be extremely grateful for it :)

    Thanks.

    • Oh Amy, I am so sorry that you’re suffering. All of these things are incredibly difficult to deal with, especially when you’re battling it all quietly, alone.

      First, I want you to know that you have nothing to feel guilty about. Your traumatic birth is not your fault, nor are the feelings and thoughts that haunt you about it. Second, I’ve weaned off of antidepressants and it was a complete nightmare. I can’t imagine going cold turkey like you did. It must have been hell. One bad experience with meds doesn’t mean that they’ll all be that way. I really hope that the next physician you talk to about this will be receptive to your concerns and needs. Hoping that you’ll be able to get help and will start to feel more like you again.

      So proud of you for recognizing that it’s okay to stand up for yourself and ask for help. You’re right – you are NOT alone. If you ever need to talk, please contact me. I’d be happy to chat. If you’d like to observe a #PPDchat on Twitter (or participate!), those happen on Mondays at 1pm and 8pm EST. There are so many wonderful women who have experienced or are currently going through these same things. It was an invaluable support system for me.

      Sending big hugs and well wishes,
      Kristin

Trackbacks

  1. [...] « My Postpartum Depression Confession [...]

  2. [...] that I don’t know what to do with.  While organizing and certain other tasks still feel overwhelming, I’ve been baking and dancing around.  It’s wonderful.  I’m like a new woman! [...]

  3. [...] heard or read all of these things about the period of time when your body adjusts to medication for postpartum depression.  Somehow I hoped that it wouldn’t apply to me.  I was praying that since we’re [...]

  4. [...] the stoic, “everybody’s fine” type of person.  I was terrified to publicize my postpartum depression diagnosis; but at the same time, it was a very easy decision to make.  I had recognized my symptoms by [...]

  5. [...] made significant progress.  When I was diagnosed in December, my PPD was moderately severe.  It is now mild.  That’s the good [...]

  6. [...] gap between when we have coverage.  Most importantly, I’m in the midst of my battle with postpartum depression.  I’m still working with my OBGYN to find the proper dosage of medication to help me. [...]

  7. […] once you face maternal mental illness once, you’re more likely to experience it again. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression nearly eight months after C was born. I fell through the cracks the first time. My OBGYN only asked […]

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