It wasn’t until my son was 10 months old that I was brave enough to ask for help regarding my postpartum depression. Ten months y’all. It took me that long after my son was born to come to terms with the fact that what I was thinking was not normal. Maybe “normal” isn’t the right term for it, but I knew what I was feeling wasn’t right. I knew what I was experiencing was beyond the realm of “baby blues” that many women go through due to the extended length of time that I experienced symptoms.
My son was born more than 12 years ago during a time when postpartum depression (PPD) still really wasn’t talked about. My obstetrician asked me a few questions around the issue but never came out and explained what PPD was. What is sad is that I knew that I had it when my son was 1 month old.
But I didn’t tell anybody.
I suffered for the next nine months with feelings of self-doubt, self-hatred and self-loathing about my ability to be a good mom for my son. I watched other moms and wondered why I didn’t feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my son, but I couldn’t get myself to connect with him the way that I thought I should be.
My mind was in a fog never lifted, and I remember having piercing horrible thoughts of hurting him. That coupled with PPD made me super overbearing and fearful of taking him in the car, especially driving over bridges, and I worried that he would just stop breathing all of a sudden.
It was beyond exhausting.
Depression runs deep on one side of my family. I knew I had a higher chance of depression going into motherhood, but I never thought it would happen to me. My son was a scheduled C-section due to being breech, and some research suggests a link.
I finally had had enough after 10 months and realized that I needed to call my doctor. When I told my husband about my appointment, I could tell he was relieved. He had noticed my behavior but knew that I needed to come to terms about it by myself. To this day, I still think that I would have been too stubborn to seek help had he mentioned my PPD before I was ready to admit it to myself.
There is no shame in having postpartum depression.
As more moms share their stories, our society starts to understand and accept it. I try to remember to tell any expecting moms about my experience, so they don’t feel the same shame I did before I sought help. Once I started sharing my own story, I was surprised to hear from friends who had experienced the same thing. Talking about PPD breaks down the stigma of shame around it.
After being diagnosed and receiving medication for my PPD, I started to realize this is not just a first-time mom thing. PPD does not discriminate, and you can have a few great pregnancies before being hit with PPD with a third child. Once you do have it, the possibility of you having it again with a future pregnancy is higher. When I caught myself screaming at my one-month-old second child, I got in to see my doctor pronto. There was no way I was going to allow PPD to steal any more of my precious time.
If you are a mom of a newborn, or not so newborn, and are experiencing any kind of dark thoughts or feelings of fogginess, please go see your doctor. You are not weird or wrong or a horrible mother. Your brain simply needs some help in sending and receiving messages, and that’s OK. I will never get those first 10 months back with my son. PPD robbed me of being present with him for almost the first year of his life. I missed out on a lot of joy and milestones because I was overwhelmed. If this sounds like you, please seek help and begin feeling like you again.
Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.
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