Today, Dee from Enjoy Mamahood is sharing her experience with Postpartum Depression. When I first came to Dee’s blog I was impressed by her willingness to share about something so many women are afraid to talk about.
“The Statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If you settled on an average of 15% of four million live births in the US annually, this would mean approximately 600,000 women get PPD each year in the United States alone.”
I, myself, had postpartum depression after my first child was born and did not know what was happening. I had not been counseled about PPD, no one had ever mentioned it to me. I walked through the first years of motherhood in a fog.
To prelude Dee’s post I asked her a few questions about her postpartum depression and the challenges she faces.
1.How did you know you had PPD? I think a lot of new mom (like myself) are unaware of how common PPD is and don’t consider it as a factor after giving birth?
I was definitely unaware of how common PPD was before and after the birth of my first son in 2013. The first two month into being a new mom, I started to question why I wasn’t a lot happier about being a mother. You always hear about this strong connection and although I felt this indescribable love, I felt off and so guilty for not feeling happier. I brought up how I was feeling to my primary care doctor who immediately diagnosed me with PPD and set me up for counseling.
In all honesty, THAT didn’t make me come to terms with PPD. Even after multiple visits with a counselor. It wasn’t until almost 6 months after my son was born, 4 months after my diagnosis, that it really hit me. I was sitting in the break room at work, just crying, and I couldn’t figure out why and I felt so scared. I had been back at work for almost 2 months at that time but I felt so disconnected, I was unable to sleep, I didn’t feel bonded to my son even though he was healthy and progressing so well. I knew right then that I needed to really acknowledge and grasp that my PPD diagnosis was in fact real.
2. What prompted you to open up about your PPD?
When I became pregnant with my second son in 2015, I still was working through PPD but I was able to manage things a lot better. I knew that there was a really big possibility that my symptoms could get worse after the birth of my second son. With the help of my primary care doctor, I was set up with a wonderful OB/GYN that specializes in working with pregnant women that have a history of PPD. Working with her throughout my pregnancy made me realize how many other women were going through PPD. She honestly, empowered me to take an even bigger hold of my PPD.
Being able to say it out loud and talk about it has helped so much. I decided to start a website to blog about and document my journey with PPD. I look back at some of my older posts and see what a long way I’ve come since then and it gives me motivation to keep moving forward, especially on the tougher days. I also wanted to give my PPD a voice. Everyone’s experience with PPD is different and I think that it’s important for new or veteran mother’s to know that.
3. What would you tell a new mother who has PPD?
Do not be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources that are at your fingertips if you ask and look around. Being open about it, whenever you feel is the right time, can also help so many others who feel afraid to speak up about it. Taking care of yourself is just and equally important as caring for your newborn. Yes, you will face people that don’t understand PPD and think of it as “just baby blues” but know that for those of us that have or are still experiencing PPD, we will lift you up to show you that you are a whole lot stronger than you think.
Here is Dee’s original post about PPD from her blog.
My journey with postpartum depression (PPD) has been a very tiring one. I’m learning that it’s okay to have bad days just as it is okay to have the good days. Although I’m having my good days, it does not necessarily mean i’m not having an internal struggle with myself. I’m often reminding myself to be present, smile often, laugh often, and that I’m doing pretty good at this motherhood thing. It may be filled with a lot of yawns due to a sleepless night. It may also be where I push myself a little harder to get myself and the boys out of the house. It could also be that I simply was able to get the laundry from the washer into the dryer.
The bad days are still there. Definitely not as much as before but there. I am awake, I am functioning, I can get things done. Often I feel like I’m walking in my own cloud space. I’m still reminding myself to be present, smile often, laugh often, and look at how happy my babies are. I get so sucked into the fog of my thoughts that I stare off into space. Am I doing a good job? Am I doing this motherhood thing right? Why can’t I be happy? Why do I feel so down? “Why?” complies on top of more “Why?”
Late nights and early mornings are much harder for me during this time. I wake up on my own. There is no crying baby that needs to be consoled or fed. There is no crying toddler that had a nightmare. I wake up and I’m wide awake. I put on a book on Audible and try to fall back asleep. Often, I get up and do schoolwork. Sometimes there is crying. There is guilt for feeling the way that I do. There is definitely anger within myself for feeling this way. There is helplessness due to feeling this way. By the time I am ready to go back to sleep it usually is an hour or so before the babies wake. I don’t let myself sleep in. I get up and I take care of them. I take care of things around the house. We go run errands. We go on a walk. All of this is going on and I am encouraging myself to keep pushing forward. Encouraging myself that this is just a bad day and I can get through it. I’m encouraging myself with my boys smiles and their laughs. I’m willing the cloud above me to just go away.
I don’t know how much of a good job I’m doing with masking this from my family and close friends. It is tiring and I wish that it was something as simple as willing it to go away instantly. I know that this is a process. I know that it won’t be easy. I know that there are good days and there are bad days. Some people say it’s hormones and some people say it isn’t a real thing. It is a real thing. I not only feel it with every part of my mind and body but I am living it. I am trying to not only live through it but find a way to live without it. It’s hard not to feel like people will judge, especially those that you are close with. Will they think differently of me? Will they even want to be around me while I’m going through this?
For now I am taking it one step at a time. One doctor’s appointment at a time. I’m reminding myself to be present and be mindful. That I am doing a pretty okay job with my babies. They are happy, they are healthy, they are hitting milestones, and seem to love me even on my bad days.