Postpartum depression (PPD) is a sneaky little b*tch, and that’s saying it nicely. It can make you feel unworthy, angry, exhausted, sad, irritable, zombie like, anxious, paranoid, paralyzed, or worse all of those at the same time.
In 5 months my son will turn 3 but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally opened up to my family about my battle with PPD after his birth.
“I didn’t know you had struggled postpartum. Why didn’t you ask for help?”
In the moment when asked that I just shrugged, but now I have an answer, multiple answers actually. Answers that I’m sure others have, can, or will relate to.
So here are some reasons why someone may not tell you they’re struggling after baby:
IT’S JUST TEMPORARY
My story goes: unexpected birth complications, mastitis, uterine infection, baby hospitalized at 5 weeks old, then back to work way too quickly; it was a mess! What ever your story is, it’s easy to brush PPD off as a temporary feeling, situational, or the baby blues practically everyone gets. Before you know it, weeks or months have passed by and you’re still telling yourself it will go away.
I DON’T WANT TO WORRY MY LOVED ONES
Since my rationale was that this was a temporary situation, why bother worrying everyone? If I started to feel better I didn’t want people checking in on me or not believing me if I told them I was ok.
IT’S ALL IN MY HEAD
“I didn’t feel this way after my first baby so I must be over exaggerating things.” “If I could get one more hour of sleep this would all go away.” “I just need to suck it up”
All of these were lies I told myself to keep from seeking help. My friends around me with double the kids were fine; I should be able to handle two no problem. Anything getting in my way was self inflicted and if I could get out of my own mind I’d be good to go. I was really good at giving myself pep talks about staying miserable and accepting the new normal.
I DON’T WANT MEDICATION
Being a big believer in treat the cause not the symptom, I very strongly wanted to avoid medication. I believe there is a time and a place for everything and I know many people who swear by medication for depression but that wasn’t the path I wanted to seek first. Originally I didn’t speak out to anyone because of my fear of that being the ONLY recommendation I would get from people.
I’M STILL ABLE TO GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS
I was one of the “lucky” ones who realized before it was over that I had fallen into a depression, I told myself if there was ever a day I couldn’t get out of bed I would ask for help. That day never came. I could keep my kids safe and fed and get to work mostly on time, so naturally I thought I was doing better than a lot of people.
I kept going through each day praying for bedtime to come earlier and earlier.
I woke up each morning in tears but still managed to get moving.
Only now do I realize it shouldn’t have been that hard to get through the day.
I DON’T WANT TO BE A CHARITY CASE
For some reason I imagined confessing my inability to feed myself properly each day and having a line of people at my door ready to donate food. I imagined expressing my loneliness and having friends ask daily “what do you need today?”. I imagined talking about my financial concerns and someone setting up a gofundme account or coming clean about the thoughts I was having and someone offering to pay my psychiatrist visits and medication.
I didn’t want hand outs, but I did need a hand and was too afraid to ask.
IT’S NOT PSYCHOSIS
There is a huge difference between depression and psychosis, but I didn’t always know that. I didn’t want to harm my children so what I was feeling couldn’t be depression! I thought to have PPD you had to wind up on the 6:00 news. I never imagined there could be such a range of symptoms and that PPD affects at least 1 out of every 7 moms.
Mothers and their partners need more education on the warning signs of depression and the signs of psychosis so they know if and when a call to 911 is needed.
I can’t tell you when I finally made progress and began to feel better. It was a gradual climb with a few roller coaster hills, but it DID get better. I know so many moms who look back and wish they had asked for help. You don’t have to go through this battle alone!
Here are just a few local resources for PPD:
Nappy Shoppe Pre/Postpartum Mom’s Group
Postpartum Progress Online Support