Today I want to talk about something that often goes unspoken, or only happens to “other people.” I want to talk about Postpartum Depression. I was inspired to share my story after reading the lovely Shiraz In My Sippy Cup‘s post about her battle with depression, today.
One of the first things that they ask you after you push a tiny human being out of your body, is “how are you feeling?” I think that this question is ridiculous because if you were anything like I was after giving birth, you don’t know how you feel…I felt happiness about having this beautiful and healthy baby. I felt angry because hungry and no one would give me the double cheeseburger that I wanted for every meal. I felt sad, and I didn’t know why. I felt scared because I felt sad.
Then they discharge you, and you go home full of hormones, and questions, and fear, and a tiny little human who needs you to survive. Swell.
My mom had planned on being there for me for the first couple of weeks, but she was called away when my stepdad had what was thought to be a medical emergency. So after Christopher went back to work after the weekend, I was alone. All that time that I had wished for my well-wishers to leave me alone in the hospital, I now regretted. I wanted someone to be there. Anyone to be there. When you looked at me on the outside, you would just see a new, sleep-deprived, but happy mama. I would tell everyone how amazing she was, and how much I loved her (which is totally true). But what you wouldn’t see or hear is the paranoia and fear that crippled my mind for months on end, to the point of exhaustion. I would smile and hide my raccoon eyes with a pound of concealer, all while worrying that she might spontaneously stop breathing, or the laundry would go undone forever, or that I would somehow hurt her beyond repair; every single one of these things and more haunted me daily.
I never told Christopher how hard it was on me. I never really told anyone. I was afraid that they would see me as one of those moms who couldn’t hack it, who was a danger to her child. When I went in for my postpartum checkup, they asked me all sorts of questions…
“Have you had thoughts of suicide or harming yourself?” No.
“Have you had thoughts of hurting your child?” God no. That’s what I’m deathly afraid of!
“Are you able to be happy or to find things can make you happy?” Well yes, I guess so.
I passed their line of questioning, because they never asked me the questions that pertained to my situation or my feelings.
So for months on end, I tried to be super mom. I would do all the housework, and my schoolwork, and take care of Bonnie (feeding every 1.5-2 hours mind you), and try to keep up with friends, etc. Breastfeeding was so hard for the first month because I barely had enough energy to keep myself awake, let alone Bonnie. I forgot to eat for whole days because I was just so tired. I was miserable during what should have been one of the happiest times of my life. And at the end of every day, I cried. Some days I cried without knowing why I was crying. I cried because I was sad, and scared, and scared of being sad. I wasn’t just blue, I was depressed.
I’m telling all of y’all this not to scare you, but to tell you that it is okay to feel this way. It is okay to have feelings and not know why you have them. It is okay to vulnerable and need someone to help you. It is NOT okay, to suffer in silence and leave all of that weight on your shoulders.
If you are feeling, or have felt anything that I have described above, please take time to…
1. Talk to someone, whether a friend, loved one, or professional.
I talked to my husband finally, and to my sweet cousin who checked in on me all of the time. (Thanks Desi – you rock!)
2. Have some alone time.
Whether that’s just going to the grocery store, on a walk, getting your nails done, or a nice long bath – you deserve time to yourself and it does not make you a bad mother.
3. Give yourself a little grace.
You are not and can not be a perfect person. Something has to give – let the laundry go, or better yet get someone to do it for you. It is okay to ask for help around the house and with baby. That’s why the saying “it takes a village” exists!
I hope that this post will help some of y’all in your postpartum journeys, and lives in general. If you are ever feeling a little off, or just can’t shake off feeling down, PLEASE talk to someone. I love y’all and hope that your days are bright and easy!
Lots of love,