Postpartum Depression is More Common Than You Think

postnatal-depression2_webI haven’t mentioned it here before, but for over a year now I’ve been suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD) and more recently,Postpartum Psychosis.

I know it sounds cliche, but I never thought it would happen to me. When Little Miss was born I was on cloud nine – I’d had an easy pregnancy, an empowering labour, and, despite the sleeplessness, I reveled in motherhood. For the first few months I felt like being a mother was exactly what I was put on this earth to do.

Then, somewhere between five and seven months in, things started to change. Everything became harder, I felt less capable, I second-guessed my decisions, I felt anxious about everything from naps to food, I thought I was a bad mother, that everyone else was better than me, and that people were conspiring against me. I couldn’t cope. I was sure it was because my hormones were out of whack with my period returning and the breastfeeding, or that the sleep deprivation was kicking in. Slowly, slowly things grew worse and worse until I would rock Little Miss to sleep at every nap, every bedtime, with tears streaming down my face. I abandoned half-full shopping carts in the middle of the grocery store because I just didn’t have the strength to continue shopping. I didn’t go out much, hell, I didn’t shower much. It took all of my energy to pay attention to Little Miss and just to get through the day.

One day, after a particularly difficult nap time, I walked out of Little Miss’ nursery, down the stairs, and when I saw my car keys in the bowl by the front door I was overwhelmed by the thought that Little Miss would be better off without me. I thought about taking the keys and just going far, far, away and never coming back. Luckily, I had enough strength of mind to call my husband instead. He came home right away, and after a few more rough days I went to my doctor and told him that I thought that something was wrong with me. Like thousands of other women, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Mood Disorder.

I thought that PPD (or PPMD or PND) only happened in the first couple of months of motherhood. I wonder all the time how different things would have been if I’d simply known something, anything, about PPD. As soon as I had a diagnosis, I went online. Not only did I learn a lot more about PPD, but I also discovered an incredible support group, one so amazing that when I had a massive setback six weeks later, the women I’d connected with called and emailed me patiently answering all my questions about in-patient care, recovery and their experiences. (I narrowly escaped being admitted to the hospital, and was saved only by an outpatient program and some heavy drugs).

Although I have auditory hallucinations (I hear a baby crying when there isn’t one) and intrusive suicidal thoughts, it doesn’t have to be that bad for it to classified as Postpartum Mood Disorder. Please, please, PLEASE take a moment to read the list of symptoms on the incredibly resourceful website, Postpartum Progress, as it could save someone’s life. I went for five very long months without a diagnosis, without a reason for how I was feeling, and there’s no reason in today’s day and age why more people don’t know about this disease. Motherhood IS hard, but with a little education and understanding we can make sure that it doesn’t become harder than necessary for thousands of women.

If you, or someone you know, has a Postpartum Mood Disorder, you can find help and support at Postpartum Support International, and loads of info and encouragement at Postpartum Progress. If you’re on Twitter, check out #PPDchat on Mondays to chat with other mamas who understand what you’re going through.

I’m certainly not “healed” but I’m fighting everyday to get better and beat this disease and I know I’m not alone in that.

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