I’ll always remember that it was purple.
We received a flyer in the mail detailing the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression about 6 weeks after the birth of my first son. I must have glanced right by it but my husband, well he actually picked it up and read it. Essentially this is what it said.
“Postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first – but the signs and symptoms are longer lasting and more intense and may interfere with your ability to care for your child or other daily tasks. They include: loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, loss of interest in sex, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with baby, withdrawal from family and friends, thoughts of harming yourself or your child.” (Mayo Clinic)
“Ummm, Honey…I think we need to talk. I think you may have postpartum depression.”
You want to talk about intense irritability and anger? I snapped on him in an instant telling him that I was most assuredly NOT depressed and that said flyer was nothing but trash full of lies. I mean of course I was fatigued and had no interest in sex, I had a child nursing from me 24/7. Of course I felt overwhelmed, I was a first time mom. And of course I felt inadequate, I had no freakin’ idea what the heck I was doing! So NO I was NOT depressed I was absolutely normal. End of conversation.
A week later Michael accompanied me to my 7 week checkup. Just as we were getting ready to leave he pulled the flyer out of his pocket and said to my midwife, “I want to talk about this!”. To say I had a severe mood swing in that moment is an understatement.
So we talked about it and come to find out postpartum depression is a very real thing. And after listening to me talk about what was happening in my head, my heart, and with my body my midwife said that yes…she too believed I was struggling with postpartum depression.
Here’s a little snippet of what was happening:
*From the moment my son left my body I felt this intense loneliness, even in the delivery room. I carried that loneliness with me everywhere all day long. That’s a heavy burden to feel alone sometimes in rooms full of people.
*I had constructed a fantasy world in which my son was perfect; perfect sleeper, perfect eater, not noisy, not fussy, and did what I said. He had a different world in which he wanted me to live. This devastated me and I fully believed I was all wrong in every which way and that my baby must be broken.
*Because he was fussy, he was up from 10-2 every night. I felt so alone and the anxiety that nighttime brought on, EVERY NIGHT, was palpable. My mother could see me start having a panic attack every night as 10pm approached.
*I was exhausted! The answer to everything was to nurse so I was physically depleted because of a nursing baby and because that baby wouldn’t sleep.
*I didn’t want sex and it wasn’t only because I was tired. Every time my husband touched me it felt like a very real violation even when it was a truly loving gesture.
*My world revolved around my son and I quickly started to push away my family and friends even my own husband. He told me once during an argument soon after the baby was born, “I still love you more than our son. You are my number 1 priority!” To which I replied, “Well, I don’t love you more than him!” and I meant it.
*Now take all of that and bottle it all up with a butt load of guilt and shame and you had my daily, minute by minute life.
The first thing my midwife did was to help me get some sleep. We decided that Michael would do the middle of the night feeding so I could get a good 5 hour stretch of sleep. And after only a few nights of this I started to feel better and my irritability started to decrease. I had no idea that sleep deprivation could actually make you crazy. That sh*t is real ladies!
Then she referred me to a therapist. I’ve been in and out of therapy throughout my life so this was not new to me. And so we talked or rather I talked. I talked about my inadequacies, my guilt, my sex life or lack thereof. And talking made me feel better. Not 100% but much more like myself. I continued in these sessions until my son was about 6 months old.
I did not use medication to help with my depression but oftentimes it is prescribed and you know what…that’s OK too!
Looking back I can say that I am thankful that my husband picked up that purple flyer and read it. I’m thankful that he loved me enough to bring it up at my doctor appointment when my pride would not. I’m thankful that he helped find time for me to go to therapy. Your partner is your greatest advocate! They live with you day in and day out, they know you best. If they make a comment that maybe you’ve changed after the birth of your child, please, lay your pride aside and listen with an open heart. Remember, they are for you and not against you!
Ladies…postpartum depression is very real. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms please talk to someone about it. Make an appointment to go see your doctor right away. I can’t stress this enough! I know how much we as women and mothers want to hold it all together or at least look like we can. It’s not worth it! Take it from someone who’s been there, it’s so much easier to admit something is wrong now than to wait it out and hope it just goes away.