By: Caroline Hilla
It’s that lurking feeling that things just aren’t right.
Like most women, you’ve probably already thrown away that Postpartum Depression brochure the hospital gave you before bringing your new baby home. Maybe the grey, gloomy-looking mum picture featured on the front page seemed a little overdone? But now you feel like her and you are finally admitting to yourself that something is wrong. It’s time to stop assuming that the postpartum period is always euphoric, because for 1 in 7 women it’s not.
You’ve lost the “old you”
Mums with PPD feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this ‘new baby thing’ is rather hard." More like, “Sorry world. I don’t meet the emotional height requirements for this rollercoaster.” You feel a strange disconnect from your baby, your partner, and pretty much the entire outside world. You’re not having that whimsical mummy bliss that you see on Facebook or see on TV. Patience is no longer part of your personality and everything seems to set off this out-of-control rage. And the worst fear of all, looming over your head, is that this is your new reality and you’ve lost the “old you” forever”.
So, let’s face the facts about PPD: It’s common.
Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do. PPD is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of thing. Some women feel its effects during the first 3 weeks after birth, while others experience symptoms several months after their baby’s birth. There are several different causes of PPD and most of them are out of your control. To start off, your body just experienced a massive hormone surge followed by an immediate hormone plunge. For many women, this rapid change can trigger depression lasting days, weeks, or even months. In fact, for half of women diagnosed with PPD, this is their first episode of depression. Stress can also play a key role in igniting the PPD fire. Maybe you weren’t planning on this pregnancy? Or your partner and family don’t want to help care for your newborn? Whatever your issue may be - money, family, alcohol, drugs…you name it! Problems create stress, and stress can cause depression. Period. Believe it or not, there actually IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re not crazy. But, it’s time to act.
In case no one has told you, you’re doing an amazing job. You are loved and you are worthy. You are not alone. Getting the right help can make all the difference for you, your baby, and your family. There is no point in suffering alone. Don’t try to wait this out. If you are having the symptoms of PPD, here’s what you can do:
· Call your doctor. It’s okay to be honest with your doctor at your postpartum appointment and tell him/her that you are struggling. 90% of people with PPD can be treated successfully with medication.
· Find a local support group in your area. Websites such as: The Association for Post Natal Illness and Pandas Foundation help mums going through what you're going through find people nearby who understand what you’re experiencing.
· Talk to someone who understands. Talking to a friend or relative can be helpful when you need to vent, but when it comes to PPD, one of the best treatments can simply be another mum who can relate to your feelings and encourage you along the way.
Now it’s your turn
Postpartum Depression is a real condition that can affect your everyday life. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible. If PPD is detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Also, experts have found that children can be affected by a parent's untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep problems, impaired cognitive development, anxiety, and frequent tantrums.
If you suspect you may have postpartum depression, it’s time to stop letting the baby blues bring you or your loved ones down. You are not wrong for feeling the way you do and no one blames you for it. It’s time to be kind to yourself and reach out for support because yes, you are enough, and yes, you really do matter. <3