In the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to hear from others about their Postpartum Depression (PPD) journeys and how important it is to shed light on this topic. Today I am sharing my story with PPD, and will also be sharing my journey from my husband’s perspective (read it here). Together, we want to work to raise awareness of this serious condition, and encourage others to seek help.
Before I get into my journey with PPD, I want to start off first and foremost by saying: you are always worth it. Do not let the disease tell you otherwise.
I was so happy to finally be pregnant with my daughter and so was my husband. We waited a long time for this moment to happen and couldn’t be happier. We went to classes, read books, nested. All the things you do when preparing for a baby. I had my birthing plan all set…out only to come to find out our baby was breeched. I would need a c-section. I thought: That’s okay! I can roll with it! I am just so happy to finally meet her and start our family!
When our sweet baby girl arrived, she arrived with a big ol’ set of lungs. Big. SO big. The laborist and nurses commented on how loud she was. She cried a lot in the hospital. Being a first-time mom, I didn’t know my milk hadn’t come in yet, and our baby was starving. She had an incredibly shrill cry, even as a newborn. The nurses commented on this as well. I cried a lot. I attributed this to exhaustion, my surgical scar, the medications, not being able to feed her, the hormones, etc.
Before we left the hospital, our daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and put into a harness. Ok. I can handle this, I thought. I can get through this. This would mean I could not hold our baby– that we had waited for and dreamed of for so long– skin-to-skin, give her a bath, or put her in new outfits every day. Only once a week. But it was best for her. I cried again. A lot. I Googled a lot. I cried even more.
Weeks went by. Our daughter developed colic. What more can I handle? I was exhausted. I would cry. She cried even more. I couldn’t get out of the house. I started to notice my mental health wasn’t getting better. I kept telling my husband, “Something is wrong. Something is wrong with me.” We played it off as the “baby blues,” and me just being exhausted.
Seeking Help: The First Time
A month had now passed, and I wasn’t getting better. I called to be seen and went in. I was given the talk of “This is normal. You’re a new mom. This will pass. Go home, drink a glass of wine, get some sleep.” The possibility of postpartum depression wasn’t addressed. And away I went.
I called again a couple of days later saying, “I think I need to be seen again. I know I am not doing well.” The next appointment was 3 weeks out. 3 weeks out. I shut down. I literally shut down. I felt so alone and isolated. I started to slide down that hill into a dark abyss. I was grasping for anything to help me from falling and everything I grasped was slipping out of my hands.
I cried. Our baby cried. My husband didn’t know what to do. My friends didn’t know what to do. I had a couple of friends who made me go out for coffee, made me go for a walk, took me to dinner. I was trying so hard to climb back up that hill and my friends and husband were trying so hard to push me, pull me up, but I kept on slipping.
I remember the day distinctly. I remember the date. I remember sitting at home while my husband was at work and our daughter crying. I just sat there with no emotions. My soul was empty. I remember calling my husband at work begging him, literally begging him to come home. He couldn’t and I knew this. I was on an island of desperation. An island of they would be better off without you. You are not good enough. You will never be a good mom. The depression was winning.
I had a plan in my head. Before my husband got home, I told our sweet daughter–whom I wanted for so long–that she will live an amazing life, and she won’t have me there to bring her down. I had started saying my goodbyes. I held on to my cat (our ‘first baby’) and gave him kisses. I gave my daughter the biggest hug I could muster at that time and kissed her sweet head. When my husband walked through the door, I handed off the baby and gave him a hug and kiss and said goodbye. Immediately he knew. Even our cat knew something was amiss. Postpartum depression had highjacked my mind. It had taken over. I was mentally gone.
I remember my cat barricading the door so I couldn’t leave. I was begging him to let me go and to stop biting me. My husband ran down, pried the keys from my hand (I am pretty sure he threw them, then threatened to call the police), hugged me, begged me not to leave and promised he would get me help. The depression didn’t care. I just knew I had to make it stop. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted my family to be happy. I finally hit that rock bottom. I couldn’t see the light. I was so far down that hole. I couldn’t hear anyone anymore. I needed help.
My husband found me the greatest therapist I have ever had. She met with me the next day and even offered to come to my house if I couldn’t leave. She (along with my husband, my friends, and even my cat) truly saved my life. I started intense sessions multiple times during the week. She told me I could call her anytime. Together, they were dragging/pushing me back up that hill.
It was a long road of recovery. It took a lot of time and work. There were still days when the depression would creep back in, but I finally had the tools and the support system to manage it appropriately.
I kept my story to myself for a long time. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had postpartum depression. When I originally posted my story almost a year and a half ago, the support and messages I got from my friends, colleagues, and others opened my eyes. PPD is serious. It happens to many moms, and IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. I shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed that I went through this. I survived. I survived when I was on the brink, wanting to end it all. I am still here. My husband and daughter still have me, and I love them so much.
Message to Others
To those of you who have survived PPD or are currently going through PPD: You are a SURVIVOR. You are STRONG! You are LOVED!
It’s okay that you are feeling the way you are feel. Depression is real, and it is a battle to overcome it, but you can do it with help. Some days are just not going to be the best, but that is ok because there is always tomorrow. Tomorrow will come. Hold your head up high.
If you or someone you know is struggling, PLEASE ask for help. You are loved, and needed. Do not let depression tell you your life is not worth living.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text to 741741, or Online Chat. Someone is available 24/7.
Remember, you are loved.
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