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Annia on being a therapist and not going to therapy for postpartum depression

mom smiling for a picture holding a newborn in the hospital - essay on therapy for postpartum depression

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

I expected love at first sight the moment that baby was placed on my chest. Yet after 36 hours of grueling labor, they placed that baby on my chest and I felt… empty.

I didn’t feel love for my son right away. This is not what I had expected, at all. Nobody had warned me about this. This baby was a stranger and I didn’t feel the wave of emotions as my motherly instincts kicked in.

I felt such shame and couldn’t allow myself to tell anyone, not even my spouse.

I look back at this photo and I see a mom who was faking it—taking that perfect photo for “the gram” while feeling so empty inside.

I vividly remember the wave of postpartum depression I felt when I was told our son had jaundice because his weight continued to drop since he wasn’t receiving enough milk. I felt like I had failed him. This really took a toll on my mental health and things would unfortunately not get better anytime soon.

Related: ‘Failure to thrive’ is a harmful and unhelpful term for my child

I had previously been working full-time and now found myself as a full-time stay-at-home mom. I was lonely, exhausted and sleep deprived. I would look in the mirror and no longer recognize the woman staring back at me. A few weeks later I would beg my husband to quit his job because I couldn’t take it anymore.

Friends and family would check in frequently and it would appear that I was social, yet most people only checked in about the baby—few asked about me. Even if they did, my pride likely wouldn’t have allowed me to be honest about how much I was struggling.

I am a mental health therapist and yet, I didn’t go to therapy for postpartum depression. I didn’t quite know the name for what I had since even within therapist circles, we don’t talk about postpartum depression enough. I just knew that something wasn’t right. Instead of seeking help, I continued to push myself to fake it and hold it all together, smiling for all the photos and keeping up appearances.

Related: I lied to my doctor about my postpartum depression

It took many months and a lot of support before I found myself again and embraced my new identity as a mom. It was a long journey to get to where I am today and this experience has really shifted my perspective on motherhood and fueled a passion to utilize my skillset to now help other moms and pregnant women navigate the challenges that come with life and motherhood.

My therapy practice, Tightrope Therapy, focuses exclusively on helping moms find the support they need and reduce the stigma of mental health challenges so they can find balance in life and motherhood.

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