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Dana on fighting her third battle with postpartum depression

self portrait of mother holding newborn while fighting third battle with 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.

My third battle with postpartum depression (PPD).

With tears in his eyes, my husband took our daughter from my arms and walked out of room 4101… leaving me in the Perinatal Pyschiatry Inpatient Unit at UNC. I remember saying, “If I asked you to take me home, would you?” He shook his head and said, “No.” I knew I had to stay, but I felt alone, abandoned, ashamed, afraid… what kind of mother leaves her 9-day-old baby? How could this possibly help me?

Related: At my 6-week checkup, I lied to my doctor about my postpartum depression

The night before I went to the hospital was my lowest point. I felt completely hopeless, everything seemed so dark. I felt like a robot… I ate when Jarrod told me to eat or when someone brought food. Honestly, everything from that week seems a little “fuzzy.” I tried to act like everything was normal… that afternoon I took my sons to school to meet their teachers. We went to Staples to get some school supplies. I figured if I got back into a regular routine everything would be fine.

Nighttime was always hardest for me. I would try so hard to keep it all together during the day, but at night I couldn’t keep pretending and would fall apart. I would hold Jarrod and cry for what seemed like hours. I felt so bad for him because all he could do was hold me and tell me it would be OK.

Related: Postpartum depression can be hard to spot. Here’s how to enlist your partner’s help

Because I had been through this twice before, in my mind I knew it would be OK… but when you’re going through a deep depression it seems like it will never end. It feels like it will NEVER get better. It is the darkest, most suffocating feeling that you can imagine. It wasn’t rational and didn’t make sense to me.

But when I looked at Abby, I felt so much love. How could I have so much love for this tiny baby and be so depressed at the same time?!

That Thursday night as Jarrod held me while I cried, he said, “I just want my wife back.” He loves me so much that he was willing to do whatever it took to help me get better… even if it meant taking Abby and walking out of that hospital room.