We got home and to say I was an emotional wreck is a complete understatement. I was terrified all the time. I had no appetite. And if I had to listen to one more person say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” I was going to scream. I wanted nothing more than to sleep but when she slept, I lied there staring at the ceiling wondering if I had made a huge mistake.
So I started asking for help and I pulled out all the stops. We hired a night nurse, much to my embarrassment. My family was coming over daily. I did weekly therapy. I tried meditation, energy healing, aromatherapy, journaling. You name it, I tried it. I had all the help in the world, yet I still felt terrible. Why was I constantly filled with dread? Why did I cry when I held her? Why did I just want to run away? I tried with all my might to pull myself out of the darkness but I wasn’t getting any better.
About five weeks after giving birth, I was drowning. I got out of bed one morning after getting at best two hours of sleep and called my mom to come over. I had finally accepted something was very wrong. I needed help. My mom came over and I went to see my doctor. Within moments of seeing me, he diagnosed me with postpartum depression and anxiety and we decided on a course of treatment. Postpartum depression is not something I planned on, but who does?
Finally after some very dark days, the sun started to come out. Though the path is not straight, I feel more like myself everyday. I feel confident in my ability to take care of my baby. I attribute my recovery to many things – antidepressants, exercise, talk therapy, writing, family, friends and my incredible husband.
Most of all, I attribute my recovery to the fact that I have the most important job on earth–to be mommy to my girl. I am proud to say that I was the first to admit that something was wrong. I felt so ashamed but I wouldn’t allow my shame to stop me from knowing I could get better. The love I have for Mary Clare has always been greater than my shame. In my darkest moments, I held onto the ultimate truth–I love this baby with every fiber of my being and will do whatever needs to be done to give her the mother she deserves.
I’ve learned PPD is very real, very painful and very treatable. There is an enormous amount of shame surrounding PPD and as a result I felt incredibly alone. I reached out for help pretty quickly. Even still, it took me almost six weeks of unspeakable suffering before I got treatment. No one should suffer that long.
As I understand it, PPD is a chemical imbalance within the body. My ability to be a good mom and my capacity to love my daughter are not dictated by my postpartum depression. In fact, my unspeakable love for my daughter is the reason I was able to reach out for help. I needed to get well and take care of me so I could be the best version of myself for my girl. I am sharing my experience with postpartum depression for myself but also for others. I hope that my story encourages women to get help and to know they are not alone.
We need to shed light on PPD and eradicate the stigma that continues to surround mental health. You do not have to figure this out alone. It truly takes a village. If you’re suffering, do not wait another moment. Call your doctor. I promise it will get better. Just hold on.