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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.
So, after Donovan was born I went through a MAJOR transformation. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING was or would ever be the same again. I had a new schedule, a new outlook on life, new sleep patterns and oh yeah, a new body. Nobody could have prepared me for this. Honestly, I suffered from postpartum depression and this is the first time I am openly admitting to it.
But, because I had learned about this in school, I knew how to “pass” those little surveys/assessments they give you at appointments. I remember reading those surveys and I would actually be feeling a certain way and would circle the complete opposite.
I mean, why would I dare tell or admit to anyone that I was feeling crazy, I felt sad and alone, or that I wanted and needed help. I was built for this, right? I refused to look weak, especially after dealing with naysayers during my pregnancy. I was determined to ignore any feelings other than proving I was a strong woman.
Related: How motherhood myths impacted my struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety
I’m the queen of putting on a face, honey. You couldn’t tell if I’m mad or sad unless I want you to! That’s real. So I knew how to mask what I was feeling. But, whew, I was stressed out. Here I am learning to live this new life and in the process, I lost me. I struggled with being honest with myself and admitting how I was feeling.
PPD Question: I feel overwhelmed. My answer: No, I have been coping as well as ever.
I was breastfeeding, but later learned I had to supplement with formula because I wasn’t producing enough. It was painful, tiring and time consuming, so I was relieved. Now I could pass my baby on to someone else so he could be fed. I took this as my opportunity to quit breastfeeding all together.
Related: To the mama who’s so overwhelmed right now: Your best is more than enough
Donovan was a “good baby.” He didn’t cry much and he wasn’t super busy. But because I held him all the time, it was hard to put him down. I wouldn’t sleep well with him in the bassinet beside the bed. I would wake up all hours to check if he was breathing and left my hand in the bassinet touching him. So, I starting sleeping with him in my arms. We continued to co-sleep and were together literally 24/7.
It got to the point that if he was asleep when I got in the shower, I would jump out every few minutes to check on him. I eventually had to put his bouncy in front of the bathroom door so I could shower because I feared leaving him alone.
1) I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
2) I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
My answers: No, not at all.
Related: No one told me how lonely motherhood can be-and I was unprepared for the seclusion
The biggest issue I had was the fear of being alone. I hated when Marques left for work. I sometimes drove to campus to be with the girls just so I wouldn’t be alone and went home when Marques was on the way back to the house.
The thought of being alone gave me anxiety. I felt I needed someone around me all the time. I would have bad anxiety and panic attacks. I always felt like something bad was about to happen when I was alone. I remember vividly breaking down and crying one night while I was alone. I didn’t know why I was crying. I was so overwhelmed. I paced around the apartment and cried and cried. It wasn’t the first time nor was it the last. This led me to eventually subconsciously blame Marques for my own unhappiness.
“Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am.” Bryce Dallas Howard
“Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am.”
Thirty percent of women like me, who never received treatment, still had symptoms of postpartum depression up to three years after giving birth. Postpartum depression has been a long-term thing for me. Up until recently, I have denied the fact that I even had postpartum depression.
The first steps of recovering for me have been taking more care of myself. I have had to meet and learn myself all over again. Meditation and journaling have been the key components that have helped me openly express my feelings to Marques.
I have had to meet and learn myself all over again.
His support is unmatched and he completely understood what I meant. Marques was able to see what I had been going through and encouraged a judgment-free space with healthy communication. It’s nothing you can do overnight or in one day. But, you have to be honest and dedicated to getting yourself back.