There has been some recent chatter between bloggers about Postpartum Depression. The focus? Whether or not some Mommy bloggers really do have a Postpartum Mood Disorder or if they were clambering onto the newest “trendy” wagon. (This should explain my post, “Are PMD’s the new Jimmy Chu’s?”) A few other bloggers have also chimed in on this topic. Of all the responses I read, the one by The Outdoor Wife struck a chord with me, which is why I have chosen her as this week’s Postpartum Voice.
The Outdoor Wife does not usually blog about Postpartum Depression. In fact, when she was struggling, she barely told anyone about the battle she fought. Her response is absolutely amazing and worth the read. Not only does she describe her experience but she includes tips on what you can do to help someone going through Postpartum Depression. Thank you, for chiming in on such an important subject!
Here’s a snippet of her post. You can continue reading by going here.
Now, I’ll offer what I know to be true in my own personal experience:
One of, if not the most overwhelming, feeling that comes with PPD is guilt. It’s perpetuated by the lack of sleep, irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, detachment from the child, feelings of hopelessness and just general sadness. In my own experience, I wasn’t over-the-moon happy when Rowan was first born. In my mind, I believed I should have been… so the guilt crept in. Before I knew it, it had me completely incapacitated with irrational feelings of worthlessness. This led to suicidal thoughts and I danced a razor-thin edge of acting on those thoughts.
The key (in my experience) to understanding PPD as opposed to dissatisfaction with motherhood, or even just the baby blues, is the word “irrational.” I knew that something much more serious was happening when I was having irrational thoughts of killing myself, believing that my son and husband would be better off without me around. Now, as a person who has never struggled with depression or mental health issues of any kind, this was indeed an irrational thought process for someone like me… leading to an accurate diagnosis of postpartum depression.
Another thing that’s crucial to understand about postpartum depression is that for many women, it feels like we’re being attacked at random moments. It is not abnormal for a woman suffering from PPD to tell you what a great afternoon she had with her child, then literally 10 minutes later, be crying uncontrollably in a heaping mess on the floor, wracked with guilt, sadness, or even uncontrollable rage. PPD for many is not a 24/7 feeling. So, to translate this into the blogging world, that means that when one post is a glowing picture of their child and how much they love them and the next is how they have feelings of inflicting harm on aforementioned child, THAT is PPD, my friends. It’s not trying to cover it up. It’s not pretending that everything’s okay. Sometimes, there are okay moments! But the not-okay moments are crippling at best. And its in those hard, broken moments that the small victories are passed off as insignificant. Are you beginning to see the battle that’s being fought here? There is no rhyme or reason to postpartum depression, it seems. It strikes at will and sometimes, it’s all we can do to keep standing when it does.
The next thing I want to talk about is coping and healing. This is where everyone has an opinion and everyone is always happy to give it freely. Every woman copes with postpartum depression differently. For me, I played my cards pretty close to the chest. I can count on almost one hand how many people knew about my struggle. We didn’t even tell our immediate family! It’s not because I was ashamed, or that we didn’t trust them with the knowledge, but simply because it’s what I needed, personally. I knew that I needed a small community of people around me, who could come be WITH me in the flesh. I knew that answering questions about my depression on the phone every time I talked to my family would be too much. I knew that writing about it for the world to see was not something that would benefit me or my healing process. My goal was to separate myself from the depression, to see it as “other” or outside of myself. Something that I could look at objectively in the good moments and put plans into place for the bad moments. If I was asked about it every five minutes, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.