In 2013 I gave birth to my first child at the age of 29. I had a normal and happy pregnancy with no complications. I was so excited to be a mom; it was what I had always wanted, which is why I never expected to have postpartum depression. It didn’t take long after coming home with a new baby for me to realize that something wasn’t right. My husband was over the moon. He was so proud and so in love. He was anxious to show our son off to anyone and everyone. The feelings I was experiencing were very different from his. I never felt that special connection or love that I had heard other mothers talk about. I remember going to sleep each night. I would be dreaming and wake up to my son’s crying. My first conscious thought was, “Oh no, this is real, he’s real.” I would be sent into instant panic by having to care for him. I wasn’t eating, showering, or caring for myself unless I was forced to do so by a family member. I spent the majority of the day in tears or panic attacks. I remember thinking that I had made a horrible mistake, that being a mother was not for me, and that I needed to figure out a way to take it all back. I wanted to run away from it all. It was so overwhelming and such a dark time in my life. I have never felt more alone or more misunderstood.
My husband is incredibly patient, loving, and kind. He did his best to help me, but he had to return to work. That left me to care for my son during the day by myself. I would panic the second he left the house. I was not capable of caring for myself, so how could I care for my son? I would be on the phone with my mom shortly after he left, completely hysterical. She would quickly head over to my house to help. Luckily, my support system knew that what I was experiencing was not normal. Together we decided it would be best if we moved in with my parents, so they could help me care for my son. We started doing research and came up with a battle plan. The resources that were available were surprisingly limited, but we found some. I saw a doctor with experience in treating postpartum depression and was prescribed an antidepressant. I also sought treatment through a counselor. It was a long and difficult road to return to a place where I felt normal and like myself, but I got there.
Two things from my treatment stick out to me the most. First, my doctor told me that women who suffer from postpartum depression almost always decide to have more children. Once they are through the difficulty, they ultimately decide it was all worth it. I can say that she was absolutely right! My three-year-old son is the light of my life and I am now expecting my second child. Second, I remember saying to my counselor that I wasn’t who I thought I was. I told her I thought I was great with children, compassionate, loving, and kind. She stopped me and said, “You are all of those things.” She reminded me that the depression was clouding my vision of myself and encouraged me to remember who I had always been. Through treatment I was able to return to that person that I knew.
To those who are now experiencing or will experience similar difficulties, please know it gets better. The sooner you seek help and admit what you are feeling, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery. Don’t delay! Each day that you hide what you are feeling is one more day you have to struggle. Start the road back to health as soon as possible. Seek every avenue of help that you can find. Don’t be afraid to be completely and totally honest about what you are feeling. There is help and light ahead of you if you push forward and fight.