Disclaimer: The following article mentions the topic of suicide or other sensitive subjects, which may trigger negative thoughts and feelings for those currently suffering or still recovering from a mental or mood disorder. Reader discretion is advised.
I honestly didn’t even realize I was in such a dark place. I knew I felt horrible, but I felt so guilty that I didn’t face it. I had a beautiful baby, a wonderful husband, and everything I needed. I wasn’t “justified” in feeling bad, so instead of facing it, I just shamefully hid it.
A couple of times the thought crossed my mind that I may have postpartum depression, but my mind would fire back with an excuse like “if you had postpartum depression, you wouldn’t be able to get out bed.” I was functioning. I could get out of bed, get ready for the day, make dinner, and act happy in front of family and friends. My baby was fed and happy. But I, on the other hand, was not.
I was extremely on edge. The smallest thing could spark tears or anger and intense anxiety. I found myself wanting to stay in bed all day, not from lack of energy, but because the day in front of me felt insurmountable. I had zero appetite and eating felt like a chore. My brain felt scrambled, and I couldn’t think straight or focus on anything.
But the hardest part was how I felt about myself. I felt like a worthless failure. I was convinced that I was a leech to everyone around me – constantly draining everyone and leaving everyone worse than I found them. I began thinking thoughts like, “Everyone would be much better off without me. I’d be better off dead.” And after a while, I started thinking about how I would end my life.
This went on for weeks, until one day I drove home sobbing. Those dangerous thoughts were running rampant in my brain, and I felt like I couldn’t logically push them aside. All of this was happening with my baby girl in the backseat, crying for me.
In that moment, something clicked in my brain. I realized that those thoughts are not normal and not ok; I had never felt that badly about myself. Even though I still believed I was worthless, some part of me whispered, “This isn’t true. You don’t have a character flaw- you have a hormone imbalance. You need help.”
I immediately called my doctor and went in for an appointment, where I learned that I had postpartum depression. My doctor prescribed medication to help stabilize my mood, and I finally opened up to my family about how I was feeling. I hadn’t even told my husband because I felt so much shame.
Because I got immediate support from my family, things improved quite a bit. But I wasn’t instantly healed. It took about 2 weeks for the medicine to get into my system and help balance my emotions. And it was another few weeks before I felt like I was truly myself again. During that recovery, things slowly improved, but there were still dark, low moments.
Eventually, I felt confident in my skin. I could focus on things again, and I found joy in the things I used to. It felt like taking a deep breath for the first time after a month of struggling to breathe.
In addition to medication, I chose to eat good food, exercise consistently, prioritize sleep, and arrange times to get out on my own. It also took many long conversations with my husband to work through my feelings. It took a major attitude shift where I decided that it isn’t selfish to take care of myself. Each of these things contributed to the healthier state I’m in now.
I’m feeling so much better now, and I decided to write about my experience because I wish I would have read something like this before I had my baby. I wish I would have realized that every experience is different and postpartum depression doesn’t look the same on everyone.
I want every postpartum mama out there who is questioning her own worth and feels like her emotions are outside of her control to realize that this is way more common than she thinks. I want her to know that there is no reason to feel shame; healing is right around the corner if she seeks it. Be brave and open up about it (because it’s really scary!) There is hope, healing, and happiness available.