Growing up, postpartum depression was always very stigmatized in my mind. I heard family members say things like, “Really? Baby blues? Everyone struggles – you just have to get through it.” I grew up thinking that people who said they had postpartum depression just wanted attention.
Fast-forward some time when my husband and I had been married for a few years. I had just started nursing school, and we were struggling to figure out my husband’s chronic health problem. Then, I found out I was pregnant. It was not exactly great timing, but we were excited nonetheless. After my daughter was born, I just cried. I cried a lot. I cried every time I got up to rock her to sleep. I cried every time my husband would have to leave to work. I cried if my family called to ask how my daughter was doing. I knew I loved my daughter, so I couldn’t have postpartum depression, as that was only for crazy attention seekers, right?
Fast-forward 6 months and I was still struggling. I just felt like I couldn’t enjoy anything, including the necessary tasks of work, school, and taking care of the baby. Finally, my husband told me that it would probably be a good idea to go talk to my doctor. I kept refusing because in my mind postpartum depression wasn’t real. Eventually I gave in and talked with my doctor, who prescribed me the medication Prozac. Within a few days of taking the medication, I felt like a new person. I felt like myself again.
While pregnant with my second child a few years later, I knew I would not make the same mistake again. I knew postpartum depression was real, and I asked my doctor for a prescription while in the hospital recovering from my c-section. I regret not getting help sooner after having my daughter, as the first 6 months of her life were such a blur. They were such precious moments that were lost in the fog of postpartum depression.
I am now a labor and delivery nurse, and I talk to many of my patients about postpartum depression. My goal is to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. There is no shame in getting help. Admitting you have postpartum depression does not make you crazy or make you an attention seeker – it is a real problem that more women than we know struggle with. If anyone out there is afraid to get help, please, please don’t feel ashamed. Get the help you need. Being a parent is already hard enough without the burden of postpartum depression.