I experienced anxiety and postpartum depression with the birth of my fourth baby, which lasted about 9 months. I remember the ways I changed. Each morning I would try to get up and take care of everyone, but many times throughout the day I would start to cry. I would cry for about 10 minutes, at which point I would try to get up and take care of my children and home. Suddenly, I would find myself sitting on the floor crying again. This would happen multiple times every day.
Additionally, I remember the extreme lack of physical strength, which I believe was a symptom of the postpartum depression. Putting my baby in her car seat and carrying her to the car was so physically exhausting that I sometimes could not do it. I remember once getting ready for an outing with my children and opening up the front door only to realize I did not have the energy to actually leave. I closed the door and we stayed home. I found myself staying inside my house more because I was just too physically tired. It was very hard for me because I knew getting out would help us all, but I didn’t feel physically strong enough to carry the car seat or get out the door.
Lastly, I started to have anxiety issues that I had never experienced before. For instance, when my baby would cry in the middle of the night, I had a physical reaction that felt like I was going down a roller coaster. I could feel my heart beating very fast, and I felt butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t physically move until the sensations of fear left, and this happened at least twice each night.
During this time, I remember how I was scared. I was scared to even tell my husband how I felt. I was worried how others, even those closest to me, would view me. I understood the stigma associated with mental illness, and I was scared to be judged. I remember how hard it was to get enough courage to go to the doctor. When the doctor asked me about the reason for my visit, I just sat there silently for a minute, too embarrassed to even say the word “depression.”
What I learned from my experience is that postpartum depression doesn’t last forever! There are so many people ready to help, so please don’t be scared to ask for help. Reach out in love to others, and don’t judge them or yourself. You can do this – you are loved, you are worth it. Seek help, seek support, and don’t give up!
I am so much better now; I feel great and have found such joy in life. Things change with time. My hope is that those who struggle with mental illness will be better loved, accepted, and supported by all of us.