A topic that comes up more than you would think during the “hair & makeup” part of my sessions, is Postpartum Depression. I had no idea how common depression actually was… and I never would have if I didn’t have that private space during my sessions to learn about it. So I want to bring it out to the open. NEVER, will I go into the details of anything my client’s have said or their names unless given permission, so I am going to be sharing MY personal story with you today. The goal of my Podcast – BoudieTalk – is to bring women’s stories into the world where they have the opportunity to serve someone who may need it. I have a huge belief in the power of our stories, so if you have one, please go to www.boudietalkpodcast.com and fill out the form you see at the bottom. I would LOVE to setup an interview time with you and get you on the show.
Where do I even begin?
I first realized something was off about 2 days after bringing Atlas home. I remember being in the bathroom about to take a shower and I just felt numb. My mother asked me what was wrong and I just said “I feel like I should feel happy” while holding back tears. She told me baby blues were normal. I faintly remember other times people asking me “how’s motherhood going” and just staring out into the distance, avoiding the question. All of this went away about a month later.
The REAL depression didn’t sink in until 6 months later when I stopped breast feeding. I think. It’s honestly quite hard to pinpoint exact time frames because I suppressed everything so much that memories of when Atlas was an infant, or so faint. At about the 3 months mark, I spoke to a doctor out of state who prescribed me medication but I did NOT like how it felt and since I was also breastfeeding, Atlas has always come first. Doctors say it is ok for the medication to be taken while breastfeeding but I have always been someone that told myself to take a doctor’s word into account AFTER my motherly instinct.
I am not going to go into details, that’s not a story for today nor something I am ready to share, but many personal very serious issues occurred within those first 7 months of Atlas’ life leading me to become absolutely numb to life.
Pleasure became a past time. With all the negative emotions I was feeling, and having no idea if it was normal or if I needed help… or even how to ask for help…or what kind of help I would even need if I asked… I numbed myself to feeling anything.
I was 200% self loathing and knew I could never be a good enough mother because of these feelings I was having. So I suppressed it because I knew I needed to be there for him. In doing that, the good ones were gone too, and I started feeling like Atlas would be better without an emotionally absent mother. I know the experience is different for every woman who experiences PPD, but in my own story, I never had thoughts of harming Atlas. My issues were with myself.
One day, the self loathing was worse than the others. It was a really bad day and the thoughts took over me. I planned my exit from this world while he napped. I was going to do it while Atlas was sleeping, when Chris was on his way home from work. That way no one could stop me or try to talk me out of it, and Atlas would be fine.
I laid there, not even crying….just completely numb and ONE thought crossed my mind.
If I do this, Atlas, for the rest of his life will think to himself “Why wasn’t I good enough for mom to stay?”. In that moment I knew it would be better to be a “bad mother” who he could point his finger at if that was the case….instead of pointing the finger at himself and having feelings of worthlessness for the rest of his life. I felt emotionally detached from everyone and everything at this time but still, he was the ONLY SINGLE thing that mattered to me.
So I made a promise, at that exact moment, to do whatever I needed to do, to make the very most out of life, and to show him it could be wonderful…even if I didn’t feel anything myself.
Y’all, this is SO RARE and still to this day, I consider it to be a miracle. How that ONE thought stumbled across my mind in the state I was in…. because believe me…. it was absolutely a state of “no hope”. I also decided after this instance to seek help and medication again since I was no longer breast feeding.
With all this being said, I want to go over some things I found on nimh.nih.gov incase you or someone you know may be going through it. I didn’t know how to ask for help and it’s absolutely possible that the person you know doesn’t know how either.
In the United States, studies conducted by the CDC show that about 11-20% (1 out of 7) women experience the symptoms of postnatal depression. This means that of the 4 million live births that occur every year, 600,000 of them develop postpartum depression. Also keep in mind only about 15% of women even seek treatment/help because of the shame associated with mental illness. This is much more than the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, cervical cancer, and stroke combined. When the studies are narrowed down to specific states, the rates even go higher.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Some of the more common symptoms a woman may experience include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
- Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Experiencing anger or rage
- Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
- Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
- Eating too little or too much
- Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
- Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
- Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
- Thinking about harming herself or her baby.
How can a woman tell if she has postpartum depression?
Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.
So according to this article it clearly states the woman may not even KNOW. It’s important for us to look out for one another. It’s our humane duty.
How is postpartum depression treated?
There are effective treatments for postpartum depression. A woman’s health care provider can help her choose the best treatment, which may include:
If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.
- Call your doctor.
- Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
If you are relating to any of this or know someone who is, remind them that it isn’t their fault. They are not alone. Postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed about. This has nothing to do with how much you love your child & things will get better. Seek treatment sooner than later. I also want to say if you are someone who is anti medication like I was, weigh out the pros and cons because the medication gave me that first step I was able to take into becoming whole again. I tried all the yoga and meditation yad yad they tell you to do and nothing worked. If you still have reserved feelings about it, remember, medication doesn’t need to be a forever thing.
Bianca, you are so right! My postpartum depression was an absolute nightmare! My daughter is 28 years old now. But my postpartum depression was the kind where you think of harming your baby. You KNOW you NEVER would do it but you can’t get the thoughts to stop. If you would like a detailed story, let me know. I would be glad to provide it. If I can help just one person, it would be worth sharing my story FOR THE FIRST TIME.
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