"Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others can be the first step towards healing. Don't suffer in silence. You are not alone." - Karen Salmansohn
Postpartum depression is a common mental health condition experienced by women after childbirth. Despite its prevalence, many women are unaware of its existence or are reluctant to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. I was one of those women. I didn't know what "baby blues" were, and I didn't even know postpartum depression was a thing. When I started experiencing symptoms, I felt alone and helpless, unable to articulate what was going on within me.
Looking back, I realise how much I suffered during that period. I was under immense pressure to get back to work, and this was hard on me and my marriage. I didn’t like my husband for a while, and my postpartum depression made it hard for me to take care of myself and my baby. I had intense feelings of sadness, worry, and tiredness. I was not a pleasant person to be around, and I am lucky to have a supportive husband who stuck with me through this storm while I was lost in extreme fog.
My darkest moments were during the first eight weeks. On top of the emotional rollercoaster, I was super exhausted from pumping, feeding, changing diapers, and doing everything for my baby. How did my mom get through this without any complaints, and I couldn’t even deal with one? I felt shame, guilt, and sadness. There were some days when I would be awake at 3 am, worrying and feeling extreme fear, and I didn't think I would be able to make it through the next day.
It was a period of uncontrollable sadness and a rollercoaster ride of madness. It was hard for me to snap out of the darkness I felt throughout the day. So how did I heal? Was I able to overcome this? Would this take over my life? Is this the life that will consume me? Why can’t I enjoy the time I have with my baby? I had so many questions, and I wasn’t able to articulate them.
Honestly, I was exasperated. I was not happy with my life, myself, or my being. Those feelings made it hard for me to take care of myself and my baby. It wasn't until I started talking openly about my struggles that I began to see a path forward. I breastfed and felt a deep bond with my baby, which helped whenever I was around him. I forced myself to do things for myself. I gave myself one hour of alone time to think, cry, scream, meditate, or whatever it may be to let go of the thoughts I couldn't control.
After my son was six months old, I started to walk daily and shared my thoughts out loud with family and friends so that they were aware, and they could be there to intervene. This was a significant turning point for me. It allowed me to feel seen and heard, and it lifted some of the burden I had been carrying alone.
I didn't consider trying psychotherapy and medication since I didn’t know what I was going through, just knew that I am a different person than I was before and my thoughts were dark. Also my way of healing (sharing) was working for me, and I was able to see my intense sadness decrease and see myself whole again. However, I do recommend seeking professional help as it may lessen the days of sadness and exhaustion and allow more time to enjoy this phase with your child.
TRUTH: Looking back, I want to hug my postpartum self and let her know that it would be okay. I cannot fathom going through this again as it was the most difficult phase of my life. For anyone who is going through this now, please reach out and share with your loved ones. If you are not able to share with your family, share it with a professional. The sooner you address it and recognise that you are going through this, the closer you will be to happiness.
To those who haven't experienced postpartum depression, it can be difficult to fully understand the depth and intensity of the emotions that come with it. The constant feeling of sadness, fear, and exhaustion can be overwhelming, and it can feel like there is no end in sight. It's easy for others to say "just snap out of it" or "it's just a phase", but it's not that simple. It's important to remember that postpartum depression is a real and serious condition that requires attention and care.
For those who may be experiencing postpartum depression, it's important to know that you're not alone. It's okay to feel what you're feeling, and it's okay to seek help. Talking to a healthcare provider, a therapist, or a support group can be incredibly helpful in managing the symptoms and finding ways to cope. It's also important to remember that self-care is not selfish, and taking time for yourself is necessary for your well-being and the well-being of your family.
To those who may know someone who is experiencing postpartum depression, it's important to offer support and understanding. Be there to listen, offer help with tasks, and remind them that they're not alone. Avoid judgement or criticism, and instead, offer a non-judgmental ear and a shoulder to lean on.
In the end, postpartum depression is a difficult and challenging experience, but with the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome it. It's important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and courage. It's okay to not be okay, and it's okay to ask for help. You are not alone, and there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.
If you are feeling this way or know anyone who may need help, please reach out to them and don't turn a blind eye. While my experience with postpartum depression may be considered "mild", others may be experiencing symptoms to a much greater degree. So don't hesitate to seek help.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, there are many resources available to help you. Here are some options to consider:
Speak to your healthcare provider: Your doctor or a mental health professional can help you determine the best course of treatment for your symptoms.
Seek counselling or therapy: A mental health professional can help you identify the underlying causes of your depression and provide you with strategies for managing your symptoms.
Consider medication: In some cases, antidepressant medication can be helpful in managing depression. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this might be a good option for you.
Join a support group: Support groups provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and receive support from others who have gone through similar struggles.
Utilise online resources: There are many online resources available for individuals struggling with depression, including articles, forums, and online therapy services.
Remember, you don't have to go through depression alone. Reach out for help and support.