Mothers: You Are Not Alone
It has been 535 days since my daughter was born. 535 days since my life changed forever. 535 days since my whole world was flipped upside-down and remained backwards for months on end. Finally, 535 days later, I can officially say that I am OK.
Before my daughter was born, I was a working graduate student. Very driven, motivated and passionate about what I was doing. I was excited. I was excited to conquer the world of being a successful professional and having a baby, which is something I had longed for all my life. I felt on top of the world. I would say that I felt that was happiest I had ever been in my life.
I graduated graduate school ten days before I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Then ten days after having my daughter, my husband and I moved across the state. We left behind friends, professional connections and memories to move closer to my immediate family. So much change happened in one month… it was exciting. However, my life started to spiral down unexpectedly. I felt completely blindsided by my emotions. With that being said, I received the diagnosis of Postpartum Depression or PPD shortly thereafter.
My situation didn’t help my condition, I had moved to a new place with no friends, no professional identity and an extremely colicky, fussy baby. I was sleep deprived and felt absolutely defeated. The more I felt defeated, the more I isolated myself. I continued to have thoughts about how I was a horrible mother because I couldn’t stand to hear my daughter cry again or how she cried way more than other babies because “normal babies didn’t cry that much.” I couldn’t handle another breastfeeding session filled with tears. I couldn’t handle another day of continually trying to soothe myself and my baby. I woke up not knowing how I was going to make it. As days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I realized that I was not feeling better. In fact, my mood was continually getting worse and I was in denial. Anger, crying, sadness, suicidal thoughts, isolation, loneliness. Those only skim the surface of the feelings I experienced during that time.
I knew that I reached my lowest point when I was contemplating suicide. Common thoughts I had were: “my baby will be better without me,” “I won’t be a burden anymore,” and “I can’t live with myself.” These thoughts scared me. These thoughts were not normal for me. When I started to seriously consider a plan of killing myself, I knew I had to do something. I had to get help for myself, for my family, and for my beautiful, deserving daughter.
Reaching out to my husband, mother and grandfather was and is continually important for me. They check in with me, listen to me, reassure me and encourage me. I found professional help as well. I began counseling and continue to go to this day. That is the best thing I did for myself, as well as for my daughter. I still remember how I felt after my first counseling appointment. I felt hopeful. I felt validated. I felt relieved. For the first time in months, I felt like someone listened and understood me. I didn’t feel alone.
As I reflect back on my experience with PPD, there are several things that come up for me. My biggest disappointment is the huge stigma that surrounds PPD. This stigma that mothers are “bad,” “broken,” or “abnormal” if they are depressed or anxious during their pregnancy or after giving birth. I feel like stigma kept me from discussing my symptoms until they were extreme. I can only imagine how many more mothers are out there feeling the same way I did. Mothers, you are not alone. Please talk about your symptoms and find treatment. Continuing a discussion about PPD will continue to raise awareness, increase normality and break the stigma.
Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.