I got depressed after one of my daughters was born. I had been depressed before and after for spells, but nothing to this day has compared to those feelings.
It was a weird space to live in. On the one hand, I was over the moon about my new baby girl. She was everything I had hoped and dreamed for and more. My world revolved around her. Her every breath reminded me of the miracle she was.
And yet, I could barely take a breath of my own.
I remember day after endless day where everything except her seemed like darkness. Every view I would take of the world was distorted by a black cloud that seemed to just hover. I couldn’t see through it; I couldn’t wipe it away. It was thick and murky and terrifying.
I would sit there and stare at her and wonder at how someone so remarkable could have come from me. It didn’t quite make sense.
Depression had always been something confusing to me. I never knew exactly what it felt like. I always presumed it was an overwhelming feeling of sadness.
But for me, I can’t say I was sad. I can’t say I was mourning.
All I felt was emptiness and nothingness. It was like someone snuck inside of me and turned out my light. The pain of that apathy would bring me to my knees. It would leave me crying in the middle of the day — at home, in public. It didn’t really matter. No matter where I was, I would frantically search for a bathroom to sneak into to hide my tears.
It physically hurt as bad as any injury I have ever had, and yet I can’t tell you where the pain resided exactly. It was diffuse and yet it was acute.
And I couldn’t see past this pain. It was all around me. I couldn’t see a future. To be honest, I forgot that a future existed just as I had forgotten of a past. All I felt was an eternal now. And that now wasn’t pretty.
I don’t like sharing these stories. I know people can judge women who have suffered through ppd. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, and I know the media often propagates this misunderstanding.
I actually started binge watching Nashville this summer because I heard there was a ppd storyline. I’m always been drawn to such stories because even years later, I’m still searching for someone who felt it the same way as I did. I yearn to see myself in someone else. But this particular representation didn’t ring true for me. It was different than my experience.
And I get frustrated sometimes because of all the books and articles and television shows I watch, none of them ring true for me. All the experiences are different somehow.
And then I watched this clip of Hayden Panettierre discussing her character’s ppd and her own apparent struggles with it. And I heard the choke in her voice and I saw the tears threaten her eyes, and it suddenly hit me. We will all experience it differently. No one’s experience can be exactly like another’s. But what we all have in common is that we have been there regardless of what there looked like for us.
We all know the pain. We all know the struggle. And we can find strength in our shared experience. We can find camaraderie. We can find peace and healing and redemption.
But that can only open up when we share. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. When we take that scary first step.
I did it. It changed my life.
Woman and baby photo available from Shutterstock