In lieu of yesterday’s depression stigma firestorm, I feel compelled to write this addendum. For anyone who thinks they or someone they love may be suffering from postpartum depression, this post is for you.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
A brief overview of postpartum symptoms so you can examine your personal situation. This text is taken straight from the Postpartum Support International website:
* Are you feeling sad or depressed?
* Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?
* Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
* Do you feel anxious or panicky?
* Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?
* Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out
of your mind?
* Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?
* Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?
* Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?
Clarification: Even if you do not have thoughts of harming your child, having several of the other symptoms may still mean you have postpartum depression. I never had thoughts or fears about hurting my kids. In fact, I gave everything I had to my kids, leaving very little left as the depression consumed me. In all likelihood, they didn’t notice much wrong with me because I fell apart when I was completely alone. (or they were around and too young to understand.)
Reaching Out For Help
When you finally realize that you have depression (instead of just being a horrible human being that shouldn’t be a mom), you need to know what to do right now. Here are a few ideas for reaching out.
Talk to someone you trust – ANYone. Tell your husband, boyfriend, mother, sister, best friend – whoever you believe will help you spit it out so you can stop being so alone with the alien monster that is depression.
Go to your doctor, or a doctor you believe will be willing to help you. If you see a doctor who doesn’t know much about postpartum depression or who tells you to just get more sleep and you’ll be get over it, go somewhere else. Make sure they listen and tell you how your can make your depression better. Call 911 if you feel you are a danger to yourself!
Call a counselor who deals with depression and other mood disorders. If possible, you might choose someone who only works with women or who has worked with postpartum depression before. Even if you are still looking for a doctor to help you, counseling can do so much to help you get through the worst of it.
Contact a volunteer at Postpartum Support International. You can contact these folks any time to talk, email, or look through their resources. They can also help you find specific resources in your state.
Read some of these postpartum depression blogs. These women write some great stuff about postpartum depression to help dispel the stigma, improve awareness, and to provide support. People with depression often feel so alone and broken. Just reading these blogs can help you understand more about depression and that you really aren’t alone in your experience. And that you can get better.
What Postpartum Depression Is Not
It is not your fault. You aren’t just a weak person who can’t figure out your life anymore. You aren’t simply a little disappointed with your new life as a mother. You aren’t a horrible mother, horrible person, and not worth the effort. You aren’t just looking for an excuse to get out of taking responsibility. Motherhood isn’t supposed to feel this hard and miserable all the time. And you don’t need to just “get over it.”
Stigma and narrow-minded opinions about mental illness only serve to isolate people. Reach out for help anyway because you deserve it. You need it. Help is available right now.