The silent sadness: Postpartum depression
The beginning stages of my postpartum depression
As some of you have read in my previous posts, I have been very upfront about my struggles with postpartum depression. Although I had what most people would assume a happy life and relationship, I found myself lost, confused, ashamed, and alone. I was happy to be a mother, yes, but I was not happy to be one all day, or everyday. From the moment I woke up to the moment I managed to get some sleep I found myself questioning my ability to do many things. I woke up happy and sadly I was exhausted to keep up that front all day. My baby was my joy… but I still was not happy. What was wrong with me?! I was supposed to born with maternal instincts that would help me be the best mom I could be… but I did not feel them. No one asked; noticed, or questioned, but I knew it was not who I was.
The silence was so loud: No solace in solitude
I have always been very sensitive to sounds, lights, and smells, but the peaceful quiet of my solitude was comforting. This quickly changed after I became a mother and suffered through my postpartum depression. My silence was filled with cries, and not just from my newborn. Even when I managed to get her to sleep, my mind created so much noise that my new silence was so chaotic. I became nervous about a lot of things; not being able to clean the house, not being able to finish my graduate school work, not being able to take a long bath, or being able to have a decent meal. The silence became so scary because I knew it would not last. My identity became defined by how good I was as a mother and partner, and so I muted my needs and cries for help. When my home became silent for that short period, my mind began to scream. I felt trapped, I felt suffocated, and I felt alone.
Help in information
I could not recognize myself anymore, and did as most people with many questions do; I craved information. At that time I was working to finish my Masters in psychology and decided to do some credible research using credible sources. I researched my symptoms and found so many articles on postpartum depression. BINGO!!! I FOUND IT!! It had a name, it had a face… it was me! I read over 30 articles and read many stories. I found comfort in their success, and I found relief in the process. Despite this I was still not brave enough to come clean. I felt too dirty with negative thoughts that I did not want to taint anyone’s perspective of the good and perfect mother they thought I was. I decided to write my thesis paper on postpartum depression and found myself slowly in the process.
Things I did to discover my future after postpartum depression
This I want to be a disclaimer: I still feel the effects of postpartum depression although I have gotten better. I found that there are things that I have to constantly do to remind myself that I am stronger than my current state.
- I began adopting healthier ways to continue my journey
- I was doing so well in school and focused on my higher goals
- I quit the job that was causing me so much extra stress
- I spent more time with my daughter and began fall in love with all the good she showed me about myself.
- I gave myself permission: I gave myself permission to feel sad; overwhelmed, guilty, happy, scared… etc. When I allowed myself to feel, I also allowed myself to heal.
- I chose to be more honest
- Hiding your depression does not make it go away, It simply makes it a very hard secret to keep.
- You cannot blame others for feeling alone if you have kept them in the dark about your true state.
- I try to be honest about my journey whenever I am asked. There is no shame in working through a less than desirable mental state.
Some of you have contacted me regarding my mental health posts. Many of you guys, like myself have found support in hearing stories that sound all too familiar. I wanted to once again visit this topic because I truly believe that although depression may have different names, the raw emotions we feel can all have common effects.
Why this post? Again?
This weekend I took a trip with some great people. I sat by the beach and realized that so much has happened in my life in two years. I was surrounded with great company and so much noise. They knew my story, and they knew my journey. I heard so much laughter, so much joy, and so much happiness. I had to keep reminding myself that depression may always live in me, but I choose to focus on how far I have gone. No one questioned how good of a mom I was, or how good of a partner I was, so why should I? Postpartum depression and other forms of depression can have a way at eating at our pride and our strengths, but pretending it does not exist makes our silence so loud and chaotic.
– As always, thank you for reading and I hope that you can share your story with someone close to you, or that you can reach out to others whom you may feel need that extra courage. I welcome any suggestions, comments, or stories, and I truly appreciate those who have decided to follow my blog.