POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: UNDERSTAND TO OVERCOME
It wasn’t what I expected. I had no idea what post postpartum depression was. Who actively listens to the doctor rattle off aftercare directions? And who has time or the ability to pick through the brain fog long enough to stop and read the pamphlet labeled “How to recognize post-partum depression” or “the baby blues”.
On top of that, as a 24-year-old in my prime socializing years, I was determined to not allow a child to “change my life”.
Although at the time, I was living a life of sin, pregnant out of wedlock, smoker, drinker, and frequent club hopper. The least I did was quit the smoking and drinking but going out to the club and staying connected to my friends was essential to me.
I loved being pregnant. I can admit I was glowing. I loved the idea of being pregnant, hearing the heartbeat at appointments, and feeling the movements. Oh and when he had the hiccups, it was relaxing to feel the rhythm.
All of that greatness.
But still, in my mind, I wasn’t going to let my life be changed by a child.
I was naive. I always say, there is no good age to have a child. I wasn’t 16 and pregnant but I had still never done it so what did I actually know about raising a child let alone postpartum depression.
Needless to say, once my son arrived my whole life changed.
I attempted to fake it in the beginning trying to make my way through the first weeks.
In the end, I ended up with pretty bad postpartum depression.
Many women don’t want to admit they ever had moments where their child didn’t matter and the glitz and glamour of having a baby wasn’t reality.
Those warm fuzzy feelings oozing out of a heart-overwhelmed is not what all women experience. I didn’t.
Having a child doesn’t always make you light up. Don’t be afraid to admit that. Postpartum depression can be dangerous if ignored and left unchecked.
SYMPTOMS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Postpartum depression can hit any time after birth. There is no real definitive timeline for this drastic turn of events. But some things to look out for include:
* Excessive crying
* Difficulty bonding with your baby
* Withdrawing from friends and family
* Overwhelming fatigue of loss of energy
* Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
* Sever anxiety and/or panic attacks
* Fears you’re not a good mother
* Intense irritability or rage
* No interest in things you use to enjoy
* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
* Thoughts of killing your baby to stop it all
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OVERCOMING POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
First things first, you must recognize you’ve got a problem. Secondly, you get down on yourself if you do have a problem. Being a mother is tough. It’s largely overlooked for the strength and energy it requires to simply accomplish the basics of motherhood beginning far before your baby even gets here.
Know that it’s perfectly fine for you not to want to post pictures of your baby or snuggle with your baby. If your baby doesn’t give you over whelming feelings of loving ooze doesn’t mean your crazy or a bad mother. If you don’t light up when they coo or pass gas, don’t worry about it.
I want to make this very clear. It’s not your baby’s job to make you happy. It never will be. In addition to that, they need you to be well in order to provide for them. Providing for them had nothing to do with oozing warm and fuzzy feelings. They just need you well. While there is no shame in admitting your not experiencing the typical mother baby joy, you don’t want to hinder bonding with your child either.
The symptoms of postpartum depression can yield treacherous results if not dealt with. You may want to go on thinking it will just go away at some point. While that may be true in some cases. You can’t know for sure and to minimize the condition you’re in to save face or look strong is detrimental to the health of your baby and your own sanity. You could come to a breaking point and do something you can’t come back from. Namely killing yourself and/or your baby.
I don’t sugar coat stuff.
I’ve attempted suicide in my life more than once. I know the struggle is astoundingly real. And I had thoughts of taking the life of my first born because I saw him as the source of all that was wrong with me. So, you are not alone.
Take your state of being seriously and get help.
At first glance this may seem totally unreachable form your current perspective but it is. There is never a time you can’t do something just because you don’t feel like it. Start doing and your feeling will catch up. But also, being active doesn’t mean going to run a mile every day or working out. Although activity is proven to help. You don’t need to train for a marathon next month.
Being active mean s be an active participant in your own health. If you need to go see a therapist, schedule the appointment. If you need some medications for a time be sure to pick them up and take em’. Don’t expect everything to get better without doing something along the way.
I’m gonna be honest with you here, your judgement may not be as reliable as normal. Lean on those you trust to help you make decisions. Set realistic goals and get a realistic perspective on the situation. These symptoms are intense. If they are your main source of living right now, I guarantee you surrender will get you productive help much quicker than being stubborn and trying to control everything around you.
If your ability to do daily tasks are spilling over two weeks and you want nothing to do with your child, and you believe there is either no way out or the only way you can conceive is death, you’ve got to start doing something different than what you’re already doing.
The power of surrender is mighty.
For God didn’t give you the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
WHY POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION HAPPENS
There is no known certainty to why postpartum depression happens. But, pregnancy and child bearing are two incredibly involved activities and they happen by not much help from you. After having a baby your body will go through a host of changes. Several of which aren’t often spoke about.
It took 9 months to form and essentially build this baby inside you. Every cell, bone and organ were knit together over the course of 270 days give or take a little. Gradually your body built up and used the elements needed to make this all happen.
And then, in the course of 1-24 hours all building comes to a screeching halt and your baby is born. All those hormones no longer have a divine purpose. You have 30 more blood than you need flowing through your veins with nowhere to go. And you can’t see it but you have a huge open wound on the inside you your uterus where the placenta, home to your precious baby, was once attached. It will scab over and heal just like a skinned knee.
Your body has the potential to go into a state of shock without you even knowing it. Not only did you work your behind off getting your baby here but now your body has to continue working to get you back to your state of normal again.
RISKS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Although it’s more common for first-time mothers, postpartum can happen after the birth of any baby. It’s helpful to know that your risk could increase with:
* You have a history of depression, during pregnancy any time.
* Have had postpartum before
* Family history of depression
* History of mental illness
* Live in stressful environment
* In the midst of stressful events, complications with pregnancy, or illness
* Your baby has special needs or health problems
* Multiple births close together or multiple babies birthed, twins, triplets, ect.
* Weak or no support system
* Having difficulty implementing your plan such as breastfeeding or cloth diapering.
* Financial problems
* Unexpected or undesired pregnancy
Please remember that all of these are temporary problems. Fear has the ability to decommission us when we can’t see a definitive way out of the current circumstance. I assure you there is a way. It may not be visible what there is a way.
PREPARE AND PREVENT
I experienced postpartum twice. It was a scary thing for me and I didn’t get help for a very long time because I didn’t know what was happening. I am overwhelmingly thankful we are all still alive today. If you have a history of depression take action before you are neck deep in a fog.
Tell your spouse, doctor or someone close that can advocate for you. Having av voice when you don’t is a wonderful support and relieves a lot of stress from your shoulders when you can’t formulate the words to explain yourself. You must be honest with yourself and those around you. Walking this dark road alone is dangerous.
Be on the lookout for behaviors and circumstances. Take note of how you’re handling daily activities and how it may differ from how you usually do. If you see yourself slipping take action to correct and adjust.
Make a plan.
Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is much easier than after the baby is born. Create a plan for after birth. Let people clean your house, do your laundry, cook your food, or brush your hair. Make it a goal to take a shower every day. Even if you get right back in sweats and bed. No biggie but take a shower every day. It will feed your body, help the process of healing and warm your bones.
You don’t have to follow it to a tee, but when you get overwhelmed it helps to not have to think about trivial things if you don’t have to.
Always pray. The Lord is your Shepard. He will lead you through the dark valleys of the shadows of death. He wants to be there for you. Reach out to him. Draw close to him he will draw close to you.
For encouragement grab the password to our super encouraging Resource Library to get awesome “i am” wall art. Download them for FREE. Pack them in your hospital bag or hang them at your nursing chair, maybe around the bathroom mirror.
Wherever it helps you to see that the Lord is there and you will get through these trials too.
DO YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAVE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS… ACT NOW!
In the US you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
Also consider talkin gwith someone through BetterHelp Counseling. They will match you with a person who can hep walk you through difficult times on Skype or phone.