Sadly, Postpartum Depression is an incredibly common issue that occurs more often than our society wants to recognize. I didn't recognize it in myself at first. Many of us don't.
I was a new mom. I had the easiest, most comfortable pregnancy I had heard of. Labor was... unpleasant, but I survived and all was fine. I had a few issues shortly after my son was born, but other than that, I was recovering and learning how to care for an infant. My husband and I were both getting into a rhythm between night time feedings, diaper changes, and laundry (don't ask me why, but the increase in laundry was surprising). And just when I thought I had things under control, I had to back to work. I was lucky too. I was off for 17 weeks.
At that time, I was a Reading Specialist at an elementary school. I enjoyed my work, I loved my students, and my coworkers were some of my best friends, but I cried every day on my way to work, and felt nothing but AWFUL all day long. Even writing this now, I'm a little teary. I refused to stay after school, like I did before having my son. I would pack up quickly, take my work with me, and rush home to my baby. I felt like I missed something every day without him. After being back to work for 3 days, my husband was working on something in the basement, my son was asleep, and I was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn't even explain why. My husband tried to console me, but "there's no consoling the crazy." That's what I thought. I thought I was crazy. I thought I was weak. I thought I was doing something wrong, because none of my friends ever felt like this (wrong). I couldn't possibly have PPD!
I cried all night. I couldn't stop myself. That was when I knew it wasn't me. It wasn't my fault. I had had anxiety before, so I decided a phone call to the doctor would be a good idea. Luckily for me, they were able to see me right away.
Upon walking into the office, everyone knew there was something wrong me (or so I thought). The nurse and doctor both mentioned PPD, but I denied it. That label sounded terrifying. I wasn't depressed. I just had anxiety. Turns out, the two go hand in hand, and just like no two kids are exactly alike, no two moms with PPD are exactly alike either. It might begin right after giving birth. It might start a month later, or even a year. Every mom is different. For me, and now I know for a few other moms, it was at 4 months postpartum.
When the doctor recommended medication, I was open to it. When she recommended talking to someone about it, I was dismissive. "No one else knows what this feels like." "I don't want my friends/my sisters/my mom to think I'm crazy." The thing that made the most impact that day was when the doctor told me to talk to my mom and see if she experienced anything similarly. So I did, and she did. I wasn't alone. I wasn't crazy. Hey, if I was crazy, so was my mom and she's the most sane person I know. Then I confided in a close friend who had a three year old. She could relate as well. Then, I found this amazing village of women, many of whom I had just met, and when this topic came up, I don't think there was a single mom who didn't understand "the crazy."
Was I crazy? Absolutely not! Is PPD common? Yes, it is. Is it treatable? Absolutely! Medication worked for me until I made some more serious changes in my life. Is it appropriate for everyone? No, but that should be determined by a doctor. The bottom line is, help is available, when you know you have a problem. If you don't know, or try to ignore it like I did, then what? Well, you have to be open to the possibility, and you have to listen to those around you. When I first saw a doctor about anxiety, it was because my parents recommended it. I never would have otherwise. I think that's the only reason I asked for help this time around.
Most importantly, know that you're not alone.