Before the pinecones get us all
Things should be fine

Notes For My Sister On Having A Baby: Post-Partum Depression

YO FPC!

As I have never 1) experienced PPD or 2) ANY clinical-type hardcore affects-your-entire-life depression, you may think I am wholly unqualified to write on this topic. (HA HA. LIKE THAT HAS EVER STOPPED ME BEFORE.)

This is just one of those things where you really have no idea what is going to happen or what you'll feel or think until it happens. Much like nearly everything else about having a baby. I thought I would FOR SURE come down with a raging case of PPD. I talked to my doctor about it well ahead of time. I asked friends to check up on me. I read tons about it, had a list of Professionals I could call, discussed preventative measures with Phillip, and then it didn't happen. AT ALL. I actually look back on the first several weeks of each kid's life with... swoony fondness. !!!

Okay, so we already know that I am a huge weirdo. HOWEVER! I am quasi-qualified to talk about Questionable Mental Health seeing as how I experience it pretty much all times EXCEPT for the first several weeks of each kid's life. And all I have to say about it can be summed up thusly: DO NOT DO IT BY YOURSELF.

I think some of the post-partum stuff is normal. Wacked out hormones, total upsidedownness of your entire world, figuring out a whole new area of partnership with your husband - just the lack of sleep is honestly enough to make you crazy. But for some people, it seems, there is definitely a point or a line or SOMETHING where things are definitely not right. They are not normal. They are hard and scary and rough and there's no perspective, no rationality, no grace. 

Seems like a lot of women don't know this is happening until it's been happening a good long time. Then again, even if you're aware, just knowing about something does not necessarily empower you to change it or do something about it. Luckily for you, you have a super attentive and doting husband PLUS an incredibly nosy and armed-with-the-internet big sister. 

If it happens to you, know that it happens to SO MANY OTHER WOMEN. There is nothing wrong with you! And it won't last forever. Find someone who will listen, maybe your nosy sister or perhaps a professional who is objective and not emotionally invested and has heard it all before. Talk to your doctor. Get some medicine. Don't be stupid and proud and stubborn like me and think that taking drugs means you failed or you can't hack it or you're masking the real problem. None of those things are true. 

Once again I'm going to hope that the internet steps up in the comment box. I just think this is such a HUGE THING that hardly anyone really talks about in Real Life (I mean, not EVERYONE has a blog, right?) (Losers!) and then it's SO COMMON and I would just be heartbroken if you were to feel Not Right and Alone. You don't have to be those things.

Comments

-R-

I did have PPD. My advice is that if you feel off, if you feel like you can't or don't want to deal with things, then go talk to your doctor. Maybe you don't have PPD. Maybe you just have normal hormonal feelings. But talking to your doctor may help and will certainly not hurt. And if it turns out that you do have something beyond normal hormonal feelings, it will definitely help.

Christiana

My biggest piece of info: it doesn't always happen right away. I was fine for months after my son was born. But then, it all got to me. The lack of sleep, the constant pull of kids on my time, my thoughts, etc. It started for me closer to 6mos postpartum. Which is normal. So ask for help. Scream for help if you have to. There is NO SHAME in asking for help - be it medication, babysitting, a night off, a glass of wine.

-R-

Oh, something I didn't know is that post partum depression commonly manifests itself as anxious. So I just thought I was anxious, but it was actually PPD. Maybe everyone else knows that, but whatever. I'm sharing anyway.

Deanna

I had never dealt with depression, hormone imbalances, or anything like that before I was pregnant. I heard all the warnings about PPD, knew all the signs, knew what to do if I felt it happening...but I fully admit to thinking, "I won't have that problem. Not me!"

I can't really say that I had PPD to any significant extent, but I can say HOLY CRAP, THE HORMONES. It was just so unexpected for me, even though I technically knew to expect it. For the first time, I felt so absolutely out of control of my emotions (and everything else about my body and my life). It only lasted a couple of months for me, but I will never forget that experience. Now I just tell my first-time mom friends exactly what you said: you can't really know how it will affect you, but be aware. Those hormones are no joke!

Carrie

I knew I was depressed after a really rough birth with my first. I waited FOUR years to get help. And developed some seriously unhealthy coing mechanisms in tge meantime. If things don't feel right, talk to someone. There is no shame in needing help.

Carrie

Seriously, the typos in my comment! Coping mechanisms not coing. The not tge. What the heck was wrong with me this morning! :)

Erica

I second both R and Christina above--mine manifested 1) later as 2) anxiety. I thought I was doing more or less okay and then completely broke down when A was about 10 months old. I went to a therapist and started a blog. The blog was considerably more helpful.

craftyashley

I did take comfort after birth #2 in knowing that it would have an end... at some point- the feeling not right and horrible. With birth #1 half the battle was worrying if I would feel that way FOREVER. Like that is just the way life is now- grey and dull, and including lots of screaming and hand-wringing.

I knew the minute it started with #2, I stayed up all night in constant terror that the slightly clicking ceiling fan would fall down and destroy my entire family (CEILING FAN RAMPAGE!) It sounds super hilarious now, but at the time I was absolutely BESIDE MYSELF with grief and supreme terror.

So... it can manifest in many ways. Just don't sweat asking for help. Be open with those around you. My husband was the most help. He was the one there during all the panic attacks, urging me to talk to my doctor. And know that it goes away. Then, enjoy that adorable new baby smell.

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