When you find out you’re pregnant, you’re overcome with emotions. My husband and I struggled to get pregnant for two years with our first son. So in my case, I was feeling overcome with joy and excitement! I began to make myself aware of things that might come during and after pregnancy like the midnight cravings, the stretch marks, the sleepless nights, the itty bitty fingers that would grasp mine for the first time, the anxiousness of the unknown, and the list goes on. But one thing I didn’t hear much about was how many women experienced infertility, baby blues, and/or postpartum depression and anxiety.
I was fortunate enough to never experience PPD after my first pregnancy, but not so lucky after the birth of my second son. My interpretation of PPD was days of uncontrollable sobbing, hopelessness, and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed. I definitely had some of those days following the birth of my son. I contributed them to depression considering I was, in fact, postpartum and having a newborn and a toddler was something I had never experienced. Those were the days I felt as though I was melting away. I would desperately wait for my husband to get home so I could just escape to catch my breath. Those moments were few and far between, so I just waded it out and told myself I’d have better days and moved on.
The weeks and months went on and we got out of the newborn stage. My son started sleeping more, which meant I was getting more rest. The days of crying and rages of emotions were gone. At this point, I thought I was in the clear. Little did I know a woman can experience PPD up until a year after giving birth. I was six months postpartum at this point and noticed I started having some days that I didn’t feel like myself. However, nothing like I had experienced in the earlier months. This was completely different. This was having no emotion, feeling disconnected and numb. Even now it’s hard to recall because I was not in the right state of mind. I started telling myself that I was fine and this was silly, to toughen up and deal with it. Every mom has bad days, if they can do it, so can I.
There’s such a facade of perfection that we get implanted in our heads from this society we live in. You know those moms you follow on social media who post pictures and everything is “perfect”? They have the “perfect” house, the “perfect” body, the “perfect” family, the “perfect” outfit with the face that never misses a dab of makeup and the hair that looks like she just took a fresh shower, blah, blah, blah! Well, you want to know the truth? That is not real life! Under the crisp, photoshopped picture is a woman who is struggling with something. You know why? Because we’re all human. We aren’t perfect. This life is chaotic and messy, with good and bad days.
I went through this period where it was a constant struggle to complete the smallest tasks. Cleaning my house, doing laundry, coming up with meals to cook for the week, it all became extremely difficult. I couldn’t focus to do any of it. I was grumpy and had no patience. There were moments that I couldn’t even form the words to speak what was on my mind. I had my first panic attack. It began to happen more often and I came to realize that this was something else. These weren’t just bad days I could pep talk my way through. I legitimately had something going on with my body. When I finally realized I couldn’t get over this on my own, I sought out a psychiatrist. I don’t think I truly understood the state I had been in until I was sitting with the doctor talking everything out. I was anxious and overwhelmed as I discussed everything I had experienced in the past six months. He went on to tell me that ALL of these symptoms were typical of PPD. I was shocked. I had no idea that postpartum depression ran deeper than my initial emotions in the early months. It gave me hope in knowing that I wasn’t defeated. This was not my fault and I made the right decision for myself and my family in seeking help. I typically steer away from medicine and look for more natural ways of treating my body. Although, I knew I needed to be proactive and start doing something immediately that was going to be effective. I’ve been on medication for two months now and finally feeling back to normal. I’ve read where diet and exercise can help you make tremendous strides in overcoming depression. I’ve also found some natural supplements that I’m looking into that I’ve heard help. So, I’m eager to learn more about how I can overcome postpartum depression without medication.
We all go through seasons, through ups and downs. If we can learn from those moments and persevere, we will come out on the other side stronger because of it. I think what makes us better mothers to our babies is that we take care of ourselves, first and foremost. If we aren’t healthy and happy, how are we going to inspire others around us to be? My hope in sharing MY struggle is that it can help make others aware that postpartum depression is serious, and there can be many layers to it. I hope this can encourage other moms to let them know that you’re not alone. You haven’t failed yourself or your family. Find support in those who love you most and do something for yourself to get healthy.
I want to urge women to do something every day for themselves. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee by yourself for 10 minutes, curling your hair, taking a hot bath, running to the grocery store alone, or putting on a cute pair of shoes for a date night. Whatever it is that makes you feel beautiful and happy, do it. Find joy in the little things and rejoice in your role! It’s the most important one you’ll ever have! You are raising beautiful little children who will become what they are taught and what they see. I’m finding joy in the small victories and trying to remember this is only a short season of my life. It will come and go in a flash, and I’ll want it back someday. So for now, I’ll focus on the things that are most important in my life…my relationship with Christ, my husband, our boys, my family, and friends. At the end of day, that’s all that matters.