Some of this was written by a Facebook post I wrote back in May, but the words were strong so I decided to share here as well.
*Trigger warning* some of this is graphic- suicide and infantcide. Words I’ve not shared on any media outlet before.
Here is what Postpartum Depression really looks like.
This picture was taken 2 months after my first baby girl was born. I remember two people commenting on the picture after I posted, “Motherhood looks good on you” and “You’ve found your niche, motherhood”. Little did they know I was dying inside.
I felt hopeless, tired, confused, sad. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t have that motherly bond “everyone” talks about. I had thoughts of suicide and infanticide.
I never imagined I would be one to struggle with thoughts so extreme. “Just go outside and blow your head off.” The vision that rounded my mind. Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute. While bathing Nora, “Just push her down into the water.” I type these words as my now three year old sits beside me and tears start to fill the brim of my glasses.
I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I STILL do. So I had to show the world that I was perfectly fine. I had to show everyone that I was “happy”. I put on such a good front.
Nora and I would be dead if my husband wouldn’t have spoken up for me. He was my voice. He knew I wasn’t in my right state of mind. He didn’t judge me or call me crazy- even though I thought that about myself. He made me call my doctor. I was even embarrassed to talk to my OB about my feelings and thoughts. I KNEW what I was thinking and feeling wasn’t normal, but the embarrassment was completely overwhelming. After medication, several follow up visits, and lots of prayer, I began to feel myself again, my REAL self.
Not all PPD looks like this. It’s not always this extreme. Some never have suicidal or intantcidal thoughts. For some women it’s anxiety, for some it’s a feeling of helplessness. It’s different for every single person.
Not all new births lead to PPD. With Nora, it was extreme. With Emmie, my second born, it was non existent. With Sam, my third, it lingers- fine one minute and anxious the next.
An average of 15% of women (approximately 600,000) who give live birth each year will have symptoms of PPD. That doesn’t include the women who have miscarried or have stillborn births. This also doesn’t include women who never sought out help or didn’t feel like their symptoms constituted a PPD diagnosis.
With that many women being clinically diagnosed and even more who are not, that means you more than likely know someone who is suffering. It is YOUR job, as friends and family, to dig deeper. Deeper than, “how are you feeling?” or “how is motherhood?”. It’s noticing that they aren’t themselves, even though they are trying to be. So when you go to visit a new mom and baby- rather than ask “Is the baby sleeping?”, inquire “Are you feeling depressed in any way?” Be direct.
And moms, it’s YOUR job to not be embarrassed or ashamed. What you’re feeling is REAL. You are not “crazy”. Talk to someone- your physician, your best friend, a family member, anyone you trust will help you. And above all, know that you’re not alone.
I want to encourage you to think about this blog the next time you seen a news headline stating, “New mother kills 5 week old baby.” Before you comment “She needs to rot in prison” or “She needs to die the same way that baby died!” Before you slander her, think, “Was it her who killed that baby, or was it PPD that killed that baby?”