Here’s the thing with postpartum depression-
You can do all of the things- eat right, get your 8 hours of sleep, you can drink literal sunshine every morning with breakfast- it always finds a way to sneak back up on you.
Even through taking meds consistently, I started to reach a point where I could feel that dark shadow creeping up on me. And here’s the thing-unfortunately for me, my mental controller (aka, my brain) is perfectly fine with having a dark sheet over it. Mentally, I’m wired for it. I’ve lived with it for a majority of my life, and so this is just “the norm.” Some people’s norm is waking up on a schedule, having a bright outlook, loving life- mine is a conscious effort to pull a dark sheet off of my brain, everyday; even when the cards are all there for a great day.
The crazy part is, when you think “postpartum,” you think what, a year after delivery? The depression, the baby blues, the overwhelming feelings you have- they can’t last forever, surely! Here’s the crazy part though- there are several articles showing that studies have seen that a parent’s depression PEAKS several years after birth– in fact, normally around preschool age or so. Isn’t that terrifying? The thought that this is a potentially life long disease? And yes- this is a disease. If only you knew the thoughts and feelings a mother OR father with postpartum depression & baby blues can experience- it’s absolutely terrifying at times.
And here’s the other thing- PPD is NOT just feelings of wanting to cause harm to your child/children. There is this horrible stigma around PPD that all you want to do is harm your baby- when in fact, for most parents, that’s not the case. Unfortunately, that can be the result of a build up of symptoms with no relief/treatment- but not the overwhelming urge.
No- for most of us with PPD, the feelings are so much more than that- it’s sleepless nights being kept awake by thoughts of all the things that could happen to your baby. It’s wanting to cringe every time you hear that cry- because you know, deep down, you just aren’t good enough to fix it. It’s not wanting to move, not wanting to open your eyes, not wanting to be there- because that means you have to face another day. PPD is absolutely horrible, for the simple fact that you feel like you are an absolute failure of a parent because the glow and excitement and “instincts” that are supposed to just magically appear after you pop a puppy out just aren’t there.
Over the last few months, after my prescription for my depression and anxiety ran out, I WORKED. I focused on gratitude, and physical movement as a means of therapy & stress relief. I worked out every day, I poured into my business, and my family, and my routine. I kept myself together, I kept my family together, and we kept our home together. The house was clean, we were on a good schedule- all the pieces for a perfect puzzle were there, we just needed to glue it down & frame it. But here’s the thing- stress started knocking at my door. The time up to this point had been fairly stress-free. And when I say stress free, I mean outside of the normal stress that comes with having 3 girls under the age of 3, potty training one, teaching one to talk, and another to walk. Outside of the stress of keeping house, working your job, and everything else. Basically, no EXTRA stress. You know.
But here’s the thing- just like the thread on your sweater like he mentions in that Weezer song- it all starts to unravel, one by one. For me this time, it was the laundry that snuck up on me. Then things started to pile up on surfaces- my dresser, the black table in our dining room, our kitchen counter- they all became holding places for lost and misplaced items. It was like a garage sale display- a bunch of random items compiled for no real reason. After that, my patience slowly dissipates. I find myself getting irritable, faster. I yell. I dread walking in the door when I pull up to my home. Not because I don’t miss my kids- but mentally, I just can’t handle it.
All of this is to say- this is okay. It’s not unheard of. You are not the only one. You are not weak, you are not a bad mother, and you are not drowning. You are not dying. You’re just trying to balance it all, and unfortunately, the other side of the scale is tipped pretty heavily.
Take a deep breath, momma.
Look around you.
Think of your baby, or babies. Think of your love. Think of 5 things you’re grateful for.
When the tears come, don’t fight them. Don’t hold it in. Ask for help when you need it.
And above all else- do NOT forget your own needs.