Postpartum Depression: Let Vulnerability Be Your Lifeline
Appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when you can grab all the laundry off the couch and toss it in the bedroom before your mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly.
And sometimes it’s a bad thing, like when you finally confessed your crush to the cute barista who always wore the C+C Music Factory t-shirt and he replied that he wore it ironically, and then you couldn’t go back to that coffee shop for the next decade.
And sometimes it’s a downright dangerous thing, like when your friend asks how you’re doing these days and you smile and tell her you’re loving every moment, but silently you’re wondering how you’re going to make it through the week. Or through the day. Or through the conversation.
Motherhood is full of joyful moments. Witnessing new life is amazing, and being entrusted to fulfill every need of a tiny helpless newcomer to our world is breathtakingly profound.
And it’s hard! Let’s finally say that out loud. Let’s admit to each other that motherhood isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.
Early motherhood brings hormonal fluctuations, sleep deprivation, nutritional upheaval, social role shifting, physical challenges, and identity questions. No matter how many financial or emotional resources you have at your personal disposal, there will be times when motherhood knocks you right over. There might also be times when you can’t get back up on your own.
Pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders can show up as anxiety, depression, and/or rage. These are normal emotions, and new motherhood is often an appropriate time to feel them—but with a mood disorder they become larger than life, affecting your life and your relationships in negative ways.
Is it Postapartum Depression?
If you or a loved one are concerned that you might be experiencing postpartum depression, please see a medical professional you trust immediately. Here are just a few symptoms of postpartum depression you might be experiencing.
- You feel overwhelmed. More than just feeling like motherhood is hard, you might feel like there’s no way you will ever be able to handle being a mother.
- You feel guilty. You’re stuck in the belief that you should be doing “better” as a mother and you worry that your baby can tell and feel how hard this is for you.
- You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not gazing into your baby’s eyes and feeling like this is the most wonderful thing in the world that’s ever happened to you.
- You are very confused and scared. You feel irritated, angry, resentful towards your baby, your partner or your friends and you feel bouts of uncontrollable rage.
- You feel empty and numb. You feel like you’re just going through the motions of being a mother without any emotion.
- You feel deep sadness. You can’t stop crying, even when you don’t think there’s a reason you should be crying.
- You feel hopeless. You feel like a failure and that nothing is ever going to get any better.
- You can’t eat. Alternately, the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
- You can’t sleep. You can’t sleep when the baby is sleeping or any other time. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you can’t fall back to sleep. Or you might be sleeping all of the time and just getting up to do what absolutely has to get done.
- You can’t concentrate. You’re in a total fog and can’t remember the right words, or even what you were about to do.
- You feel disconnected. You feel like there’s a wall between you and everyone else.
- You have thoughts of running away. You might also have thoughts about hurting yourself in specific ways (driving off the road, overdosing on medication, etc.).
- You know something is wrong. You know the way you are feeling is NOT right and you’re worried you might be going crazy.
- You are afraid to reach out for help. You’re afraid that if people knew how you REALLY felt, they would judge you or take away your baby.
You Are NOT Alone!
If you’re pregnant or parenting a baby or toddler, and you’re having trouble regulating your emotions, or having thoughts that feel out of your control, show someone your struggle! Getting help early on can make a big difference. Let someone see and hear what you’re dealing with, and if it’s just too much to overcome on your own, let them help you find a way out.