Prior to my delivery day I was pretty much convinced I’d end up with postpartum depression for a number of reasons:
- I had decided a long time ago I didn’t want kids — I had planned my life around that and I was 100% okay with it. I’m not saying Tums was an accident because we did try for her; but I was so very comfortable in the life I had already built for myself without kids.
- I have experience with depression and anxiety.
- The idea of motherhood was just so stressful for me.
Mostly because of reason number 1; I still had dreams and goals and places I wanted to see. And I know those things don’t die after you become a mother but I do realize they’ll be harder to achieve and may take longer that I want them to. And I’m a person who feels like they’re constantly racing against the clock (I call it “White Rabbit Syndrome”).
But a part of me figured I would be fine cause I’ve dealt with depression for over 20 years.
WRONG. SO VERY FUCKIN WRONG.
Postpartum depression was horrible. It was like something I could never had anticipated or wrap my head around. It was like depression but on massive crack. I was a mix of the worst kind of depression AND anxiety wrapped into one. I couldn’t really grab a hold of my life as it was turning into. I didn’t bond with Tums until she was at least 3 months old. It was so hard for me to. Every time my in laws stressed me out my mind would revert back to convincing myself to cut off all emotional ties with Tums because she “wasn’t mine, she was theirs”. I struggled so much with my in laws stressing me out and constantly feeling like they along with my husband were trying to take her away from me. With feeling like they thought I wasn’t worthy of her. I knew I was stronger than this and that she was mine but something about postpartum depression made me feel so unsure and weak. It was a horrible, dark, isolating feeling. The darkness felt never ending and I felt so alone, like no one understood or cared about how their actions were making me feel like I wasn’t worthy of being a mother.
I struggled with the loss of my other two babies and while I was happy Tums was here and so healthy, a part of me was sad because I’d never know who those two were. But had they survived, Tums wouldn’t be here either and she’s everything I could had ever hoped for.
Then 5 months after Tums was born, my dad passed away.
And my dad was the type of person who never really showed emotion or told us he loved us or anything but when Tums was born it was like he was a whole different person; he was constantly texting me to send him pictures and asking how she was doing. He was always concerned if she was safe and okay. And it was nice to see that side of him; I’ll always be heartbroken that he won’t be able to watch her grow up and that I didn’t get to see that side of him for very long.
I fell into an even deeper depression; I literally didn’t get out of bed or do anything other than sleep and watch Netflix for an entire week. I just didn’t feel like doing anything or thinking. And in that week Tums was constantly trying to cheer me up. I’d wait until she fell asleep to cry and no matter how silently I cried she’d wake up, look at me and reach her little hand out to me.
I was in a pretty bad place after that and I just wanted to shut myself out from the world. I wanted to go home to people who knew and remembered my dad. I wanted to be somewhere where I’d feel like myself. Cause Texas isn’t it and I so desperately craved that comfort.
Another side of postpartum is that you tend to lose your sense of self. I wish I could explain it better but I can’t. It just feels like you’re not you anymore and you don’t know how or why but you just don’t feel like you anymore. And it’s still something I struggle with every single day. I always thought I had a super solid understanding of WHO I WAS and now I feel like I’m getting to know myself all over again and it’s heartbreaking.
But here are 3 ways I tried to pull myself out.
** THIS ISN’T MEDICAL ADVICE SO DON’T TREAT IT AS SUCH. THIS IS JUST WHAT I DID TO HELP MYSELF. IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU’RE DROWNING AND SLIPPING AWAY PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ASK YOUR OBGYN FOR HELP! THEY ARE THERE TO HELP YOU!
Kept a journal
I kept a private personal journal (there are plenty of apps for your phone for journal’s or you can make a locked WordPress account which you can also use on the WordPress app) where I’d basically just word vomit the things I was thinking about. Ever since I was a teen I always had one super private journal where I could freely write everything I was thinking and when you’re an over thinker like me, this is actually super helpful. And bonus, it makes you so much more self aware (which I’m learning that A LOT of people are NOT)!
Still kept to my self care routine
OCD is a blessing and a curse sometimes. OCD doesn’t care what happened in your life or how you feel that day, you’re still compelled to complete your rituals. No matter how depressed, or tired, or over it you are. The days where I hate it cause I’m too tired to do them are long gone and now it’s almost like I go into auto pilot. It did do a great job of distracting me for those little moments through out the day.
I also tried to keep to my own personal self care routines. Like taking a bubble bath every night. Some nights I’d like a candle and some nights I wouldn’t but I’d always try to force myself to take a bubble bath even if I just really wanted to just shower and crawl back into bed.
I tried to find new favorite things
I’m an emotional shopper. But ironically during this dark time shopping wasn’t even on my mind at all. But if there’s one thing I knew about myself it’s that finding new favorite products always makes me excited. And while I did find a bunch of favorite new things/foods/products it was so hard to be excited like I use to get. And that’s okay. It’s a process. As long as I knew I did this for myself, the emotions I outwardly felt towards the action wasn’t my main focus. I mean it still sucked I wasn’t getting AS excited as I usually did — but the point is that I was TRYING to get back into somehow feeling like ME again. Sometimes it worked and other times it just didn’t. Sometimes it worked and I just didn’t feel anything, which is probably one of the most confusing results I’ve gotten. But despite that, I still kept trying. And I STILL KEEP trying.
I will ALWAYS be glad Tums is here; no matter what happened or happens. No matter where life takes us next. And no matter how long it will take me to recover from postpartum depression.
12 months later and I’ve started taking Zoloft again, I’m starting to feel a little more stable and finding more clarity even if I am constantly sleepy. But it’s a swap I don’t regret. Tums deserves a happy mom who’s excited just as much as she is and that’s exactly who I am. I’m so glad I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’m also glad I’ve found a way to separate my “in-laws” opinions about me and who I REALLY am.
Having your own support system during a time like this is so incredibly important and although my support system is scattered around California and Florida and nowhere near me in Texas, they’ve never once made me feel like I was going through this completely alone. I always had someone to call and cry to or someone to word vomit text in the middle of the night when I didn’t know who I was and it was killing me.
Some days I feel like I’ll never be who I once was and other days I feel like I can get back there if I just work harder. I am lucky enough to be loved and cared about by so many people who sincerely want to see me win. And I’m loved by my daughter no matter what kind of day I’m having, what mood I’m in. She’s always there to do something to make me laugh.
My mom calls her our ray of sunshine, and that she definitely is.
If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, please know you are not alone. Please know that no matter how long postpartum it is your OBGYN is there to help you! I was 9 months pp when I brought up I couldn’t fight this on my own anymore and I needed help. They won’t judge you, they want to make sure you transition into motherhood as easily as you possibly can. If you feel like you have no support around you, please reach out. There are plenty of groups and accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that are there to help you feel less alone.
Listed below are some of my favs:
I literally can’t find the actual postpartum accounts I swore I saved! Maybe I’ll make another blog post for them when I find them; but I find these accounts help me feel less alone!
Honestly parenthood on Twitter is hilarious. I love that both moms and dads share the silly things their kids say/do. It seriously makes my day to see how snarky these toddlers and kids are! I can only hope Tums will be that funny at their age. But really, just scrolling through my Twitter feed is so fun.
As for Facebook groups, most are private but if you search some up I’m sure you’ll find great support groups!
Even if you’re not ready to ask for professional help I still believe making steps to a better mindset is still a step forward.
Wishing all of you light and luck.