When Postpartum Depression Took Over



This post has been on my mind for a few years. I've been hesitant to write about it before now. Maybe my heart needed to heal, maybe I was scared to open up about such a personal subject. I don't know. But in the end, I know some of you are suffering out there and some of you know someone who's suffering, and I hope this post helps you through it and let's you know you are not alone!



It began about 3 days after my oldest son, Joshua, was born.

I'd been anxious before, but this was something else. I felt like my heart was constantly racing, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stop thinking and worrying and, well, I felt crazy anxious.

Then a few days later the depression set in and things got worse. A lot worse. Nothing says it better or how it really was like a journal entry...

Journal Entry 2/7/08 (6 weeks post partum)
The hard thing about Joshua is that nothing is black and white. I can't stand it. I just don't know what to do. I am going crazy! I have been feeling progressively more depressed and anxious. I started on antidepressants on Tuesday. I hope they start working soon because I am getting worse and don't know how much more I can handle.
It is horrible to say this, but so far I really do not enjoy being a mom. It has nothing to do with not liking Joshua, it is just the job--it is so stressful, hard, frustrating, tiring, overwhelming and different from what I've ever done. I have to admit I feel abandoned by God. I know I'm not but it feels like "how could he do this to me, I'm suppose to be a mom, why can't I enjoy it or handle it?" 
Joshua is 6 weeks old today. I made it this far at least. It is easier but I'm still having a really hard time. I had an anxiety attack today. It was horrible. I really hope I feel better soon or I don't know what I'll do.
Journal Entry 2/19/08 (7 weeks postpartum)
It's amazing how I have already forgotten so much of the pain and agony of the last several weeks. It was horrible, all I wanted to do was put him down. I wanted nothing to do with him. I'm still having problems with bonding with him, but they have improved. My depression isn't as bad but definately still there. I don't feel like stabbing myself right now which is good. (yes, I wrote that--at the time I'm pretty sure I wished I was dead, but I didn't actually feel a desire to hurt myself. It was more like "if a car would randomly hit me as I was crossing the street, I wouldn't mind"). It is amazing how bad depression and anxiety can get. It isn't even imaginable how horrible it can feel. You have to have it to know. I REALLY hope things get better because I dont feel like I can keep doing this for too much longer. I want to quit breastfeeding but I also don't. I would feel so guilty since it is healthier. I just dont understand everything I'm feeling. I hate it.  
I felt so prepared to spend all my time taking care of a baby but now all I want is to not take care of him. I feel resentment toward him I think. I don't like being a mom and I feel so scarred that this feeling won't change.
Journal Entry 2/27/08 (2 months postpartum)
I have felt happy a few times and I wish I could feel like that all the time. 
Journal Entry 3/8/08 (2 months postpartum)
I'm doing better, though still not where I'd like to be. I still feel extremely depressed and anxious at times. I'm finally able to find enjoyment in more things which is so great! 
I am still breastfeeding amazingly! It is still getting easier and a couple times I have actually enjoyed it. 
Future Journal Entries - Pretty much full of my obsessive thoughts over my son Joshua, so I think I was feeling much better by then! Antidepressants made a world of difference for me and I was able to wean off them within several months without any issues.


As you can see, I got pretty dang depressed. Honestly, even these journal entries can't give justice to  how I felt. It was a nightmarish time, and my guilt over feeling how I did about my son made it that much more of a nightmare. I didn't want to feel this way, I tried not to feel this way, but I did.

Not surprisingly, I was scared for quite a while to have another child. When I was at my worst, I even vowed never to have another child in fear that I'd have to go through this again. Obviously, I eventually had another child, but that doesn't mean I wasn't freaked out about getting PPD again. I tried to do everything possible to make the birth of my next child easier to decrease my chance of PPD--even to the extend that I had 50 pre-made frozen meals in my freezer beforehand!

Postpartum depression sucks. It's not fair. Did I mention it really, really sucks?

 It's not something you should ever feel guilty or embarassed about. And it's not something you should suffer with on your own. See your doctor, talk to a friend, leave a comment in this community here. If I could, PDD would never hit another hard working, worn out mom (and sometimes dad) again, but until then, take each day, even minute, one step at a time, and know that you are not alone.

23 comments :

  1. Wow! I can relate. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Jennifer, sorry you can relate at all! :( It's sad how common, and bad, ppd can get. Hope you are doing well now!

      Rachel

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  2. Sharon @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Wrote...

    It took a lot of courage to write this! I think your journal entries show how you really felt. It makes me anxious just reading it. But, it is so real and so many people go through this. I'm glad that you were able to find medication that worked for you and that you overcame it.

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    1. RachelStella @ My Baby Sleep Guide - says...

      Thanks Sharon! It makes me anxious to read it too. lol.

      Rachel

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  3. Rivka @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It sounds horrible, and it will probably help so many people to know they aren't the only one going through it. Also, I love the 50 frozen dinners idea! I had a plan to do something like that before birth, but it never really happened.

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    1. RachelStella @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

      Rivka,
      The Frozen meals were awesome. I meant to do it with my first but never got to it. But I'll definitely do it with future children because it made life so much less hectic the first few months.

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  4. Robert @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

    I totally understand what you wrote about. We all have been there, but find it difficult to share our deepest thoughts. But the thing is that we overcome these by sharing.

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  5. Megan @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

    I just wanted to thank you for your entire blog. With my first two I thought I couldn't sleep train until 4 months when they could CIO (I read Ferber). Their first four months were rough,sleep-wise. I found this blog when my third was just a month old and have learned so much from your blog! She sleeps so much better than my first two did, and I attribute that to things I have learned from you. She is currently going through wonder week 14-19. At first I was so confused as to why she was suddenly having sleep issues...then I read your posts on wonder weeks. And now I feel so much better knowing it will pass. I know you do this blog during your free time and I am so grateful you are willing to do so! Thank you for your help!!

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    1. RachelStella @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

      Megan,
      Thanks for your kind words Megan! It really is amazing how much sleep can improve by changing small things (and life in general with it!). I'm so glad things have gone more smoothly for you this time. I hope the wonder week is over soon!

      Rachel

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  6. Erin R @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

    Thank you for writing this. I don't know if anybody is ever really prepared for how much work being a mother is going to be. I know I wasn't. We just had our first child in November, after 3 years of trying, a failed IVF cycle, and two frozen egg transfers before we finally got our little guy. He was kind of a mess, nights mixed up, comfort feeding for what felt like 24 hours, and if you tried to put him down, he cried. I felt so guilty that I wasn't feeling ecstatic and thankful every single second I was with him. That's why I really appreciate your honesty. When all you hear is how perfect everything is for someone, it's easy to feel like you don't measure up as a mother, and get really down on yourself. By sharing the good and the bad, it's easier to see everyone has ups and downs, and we can help each other through it. So, thanks again for sharing what you've learned and experienced.

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    1. RachelStella @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

      Erin,
      I struggled to get pregnant with this child too and felt guilty that I wasn't more overjoyed by his every breath. I felt like I should be, I'd prayed for him and wanted him so badly for so long. But eventually I accepted that just because I wasn't glaring at my child every second in awe and never wanted to put him down, day or night, there wasn't anything wrong with me. We are all different. I think a lot of the time we compare ourselves to the best of everyone we know and then think we should be doing all those "best" things and if we aren't, we are lacking. It's so easy to get down on ourselves as moms. It's such a big job and there are a million things we can be doing "right or wrong". One of the biggest struggles, I find, is to feel good about your best effort and realize that that is not only good enough, but totally awesome. Sorry for the tangent! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience Erin.

      Rachel

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  7. Melissa @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

    Rachel,
    My baby will be 2 months old tomorrow & I can't explain to you how much your journal entry from your 6 weeks postpartum is EXACTLY how I have been feeling! It's so hard and exhausting and disheartening. I went to the Dr last week and she prescribed me antidepressants. I haven't started taking them because I'm scared for them to make it worse. I have been trying some herbal remedies which are helping a little, but the anxiety is still always there. Did the journaling help at all with the anxiety or depression? Thanks for posting this & I'm so glad to know that you eventually worked up the courage to have another child because at this point I would never want to go through this again!

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    1. RachelStella @ My Baby Sleep Guide - Says...

      Melissa,
      I'm so sorry you're having to deal with ppd melissa :( Journaling does help me when I feel a little frustrated or down, but in this situation when I felt horrific, it didn't really help. I did it mainly bc I wanted to keep track of the events surrounding my baby's life. It's kind of like therapy. It can be really helpful, but from experience it seems that if someone is having a severe bout of depression, it often doesn't quite cut it. Personally, the antidepressants were a life saver for me, but you'll have to keep thinking about what is right for you. I know the idea that it can make it worse at first can be scary, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll happen (didn't with me) and I figured it couldn't have made me feel tons worse than I was already feeling lol. Good luck with what ever you decide to do. I hope you feel better soon! Double Hugs!

      Rachel

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  8. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I can relate to a certain extent, although for me i think it was quite mild. And luckily it was because when i finally plucked up the courage to talk about it to 2other friends who also had babies, they almost laughed at me, and i never felt so alone (on top of not living in my country and not being surrounded by family). In the end, i did as i always do, i buried myself in books and read about it. It made me understand my feelings. And somehow I don't really wish to be hit by a car anymore... or at least not everyday!

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    1. Esmeralda,
      Not being by family makes things much harder. Sorry! I also bury myself in books when I feel worried about something--educating myself is one of the main ways I get myself to relax :) Feel better soon. I'm so glad you've got some friends to talk to about how you are feeling. That makes a world of difference.

      Rachel

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  9. I had the exact thought of wouldn't minding being hit by a car! I remember my parents were taking care of the baby n hubby n I went out to buy something. As he drove, I was thinking to myself - "if we get into a car accident n I don't wake up from it then I won't need to go back n take care of that crying baby again"...

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    1. Usagi,
      Ugh, I'm sorry you had to go through that too!

      Rachel

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  10. I wasn't expecting to, but I started crying while reading your post. My child is now 5 mo old and times are getting better but it's still rough. He was extremely hard to console for the first 31/2 mo of life and I remember walking up and down our stairs trying to settle the baby while my back was screaming from holding him all day and praying to God that I could enjoy motherhood. I hoped that listening to my "motherly instincts" would be easy, but I'm having a hard time feeling them, or getting direction from my little one on what he needs. I'm so tired of searching the internet looking for ways to solve issues with no success. I hate having the baby that cries all the time so I don't like to go out much. Do I hold him all the time or do I let him cry it out? It seems like there should be a better solution.
    No meds for me, it may be my pride or denial, or feeling that this is just how it's going to be. Things have gotten better and will continue to, I'm just glad to know that other mothers have a hard time too.

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    1. I'm sorry I never saw this until today motherof1. I certainly hope things continued to improve for you! I also remember praying that I could enjoy motherhood. I remember thinking--this is what motherhood is, you've got to be kidding! It got so much better though. I hope you are doing well!

      Rachel

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  11. You are absolutely amazing for putting this blog together! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had a really rough time with my first baby and sleep... and just everything surrounding the adjustment to being mom. As a result, I was extremely anxious about having my second but I feel like having your blog as a resource enabled me to get through that second pregnancy and her first few months of life in one piece. Not only was my second baby a much better sleeper (resulting mainly from your insights, and some hard lessons well-learned) but I also felt calmed to know that if something unexpected came up, I could come to you! I tell everyone that will listen about this site. It's by far the best tool for new mothers that I have ever come accross! ... and I have spent MANY hours scouring the internet, library, book stores, etc... so I don't think that complement is at all unfounded :)

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    1. Jennifer Bowden,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad things have gone so well for you and your seconds baby. It's amazing how much experience teaches us. I thought I had prepared myself in every way possible for my first but oh my was it still the hugest adjustment ever! It seriously means so much that I have been able to help you out with things along the way. I wish I could help people out more with their questions through more posts--hopefully I'll find the time and energy to get there!

      best,
      rachel

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this. And for your blog.
    I have a 2 months old and my depression didn't start till couple of weeks ago so I wasn't even sure if it was depression. I thought I was just burnt out. Your journal entries are exactly how I feel. It's hard being a mom. I hope I get the courage to do it again someday.

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    1. Aynaz S,
      It is so hard being a mom. So wonderful, but so hard. Do try to talk to someone about how you are feeling- friend, Doctor etc. if you haven't already. Maybe there are some things that you have found that lift your spirits a bit? Spending time with friends and family and getting more rest (when possible!) always helps me. Things will get easier with time. They really will. it was like a shadow was removed from me when my depression went away and I could see and feel clearly again. Just make sure to get help when help is needed and not try to tackle it all on your own :)

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