Postpartum Depression

Today, I finally had the courage to call it what it is.

For the first 5 weeks of Tank’s life, I felt GREAT. I touted the benefits of surrounding yourself with supportive friends, family, and birth workers.

I was happy with my birth. Still am.

I dutifully took the meds my doctor recommended. I reached out for help to anyone who had offered support. I made sure I took the advice of my midwife and rested and let my wonderful family wait on me those first couple of weeks as I healed from surgery and learned to nurse my baby.

I got my sunlight.

I ate.

I napped when I could.

As soon as my midwife okayed it, I even got out for daily walks with baby.

Hell, I stood up as my sister’s Maid of Honor two weeks postpartum and felt pretty damn good in the dress for which I had to pay extra for rush alterations.

So when my therapist (yes, I see a therapist regularly and have no shame admitting it to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health) had the gaul to suggest I might be suffering from postpartum depression when I admitted I was having a hard time connecting with my new son, I blurted out, “But that’s not possible. I’m doing everything right.”

Yes, but I still have hormones. I can’t control those completely. And they weren’t cooperating.

In the past week, I’ve had the hardest time focusing at work. I’ve closed my door and hidden behind the “Pumping in Progress” sign I have posted while I cry randomly.

I’ve been eating my feelings in sugary snacks and extra helpings of food. Yes, I need more calories to breastfeed, but not like this.

I’ve had numerous aches and pains, some of them likely related to the fact that I was so run down I picked up a bug at the office.

There was one particularly low day I called a friend and wept frantically on the phone that I didn’t miss my kids and didn’t want to go home after work.

I’ve picked too many fights with my husband. I’m not a pleasant person to be around.

My friends will read this, and all but one or two of them will likely pause and think, “But…what?” And that’s exactly why I’m sharing this entry today. Because we need to stop kidding ourselves and each other.

When I stepped out the door two weeks ago to return to work, I was so smug as I congratulated myself on getting everyone ready to go, and looking reasonably put together. I sipped my coffee and touched up my lipstick and lied to myself that I had this thing figured out.

But returning to work triggered all manner of anxiety and depression with Little Dude. It was bound to happen again.

The difference this time is my awareness of it, and my willingness to call it by its name, look it in the eye, and KEEP doing everything right to make it over the hump.

I still take my meds.

I get up every morning. I check in with someone in my support system to let them know when I don’t feel okay.

I apologize to my husband and let him know I’m working on it.

I hug my kids.

And I continue to go to therapy.

As I wait for the sun to really start shining again, I celebrate the little things I’m still doing to feel whole and normal. I savor the moments where things do feel okay, because the tricky thing about depression is it isn’t all black clouds and greyscale like the TV commercials say. I can thoroughly enjoy my son’s swim practice or a family dinner, and then be crying alone 15 minutes later because I just don’t feel right.

Knowing ALL of this is half the battle. And I share it so maybe someone else can face their PPD head-on too.

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay