I came out with my postpartum depression a few months ago, and I thought I’d give you all an update on how my treatment is going and how my family is recovering. Like any mental illness, treatment has its up’s and down’s. Even with medication, all your problems don’t just disappear. Like any parent, my kids still frustrate me, I still get annoyed, and for the love of God I WANT TO SLEEP! 100 mg of Zoloft won’t change that for anybody. Some days I am good about recalling the grounding and calming techniques I’ve been taught, and other days I just can’t. It’s a process and different stressors produce different results.
The single thing that has helped me the most is probably my support group. Yes, the Zoloft was life changing in helping me be more rational, yes having 1-on-1 therapy has helped me understand my symptoms and address them better, but the isolation I felt before I found a community of women going through what I am going through was unbearable. The doctors made me feel like a psychopathic maniac, being at home alone with the kids forced solitude, and even when I was around other people I felt segregated when I couldn’t get the emotions of either myself or my child under control. Having another mother say to me, “Yes, I have felt exactly this way,” gave me validation and motivation to keep working through it. I have a favorite PPD quote right now, and while it may have not been written specifically about PPD, it applies to what so many moms suffer through, “Honesty in motherhood creates sisterhood” (January Harshe). Some moms have said that they never feel more alone then when they are surrounded by other mothers gushing about how beautiful parenthood is.
The goal is not to have a complain-a-thon, but to offer solidarity and companionship. The real, raw emotion of child birth continues throughout the first year [and even longer…] and to ignore it diminishes the truth and sincerity of parenthood. Sharing our struggles gives some one else the opportunity to helps which, in turn, fosters a deeper bond between every one involved. Nothing has been more effective in my treatment and healing process than knowing I’m not alone, having a safe place to voice my fears, and getting advice on how to cope. So to the community of moms who has helped me, thank you.
Having a community of mothers who understand both depression and anxiety is the number one thing I recommend to new moms who are concerned they may have symptoms of PPD. Here are a few helpful tools:
And even though there is still stigma revolving around this illness, don’t let that stop you from getting the care you need. Some times the only way to get appropriate treatment is to courageously demand it. YOU are worth it.