I never thought I would be one of those women that got depressed ever, especially postpartum depression.
This is going to sound insensitive, ignorant, and terrible because it is, but I always looked at depression as a weakness of the mind and a lack of mental fortitude.
Basically, if you’re depressed, you’re just a big crybaby.
Cockily, I thought I was practically immune to depression because I’m “strong.”
How could I ever get depressed? I’m “strong.”
Even while I read about postpartum depression on sites like What to Expect during my first pregnancy, I scoffed to myself. I could never have postpartum depression. I’m too “strong.”
I never considered that I could ever be the victim of postpartum depression.
It’s not something I discussed with my doctor and I had absolutely no questions about it.
Looking back, I wish I had talked to my doctor, or at least my mama.
After My First Son Was Born
I felt a little funny after my son was born.
When the doctor handed him to me, I felt disconnected.
There was no glowing moment of love that happened for me.
I let everyone else hold my baby while we were in the hospital, and if no one was there to hold him, I left him in his little bassinet. I felt protective of him, but I couldn’t say I loved him at that moment.
Come a week after the birth of my son I learned the very terrible news that his dad, my boyfriend at the time, had been cheating on me my entire pregnancy and that the girl he’d been cheating with was pregnant with his second child.
I was launched headfirst into what was already developing into postpartum depression. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time.
To be completely honest, I didn’t know I was going through it until I wasn’t anymore – and it lasted for a loooooong time.
My Personal Experience With Postpartum Depression
To be clear, this isn’t a post offering advice and tips on how to deal with postpartum depression. This isn’t going to cure you of it, if you’re in it.
I feel that I’m the last person to help you with it if you’re suffering because I didn’t even know I was suffering from it when I was.
The best I can tell you is to stay in contact with your doctor about everything negative you may be going through and if you’re not too comfortable with that, maybe you’d feel more comfortable with your mama.
This post is only to discuss my own personal experience in the hope that I can help you recognize your own depression should you be suffering with it.
So without further ado, how I identified my postpartum depression:
1. Numbness/ Lack of Interest
I’d blankly stare at the tv/wall/my baby/whatever for hours.
My mind went nowhere, and I felt nothing. I didn’t get up to eat or shower or do anything human. The only time I moved was if I needed to nurse my son or change his diaper.
Any other time, I could be found in my room, sitting up in bed, blindly staring at the tv with my squirming baby laying next to me. I don’t even know how I made breast milk for him. I literally wasn’t eating.
I had no interest in any of the things I enjoyed doing before.
I stopped writing. I stopped reading. I stopped doing anything that I used to absolutely love. I didn’t sleep at all.
The first two weeks after my son was born, I can honestly say I got about ten hours of sleep combined over the course of all of those days.
2. Suicidal Thoughts
I’m a writer, so it makes sense that one of my symptoms manifested in the form of my writing.
I’d stopped writing for pleasure by this time, but I did have a narrative essay due in my English class in college. Here are a few excerpts from the paper:
“I was there drowning in my own misery. I felt the monsters raging inside of me, bubbling and boiling, thick and foul.”
“I opened my eyes and watched as the water around me swirled with the toxins of my pain. The beautiful crystal blue that it had been was no more and the twinkle of the sunlight that used to bounce off of the gentle waves now muddled with the thick poison in the water….”
“The blackness was still so thick, and it weighed on my skin. I sunk down into the water and let the waves lift it from me….”
“When my legs could hold me no longer and gave way, my skin was finally clear. The shine that I had lost so long ago glistened in the sunlight. My eyes were their clear brown as I looked into the sun. They dropped their last tears; tears as clear as the flowing water. I watched the waves carry away the black tar, carry away my pain. The breath that I released was no longer heavy; the last breath I would ever take. I was finally clean.”
I don’t know about y’all, but that sounds a lot like suicide to me. I actually turned this in for my assignment. I remember my instructor pulling me aside after class to ask if I was okay.
I was confused. I didn’t understand her concern, but I reassured her that I was doing well. I told her it was just a narrative and not to look too deeply into it. I was crazy as hell and clearly going through it.
To this day, I still can’t believe I narrated my own suicide in such a vivid way, turned it in to my instructor, and didn’t see anything wrong with it at all.
HELLO???? You’re suicidal!
I’m happy to report that I made it through those long, terrible months without trying to kill myself. Every time I thought about it, I’d look at my baby. He was so helpless, and he needed me. I could never leave him.
3. Emotional Breakdown
During the summer after my son was born, I had a mental breakdown.
I was attending the summer semester at school and trying to complete an assignment for speech.
Because I was taking speech online, my instructor wanted me to gather an audience of family and friends, present my speech to them, and record it to get credit for it. I gathered my audience. I got my phone ready to record it.
I wanted my son to sit in his bouncy chair while I did my speech so that I could hold on to my notes and deliver my speech without any interruption.
My son is very clingy and really only ever wanted me to hold him. So, of course, he cried and cried loudly over the sound of my voice.
I couldn’t hear my own thoughts while I was trying to give my speech.
Now the normal response to this would have been, “Hey mama, do you mind taking him upstairs for a couple of minutes until I’m finished?” She would have happily obliged, and I would have completed my assignment.
Instead, I screamed. Just screamed as loud as I could with tears in my eyes. I tore up my speech and threw the trash all over the room. I ranted and raved about how hard everything was and how hard my life was to manage.
I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like I was losing my mind, and it’s safe to say, I scared the hell out of my family.
I ran upstairs after my explosion. My dad was coming after me but my mama told him to just let me be for a while.
Thinking back on that moment and the way I felt, I can’t believe I didn’t recognize what I was going through and try to seek help. Clearly, I needed it.
4. When It Was Over…
When it was over, I knew immediately that I’d gone through it. It’s sad that I had to come out of postpartum depression to realize I had postpartum depression. My son was a whopping nine months old
I still remember it to this day. Nine months of depression. Nine months of pure hell.
Nothing special happened. I didn’t get help. I didn’t do anything on my own to make myself feel better.
I just woke up one day feeling a thousand pounds lighter. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in God knows how long. My ribs weren’t tight. They could expand with every breath.
My son even looked different to me. He looked healthier. Happier. Cuter. I felt my love for him more. It’s crazy how it happened. Something just lifted from me. It was over.
I know for a fact that if I hadn’t been so ignorant about depression in general, I would have been able to recognize I had it, and sought help.
I also know that if I had sought help from my doctor, it wouldn’t have lasted for so long.
I hope that you can get something from this. I hope my experience can help you, if you’re like me, identify your depression and seek help.
There is no reason you should be dealing with this on your own, and no reason it should last as long as mine did.
If you resonated with any of these symptoms, please take a moment to think about the way you’ve been feeling and talk to your doctor about it.
My son is the only reason I didn’t try to kill myself. I know that now. I know if I didn’t have him, I probably would have attempted suicide. That’s way too dangerous of a mind frame to be in.
If you feel like this in any way, please, please, please talk to your doctor.
Lastly, If you suffered from postpartum depression, what were some of your symptoms or experiences? What did you do to get through it?