While I didn’t personally experience PPD, someone very close to me did. I get so tired of it still being a hush hush topic to pregnant women. When I was pregnant with Baby Bear, it was almost as if I wasn’t allowed to ask about it until after I had my baby. Just like my entire journey as a Momma, I think people should be allowing to talk about these types of things. So I asked a fellow Momma Bear about her experience with PPD and here is what she said:
What did PPD feel like for you?
Postpartum depression and anxiety is something very hard to describe in words. Mental illness in general is hard to describe and something so different for each individual it’s challenging to even understand or prepare for. Anxiety feels unsettling, anxiety feels scary, overwhelming and makes me feel weak. It makes my stomach hurt and my chest tight and my mind foggy. Depression is completely different than anxiety in my life; it tells me lies, makes me feel not worthy, distant, less of a person and mom, starving, in search for something to cheer me up, and confused by simple things in life.
How did you go about getting help for PPD?
I remember the moment like it was yesterday when I realized I needed help. I was sitting on the floor of our hall bathroom monitoring a steam shower for my 6 week-old daughter who had her first cold, while my 2 year-old son was shut in his room for being a classic 2 year old and pushing my buttons all day long. My parents had just left after visiting for the weekend and my husband had left on a work trip for the next 4 days. I remember crying (which I did a lot at this point in my life) and not able to cope, the visual I kept seeing was a mountain that I needed to climb and never knowing if I would ever make it to the top. I called my mom and told her that I could no longer do this and that I was lost. She responded by saying that she thought I had done everything I was supposed to, everything recommended to cheer me up, everything that was supposed to be the fix for baby blues and that I needed to talk to my doctor about what I was experiencing. Within the hour I emailed my counselor and called and left a message for my doctor. It was the start of a very long road (one I am still traveling) to a healthy mental state.
What is one thing you want new moms to know about PPD before they have their first baby?
That it can happen to anyone, it can happen to mom’s that have never experienced mental illness before and that it also does not necessarily run in your family. I think that if you are worried about it at all, it’s wise to talk to your doctor or a counselor before hand to talk through normal baby blues as compared to Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. That you are not the only one, you are not less of a mom for experiencing it and that it’s treatable.
What is one thing you think partners should know about PPD?
That’ there is no explanation and it’s hard for others to understand. They actually may never understand and as long as you try, you listen, and you care for your spouse or partner through this time that’s all that matters.
Is there anything you wish your loved ones would have done differently in regards to your PPD?
No one in my immediate family had experienced anything like this or been apart of a journey like this so it was new to us all! They didn’t know, but my family stayed by me, they asked questions and they listened. They asked me how I was feeling and they never let me forget they loved me. They reminded me every day I wasn’t alone and supported me in whatever treatment I needed or wanted. I want supporters and family to watch for signs, I want them to pay attention and to check in with a new/or veteran mom often. Ask deeper questions than just “how are you”. Ask about guilt, sadness, worth, and what makes them happy. Ask them what they miss about their old life, what they wish they could do right in this moment, and what is going through their head-even if it makes no sense to you. Bring a mom a gifts, bring them something to make them smile or their lives easier!
As someone who watched a love one experience PPD I want everyone out there to know YOU ARE WONDERFUL! It is so hard to transition into being a parent, and simply by the fact that you love your baby bear means you are doing a great job. Reach out to anyone and everyone if you are feeling off, it does not make you weak or ungrateful. You are strong for asking for help if you need it, it is the example you are showing your children that reaching for help is something to be encouraged – not disrespected.