Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Feeling Whole Again - Handling Postpartum Depression

Bare with me...this is long but I didn't want to break up my thoughts between several posts.

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for a long time and have even started a few drafts. In the end I’ve always hit “delete all” but it’s time and I’m ready. Part of my hesitancy comes from the fact that people I know personally read this blog, including a few coworkers. I would certainly hope that no one would unfairly judge, use this information maliciously, or view me any differently. Truthfully, I’ve become so good at internalizing that maybe this is a surprise? Mainly, my purpose for this post is to record my thoughts and hopefully show someone else that she is not alone. Postpartum depression is very real and very painful but it should not be a source of shame for a new mother.

When you’re pregnant you’re given all kinds of literature on the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression. It was discussed in our hospital childbirth class and mentioned by my doctor several times. It’s absolutely normal, and often expected, for a new mother to feel the blues after having her baby. When this doesn’t go away after a few weeks, it starts to be considered postpartum depression. Before going on any further let me disclaim that I am not an expert and every individual experience is different. I can only speak for myself.

Being a new mother is one of the hardest things I have experienced in my thirty years. The teenage years sucked big time, but deep down I always knew that I could make it through. There were moments in my first few weeks of motherhood that I just didn’t see how I could ever get through it. I asked my friends when it would get better or easier. I remember sobbing to my mom several times “I can’t do this.” I could and I did and I am. By week three things were already much easier and when I went back to the doctor for my six week check-up I squeaked by with a passing grade on my postpartum depression evaluation.

I was able to laugh and smile and was feeling a lot more at ease in my new role as mother. I still had moments where I cried (a lot), but I just waited for those moments to pass and chalked most of it up to the lack of sleep. When I returned to work at twelve weeks I started to feel like my normal self again until I realized how overwhelmed I was feeling. I started taking my frustrations out on Scott and became really detached from everything and everyone, including Elle. Detached in a weird way—I never questioned my love or our decision to have a child or wished for my “old life” but it was like I couldn’t let myself fully enjoy. I felt crushed and panicked and anxious until I would finally shut down emotionally and mentally.

Things came to a boiling point about a month after I returned to work (maybe 16 weeks after Elle was born) when I realized that when Elle was napping or had gone down for bed, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would clean like crazy—rushing around the house like mad woman—and when there was nothing left for me to do I literally stood in the kitchen with a blank stare on my face. I had completely lost myself. I looked at Scott and told him it was time. I needed to be me again. Bless his poor and patient heart—Scott agreed and I made the appointment to talk to the doctor. When I met with her I finally broke down and sobbed. Her two words of advice were to get some sleep (ha!) and take time for myself (double ha!).

It has now been almost six months since I made the decision to go talk to my doctor and I am so grateful that I did. It was incredibly difficult for me to admit that I was struggling—being a new mother is already so emotionally complicated that to admit one more fault is almost crushing, especially when I miscarried once and struggled for months to get pregnant with Elle. She is such an incredible joy and blessing--why was I feeling so...

I’ve done a little bit of reading about postpartum depression and it doesn’t necessarily seem to be related to hormones and even some men have been diagnosed with postpartum depression. Having gone through periods of depression in the past (none of which were treated), I wondered if I would be more prone to having more than just the baby blues. I’m not sure if this is truly the case or not—so much is unknown about  postpartum depression and I’ve heard many women say that they are sure they dealt with it when their babies were born twenty and thirty years ago but there wasn’t a vocabulary to discuss it.

My cousin was sweet enough to bounce some questions to me to help me write this post and one of the questions she asked was what was  postpartum depression like. I’ve already mentioned the disconnect between myself and others and feeling incredibly overwhelmed. But I think the biggest struggle was coming to terms with my new life changes. I didn’t know how to be a mom, a wife, and myself all at the same time. Looking back I can see that I thought I needed to be someone completely different from who I was before the baby—I didn’t know how to adjust just parts of my life. Because of this I completely lost myself. There is absolutely no way to prepare for how absolutely life changing being a mother is. But, what I now know is that I did not need to change, I just needed to grow. (I hope this makes sense—basically I can be the same person as I was, just enhanced?).

One of the things that I believe can exacerbate the depression is feeling alone and isolated. People would tell me that of course there will be adjustment and of course it will be hard, but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to handle those adjustments or the difficulty. I felt like a failure for not having the answers or not knowing what to do when Elle was crying or upset or not sleeping or not nursing or… And I felt shame for feeling depressed and helpless. In the book What Mother’s Do the first chapter discusses the competition between mothers and sadly I see this to be true—it’s impossible not to compare your experiences to others and for me I wanted to prove that I was handling everything perfectly and doing just fine. It was so hard to admit that things were not OK and that I needed help.

So what has changed over the past five months? R-E-L-A-X. Yes, I’m laughing at myself, too. But really—like the doctor ordered: sleep and time to myself—with the realization that both won’t be like it was before Elle. Cutting myself some slack. Realizing that I can’t do everything that I want to do or even need to do, but that the world won’t end. Asking for help. Asking for help again. Relying on my incredibly supportive husband who happens to be the best dad. Sometimes I think that I rely on him a little too much, but I’ve learned that we really are partners. Taking deep breaths and not forgetting to take time to just snuggle and be in the moment.

Do I still have moments? Yes, of course—we all do, don’t we? But the key, for me, is that I feel like myself again. And with renewed strength. Do I worry that I will go through this again with baby number 2? Yes. Will it prevent me from having more kids? No. I can’t wait for the next baby to come and I know there will be struggles but I also know that I can do it. I’ll count on Scott to hold my hand, but now that I know the signs, I feel better equipped to take care of myself sooner rather than later.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I don’t have the answers and I don’t have any sage advice. Everyone’s experiences are individual and different treatment works for different people (I did not want to go into detail about this in the post, if you’d like to discuss you can email me). But what I do hope is that by sharing my own story that I will help someone else realize that she is not alone. There is nothing “wrong” with you for the way that you are feeling, but it can get better and my hope is that women can and will ask for help when they need it—in whatever shape or form that might be.

I know this picture is flawed but I can't help but love it.

Deep breath...and Publish.

With a heart full of love,


117 comments:

  1. Trish, this was such a brave and incredibly important post for new mothers and their close family members. Bringing awareness about this sometimes silent topic, makes people realize that it is much more common than we think. Women are not weak or bad mom because they suffer with this.

    I read Brook Shield's book "Down Came the Rain" on her struggle with postpartum depression and thought it was wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your story. (I love that photo).

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    1. Diane - Thank you so much for your kind words. I haven't read Brooke Shield's book but I'm curious about it. I remember the big kerfuffle between her and Tom Cruise regarding PPD and how unfortunate the remarks and sentiments were!

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  2. ((HUGS)) What an amazingly written post. I really hope that it helps others in the same situation. I think your message to relax is very important - something I didn't do when I had my first baby. I think the problem stems from the fact that I didn't enjoy/need to relax before I had a child. I loved being busy and filled every second with stuff. But when you have a baby everything changes and you actually need to sit and do nothing. I felt guilty for doing this and didn't stop for a second. This led me to burn out. I'm not sure I was depressed, but I'm sure I didn't do my body any good by continuning to whizz around. I have now learnt that it is important I build relaxation time into every day. I'm happier and my children are happier. Good luck with everything. It gets easier as they get older :-)

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    1. Jackie - It's such a change in mindset having a baby isn't it? And so difficult the shake the guilty feeling of slowing down a little bit when we're so used to the go go go. Glad to hear from you that it gets easier. Ha!! ;) Maybe we just get better at adapting.

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  3. Thanks for writing this and putting so much out there. I know it was difficult. I've never had any kids, but I can only imagine with the hormones, the lack of sleep, and the overwhelming nature of it all how post partum depression could easily happen. I'm willing to bet that a lot more women than admit it have felt all those things you felt/feel. Don't allow yourself to feel guilty for taking time for yourself, because in the long run it makes your health better and, in turn, you can better attend to and care for Elle.

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    1. Jenny - Thank you so much for your comments and you're absolutely correct that one must take care of self in order to properly take care of the others. I hope that one day this topic doesn't have to be so taboo.

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  4. Ah, Trish, you are so gifted in sharing your thoughts. This post made me cry and want to jump in my car and head up to your area to give you a big, big hug. What an important topic and I feel that you won't know how many people you will touch by sharing your experience.

    One thing I'm so happy to find among certain bloggers is a sense of a kindred spirit. I'm old enough to be your mother, but I feel that we share certain feelings. It's tough to move past the sense that you aren't "doing it right" or "good enough" or that old awful "perfectly". I'm just so pleased that these things are being discussed and talked about and treated. Not shoved under the rug or dismissed as unimportant.

    Good for you! Well done. Beautiful picture of your and your precious one. I can see what you might call flaws. I call them points of light and they seem to surround you and Elle like bits of hope. Hugs to you!!

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    1. Kay - I'm constantly amazed at the connections that I've found through this blogging--even though I'm your daughter's age, I agree wholeheartedly that the connections are so wonderful. Being a mother is difficult enough without all of the added pressure of being perfect. We can only take it one step at a time, right? Back when I was at home with Elle I was so stressed about her sleeping in her swing every nap. I remeber my mom's best friend telling me "she won't go to college sleeping in the swing." I always smile when I think of that--this too shall pass, right? Hugs. ;)

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  5. I'm glad you got some help Trish, and that it has worked for you.

    My experiences with post-partum emotions have been very strange. Immediately after all three children were born, I had the exact opposite reaction. I went through post-partum mania. This always lasted about 2-3 months, until I had done something so drastic that I crashed. After Morrigan was born, I decided to move us across the country in two weeks. After Ambrose, I bought a house. After Laurence, I decided one of us needed to quit our jobs and stay home full time. Those may not sound like huge decisions, but they were all very sudden, spur-of-the-moment decisions and didn't exactly come at the best times. All three left us worse off. Then I would crash, and the depression would set in.

    I'm not sure my experiences with post-partum mania/depression could be at all considered normal, though, since I know they were also part of the whole bipolar-like symptoms caused by my tooth infections. I have no way of telling how much was pregnancy hormones, and how much was illness symptoms. :/

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    1. Amanda - Honestly I think that everyone's situation is so different but I can understand the mania. Despite my breakdown moments the first several weeks I was feeling really up when I had my first postpartum visit with my doctor. It was around the 3 month mark that things started getting really bad. And from what I've read, hormones aren't responsible for ppd. Truthfully I don't really understand what exactly it is at all!

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  6. Oh Trish...please stop worrying about what people think of this post. I know, easier said than done. But seriously, my dear, if anyone would look at you differently or think ill of you, well darlin', that would be *their* problem! This was a beautifully-written, heartfelt post about something sooooo many women experience. There is NO SHAME in this!!!!

    I didn't have postpartum depression when I had Annie. I worried that I would because I had had an episode of clinical depression in my past. When things went smoothly after Annie's birth, I joked to myself that it was because the pregnancy itself was so awful that anything after had to be a piece of cake. Of course, I said it in the most facetious way. But joking or not, it proved itself to be false. My pregnancy with Max was even worse than with Annie, and I did suffer from postpartum depression after his birth (at least I'm guessing so). I was in over my head!!! At the time he was born, I'd been on bed rest for 10 weeks so I was physically weak, he was in the NICU, Gray wasn't even two years old yet, and before Max was even released from the hospital, Annie had to be hospitalized for her asthma (in a different hospital--the hospitals were about an hour and 15 minutes apart). I felt like I never got a grip on any of it. I spent the first 6 months crying Every. Single. Day. All through the day. I was so just so overwhelmed. So overwhelmed. But you know, I don't think anyone who ever knew the truth ever judged me. And I hope like hell that is your truth as well!!! Because Trish, there is nothing to be ashamed of in having lived through postpartum depression. Nothing. But there is much to be proud of.

    And there's much to proud of in speaking out. Speaking out is not something everyone can do (and that's okay--everyone has to decide for themselves what it best for them), but when someone like you can put yourself out there it can only bring good to the world. You may never ever know who you've helped with this post, Trish. But I'd bet the farm you've helped someone. Probably many someones.

    *hugs my beautiful friend*

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    1. Oh Debi. Thank you. Thank you for also sharing your story--I can't imagine how overwhelmed and scared and helpless you must have felt at the time. If I haven't learned anything else in the past eight months, what I've taken to heart is how impossibly complicated motherhood is--the emotions and feelings and love and responsibility and the ways that one can stretch. It's amazing really. I feel really at peace for having hit publish--if nothing else I hope that it will help someone else not feel quite so alone.

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  7. It's so brave and wonderful for you to share your story. It's not hard to feel overwhelmed after giving birth, especially given all the roles we have to fill at that time. I've dealt with depression all my life, but after I my daughter was born, I started having anxiety and panic attacks and still struggle with those. It's so great that you talked to your doctor, and I hope this post serves as an inspiration to others! :)

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    1. Anna - I'm so so sorry to hear about the anxiety and panic attacks. I have someone very dear to me who experienced those after her daughter's birth and I'm sure it must have been terrifying for you. I wish you lots of peace my dear.

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  8. I think you will find from this wonderful and brave post that there will be hordes of people coming out of the woodwork saying yes I felt that way too! Personally I can't imagine NOT feeling the way you have!

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    1. Rhapsodyinbooks - Thank you Jill--I'm crossing my fingers that with the next baby things will be a bit smoother. ;) But yes, I do believe that many many women have experienced some of the emotions I have but it does make me sad that the topic can be so taboo.

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  9. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing yourself.

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  10. My son was born 24 years ago and, at that time, no one talked about postpartum depression. Thankfully, I didn't struggle with it, but I know it's very real and painful for those who do. Thanks for sharing your experience in the hopes of helping others.

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    1. Bermudaonion - Thank you for the support Kathy. I hope that there continues to be more openness and support for mothers with postpartum depression.

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  11. Posts like this are why I started reading blogs. Having the absolute chutzpah to be perfectly honest and share your personal life with others is just so awesome. As I am quite quickly coming up on my due date, this couldn't come at a more perfect time for me. Even now, I can definitely see how having a baby can make you lose yourself; I feel that a tiny bit even now as I feel like I have no control over my own body, like it's not mine anymore. Once the baby is here, my life goes the way of my body (to an extent). Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Ha! Chutzpah--love that. ;) Having a baby brings about so many emotions on top of the incredible stress that your body goes through, but I hope that all goes smoothly for you!! And if you ever need an ear, please feel free to use mine. Anytime!

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  12. Just like your fave picture, we are all flawed. And superwomen are just cartoon characters. We can do the best we can, and move on.
    My kids are almost 10 & 5. It's not easy, sometimes it's not fun, but sometimes it is fabulous.
    Live each day as best you can, and you need have the foresight to know that your family loves you, with all of your faults. Just like the picture.
    XXOO

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    1. Marie - It's amazing how much pressure there is on women to BE superwomen--to be all and everything to everyone. You're right that just have to take each day in stride and know that you're doing the best you can do. Wonderful advice.

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  13. Amen! I'm really glad you shared this post, and I can relate to so so so much of it. I did not talk to my doc enough when I went through these feelings. I did Zoloft for a few weeks and then figured out that sleep and "me time" were absolutely necessary. It was not easy as I did not have all of the support I needed at home, but I eventually figured it out on my own. I hate that I didn't reach out for some help before then as it would've been a MUCH easier transition into motherhood for me.

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    1. Andi - Support is such a huge thing for new mothers and I feel really lucky that I've been able to rely on Scott so much and that my mom lives just a few minutes away. But it's so easy to want to just muster your courage and pretend everything is perfect--it's hard to ask for help!

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  14. The fact that you reached out for help - and actually followed the doctor's order - indicates that you are truly wise and that Elle is truly blessed to have such a dedicated Mom who will ensure only the best for her and her entire family.

    The photograph is LOVELY and I think it captures the magic of Christmas and the loving bond between mother and daughter. You both are simply beautiful!

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    1. Molly - Thank you for your sweet words--and you're right that my biggest desire was to become whole again for my family--it's so easy to get lost in yourself when going through depression but it really does affect everyone.

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  15. What a brave post to write, Trish. I am sure no one will judge you harshly by this post because many of them reading it can probably relate to some part of it.

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    1. Kailana - Thank you so much Kelly. I do think there are many moms who have gone through similar emotions and I hope that they continue to reach out for support!

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  16. I'll join the rest of the commenters in saying what a brave post this is...and I congratulate you for writing it because depression (whether it be post-partum or other) is one of those mostly "silent" problems. People don't talk about it, and yet many people suffer from it. Your courage in sharing your journey through depression I am sure will help someone out there...just knowing that one is not alone in what is often a lonely feeling, I think helps. I'm glad you asked for help with this, Trish - that is something many people don't realize...there IS help and you CAN make it through.
    xo

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    1. Wendy - You're so right about depression being one of those silent problems which is troubling because it causes more isolation and loneliness. Thank you so much for your words of support.

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  17. It's so great that you wrote about your struggle with this. I 100% think that mothers should talk about these issues more frequently! Not so everyone can have a pity-party or complain about things, but so new moms can be better prepared that they may have this issue. Or if a new mom feels this way, she can realize there isn't something "wrong" with her, and she isn't failing as a mother/wife. I can relate to so many things you said, and I'm SO glad you have figured out a way to be a mom, wife and Trish (or at least have somewhat figured it all out...think it's maybe impossible to find a perfect balance?? if you have...give me your secret!! :) )

    Anyways, thank you for sharing! The picture of you and Elle is beautiful!

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    1. Laura - Ha! Not sure we'll ever have it all figured out--as soon as get something down everything else changes. ;) I was really grateful for all of your support after I had had Elle and I would send a text in frustration of this and that--it's hard to admit that you don't have all of the answers but as a new mom how can you?! I wish these issues were more widely discussed as well.

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  18. *hugs* You are wonderful and incredibly brave, and I so admire you for writing about this so honestly and articulately. I'm so glad you were able to find help when you needed it and that things have been improving over the past few months.

    Wendy's comment in particular really resonates with me. I've briefly entertained the idea of writing about my hospitalisation last year, but the thought alone is enough to make me panic (even this admission, tucked in the middle of a comment nobody but you is likely to read, is kind of terrifying). The Bloggess had an excellent post on mental health issues recently, followed by another post about all the support she received. And it was wonderful to see all those people talking about it and taking comfort in each other's experiences, but the fact is, the risk is always there. Sometimes you DO cause people to feel awkward and shy away from you when you talk about it. Sometimes nothing follows but silence, and you feel lonelier and more desperate than you ever did before. Sometimes being open doesn't lead to wonderful experiences, but to nightmarish ones. And yet maybe one person will read your words and find them a huge source of comfort. I'm sure you know all about how scary it is. Again, I can't tell you how much I admire you for going ahead and posting this anyway.

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    1. I just had to reply to your comment because I think you are voicing what every person who has ever struggled with depression feels - that somehow this is something we should be ashamed of or afraid of judgement for. I have also had depression - mine was situational and centered around a divorce...but it was devastating. I sought help (thankfully) and found that with medication and counseling, I could go on to live a full and very happy life again (I eventually was able to wean off the medication). I don't tell a lot of people about my experience, but I have shared it when I thought it was appropriate to do so and most people are very supportive (in fact, most people will then open up and tell me they have struggled or they know someone who has). If we had diabetes, we'd think nothing of telling people we had to take insulin...but somehow there is a stigma re: depression and other forms of mental illness. Posts like this one help to wash away the stigma.

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    2. You're right, Wendy. Thank you for the kind and wise words *hugs*

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    3. Ana - Oh Ana, I had no idea about your hospitalization last year and so I'm sending lots of hugs your way. And I absolutely know and understand your reservations about talking things through and ultimately you need to do what you feel most comfortable with. There is that risk that you'll get the blank stares--I get them sometimes too. I think a lot of times it isn't meant maliciously but people just don't know what to say. I do believe that you would find an outpouring of love amongst us but it is hard to not think about the judgment that will follow.

      Wendy - Yes, wonderful comment and it is unfortunate that mental health has such a negative stimga in society. It's so hard to be open, but it's painful to keep it in as well.

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  19. This is post is going to help many, many people -- and I hope it helped you, also, in the sharing. Thanks for being brave!

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    1. Thank you so much Kelly--I appreciate your support.

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  20. Wish I could give you a big hug, Trish! I KNOW there is someone out there who will truly benefit from this post, and I admire your courage to write it. Being a new mother is HARD, even if postpartum depression is not an issue. When my oldest daughter was a baby (she will be 22 in a few weeks), there were mornings I would wake to her crying and start to cry myself before I even got out of bed. We had a few difficult months and I never sought help, but suspect it was postpartum depression. Thankfully, it did not happen three years later after the twins were born.

    The photo is absolutely stunning! Not only does it capture the beauty of the holiday, it shows Elle's curiosity and wonder, and your love for her as well. No wonder you love it!

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    1. JoAnn - I think it's hard to know what is depression and what is normal new motherhood feelings--there are so many changes all at once that it's impossible not to feel your world turn upside down. I'm glad to hear that things were much better for you with the twins. And thank you about the picture. I do wish it was in focus but love it regardless. ;)

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  21. What an empowering post as well as the commentary that follows. You are so beautiful and strong (and intelligent and fun!) and I admire you so much for sharing your heart with the world. This will be a great guide for when I have kids, and is already a soothing voice to the bits of sadness and confusion faced in every day life. You are so blessed to have such a great guy like Scott - keep on being grateful, and keep on soliciting his help! I love you all!!

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    1. Kim - thank you so much for your love and support--and I think the thing to remember when you're feeling so isolated is that you're not. Wish you were closer...love you little sister. :)

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  22. Trish -

    There's not much new I can say because the others have already said it. You are an amazing young woman; Elle is lucky to have you and Scott and I am so profoundly glad you sought help. It's time for the stupid stigma about all of this to go away. Your post is one small step toward that goal.

    One small question - who cares if people look at you differently after reading this? If they can't see how brave it was for you to admit this, if they can't be supportive and understanding... (forgive me for being blunt) F them.

    Consider yourself hugged and much loved from the snowy north. Give that beautiful little one an extra kiss and snuggle from me, please.

    cjh

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    1. CJ - Thank you so so much for all of your kind words and love. And you're right that F those who aren't supportive and understanding. Ha!! I took a big huge leap yesterday and posted the link on Facebook even though I know that will mean that several people that I know will read this. Hopefully openness and honesty will be a good step toward the positive for everyone. xoxo

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  23. Trish, I applaud you for sharing your experience. There are so many who suffer in silence, not even sure who to turn to. There is the constant fear of being judged.

    Its a very tough but important topic. I'm glad that many bloggers are opening up and sharing their experiences.

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    1. Teresa - I keep trying to figure out where that fear of being judged stems from--I can't imagine thinking of someone differently for opening up about something like this so I'm not sure why I would think that others would (of course it's not always that simple). I'm grateful that our community is open enough to share these things as well. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  24. I am glad you took the time to write this post, Trisha. As you know, I shared about my own experience several months ago. I wish I could say I was doing better. Some days I think I am. Some days not so much. I have been tempted to do an update but don't think I have it in me. You have shown great courage in selecting that publish button. Thank you.

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    1. Lit Feline - I remember reading your post on Toy Box Tales when I was about three weeks post. It was hard to see that you were going through that but your own openness has led to this post Wendy--and I am grateful for that. I started taking Zoloft after that doctor's appointment and it was worked wonders. I feared that it would be more of a numbing mechanism but it hasn't--I still have tough moments but feel much better. I hope that the good days become more numerous for you--I know it's tough. Hugs.

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  25. For this post I'm going to make an exception and respond to each comment individually, so if you're subscribed to comments and don't want a barrage of emails, unsubscribe and check back. Unfortunately it might take me until tomorrow.

    But thank you thank you thank you for your overwhelming support and love. I can't tell you how much your kind and generous words mean to me.

    xoxo

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  26. That's a brave and a very beautiful post, Trish!
    Being mothers is always tough... and yeah we all have those yucky moments at times. And you know what I think of you, Trish? I think you are a wonderful mom!! All those posts and pics you share with us about yourself and Elle tell us so!

    Finally, thank you for sharing this post with us, Trish! {{Big Hugs}}

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    1. Melody - Thank you so much for your thoughts, Melody. Being a mom is tough but the wonderful certainly outweighs those moments tenfold. Whenever I need a little perspective, I just look at Elle and give her a bit of a squeeze. ;)

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  27. It is so hard to admit that you're "failing" at something that everyone else seems to do so effortlessly. You remember how AWFUL last fall was for me, and I still could barely admit that I couldn't handle it. I don't think it was depression (Honestly, I don't), but the stress and anxiety were out the roof and still I put on that front. I was crazy out of balance. I wish I'd talked about it more, and perhaps one day I still will. I applaud you for posting this.

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    1. Lisa - I remember how tough last fall was for you and it was so difficult to watch you go through that. I think the failure part is the one that gets me the most--both of us are terrible at asking for help but sometimes we just have to force ourselves!

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  28. This is such an important (and brave!) post, for you (to write) and your readers (to, well, duh, read!). It's so well-written and personal; I wish you could send it to a parenting magazine or share it with a mother's group. I think so many new moms have felt exactly how you have felt and haven't been able to process their feelings or understand what they're going through. Your words are so inspiring and honest.

    I don't know if I ever went through PPD, because my husband and I split up when my daughter was only 3 months old. I was depressed for so many other reasons. Ha!

    Yes, sleep and taking care of yourself is vital. And it's great that your husband is sharing in the responsibility of raising that darling little girl of yours.

    My advice? Make an appointment for that massage! And feel free to post your thoughts here or email any of us who have commented. You never need to feel alone.

    And as far as sharing this on your blog, I think it's great. You never know who you may help. Rod & I have both received emails from readers on our other blogs, saying how much they appreciated our thoughts on grief. If you can reach out and touch just one person (or even help heal yourself), it's all worthwhile.

    Hugs to you, my new friend. I wish we lived closer so we can chat more about these issues...

    And finally, there is nothing flawed about that beautiful photo of a mama and her babe. Frame it and put it on your nightstand. I have a 28-year-old photo of my "baby" on mine and I see it every single day. :)

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    1. Les - Thank you so so much for your thoughts and comfort. And yes--I definitely need to book that massage. ;) It is tough sharing but I think it's important to let other people hear--but in a way also a relief personally. Would love to meet you one day as well, and it sounds like I need to connect with YOUR babe since she's just around the corner!

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  29. Thank you for sharing. Mental health on the whole is stigmatized, partly due to the fact that people are so scared to talk about it and not be open about it. And I understand why, as I have times in which I feel as though I can't do anything right and don't care for myself properly and nothing can get me out of it. I notice it more when I am getting panicky and over think things.

    I admire your courage to talk about this. I have heard that sometimes the healing process is often aided by speaking out and I encourage you to continually speak to a professional, whether it be your doctor or a counselor; sometimes just talking about what you are going through helps. I have been going to counseling for almost 3 years and I feel much better for it.

    Also give yourself some slack. While you may think that the other young moms that you interact with seem to have it all together, they may not have it all together and may be struggling like you.

    Hope you feel better :)

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    1. Melissa - Thank you for your wonderful comment. I do think it's important to trust someone enough to talk to them. Writing works wonders for me as it forces me to really take a look at what is going on emotionally--though sometimes distance helps with that! And I absolutely agree about those who seem to have it together. I feel that others would view me the same way--amazing how different things can be behind closed doors.

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  30. Trish, I'm so glad things are better for you! I suffered with PPD with my second son, but not my first. I just wanted to encourage you that it doesn't necessarily happen with each pregnancy. PPD is a serious topic and I'm sure that many people have benefited from you sharing your experience.

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    1. Michelle @ 1morechapter - Thank you so much time for coming by and commenting. It is very hopeful to me that PPD doesn't necessarily have to happen with each child that comes along. I appreciate your thoughts.

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  31. I think you are brave to have shared this. It is hard to explain depression, post-partum or otherwise to those who haven't experienced it. And so often people say the wrong things, mostly because I think they are uncomfortable. I've been in treatment for depression for over ten years but it has only been recently that I feel comfortable talking about it. So kudos to you for sharing and I'm glad you got help.

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    1. Bookmagic - Thank you for your comment Deb. I agree with you and think that because depression is so hard to explain--and can be so individualized--it's hard for others to understand or feel comfortable. Wish there was a way that we could become more vocal about such an isolating feeling.

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  32. I went through this with Mykenzie, I ended up on anti-depressents because I couldnt even function-I cried 24/7. After being on them for several months I was weaned off and am ok. I didnt get post-pardum with Brooke. But I still have my moments of frustration and anxiety. And moments where I seem to leave my body and do crazy things like the other evening where I threw dinner on the floor because no one wanted what I Made.

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    1. Kerin - Thank you for coming by and commenting. I think motherhood can make anyone do crazy things. ;) It's hard to try to be all things to all people and still take the time to take care of yourself. I'm glad to hear things have been much better with Brooke. xo.

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  33. I'm sure this post was really hard to write, and especially hard to publish! Kudos to you for reaching out for help. I'm sure people will read your post and something you said will resonate with them and they'll be able to get the help they need.

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    1. trish - Thank you for the comment. I do hope that by sharing my experience I am able to help someone else feel less alone.

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  34. This is a really beautiful post, Trish. I really admire the courage that it took to pour out your heart in this way. But there is no reason to feel ashamed in any way! From what I can see, you are doing a great job. Holding it all together can be a challenge sometimes. I never went through post-partum depression except with Ana, my baby. BUT after I had her, I had gallbladder surgery....then went through a bout of Thyroid cancer. So I chalked most of my depression up to everything all rolled-up together. Top it off with a house fire....and having to live with my in-laws for 12 weeks while our house was getting "fixed"...and I think I'm lucky to survive that year!!

    Even today I struggle with days of depression. I think it's natural. Just know that you are an inspiration!

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    1. Stephanie - Thank you so much for your comment (and it's great to see you around lately by the way!!). Your year after Ana sounds like it was a very difficult time. It's especially tough when you feel like you're in a tunnel and it will never end. I do think that moments of depression are natural and make us human, but it's comforting to know that we can try to take control of our lives and emotions as well.

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  35. It had to be so cathartic to write all of this down and to share it with all of us. You're so very brave to do it. It's easy to be a fictionalized version of ourselves online. It takes true courage to be your real and whole self. And the fact is that we all have flaws and sometimes they're big and we shouldn't be afraid to admit them. I'm finding that every time something is revealed, there's almost an immediate response to say "you are not alone". It's a beautiful thing.

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    1. Kristen M - You're right that it is so easy to paint a perfect picture of ourselves online and to only see the positive. Unfortunately it can be easy to do this in "real life" as well. And it is amazing to not feeling alone--especially when depression can feel like such a lonely thing. Thank you for your comment.

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  36. Trish, I am not a mother myself yet, but thank you for writing so openly and honestly and courageously about your experience. I think, not only does it help those who have been there to understand that they're not alone, but it also helps those of us who may feel exactly like this in the future. I'm glad you sought help and that it made a real difference, and Elle is so lucky to have you as a mom.

    I love that picture of both of you - it's beautiful.

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    1. Meghan - Thanks for coming by. Postpartum depression seems like one of those things surrounding childbirth that is talked about a lot but not by anyone specifically--just "this could happen to you." I do wish that people were more open with how they are feeling--helps us become more human.

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  37. I am sure by opening up like this, you and a lot of other women will find that this is something that is more common than you would think. I had PPD bad when I had Ellie. I was put on Anti Depressants. I would also recommend Brooke Sheild's Down Came the Rain. I also think that PPD can manifest in so many different ways too. Not just sadness, but anger, detatchment, so being aware is a great first step to feeling better.

    Thanks for your honesty. I love you!

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    1. Michelle - It's terrible that I can't remember if we were blogging together when Ellie was born. I had no idea that you were going through ppd until just recently. And you're right about ppd manifesting in so many different ways--sometimes it's hard to recognize or come to terms with what is going on in reality, but it makes such a difference. Love you. xo

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  38. your post was amazingly open and honest; I admire you for sharing those feelings, and as you can see by the responses, many people identify with your feelings and have had similar challenges. It was difficult for me as your mom to know you were struggling, and feeling powerless. You wouldn't accept help, and I felt as though you thought that acceptance of help would somehow mean admittance of failure or weakness in your struggle. I could begin to see you were emerging from the fog, and now you are such a ray of beaming sunshine every time I see you that it is medicine to my heart! You are a wonderful mother, and Scott is the most adorable daddy. I am proud of how you have reinvented yourself to be a new you that is a great and loving mom, a good wife and homemaker, and making time for all those wonderful things you love to do. Good for you. You go girl! ((((hugs))))

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    1. Kate/Mom - I think I probably get my inability to ask for help from you. ;) But I can't imagine what it was like looking in from the outside--for you or especially for Scott. I feel so incredibly blessed to have family who are so supportive and loving. And though it's a tough journey, I am in love with motherhood and all of the ways that it has enhanced my life. Thank you for your love.

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  39. Love and light to you, Trish -- you're an amazing woman and a wonderful mother! Having gone through depression myself (though not the postpartum variety), I could definitely relate to much of what you were discussing. It's hard and scary and complicated and awful, but there is life after -- and it can be a beautiful after. Take good care of yourself and your lovely family.

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    1. Meg - Thank you for the comment Megan--it is difficult and scary to feel depressed and especially to feel alone. But you're absolutely right that life does carry on. I'm glad you're seeing the "beautiful after." (love that!).

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  40. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you've posted about this. One of my best friends just had a baby about 6 weeks ago. The third day after she gave birth, she broke down and started crying. Her husband (who is just, I don't know, a little immature) asked her if she had postpartum depression. So then she felt guilty for being exhausted and tired and sore. I went and visited with her and just tried to talk to her.

    I've never been pregnant or had a baby, but I cannot IMAGINE how totally different my life would be or how I would handle it.

    You're fantastic. You need to know that. And that photo of you two is fantastic.

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    1. Picky - Thanks Jenn and I hope that your friend finds some relief. I think it's incredibly difficult for a husband to understand what the woman is going through being a new mother. There's just something different about mothers and fathers (though both relationships are beautiful and important). Many happy wishes--you're a good friend to be understanding! :)

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  41. Love the photo of you two! And I love the way how you described how you felt and how the birth of your baby girl and your new life totally overwhelmed you.
    Although I don't have kids and will never have any I do understand the overwhelming feeling, the depression, the feeling being lost in your own life... moving to China made me go through that all as well. Readjusting *is* hard. And the only thing really helps is 'accepting'. It is what it is, you are who you are and yes, don't be too hard on yourself and give yourself some slack. It's the only way. But it takes a while to get there too. I hope when you will have another baby it won't be as bad but if so it's good to feel you know you have the skills. You already have been through it once, you can do it again. We grow in life, fortunately we do. And I'm loving that kind of growth. Because in the end we can be proud of ourselves that we did it! We survived, we made it through. And we are happy!
    I can read through your lines that you are happy now and I'm happy for you :)
    Enjoy your little one, and your own life too, even if it's different now, it's still you!
    Take care!

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    1. Cessie - Great point about "accepting" and that makes a lot of sense. Sometimes just the adjustment can be so difficult but we do have to be forgiving and understanding of OURSELVES. I love the joy and spirit in your comment. You've brought a big smile to my face.

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  42. Wow. I'm so glad you talked to the doctor. The experience is different for everyone and each pregnancy will be different too. Brave post.

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  43. Good lord, 81 comments! I don't think I've ever read that many except on famous people's blogs like Roger Ebert's. I'm not going to read them all, but am just going to write to you. What I would say is that what you have felt, are feeling, and will feel is normal, normal, normal. There is NO HARDER JOB on this earth than being a parent. Never before has a life been utterly dependent on you.
    It is hard and it is exhausting. I've told people that I didn't sleep through the night for 8 years. And now, that the kids are grown, Trish, I sleep ten hours a night. As does Tom.
    When I'm exhausted, I'm depressed. That's also normal.
    Trish, nothing you are feeling is wrong or unusual. Again, I can't stress enough that it is normal to have a zillion feelings going on at one time when you are a parent. My kids are now 29 and 26, and those feelings are still zooming.
    To balance the tough, the exhausting, the worried, the nervous feelings are emotions that are almost spiritual. The love is so deep, so unexplainable to someone who doesn't have kids. It has filled me in a way that nothing else ever did or could. I felt like I joined a huge club when I became a parent. I felt like now I understood. I got it. I knew what others know.
    Husbands and wives can go. But the love for those children only grows. Sometimes I've felt my heart would burst with that love.
    And that it happens right alongside all the stress and fears and upsets makes it all the more remarkable.
    You are not alone. Every single parent in the world understands.

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    1. Nan - Thank you so so much for your wonderful comment. It is amazing the feeling once you become a parent. There is absolutely no way to describe or for others to know or understand the immense love. It's really beautiful.

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  44. Me again. I so wish the internet had been around when my kids were little. My parents were both dead. Tom's weren't around. I didn't have friends that lived close by, so my days were pretty much me and the kids. Going to the grocery store was a big deal. I didn't have an outside job. It was me and the kids until Tom got home, and some days that wasn't till ten o'clock. I look back now and wonder how I did it. I guess just day by day, and of course that love that amazed me every day. It sure would have been great to connect with people via blogs in those days. New mothers who were like me.

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  45. I composed a really long comment yesterday that was probably TMI and just didn't end up posting it. Let me just say that you are incredibly brave. Depression runs in my family, and while I never suffered from PPD, I have suffered from mild depression off and on since my kids were born. Motherhood is a huge adjustment for type A personalities. I was fine when I was busy working and in school, but once I stayed home full time it was rough. I'm not brave enough to really talk about it, and I've certainly never been brave enough to seek help. Good for you.

    I have learned over my almost ten years of being a mom that comparing ourselves to other moms is never a good idea. Much of my insecurity was a result of these comparisons. It's difficult not to, but we all have our flaws and what we may perceive as a mom who has it all together, most likely isn't the case. Motherhood is wonderful and beautiful, but it is painful, difficult, and exhausting for all mothers, whether they admit it or not.

    Best to you and your family. That's wonderful that you have a support system to help you through. I'm glad you made it through and had the courage to share your story.

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    1. Kristi - Depression IS so hard to talk about--not only because you're putting yourself out there and opening up in such a fragile way but also because it's hard for other people not going through it to understand. I find that when I'm not in down periods that I have a hard time even understanding my own depression! I really appreciate your comment and your honesty (and there's never TMI for me). ;)

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  46. You are so brave for writing & publishing this post. It is hard to put your honest, true self out there. But look how much love & support you have gotten! Wow!!

    I am glad you were able to recognize where you were at and take the steps to get help...for yourself & for your relationships with your family (Scott, Elle, etc.). That is a huge thing to do! Glad that things are going much better for you! :)

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    1. Elise - Thank you so much--a great support system is so crucial to new moms, I think. And It is important to take care of self not only for self but for the whole family! I know we're ALL happier for it. ;)

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  47. This is such a beautiful post, Trish. Just beautiful, and so very brave and wonderful of you to write and post it. I love your photo, too.

    I didn't go through postpartum depression with my first two kids but with my youngest, I struggled, although at the time I don't think I realized what was happening. I found my way out through reading the Baby Blues comic strip! I think for me, the laughter itself was so healing. I still have a full set of these comics on my shelves. Don't think I will ever part with them.

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    1. Belle Wong - I haven't heard of the Baby Blues comic strip but I'm really curious now!! And yes--laughter cures so many ailments, doesn't it? Thank you for your sweet comment.

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  48. Thank you for sharing this post Trish. I can't say I've experienced this myself, but I think it's comforting to know that people respond to having a baby differently.

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    1. Kim (Sophistcated) - I find comfort in knowing that every baby experience is different as well. Hopefully next time is much smoother. ;)

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  49. You are one incredible young woman, and so very brave for writing this post. I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I was just thinking the other day about my niece who had gone through similar feelings, and am so glad she was able to get back to herself. I so glad you talked to your doctor, we tend to put ourselves last when we become moms. Keep well sweetness, love your photo.

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    1. Irene - I hope that things are going more smoothly for your niece. It can be such a scary and isolating feeling. It's wonderful to feel like one's self again!

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  50. I'm so sorry you had to go through this, but you are so brave for sharing your experience. I can't imagine how many women have gone through this and need to talk about it. I haven't had kids yet, but I worry about things like this and it's such a comfort to know there are support systems out there.

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    1. Melissa - I hope more and more women realize the need to talk about these kinds of issues. It would be wonderful if women could continue to support one another without some of the competition. Thanks for your comments. :)

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  51. I remember these feelings...especially when my oldest was born. It wasn't easy and the main thing I remember is feeling so alone. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post. It isn't easy being a new mother. You are awesome Trish!

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    1. Samantha - I'm sorry that you went through this with your oldest as well. :( But I find comfort in knowing the other two were a little smoother. It is difficult feeling alone but I'm glad it doesn't have to be that way.

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  52. Oh Trish, I wish I could visit your cube and give you a big hug. This was such an incredible post and I hope you got as much out of it as I know so many others will. You are so strong and I'm so glad you're my friend. :)

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    1. Meredith - Thank you so much. I'm glad we can share these things with one another. :)

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  53. I love you for this. I didn't have PPD, but I have had depression off and on for most of my adult life. It is always good to know you're not alone and spread the word that there is help out there. It's so easy to forget that in the dark times. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself with the rest of us.

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    1. Heather - Thank you--I do hope that women can seek the help that they need--as mothers I think we forget that we also need to take care of ourselves!

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  54. Wow, 92 comments! You obviously touched a nerve. The first time I read this, I couldn't comment. I had PPD with my first and it lasted 2 years. My husband was not helpful at all and in those days (27 years ago) it was not mentioned. Even my mother was not the slightest bit helpful when I brought it up, in spite of the fact that she was (at one point in my childhood) suicidally depressed. She went through years of therapy and my father was very supportive. I suppose she thought I had a husband I could count on, too -- or liked to pretend I did. Anyway, I still don't like to talk my own experience but I'm glad you spoke up. Talking about it can be therapeutic and maybe your post will help a few people. That would be lovely.

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    1. Bookfool - Silly blogger and the inflated comment numbers. ;) Not really 92 commenters... Thank you thank you for your comment as I know how difficult it is to talk about these things. A strong support system is so underrated, I think and I know that I didn't use the one that I had quite enough (see comment from my mom above about my not accepting her help...). Hugs to you Nancy.

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  55. Breaks my heart to think how hard it was for you! I never had PPD, only the baby blues, so I can't say I know what it was like for you. I do know that I did better with my first because I made a point to get out and see people, sleep when he did (damn it was hard for me to give up the idea that a vacuumed room would have straight lines when done!), and to make sure I still made time for myself. All of that is harder when you have the 2nd one, making it even more important to ask for help! I'm sure you've helped a lot of people by being willing to talk about your experience!

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    1. Lisa - Thank you for your sweet comment. And good for you for letting yourself take care of you with your first baby. It is difficult to let those things go. I didn't at first but I do now just so I can have extra time with Elle when I'm at home. Dirty floors? Ehhhh--as long as the dog hair doesn't end up in the mouth. ;) But seriously--thank you. Hugs.

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  56. Great post, Trish. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on some less than positive feelings about motherhood and it was difficult to hit that publish button, so I know how hard it was. It's like we're all thrown into motherhood clueless with how dramatic the change is going to be. I think I felt diconnected for about a month, but like you, have a wonderful husband who adores his baby and wife. That really does make a huge difference, doesn't it?

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    1. Stacybuckeye - I'm so sorry that you went through similiar emotions with Gage. It's tough! Sometimes I wonder if it's better or worse to go into motherhood so blindly. But I'm always grateful for how much the good outweighs the bad. And yes, support is so key! Always grateful and blessed for that.

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  57. I thought you would get alot of replies as its something that is more comman than ppl care to mention. I had an 'interesting' experience after my son was born because it was my husband that had a nervous breakdown, it was a strange experience being a new mother and not only being awaken by a baby in the night but also being awoken by my husband having a full blown panic attack. In a way I have had a view from the other side, from the spouses point of view.

    Really werid looking back and some bits like our doctors face when when all three of us walked into the surgery asking for medical help...for the dad.

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    1. Jessica - Thank you so much for your comment. And I'm so sorry to hear about your husband! I was really surprised when I was reading about PPD that around 20% of men experience this type of depression. It's hard for me to imagine but I know it goes so much further than hormones--trying to handle the life change can be enormous!

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  58. Just a short note here Trish. I just wanted to let you know I emailed you privately so keep an eye out for it. Hugs to you.

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    1. Oh Darlene. Thank you. :) Hugs right back to you.

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  59. Hi trish,i stumbled on to yur blog from a food blog!i had my daughter last year,and yes i suffered the same sad painful symptoms for almost 6 mnths,being Indian you are surrounded by too much family when a birth happens,in my case i was feeling to lonely,no one understood me,my baby wasnt sleeping well,i was scared she wasnt feeding well,i felt my husband was being taken away frm me when my inlaws came to stay,i had to hear many harsh words and the criticism was too much being a first time mother..i wanted my daughter never to wake up from sleep sometimes,i didnt feel the love...i felt i couldnt cook anything anymore,a hundred myriad feelings all at once and no help was enough..proudly i can look back saying after a year im back to the old me,i dnt stress as much and i dnt go rumming out for all the answers,but my baby is helping me become the mother i want to be..i want to be grateful but i dnt think i would want another child and yes im scared to rerun the whole episode..

    good luck with your next and the above pic is amazing..i remember my husbands kind wrds when i used to say all mums in pics look so happy when posing for the camera,and then he asked me tht even in the dark days i used to fib and airbrush my feelings for that smiling photo..i feel its important to share and empathise and never criticize..take care

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