Postpartum Education and Support applauds the women who tell their stories of PMD struggle and recovery. We are proud to share their voices with you.
*These stories may not be used, copied, or reproduced in any form without the permission of the contributor. To request permission, please contact PES at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jodi — Raleigh, NC
I had my breakdown on a Monday morning, still very clear in my mind, and I was 8 weeks postpartum with my second child. My son was sick, again, and I was crying so hard I could barely text my mom to have her come over immediately. I waited anxiously at the door with a screaming, ill child and greeted her by handing over my son, saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” She had me call my doctor that morning, and I can’t thank her enough for starting me on the road to accepting and recovering from PPD.
The anxiety and depression were both new to me, and I only experienced mild baby blues with my daughter. N was a huge Christmas morning surprise to my husband and me (two pink lines? What?), and nine months later my cute little boy was born, unaware of the challenges that awaited him. He had a very bumpy first three months and was sick often: N had everything from harlequin color change to dairy intolerance. All of this weighed me down, spending countless hours at doctor appointments, pharmacies, and “researching” on the internet. I was overwhelmed. I felt guilty, exhausted, constantly sick to my stomach, and I cried many, many times a day. I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness.
My anxiety came in the form of the clock; it was my worst enemy. I would time N’s feedings with a stopwatch, starting the timer before getting him latched on just to add a few extra seconds. I couldn’t help myself, and I knew it was silly, but it’s just what I HAD to do. I had alarms on when to feed him, when to wake him, when I should wake, when I should sleep, and I was basically driving myself over the edge. I didn’t sleep much, and the insomnia was becoming dangerous: I vividly remember driving alone one night and seriously considering crashing my car just so I could get some rest in a hospital.
My depression surfaced during those long, lonely hours at night. I dreaded the sun going down, because I felt so ALONE, and was I left with my fears and guilt. My husband was fantastic and caring, my parents were helpful, but I just couldn’t shake the darkness that enveloped my life. I felt like I was living in a deep black hole and struggling not to sink deeper. I was scared to be alone with both children, scared to leave the house, and scared to admit that I needed help and wasn’t as strong as I thought.
Through an online moms forum, I read about Moms Supporting Moms and was willing to give it a chance. After sobbing my way through my introduction and hearing others talk, I felt so comforted knowing that I wasn’t crazy and that there were moms there that *got* my feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression. If it weren’t for the caring and understanding moms I met through MSM, along with my wonderful family, I wouldn’t have been able to heal like I have. It’s been a long road, but light and happiness now fill my life, and I say yes, I can beat PPD. So can you.
Heather — Raleigh, NC
I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety after the births of each of my three children.
My first experience with postpartum depression was in a way the worst one because I didn’t know what was going on with me. I cried constantly, was anxious all the time, couldn’t eat, and was scared to go out because the baby might cry… but also scared to be alone at home. I basically felt that life as I used to know it was over. Time stood still.
After about two months my OB encouraged me to try an anti-depressant and seek therapy. The combination of the medication and therapy worked beautifully and I was feeling much better by the time my son was 4 months old.
After my daughter was born I thought that I would be fine and that because I wasn’t a brand new mother anymore, I probably wouldn’t experience the depression and anxiety again. I was alright for a week after her birth and then the symptoms that had been so devastating began again. I immediately contacted my OB and started on medication right away. I felt better within two weeks and was so grateful for therapy and modern pharmaceuticals!
When my third child was born I expected that I would experience the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety again. I was right but I didn’t realize just how bad it would be. I could feel the extreme anxiety within 24 hours after birth. I immediately started medication and hoped that I would feel better in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
I spiraled very quickly into a major depression laced with blinding anxiety. Because I wasn’t eating or sleeping I was unable to care for my newborn. After consulting with my psychiatrist I opted to participate in an outpatient program at a local psychiatric hospital. Within a couple of month’s time I felt like myself again. I even had a “post” postpartum depression party to celebrate and to honor all of the people who helped me and my family!
My recovery is complete now and looking back on that journey is sometimes difficult, but it has also given me a lot to be thankful and hopeful for. I would encourage anyone suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible, accept as much help and support from others as you can, and most importantly know that YOU WILL GET BETTER!
Anne — Cary, NC
Soon after the birth of my son, I knew something was wrong with me. Almost immediately, I had trouble sleeping, and I felt extremely anxious all the time. By the time he was five days old, I wanted to crawl out of my own skin; my nerves felt raw. I couldn’t fall asleep, or if I did, I couldn’t sleep for long. I also couldn’t eat. I forced down every bite of food, and I spent most of my time crying. I worried constantly and felt like my life was spinning out of control. Normal tasks seemed insurmountable, and nothing that I used to enjoy gave me any pleasure.
I called my OB and told him how I was feeling at the end of that first week. He prescribed medication to help me sleep and to control the anxiety; he also reassured me that I was not going crazy and that lots of other mothers go through similar experiences when suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. He encouraged me to use all the support from family and friends that was offered until I recovered.
I also saw a therapist during this time, and she gave me hope, helped me to find tools to help myself get better and made me believe that I would go on from this experience to be a good mother. A psychiatrist monitored my medications until I was well.
Finding a medication to control my anxiety and help me start to sleep better was key to my recovery. I knew that I was getting better the day I heard a new song on the radio and enjoyed it. Later the same day I laughed at something my older son did, and suddenly the world seemed so much brighter after weeks of darkness. I had good days mixed with some bad after that, but I did my best to stay focused on the fact that I was getting better and enjoying my life again.
After recovering from PPMD, I learned that many women (an estimated 10-15% of new mothers) experience the same symptoms I did, or variations of them (some more severe, some less so). One of the most important facts I learned from my experience, and that I try to pass on to other new mothers suffering from PPMD, is that the sooner you receive treatment, the quicker the recovery time.
Please don’t hesitate to tell your doctor or another health professional if you are suffering from any of the symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, because there are many forms of help available.