Surviving Post Partum Depression

Post partum depression (PPD) is one of those things that isn’t talked about enough. When I discuss it I always here “I’m so glad its being talked about-not enough people do!” It’s something that I feel people are so ashamed of (I can relate) and it’s so taboo, but SO MANY people are going through it-there is so much support to be had that we don’t even realize.

Prior to experiencing PPD, it was one of those things where I thought to myself-‘they should just ask for help, there’s no shame in it!’ Or “I wonder why they didn’t/won’t ask for help?”

I should have known better. Here I am, in the throes of PPD and the shame is real. You know you need help, you know there are people willing to help, but asking for it is just so hard, seems too embarrassing and feels like it’s so much of a burden that you don’t want to place on anyone.

You see, you get to a place where you get really good at answering the “How are you?” question. Deep down I know my friends and family would drop everything to help me, but at 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon when one of them sends a “checking in-how are you feeling?” text, the last thing you want to do is drop a bomb of emotions on them-you know they have emails to be answered, meetings to attend, errands to be run or dinner to be prepared,  so you just reply with “hanging in there!” and change the subject. “How’s your day going? Can’t wait for you to meet the baby! How was your weekend?” Anything to shift the attention away from how you’re really feeling, because that’s a heavy load to put on someone during their lunch break.

Plus there’s also this extra feeling of shame, because you know that you have so much to be thankful for, and to be given the gift of a baby is a miracle, so why should you be sad? You have no right to be. You have everything so many people dream of, so why should you feel upset? If anything you should be the happiest you’ve ever been.

Post partum emotions (depression and anxiety aside) are real, guys. And until you experience it for yourself it’s just something you can’t fully understand. There’s nothing you can really compare it to.

In an effort to try and help as many women as possible through PPD, I’m answering some of the most asked questions from all of you about living with PPD.

when did you realize?

I don’t know the exact time, but I just remember it being around Cecelia’s one month mark. I remember there were a few times where I was feeding her in the middle of the night and just sobbing. I was tired, I didn’t feel like myself, I was happy but I wasn’t, I was overwhelmed.  I was thinking about how close my 6 week post partum appointment was. I was just thinking about everything and how I was healing (physically) and then I had an internal conversation that it would be a good idea to talk with the doctor about how I have been feeling. I knew they would bring it up, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t brush the discussion off with a “I’m hanging in there!”

who noticed it first?

I’m honestly not sure when Ryan started to notice a difference in me, but when I got home from my 6 week post partum checkup and told him I talked to my doctor and was put on medication he told me how proud he was of me, and that if I hadn’t said anything he was going to suggest I make an appointment. I’m not the best at hiding my emotions so it can be pretty obvious when I am feeling something. I don’t necessarily share every single thing I’m feeling all the time, but I do feel like its generally pretty noticeable when something isn’t right. In this case, Ryan could tell that I wasn’t feeling myself.

My friends on the other hand were a little more surprised-while I can be pretty obvious with my emotions (with Ryan), I can also hide them pretty well. I feel like a lot of people can, because well, it’s just easier sometimes, right? When I’m with Ryan and all of our friends, the last thing I want to do is be a Debbie Downer and put a damper on the mood (and my friends are a really good time if I’m being honest, so there’s always lots of laughter) so slapping on a smile and laugh is just easier. At one point Ryan took it upon himself to plan a girls night out for me with my girlfriends and Ryan filled them in on what was going on with me, how I was feeling, etc. Needless to say they were surprised and had no clue what I was going through. And this is in no way their fault-they are the absolute best of friends to me-they always check in and offer help. This is a reflection of me and how easy it can be to hide. Thinking about things, I feel bad that my friends felt terrible for not knowing, all because I didn’t want to share with them (or burden them, in my mind) how I was feeling.

I promise you, if your friends are anything like mine, they want to help you and they will drop everything to be there for you, whether it’s taking you out to dinner, watching your little one so you can breathe, or flying across several states to be with you. Tell them how you’re feeling. 

did you have ppd with your other babies

No I did not, so this was all new to me. I feel like at some point I probably experienced a bit of the baby blues with Ella, but not to this extreme. I was talking to Ryan one day trying to figure out why this time is different, and honestly I feel like it’s something you just can’t quite determine. My stage of life is vastly different (26 when I had Ella and 30 when I had Charlotte) and I have a lot more responsibilities this time around, so maybe that has something to do with it?

coping mechanisms/what has helped?

This one was hard for me. I even talked about it with my friend because I thought I didn’t really have any good coping mechanisms other than taking medication. But leave it to your friends to help you see the things you don’t!

One of the things that (now that I think about it) has helped is delegating. When I spoke with a therapist at my OB’s office, and then also in speaking with Ryan, one of the things that I have needed to do is delegate things at home. Ryan is already incredibly hands on-our household is very much 50/50 when it comes to anything and everything, but there were/are still things that I could easily let others do-putting things away, doing the laundry, etc. Little tasks like that, although they seem small feel rather large when you’re experiencing something like PPD, so delegating really helps.

With my store and my blog, a lot of (mostly all of) my tasks are things that only I can do, so those are hard to delegate. So that just leaves things around the house. I’ve found that asking the girls to help with little things has helped, and having Ryan do things that I normally do too.

I’ve also really leaned into things that fill my cup. Making time for me is something that I am really trying to make a priority. Ryan has been awesome with nudging me to have some “me” time, whether it’s sending me out to dinner with my girlfriends, or giving me some time to take a nap, the me time has been helpful.

how is it affecting my relationship with ryan

There are definitely stressors in the relationship when you have a newborn baby regardless of whether or not you have PPD, but that adds a whole other dimension to everything.

I think it’s required a lot more patience on both sides. A lot more check ins with each other. And overall I think our marriage at this point is requiring a lot more effort on both of our parts-not at all in a negative way, I think it’s just the season we are in! An infant, two other daughters and me, who has emotions that are all over the place just requires a bit more attention and effort.

You know, there are seasons in marriage (at least for us) that are smooth sailing, and then there are some that you just really have to work at-this is that! This is a time in our lives its easy to forget about each other and not make each other a priority-when that happens, it trickles down to how we parent and ultimately affects the whole house. We’ve always agreed that in our marriage we put God first, us second, then our children third. We feel like we can’t be good parents if we aren’t good partners and don’t have a good relationship with each other and with God. That’s not how everyone needs to run their household but that’s what works for us. Right now, we really need to make an effort to lean on each other and God to get us through this season! I will say going to church every week has been one of the constants in our marriage that always helps.

did you suffer from depression/anxiety prior to pregnancy?

I briefly was on anti-depressants about 15 years ago, but once my doctor realized I had thyroid issues and it can be linked to depression my medication was switched to a thyroid supplement. Depression and anxiety does run in my family though.

How did you know it was PPD and not the Baby Blues?

Baby blues doesn’t typically last longer than 2 weeks. For me, my feelings just weren’t going away so I knew it was something more than just Baby Blues. Regardless though of how long you have been not feeling yourself, and even if you think it might just be baby blues, I encourage you to talk to someone.

how are you doing now?

I’m hanging in there! I kid, I kid.

Honestly, it depends on the day. The thing with PPD, at least for me is that every day is different. There are some days where I’m like ‘today is AMAZING and I can do anything and everything and I love my life and my clothes and my family and my house and my car and my jobs and I got so much done!” Then the next day I need to give myself a pep talk just to do my hair and makeup and get dressed. I feel like a waste of space because I didn’t get any work done on my to-do list, but I don’t care enough to do anything on my to-do list. But I feel like a loser because I didn’t do anything, but I’m too tired to do anything. And it’s a back and forth cycle.

I will say since starting medication the down days and moments are for sure less than before. I’m able to feel more like myself. Ryan says he has noticed a huge difference in me which makes me feel so happy.

I’m not a huge, huge planner (like planning my content calendar for 2 weeks is a big deal for me haha) but I’m also not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person. I have found with having PPD, I really have to try hard to not look too far ahead. I find that that is when I get really worked up, overwhelmed and really down. It takes a lot of effort on my part, but I’ve really been trying to just think about today and what things I need to/could get done today. I try to tell myself that it doesn’t do any good to worry about the things I have to do three weeks from now, because it’s nothing that has to be done today, in this moment, so focus on the now, and what needs done today.

It’s also been helpful to have Ryan be fully aware. He often checks in on me to see how I’m feeling-it’s always in those moments that I become aware of things that have been getting to me without even realizing it-he has a way of reeling me in and calming me down. I feel like he is more observant with me when it comes to my emotions than I am sometimes. Get yourself a Ryan, whether its your spouse/partner, your best friend, a sibling. Get yourself someone who will check in on you.

PPD is hard, you guys. It’s lonely, it’s isolating, it’s frustrating, it’s unpredictable, and I hate to say it, embarrassing at times-you feel like it makes you look like you can’t handle motherhood. One of the things I have tried really hard to work on through having this is to celebrate the small victories (although some days its easier than others)-I brushed my teeth today, woo hoo! I did my hair and makeup and got dressed today! I marked off 3 things from my to-do list-amazing! I kept three children alive and healthy today-high five!

Also, I’ve really tried to be my own hype man-yes, I have PPD but guys I am freaking strong. Despite feeling the way I do I still get shit done, even if its something small. I still show up for my family as best I can, I still run two businesses, and I try really hard. That’s all I can do, right?

So please, if this is something you are going through, ask for help. Get help. Talk so someone. I know you might feel ashamed, but the help is worth it. You’re worth it, your family is worth it.

If you know someone going through this, show up. Reach out to them. Don’t just offer your help, do it. Show up and just start doing-clean, do their dishes, hold their baby so they can shower, nap, brush their teeth. Be there and be present.

 

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