When our daughter was one year, I’ll never forget an incident that left me angst-ridden and moved me to write and submit a letter to the editor of Parents Magazine. Here I share the letter I submitted and the subsequent article which we were included in a follow-up article on birthmarks. I would later find-out that my heightened anxiety was a symptom of PPD.
I encourage all new Mom’s to reach-out to other Moms’, family and friends as resources for help, support and information. It’s something I didn’t do initially and think was the primary cause of being diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD).
If you google postpartum depression, the wikipedia definition is listed first at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpartum_depression followed by an article by the Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546. I encourage all new Moms’ to talk openly with their pediatrician and OB GYN about any symptoms they think may be related to depression and feeling down.
I was in denial, unaware of the symptoms and convinced myself that my severe insomnia would resolve itself and that I could not be depressed since I was fully functional. My Grandmother’s passing which resulted in appetite loss in addition to insomnia and then my emotional absence for my father’s grieving landed me back at the Dr’s office where I had previously visited and denied I needed any help. Weak and unable to perform simple daily tasks, I sat and listened as he told me how he could help by prescribing anti-anxiety medication which, up until this point, I had refused to take because of the stigma I attached to being diagnosed and then treated with medication.
Within a week, I was finally sleeping through the night and, in a month or so, noticed a change in my mood. I was more calm, relaxed and a lot less anxious. As I accepted my situation, I also began to share it with others in my baby group and discovered that almost two-thirds of the Mothers’ in the group were also experiencing varying degrees of depression with a few on medication as well. A huge burden had lifted and this was probably the beginning of living my truth as a Mom who no longer felt the need to pretend that everything was fine when, in fact, a lot was not with a colicky baby, sleep deprivation and exhaustion from depriving myself of a break in the day or at all since her birth.
As a new Mom, I encourage you to allow yourself a break. When I did, our daughter was 13 months old and I spent two hours away attending a bikram class. It was nearby and something I had wanted to try: it became not only a stress relief but a break that strengthened me physically and calmed my mind. It was the perfect antidote to the rest of my day. With our second, being proactive and experienced, I avoided PPD with an easier going baby whom we put on a schedule.