I’ve said before I wouldn’t wish Post partum depression on my worst enemy. It is isolating and debilitating. It is scary. And it is misunderstood. How is it that this illness is so misunderstood in today’s day and age when people actually talk about depression and Post partum depression unlike in previous generations? I think it is misunderstood because it’s “the middle of the road depression” so to speak when it comes to new mom’s suffering from some form of depression. The three forms of mommy depression are: Baby blues, Post partum depression, and Post partum psychosis.
What do I mean by “the middle of the road depression?” On the one hand, it is very common for new moms to suffer from the Baby Blues. Because (according to www.americanpregnancy.org) “approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child” it is very commonly talked about by doctors and hospitals as well as by other mommy friends and mommy groups. The baby blues generally last up to 14 days after delivery and consists of tears (often crying for no apparent reason) and feelings of helplessness and irritability, often due to lack of sleep and severe hormonal changes following childbirth.
Then wayyyy on the opposite end of the spectrum are those women you read about in the news. The ones that are at their breaking point and sadly all too often kill themselves or their babies. Post Partum Psychosis occurs in only approximately .1% of births, according to www.postpartum.net, but usually becomes news. Post partum psychosis involves delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. While it is very rare, it is taken very seriously and women who find themselves in this unfortunate predicament are well monitored by doctors and hospitals. Post partum psychosis is temporary and treatable, but demands immediate medical attention.
But, I was one of the “middle of the road” rarely discussed Post Partum Depression sufferers. I was one of the approximately 15%, also according to www.postpartum.net, of women who experience significant depression following childbirth. I was actually even one of the 10% of women who experience depression during childbirth, which is referred to as Perinatal Depression, and is honestly new to me from doing some research for this blog post. I just thought I was a raving lunatic during my pregnancy.
Now when I say post partum depression is “rarely discussed” I’m sure some of you went…what?!? Yes, Post partum depression is often discussed…and obvs by me, but I’m bitter because of what I went through. My experience has taught me that PPD is very misunderstood because no one knows what to do to “fix” it. No one “gets it.” You’re either “normal” with the baby blues, or you’re bat sh*t crazy with post partum psychosis, and therefore hospitalized, but what do you do with women who are simply depressed?
I know my fellow blog readers and friends all know about my post partum depression, and I know I incessantly discuss it, but the reason I bring it up today is because two things have recently happened to me which have made me decide to nominate myself as a spokeswoman for this sickness or um, illness, I’m not a doctor, so I’m unsure which term to use.
But, in nominating myself, here’s what I want to do: I want to take away the whispers about it, the “what’s wrong with her, she has everything”, the “Why can’t she just be happy?” and the “Get over it” ’s that may or may not have been said to or about me. I’m sure there was some “What a drama queen’s” and “Wow, she’s gone bat sh*t crazy” in there, too. Or maybe not? Maybe there were just a lot of prayers for me????
To the ‘why can’t she just be happy and get over it?’ comments, which I did get, I can tell you this. I don’t know. I wish I did. I tried soo hard to just get over it for a long time. Finally, once I resigned myself to it, once I was able to stop saying, “Why did this happen to ME?” I was able to heal. It took a lot of time and work on myself, as I detailed in “Mother is God” to get through this trying and difficult time. I prayed to God many nights to take me in my sleep, “I’m no good here,” I would reason with him.
No, I never wanted to or ever thought about hurting Eva. But, I did think about hurting myself. I would imagine what would be the easiest and least painful way to kill myself. It depressed me even more that I knew I didn’t have the guts to do it.
Now that I am on the other side I don’t want other women to feel as alone or as completely hopeless as I felt. And what’s so crazy – and makes me so bitter! – is that they repeatedly ask you in the hospital how you are feeling before they
send you home kick you out after two days. They hand you a yellow piece of paper that’s probably been photocopied thousands of times and is crooked and spotted on the sheet. The paperwork has information about baby blues, PPD and post partum psychosis. They give you help numbers to call in case you find yourself suffering from one of the two latter post partums.
Well, what happens when you look at the sheet and finally admit to yourself that something is wrong?
NOTHING. That’s what happens.
You call your OBGYN who almost killed you, oh wait, that’s just me (see Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door), who tells you to call a psychiatrist, who wants you to see a counselor, who sends you back to a psychiatrist, who says you’re “f*cking neurotic” who then wants to dope you up on all kinds of anti-psychotic medications and then starts throwing bi-polar around – WTH!?! And then, after all this, sends you a $1,000 bill that more than 1 year later you are still fighting.
This is what they do to new mothers after they kick you out of the hospital within 48 hours when new mothers are in a state of shock, both physically and emotionally, and it pisses me off! This really upsets me because I could have been a news story of some poor soul who decided to stand on the train tracks at 2 am. I live 6 blocks away….
But I got through it! 🙂
And here I am to tell my story. And now, here I am watching someone I love go through these same hardships. I don’t know her exact story, nor is it my place to disclose such details, but I do know she is struggling and it scares me. It breaks my heart. I want to snap my fingers and fix it for her. I want my friend back because I love and miss her so much.
Which got me to thinking….could this possibly have been what some of my own friends went through?
There is a line in the movie Overboard that I love. It’s from when Joanna/Annie (Goldie Hawn) comes back to the yacht and realizes that she’s a different person after being with Dean (Kurt Russell) and his four sons, and she says to Andrew: “Everyone on this boat thinks I’m crazy. Do you think they’re right?”
Andrew replies: “Oh no, madam. Oh no. You…most of us go through life with blinders on. Knowing only that little station to which we were born. But you madam, have had the…rare privilege of escaping your bonds for just a spell. To see life from an entirely new perspective. How you choose to use that information is entirely up to you.”
I am reminded of that quote as I decided between giving my friend space, as some of my friends did, and not giving her space because I don’t want her to feel alone and abandoned like I did. It was at that moment that my heart was able to truly heal, to truly forgive, and my head was able to say, “I get it now.”
Because no one knows what to do with these people – not even doctors.
So, how do we overcome this? How do we fix it? I hope that by me telling my story it will help some people to understand more about it – heck – maybe that will be my book #2!?!
The second thing which happened and has led me to nominate myself as a spokeswoman for PPD is that yesterday I took my final step in healing. YES! I know, I did it!! I have been bursting with joy all day. My final step was going back to bowling. This post will help you understand if you missed it: Don’t Trigger Me. The last time I was at bowling I had a breakdown which led me to quit my bowling team. It was in the midst of my PPD, and I was so angry about it. I felt robbed of my life. I was angry about it for a long time. And even once I wasn’t angry anymore I had extreme anxiety about going back.
– The people
– The memories
– The alcohol
I couldn’t face it. Some bowling friends emailed me they had an opening on their team. Finally I decided I was ready. I decided my time was here, and I could do this; I could face my fear. I could go back with my head held high. Walking through the bowling alley I was welcomed with hugs and smiles. My bowling friends told me how happy they were to see me; how glad they were that I was back. My heart was bursting. I can’t describe to you what I felt. You may be reading this and saying, “All this over bowling?” LOL, what a loser. But, it’s so much more than bowling. It was a statement to myself. I conquered something. I am 100% fully healed from a very blessed event (the birth of my daughter) which in turn because of the PPD became the worst year of my life, a living hell. And here I am, I made it to the other side.
A gal hugged me and said to me this: “Jen, I am soo glad to see you here. I read your blog some time ago, and I know that you went through a difficult time, and honestly, it brought tears to my eyes. And here you are. Here you are back, and you’re happy, and it’s just so great to see you.”
And that, my friends, is the biggest compliment I could ever receive. I need to be strong for other women, and it’s clear to me that this was all a part of God’s plan.