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ABC's of Pregnancy, Birth & Early Parenting- Depression (part 1)

Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Anxiety. Postpartum Mood Disorder. 

In Canada, 7.5% of women report suffering from postpartum depression. The problem with that number is that many people never report it and suffer in silence, making them feel even more isolated. 
Yesterday I reached out in 3 local Facebook groups for mothers who have been through postpartum depression to share their stories. The response was overwhelming! I expected to get maybe 4-5 people. Within a couple hours over 15 people had answered! I wish I could share them all. I will continue to share these stories, so if you would like to share yours please send me an email.
The questions I asked where basic: when did you know there was an issue? What helped you get better? Did you have a moment when you realize things were better?

Here are some of their stories.  

I think my situation may look a little different from others. I never really experienced “baby blues.” I mean of course having my first baby was a huge lifestyle change, and the sleep deprivation was hard, but I never really felt down in the early stages. It wasn’t until maybe after 6 months I started to struggle. Every task felt so impossible. Making food, showering, getting dressed, doing laundry, everything felt like such a daunting task. On top of all that, the actual care of my baby began to feel too much, I had no appetite and couldn’t sleep, I was just burnt out. I didn’t seek help until I was 8 months postpartum. When it could have been earlier. It’s so important for the mom to acknowledge how she’s feeling and to NOT feel ashamed. After about 2 months postpartum, all the appointments were for baby, not mom. 
I called the Ottawa Public Health service and had the most wonderful public health nurse do home visits with me and my baby. She helped me make my own doctors appointment, and provided me with so many resources to help me with my PPD. She was my lifesaver. I ended up going on anti-depressants. There are other coping strategies, but I just didn’t have the energy or right mind frame to have them work for me in the moment, so I opted for medication. 
I began eating, I gained my appetite, I was able to rest and sleep better during the night. I was rested, I had energy, and tasks no longer felt so daunting. I was able to find the positives in my day. Things like laundry became enjoyable, and my little baby loved playing around me and “helping” me while I got things done.
All in all I want moms to know how important their mental health is. Whether it’s your first baby, or your fifth baby, PPD/PPA is possible, and it’s not something to be embarrassed of. I know that it feels like there is still a stigma attached to mental health, but our personal health is so important. Your thoughts and feelings you may have when you are at your low points, DOES NOT make you a bad mother. You do not need to feel alone, you do not need to suffer, and the better you are for yourself, the better you are for your baby. -E. mom of 1

My second daughter was 10 months old and I knew these were more than baby blues. I joined a support group through Family Services Ottawa on Parkdale and it was incredible. I wasn't the worst or most severe case and but we all had similar symptoms. Once the support group finished and I had some one on one sessions with a therapist it helped. My husband was the one who finally turned around and said you need help. Let's get you some. Mom's need a village and that's why there is so much ppd. The idea of a village raising a child is not the norm any more in North America. -D. mom of 2. 

Other than just feeling overwhelmed and down, which most moms feel, I found I was just not happy anymore. I knew there was something wrong when I would practice for going out to see people that night, pretending excitement at their news, and reminding myself what was going on in their life that I needed to ask and be enthusiastic about. But mainly, RAGE! I am talking seeing red. Sometimes at my husband, a lot of times on the road and feeling road rage. But unfortunately, mostly geared towards my just turned two-year-old daughter. To be fair she WAS hurting her brother. I came out of the kitchen to the baby crying and found his sister stabbing him in the cheek just under the eye with a fork...... I screamed so loud I made my voice hoarse and raspy, and scared both kids. That happened a few times, yes she was being naughty and hurting her brother, dangerously, but no two-year-old should have her mother seeing red and suffering uncontrollable rage towards them regardless of what they are doing. Then I called Motherisk and they urged me to see a doctor ASAP, or go to the ER. It was hard to get into my doctor (usually a 2-3 week wait) but when I said I thought I had PPD they got me in later that day. She gave me a prescription which made things much better. Some people don't need drugs, but my doctor was realistic, I had an infant and a toddler, no time for counseling, sleep, or even self care activities like walking. So drugs was the safest and most effective recourse. I felt better within days, completely controlled within a month. No more rage But if you are talking about it, yes please talk about the PPD rage aspect, not enough do and I was so lost and confused when I realized something was wrong. Everyone talks about disconnect to your baby, being unhappy, crying all the time, but not as much about being numb and raging. It makes you lost and alone when you know something is wrong and don't know much. I swear in my birth group over half of us suffered from some sort of PPD or anxiety postpartum. It can NEVER be talked about enough! -H mom of 2.

How I knew I needed help: I spiraled so deep that I wanted to die. Wasn't sleeping and had so much anxiety and negativity.
What helped : talking about it with my family doctor , making weekly plans for meals, activities, time for myself etc. Speaking openly about my feelings with my husband and having him take over many roles in the household. And eventually medication. I take cipralex daily and feel like myself again. I smile, I cook, I am social, I sleep. Sure it's not always easy but it's WAY better :) -K. mom of 3

I knew it was PPD because I was super emotional one minute then ready to kill the next. Really bad mood swings. I just knew. I figured it out just before my hubby was at the point of telling me I need help. Went to my family doctor and told him my symptoms and he prescribed antidepressants and they helped almost immediately. He assured me there was nothing wrong with me and that it's common after birth and many don't seek help because they are ashamed. -S. mom of 2.

Want to hear more? Check out Part 2!

Please seek help if you think you may be suffering  of a postpartum mood disorder but always remember that you are not alone!

 

Sherry Theriault