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Do I have postpartum depression? This Denver mom shares her experience

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We’ve all heard about the “baby blues” after having a child but how does that differ from postpartum depression and when should you seek help? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most new moms experience postpartum ‘baby blues’ after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks…But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.” Scroll to the bottom for postpartum depression symptoms and read Sammie’s story below.

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Imagine waking up to a beautiful newborn. Or maybe you didn’t wake up because you never went to sleep. You see this amazing little human, and you start to worry. Am I feeding him right? What if I’m doing something wrong? What about SIDS, lead poisoning? What if my crib breaks? What if the diapers I bought are too big? Does he have a rash? Is formula making me a failure?    

Being awake was like driving on a foggy bridge. I became frustrated with my husband, my son, and most of all…myself. I felt like I shouldn’t have been a mom. The anxiety got so bad that once he did start sleeping, I stopped. I was in there every 10 minutes making sure he was swaddled right, that he was breathing, and that his room wasn’t too cold. Sometimes I would just go into the nursery and cry. Then came the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. I laid there and cried well I heard him screaming. I was paralyzed by my emotions.

 This is what it is like having postpartum depression.

Getting Help If You Have Postpartum Depression

What is wrong with me?

 I struggled with that question for a while. My husband had no idea how I was feeling inside because I was too ashamed to admit it. He noticed my lack of emotion, energy and love. He noticed that I would be fine one second, and fly off the handle the next. I think he was afraid to say anything too.

  I won’t ever forget the moment I knew it was time to get help. My son was in the NICU for the second time. All of the tears that I had been holding back just came rushing out. I was ashamed that there was indeed something “wrong” with me. I pulled over into the parking lot and dialed my doctor. I cried into the phone with him for 20 minutes. He said it was okay. He reminded me of the beautiful boy he helped deliver. I wasn’t a failure. My body was just trying to go back to the way it functioned before I grew a human.

He put me on Celexa, for postpartum depression. I called my husband the second I hung up with the pharmacy. He was so supportive. I could hear the relief in his voice and he could hear the relief in mine.

 I started my dosage the next day and I actually felt better that day. After Day 3 my fog had been lifted. I was feeling like less of a failure, and more like the person I’ve always been. I was gliding through motherhood the way I imagined I would. Now, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still having an internal battle. I was ashamed that I had to take drugs to get myself back from the prison that was my mind. I didn’t want to tell anyone.

After a few more days I felt 100 percent normal. I was still ashamed that I had to take pills to make me happy. The next morning I stopped taking the Celexa, and started taking Fenugreek to get my supply back so I could still breastfeed. Halfway through that first day I felt the fog creeping back into my mind, my body, and my very breakable spirit.

It wasn’t until a stranger at the grocery store shared her story with me that I no longer felt ashamed. I knew I wasn’t alone and that was empowering. That day I vowed to change the way the world and myself feels about postpartum depression.

What Can You Do if You Have Postpartum Depression

So what do you do if you think you have PPD? First things first is talk to SOMEONE. Express your concerns. Get it all out in the open. The hardest part of getting help is getting over the stigma that comes with mental illness. You are NOT a bad person, mother, wife, friend, or human being. There are treatments that include both medication and non-medication treatment options. You and your doctor can discuss all of the options, and find what’s best for you. Self-medicating is never a good idea.  No one, including you, should feel ashamed for seeking help.

Once you start treatment, be patient. Sometimes it takes a while to see/feel the results. If you still don’t feel right be open and honest with your doctor.

What do you do if someone you love is suffering from Postpartum Depression?

Be there. Be available when that person needs you. Depression of any kind is a scary battle that no one should face alone. Don’t tip toe around this person. Treat them like you normally do. We WANT normal. Also offering to help out is an amazing gesture. Whether you cook them a meal, go out for coffee, or hold the baby so she can shower, help is amazing.

Together we can fight the stigma that comes with mental illness. If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD/PPA please speak up. Seek help. You are never alone. 

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression signs and symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum Depression Resources

Here are some resources where you can seek information, guidance and help.

Postpartum Support International

The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book: Real Stories from Women Who Lived Through It and Recovered

The Fourth Trimester: A postpartum guide to healing your body, balancing your emotions and restoring your vitality

-Sammie 

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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