Salmon was for dinner. Baby K#2 was sleeping and BabyK#1 was playing with daddy. I should have been able to make dinner peacefully and calmly. Except for the fact that BabyK#1 wanted nothing to do with daddy; she wanted mommy, and all of mommy. So, I attempted to cook dinner and play on the kitchen floor with some shape blocks at the same time. Bad idea. I didn’t have time to cook fish and play. The fish started falling apart, and so started the rage fit for the hour. My blood was boiling and I felt like I could punch a wall. I felt like I could punch a wall over some stupid fish falling apart. Right about this time BabyK#1 stepped on a block and was completely losing it! So, I scooped her up and took her in the living room and convinced her to play with daddy. The salmon! The salmon was burnt to a crisp. At this point I literally threw the pan into the sink and screamed “forget it no one is eating today”. There began the tears for the evening. I wept…. I’m not talking a little bit of crying. I’m talking soaked your shirt, cant breath, and you probably should crawl to the bathroom in case you puke kind of tears. My DH just held me and let me cry, but he shouldn’t have had to do that. THAT woman was NOT the person he married. THAT woman was far from the person that I am. I was unrecognizable even to myself.
I am not the mother who lays on the couch for hours at a time.
I am not the mother who is scared she might throw the book that her toddler threw back at the toddler.
I am not the mother who holds her newborn and weeps…and weeps…and weeps, because why? Who knows?
I am not the mother who hears both babies crying and rolls over in bed.
I am not the mother who is furious that her one month old wants held, and won’t sleep for more than two hours at night.
I am not the wife who questions every move her husband makes.
I am not the wife who doesn’t trust her husband. With anything.
I am not the wife who avoids physical contact.
I am not the friend who dodges phone calls and texts.
I am not the friend who doesn’t show up to hang out.
I am not her.
I feel physically ill when I think about how I acted and what could have happened. It was the most terrifying feeling I had ever experienced. I decided that evening to talk to my midwife and do something about how I was feeling. Deciding to push past the stigma, fear, and pride; suck it up, and do what the doctor said would help me two weeks ago when I went in, because I knew something was off and it was worrying me. The evening of the salmon (yeah that’s what it is being called) was not worrisome. It was terrifying.
I always thought that being depressed meant that you were sad all the time and didn’t wash your hair or leave your house. I’m sure that’s probably a good description of depression for some people, but it’s also a pretty good description of being a mom, minus the sad part. But I found in reading articles and talking to a few friends that irritability and anger are also symptoms of depression. Uh, two humungous check marks right there!
So, what is PPD, and what is the difference between PPD and your good ol’ baby blues???
***You should always consult with a physician about any symptoms. These are just my findings***
Baby Blues “begin in the first few days following delivery and are typically gone by about two weeks postpartum. Symptoms tend to be mild.” The usual weepiness/crying for no apparent reason, impatience, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, sadness, mood changes, and poor concentration are all symptoms of baby blues.
All of this was pretty manageable for me with BabyK#1. I cried some, I got annoyed some but that was it, and it only lasted about a week.
PPD is a “serious mental health problem characterized by the prolonged period of emotional disturbance occurring at the time of major life change and increased responsibilities in the care of a newborn infant. PPD can have significant consequences for both the new mother and family.”
There are so many symptoms but the ones that I have read about are : Loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, loss of interest in sex, lack of joy in life, feelings of shame guilt or inadequacy, severe mood swings, withdrawal from family friends, difficulty bonding with your baby, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
About two weeks after BabyK#2 was born the symptoms just kept on coming and kept getting worse. I talked to my husband, and my mom trying to convince myself that I wasn’t completely losing it. I kept putting on a happy face and shoving all the feelings/lack of feelings down. I felt like a horrible mother and a horrible wife. I doubted if I was supposed to be a mother and a wife. Mostly, I doubted my decision to become a mother. Not just a good mother, but a mother in general. Me! The person who has wanted children since I was a little girl! Me! The person who only ever wanted to be a mother. My “dream job” growing up was to be mom. I was living it and I didn’t know if I still wanted it. I doubted whether I should have ever had kids. I knew that I COULD do it, but I wondered why on earth I had WANTED to do it. When I had a bad day I just wanted to run away. I knew I would come back, I just wanted to stand up grab my keys and walk out the door and have an hour to just relax and not feel needed. And that feeling was so strange. It was almost like my body was willing itself to do this. It was an internal power struggle. Half of me was trying to get up and walk out, while the other half, the more rational side was preventing this from happening. So very strange. None of that was me. In any shape or form.
After living like this for about 7 weeks a friend came over to visit. She has 4 children and they are all very close in age like mine. I asked her if she had gone through any of this, if she took the medication prescribed, and if she went to therapy, or how she made out on the other side. She began telling me her story of how she was completely numb, couldn’t connect to her kids, she wouldn’t eat and how it lasted for years without her saying a word. WOW! Years? I feel like I’m going crazy after a few weeks. I couldn’t imagine not having anyone to talk to, and not having a resolution for this for years! Needless to say hearing from her and the night of the salmon gave me the guts do what needed done. No matter how cruddy I felt.
Being a mom means doing hard things. And sometimes the hardest thing is asking for the help you need. And the rage is still there. It’s the most difficult part to manage and from my experience, the least-talked about symptom of depression. I’m typing this now in tears, because it’s all so fresh and real, and still so present. I have only felt “normal” for about a week now. And by “normal” I mean not about to fly off the handle. I am in no way completely healed. Yes, I’m still fighting the depression, sadness, and rage. But now, finally … finally I feel like I’m winning.
That’s why I’m writing this post. I want all you moms out there to know that if you deal with PPD, depression, and especially the rage that can accompany it, you are not alone. You are not a bad mom. It can and will get better—if you get help. But now I understand that depression happens to regular people. These scary feelings do not make me a bad mother. And with medication, therapy, lots of prayer, and healthier life choices, I feel more like me again.