This is a personal story that I am choosing to share with all of you about my journey with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression (PPD), is a type of clinical depression which can affect women and, less frequently, men after childbirth. Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. The actual cause is not known, but there are a number of ways to receive help if you are feeling this way. You can find sources for help at the end of this article.
When I was just nineteen years old, I gave birth to my first, and only, son—Carter. Like other expecting mothers, I anticipated the day that I would finally get to meet him, face to face. Then, when it happened, I, of course, fell in love; he had my heart. The world became a different place. My story had begun a new chapter; my story had become our story. Staring into the eyes of my child was the happiest moment in all my years. But, little did I know, it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Things began to change after we were all settled in at home. I was just so tired, I didn’t know if I was coming or going half of the time. Not only did my body ache from head to toe, my mind was emotionally exhausted. I know that these things may seem normal, but I am here to reassure you that at this point, I was far beyond anything that was considered normal. In fact, it’s hard to remember everything I endured because my experience with postpartum depression was absolutely horrifying. It didn’t take long for my exhaustion to turn into misplaced anger and, at one point, things had gotten so bad that I couldn’t even stand to hear my son cry. I felt like a horrible mother on the inside, all while trying to keep things together on the outside. By this point, I had convinced myself that if I told anyone what I was going through they wouldn’t understand and they would try to take my son away. I felt like I had nowhere to turn; I was alone. That is until I found the book that I truly believe helped me gain my life back.
I finally found Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields, yes the famous actress, on a sale shelf at the dollar store. It surprised me to see her book there considering her status in Hollywood. The market price for this book was listed at twenty dollars and instead, I bought it for one. This book was put on that shelf for me. In this book, Shields talks of her experiences with pregnancy, labor, and postpartum depression. At one point, she too felt like a monster rather than a mother. Motherhood was nothing like she had expected and in public when she would see the happiness on the faces of other mothers, she would die on the inside. She thought that something was wrong with her. And she was right. It wasn’t until visions of her baby being thrown across the room had popped into her head that she finally decided to ask for help. Her story goes on to tell of the unexpected journey of being diagnosed with, dealing with, and finally overcoming postpartum depression.
This story gave me hope and helped me change for the better. This story gave me the strength to overcome my struggles and to look forward to the future. Down Came the Rain not only helped me understand that what I was going through was a condition that required attention, but also that I wasn’t going through it alone. Whether she knows it or not, Brooke Shields held my hand throughout this book. She walked with me on my own journey. Without her sharing her story, I wouldn’t have the courage to share mine.
My son will be turning 8 years old in July of this year and our relationship has grown into a beautiful thing. My battle with Postpartum Depression ended soon after he turned 6 months old. Though that part of my life was hard and trying, I wouldn't change a thing. It made me stronger as a person and as a mother. Overcoming postpartum is difficult but possible. You are not alone. There are millions of women who have been in the same spot or even a similar one. Please use your resources and lean on others; you can find a lot of support surrounding this topic.
If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression please call or visit http://postpartum.net/ .