When my first son was born, I suffered postpartum depression. Big time. There—I said it. Yep, becoming a new mom was like being hit by a Mack truck for me. But it took a long time—six months—for me to recognize what was actually going on.
And the thing is, if anyone should have known the signs, I should have.
I had witnessed numerous patients fall prey. I knew the stats. As a medical resident, I had done a research project and presentation on postpartum depression during my Ob/Gyn rotation. Throughout my pregnancy I had all the best care, and lots of family support.
But all that couldn’t protect me. Couldn’t prepare me.
What I was not ready for—what I don’t think anyone can be truly ready for—was the unbelievably profound game-changer that is motherhood.
Becoming a new mom is such a massive upheaval of every aspect of daily life, it’s actually surprising to me, now, when a new mother doesn’t experience postpartum depression.
It helps, I think, to know that you are not alone. Of course, this can be difficult to believe, since people don’t tend to talk about it openly. Which is a tragedy. But I do believe this is changing...albeit slowly. In the meantime, if nobody in your real life has out-and-out admitted that they suffered postpartum depression, here’s a reminder of some people you may know of, who have been open about their struggles.
Bryce Dallas Howard.
See? If postpartum depression can happen to these women, with all their resources, it can definitely happen to any of us.
So if you think you’re sinking into postpartum depression, what should you do?
Most importantly, know that you are not alone.
Also? Do NOT assume there is something wrong with you.
Do NOT assume that every other mom you see has totally got her s**t together and you’re the only one who can’t handle this. Most of us do a pretty good job of putting on a brave face. In public, anyway.
Do NOT beat yourself up for not being tough enough, strong enough, good enough...whatever enough, and that it’s just a matter of “pulling yourself together.”
Next, seek help. Right away.
There are many ways to treat postpartum depression, including counselling (I’m a HUGE fan), lifestyle measures (see every blog post I’ve ever written), and yes, medication. Please, please don’t be afraid of medication. I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled about starting medication, either, but antidepressants saved me. I’m quite sure they saved my marriage, too, and they also allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be. They may you, too.