The Elephant in the Room: My Journey with PPD

The past few weeks have been rough. Actually, if I am being completely honest, the past few years have been rough. It wasn't until my second child was born a little over a year ago that I realized that I was suffering from postpartum depression. Looking back, I am almost certain that I had it with my first, but I never spoke up.

For such a long time I just didn't feel like myself. I was sad. I felt like I was carrying a heavy burden. I was shying away from the things that typically brought me joy. Every little thing would set me off. I wanted to avoid social interaction as much as I possibly could. I just thought that it was a phase of my life that would pass and that I would just suffer through until it did. One day, as I was sitting in my office pumping, I stumbled across a blogpost about postpartum.  It was like a light switch went off and I discovered the answer to years of otherwise unexplained emotions. I felt relieved to know that I was not the only one that felt this way.

I knew I had to do something, but I just didn't know what. I am a member of an amazing mom group on Facebook, so I decided to post in the group asking what I should do. I figured if there were no response, I could just delete the post. Within minutes, so many moms were not only responding, but sending me personal messages telling me of their experience. They encouraged me and told me how proud they were that I was speaking up and asking for help. They told me that there was hope and that I would be back to myself in no time. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt happy. I felt empowered. I felt proud of myself for reaching out and I felt silly for even feeling embarrassed about what I was going through.

The thing is, mental illness does not discriminate. Whether you are a mom or not, depression is a very real thing and is not something that anyone should have to go through alone. I am no longer embarrassed or ashamed, because talking about it is what got me to finally seek the help that I needed. I feel like I have to be as open as I can about my depression so that I can encourage others to do the same. Just like we wouldn't be embarrassed to tell someone that we have the flu, we shouldn't shy away from talking about depression or any other "invisible illness." I think that keeping it to ourselves only worsens the condition. Talking to people that have been in your shoes will draw you out of the darkness and help you know that you are not alone. It is so reassuring to know that these feelings are "normal" and to know that there are resources out there to help.

I think the hardest thing is the fact that people just don't talk about it. I had heard of postpartum depression, but I really thought it would never happen to me. I thought that I just had to be "strong" and fight past the feelings. It doesn't work like that. It does not make you a weak person to ask for help. I wish that new moms were educated more so they knew what to expect and the signs to look for so that they could seek help instead of trying to wish away the feelings. Becoming a mom for the first time, and even for the second time is HARD! You are learning how to care for another human being and yourself. You are getting to know a whole new version of yourself. And then to suffer from depression on top of that can leave you feeling helpless. Ask for help. Call your doctor. Reach out to someone that you can trust. Talk to someone that has been there and has gotten help. There is hope and there is help. All you have to do is ask!

Another thing that I was absolutely clueless about was post-weaning depression. I recently weaned after three solid years of breastfeeding and the anxiety and depression came crashing over me like a huge wave. I just kept telling my husband that I felt so sad. I was having a really hard time even getting out of bed and the anxiety felt so crippling on some days that I felt like I could hardly function. I began researching and every single thing that I was experiencing was in line with post-weaning depression. Again, I reached out in the mom group, I reached out to my friends, and I called my doctor. I told people close to me what was going on so that they could be supportive and understanding of my battle. I was prescribed a new medication and thanks to my willingness to share with those close to me, I have people that check on me daily just to make sure that I am doing well.

If you feel that you are alone, I can assure you that you are not. If you feel ashamed to talk about your depression or anxiety, don't. It takes a village y'all. Speak up and ask for help. There is always somewhere to turn and help is just a call away. Do not hide in the shadows. Embrace yourself for all that you are. Share your story so that others feel inspired to share theirs. Let's fight the stigma. Let's love each other back into the light.



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