The Truth About Postpartum Depression

There was no doubt in my mind that having a baby wasn’t going to be easy.

The funny part is Ellie is an easy baby. She is so good, so happy, so sweet and perfect. I truly feel so lucky. The hardest part, honestly, was me.

Now don’t get me wrong, even being a good baby there are plenty of difficult moments, hard days. The newborn stage is hard no matter how easy of a baby you’re dealt. That is just a fact of life. The lack of sleep, the major change in your life, your marriage, your personal time and space, the hormone crash, having a baby stuck on you around the clock. It is utterly exhausting.

And all of this is something everyone tells you and you read all about it, but nothing really prepares you until you’re in the thick of it. It’s such a surreal and raw experience.

The hardest thing for me though, was myself. There were so many compounding factors, but at only four weeks postpartum I found myself sitting in my doctor’s office sobbing while her nurse hugged me.

postpartum_depression

Postpartum depression is more common then people think, but it’s not always shared information. Women aren’t always quick to say when they’re dealing with it. It’s hard to admit when you feel like you’re drowning during what is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. When every person you see asks “isn’t if wonderful” and “aren’t you loving it?” It’s so hard to say yes because the honest answer for me wasย no.

It’s not that I wasn’t happy to be a mother, because I was. I am. It’s not that I don’t love my baby, because I did. I do.

It’s a completely surreal experience to love your child and be so smitten, but to be so sad and distant and hurting all at once. It was hard for me to explain, to justify, to understand.

My doctor listened to me so calmly and sweetly that day I cried uncontrollably in her office. I had been having uncontrollable crying fits every day, multiple times a day, often times set off by absolutely nothing. I felt like a complete wreck. I was no longer myself.

And not being the same person after having kids is a given. You know it’s coming, the change to your life, to you, to who you are. But it’s hard, you guys. To suddenly no longer feel like the person I had been for the last 27 years. It was hard and I crumbled.

My doctor listened to me, spoke so sweetly to me, offered me many suggestions, and scheduled me to keep coming in regularly to check up on me. I left with a prescription for zoloft and a slew of follow up appointments because my doctor is a wonderful and caring woman who wants all the best for me. I feel grateful to have her as my doctor.

The meds were kind of rough. They made me nauseous and restless at night, and I’ve struggled to lose just ounces of my clinging baby weight since starting it, but it has helped. I felt better within a week and more or less normal after a few more weeks. And I thought it was all okay now.

But the inability to lose weight started to gnaw at me. So at one of my appointments I asked to wean off my meds. And that went okay for a while, but then the sads crept back in, the tears started to well up again, and when I went back for my next appointment, I admitted defeat. I did get my dosage reduced, but the fact remains that I’m on PPD meds at this point and plan to be on them until I’m done with work in June. Once I’m on summer break I’ll try weaning again, and hopefully with more success.

It’s been difficult and frustrating. I love my daughter so much and I love being her mother. It was a hard pill to swallow, being diagnosed with postpartum depression. I had a high risk pregnancy, and long and difficult labor and delivery, and now this. I just can’t catch a break.

I try to remind myself that this is not my fault. I had no control over this. It happens. It happens to more women then you may even realize. There’s a sitgma attached to PPD though, it’s not easy for women to admit when their sad or depressed during a time in their life that should be so happy and joyous. It’s hard to admit when everyone around you is so happy and fawning over you and the baby and cooing about how amazing and wonderful and glorious it all is. But you don’t feel those feelings. And it makes you question yourself. Why aren’t I happy about this? Why don’t I see the excitement, the love, the joy? Everyone else feels all those things for you, but you can’t feel them for yourself.

And that is okay.

Treating postpartum depression as quickly as possibly makes it more manageable. And it’s that much quicker that you start to feel better, normal, human. And then the joy surfaces and you can cherish those moments of happiness now too.

I’m almost five months postpartum now and finally coming to terms with this. It’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it, but it is what it is. And I wish more women were open about it so that stigma would start to diminish. I know I’m not any less of a good or loving mother because of my PPD. And while I did feel guilty and terrible at first about realizing I was soย unhappy during such anย amazing time in my life, I’m at peace with it now.ย I’m a better mother and wife when I’m not struggling. It’s not my fault, or Ellie’s fault, or anyone’s fault. It just is, and that’s okay, because I am bigger than postpartum depression.

Tonight I will kiss my daughter goodnight before I get into bed, as I do every night, and I will thank her for changing my life for the better.

14 Thoughts on “The Truth About Postpartum Depression

  1. Beth on April 7, 2016 at 7:07 am said:

    Courtney, your honesty is a wonderful thing to share for other women to see that this is more common than realized. You are doing everything you can do to be a wonderful mother and that you are. Supporting you always!

  2. What a great post~ When I had my baby at the end of 2014 I had postpartum depression but didn’t realize it at the time. I had a difficult time bonding with my baby and had a very general sense of “what have I done!” and had a hard time coping with my new life and new role, as I grieved my “old life” I would say around 5/6 months things got WAY better, when baby started smiling, laughing, reciprocating. She is 18 months now and I love her so much and those dark days seem so long ago, but I never want to go back, it’s so hard to explain it to other people!

    • Courtney@ The TriGirl Chronicles on April 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm said:

      It is so hard to explain. It’s a really difficult concept to grasp until you’re in it. Glad you were able to get better on your own. Her getting more interactive and playful helps a lot!

  3. Sending love and hugs to you Courtney.
    Heather [is probably running] recently posted…Donut Dash #2 (April 2016)My Profile

  4. Beki on April 8, 2016 at 1:21 am said:

    Just want to add in a serious ‘good for you’ on having the strength to ask for help, and then sharing your story. None of what you wrote about could have been easy (going through it or writing about it). I’m proud of you, and thankful for the women that may be helped by coming across this. Keep on keepin on ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share! I’m due in two weeks and have been so wary of PPD. I went off Wellbutrin right before TTC last year and expect to go right back on once this little girl is born. So glad this is being talked about more, and I’m glad you’re in a better place and recognize that it has nothing to do with your love for Ellie! I completely understand that defeat feeling.
    Be well xoxo
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    • Courtney@ The TriGirl Chronicles on April 8, 2016 at 4:45 pm said:

      Ahhhh, yay for being almost due!!! Hopefully getting right back on Wellbutrin will help you avoid going down the rabbit hole. I’m really happy PPD is getting more talked about as well. It’s so common and it’s so hard. It’s good to know when you’re not along during such a tough time. Good luck with L&D and enjoy your baby snuggles ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I’m so sorry. Good for you for seeking help right away. I waited and waited and thought things would get better. I had an infant who cried 15 hours a day. Nothing made him happy and it tore me to pieces on the inside. I had a traveling husband so I was left alone four days/nights a week with a baby I couldn’t console. My breaking point was when he was 4 months old and I placed him in his crib one evening while he was screaming, shut his door and went to pack some bags. I was planning on running away. I got on the freeway and just drove. I wasn’t even sure where I wanted to go. It was at that point I finally came to my senses and called a neighbor. I realized I needed help or my child would be left without a mom. It was a long process with various meds but I finally found one that made me feel like myself again. After about 2-3 years I finally was able to wean off the meds and that’s when I discovered running and triathlons. I still have my ups and downs and my oldest son (at 10) is still a challenge but usually after a hard workout I am able to calm down and feel like my old self again. I know this is a tough time but it will get better! Let me know if you need anything. I’ve been down that road and can relate to what you are going through.

    • Courtney@ The TriGirl Chronicles on April 9, 2016 at 9:23 pm said:

      Oh wow, you really went through the ringer. I’m sorry you had such a rough go with PPD and such a long road of dealing with it. You’re a strong woman! I’ll definitely get in touch if I need to talk. It’s comforting to see I’m not the only one who’s gone through this.

  7. Courtney, this was a genuinely great post. I think mental health is something that goes undisclosed and overlooked in general in our society, but PPD might be at the top of that list. When so many changes are taking place at once in a woman’s life, not to mention the crazy changes in hormone fluctuations, it’s really hard to know what is just a “bad day” or “lack of sleep” or “mood swing” or etc. etc. etc. Plus, it is a time that “should” bring so much joy to a mom, right? These past seven months have been some of the most unstable, unpredictable, hardest months of my life. Sure, I enjoy my son and recognize the joy he brings to my life, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hard moments every day that make me want to shut down and cry. It is NOT easy. I honestly believe that if it weren’t for all the exercise that I use to battle depressive symptoms, I would probably would have mild PPD. Being a psychologist, I am incredibly mindful of my own mental health and the behaviors that affect my mood.

    Hang in the mama and just know that you are not alone. This was a very courageous and wonderful post that I believe a lot of women can relate to. Hugs!!!
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…A Podium Finish at the Salmon Run 10kMy Profile

    • Courtney@ The TriGirl Chronicles on April 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm said:

      Thank you <3 It is such a surreal time in life; so much joy but some days are really just HARD. I'm glad you managed to dodge the PPD bullet and getting cleared early to start exercising definitely helped me start recovering and continues to help me feel better. Thanks for all the kind words. It's so nice to have a fellow triathlete who knows the ins and outs of all this crazy balancing act.

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