I never thought I’d get married. Then I did.
I never thought I’d have children. Then I did.
I never thought I’d get postpartum depression. Then I did.
When I had my first child I found things relatively easy. For me it was easier than being pregnant. I was so happy to be able to breathe again and sleep for more than 20 minutes without having to get up to empty my bladder. And I was lucky because he was a good sleeper.
I just had my second child seven weeks ago and things are not the same this time. I struggled with everything for the first two weeks. I kept thinking “it’ll be better tomorrow,” but it wasn’t. I started to suspect something was wrong. My midwife confirmed I was suffering from postpartum depression when my baby was around three weeks old.
What is Postpartum Depression?
It’s normal to feel a little bit all over the place emotionally after you give birth. If you’re like me, you might’ve felt a bit all over the place while you were pregnant too. A lot of that comes down to hormones and their effect on your body.
Usually things should start to stabilize around two weeks after delivery. If you’re still feeling down after two weeks you should really check in with your care provider because you may have postpartum depression.
You can take a quick screening test here https://psychology-tools.com/test/epds. My score was 22.
Symptoms can include:
- Trouble bonding with your baby
- Disconnection from people in your life
- Change of appetite
- Mood swings
- Extreme fatigue
- Extreme irritability
- Doubting your parenting ability
- Extreme anxiety
- Being unable to concentrate
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
You don’t have to have all of these symptoms to have postpartum depression. You may just have one or two.
It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent if you have postpartum depression. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or pathetic. It just means you’re having trouble getting back to your normal. Or your new normal.
It does mean you need some help.
I need help.
What Am I Doing to Help Myself?
I’m lucky because I live in Canada and I have access to free healthcare, including mental health services. I think having to pay for these services would be a barrier I couldn’t push myself past. There are a lot of online resources available if you are unable to access mental health services in your area.
Here is a helpful website https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/locations/
I had already been referred to a psychiatrist around the middle of my pregnancy because I was experiencing a lot of anxiety. My appointment had been scheduled months earlier and I was six weeks postpartum when I met with her.
The appointment was over Zoom which was pretty weird. I found it a bit harder to emotionally connect through the computer screen. It was good in a way because I didn’t feel too vulnerable. I struggle with new situations, I always have, so being able to talk to someone from my own home felt safer in a way.
Talking to someone who had experience with this feeling made me accept that feeling this was way valid. Even though I know in my head that postpartum depression doesn’t make me a lesser person my heart hasn’t quite caught on to that idea. Having a trained professional ask me questions that related so perfectly to how I was feeling really helped.
I finished the appointment feeling more hopeful than I have in a while. I’ve been referred to a councillor and a dietitian. Those appointments will happen in the next few weeks.
I also realised that I needed to come up with something I could do to help myself.
Why Am I Starting a Blog?
The first reason is purely for self care. I want to write my feelings down to get them out of my heart and my head. It’s like when you’re breastfeeding and your milk comes in and you need to express some milk to help relieve some of the pressure.
The other reason is I don’t like the stigma that is around mental health issues and particularly postpartum mental health. Even though I know there are a lot of other people who were going through was I’m going through I felt so alone and isolated. I guess a lot of other people feel this way too.
We are not alone.
We are not alone.
We can get through this together.