• Thu, Jan 31 2013

I Finally Caught A Break In My Postpartum Depression

postpartum depression helpI was reluctant to admit it to the world, but it’s a fact and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it: I’m struggling from postpartum depression — a full 14 months after my daughter’s birth. It’s morbid and ironic but the thing keeping me from offing myself is the fact that I’m someone’s mother.

It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but depression really makes everything negative. You berate yourself for stupid little shit, then you berate yourself for berating yourself. My brain is numb from these dull winter days.

I haven’t had a proper diagnosis because we can’t afford healthcare, but having had clinical depression in my late teens, I know the feeling well. It moved in on me about two months ago—the feeling that I didn’t have any true friends, that I was nothing but a burden on my loved ones. It’s the cloud that darkens my favorite activities and stops me after my first brushstroke on a new canvas, stops me after a few keys played on my piano, leads me to desperate “vaguebooking,” or last-ditch effort pleas to the social media universe to rescue me. It’s the cloud that confines me to a couch while my baby toddles and babbles for my attention and the feeling that brings me to tears while I’m nursing her, wishing I had the energy to be the mother she needs.

Like I said, no healthcare, so I’m not medicated. But every Thursday night I get a bit of a release when my husband and I play amateur volleyball. The physical and social aspects of the game have restorative powers. That is, they did, before scheduling got complicated.

We used to bring baby to the games, but lately the half hour drive each way has infallibly sent baby into a fit of enraged crying. And that’s not including her frequent crying during the game. Now that her separation anxiety is in full gear, if someone other than mama is holding her on the sidelines, she screams bloody murder. It’s a distraction in an otherwise silent gym, to say the least. As her mother, my heart pounds every time I hear so much as a whimper from that baby, which means when she’s crying it’s pretty impossible to focus on acing that serve or reacting quickly enough to save that ball from going out of bounds.

And the games are late. Sometimes as late as 10 p.m. Baby won’t go to bed without nursing, so keeping her home with a sitter isn’t an option. But keeping her awake wreaks havoc on her sleep schedule. There’s no right way to do this. Call me selfish, but I just cannot give up the one thing in my week that I’m still excited for.

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  • Justme

    Don’t give up the volleyball. It saved my life too. :)

  • msenesac

    I’m sorry you are struggling so much. I have had depression before so when my first came along last year, I was looking out for PP. Thankfully, the reverse seemed to happen- I loved my son and couldn’t deal with anyone else. A couple of months later, I started going to a trainer 2x/week to weight lift. Getting out of the house and burning some steam evened me out tremendously. You probably already know this, but try to leave your apt and do something for yourself more than once/week. Even if it is just walking/jogging for 30 min. Having a life outside of being a mom was a huge help for me to balance myself out.

  • BK

    It makes me so sad and upset that you can’t do anything about your PPD because of your healthcare situation. That’s horrible, but I’m glad that you have something that can help.

  • Jen

    Thank you for sharing this! My daughter is 13 months old, and I have been struggling with PPD without health care as well. This post spoke to me, gave my thoughts and feelings a voice. Thank you for the reminder to take comfort in those moments of mental clarity no matter how few and far between they may be.

  • AD

    Stop smoking.

    • Justme

      Although I appreciate your concern for her overall physical health, quitting smoking at this fragile stage in her life could actually do MORE psychological harm.

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  • Sarah

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. I had ppd after my daughter was born for about fourteen months, and I wasn’t even aware of it until it lifted. The difference was striking. It is so encouraging to know I wasn’t alone. Good luck and happy thoughts with you as you struggle through this.

  • Carm

    Great story. We share the same grey afternoons. Thank you for sharing.

  • Katia

    1. Stop smoking or stop nursing (for your child’s health. I’ve never used formula but wouldnt it be better than tainted milk?!
    And use some cash to go get a prescription for antidepressants. You may even be offered a sample. Should be money well spent. My friends cousin offed herself 2 months ago due to ppd. Hope you get better soon
    2. I can totally relate to your car story. Down tothe lean over nursing (what were we thinking? ) And your feelings.
    I find that talking helps the mood. Being alone with a baby and not talking can lead to a bad mood. Also it should hasten language development, right? This is discussed in the wonderful book “bringing up bebe”- your Car anecdote would fit right in.

  • Peggy

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a bit comforting to know that the feelings I’ve been having the past year are part of my recently diagnosed depression rather than just my pessimism taking over. The fear that people aren’t really my friends, the paranoia whenever I walk out of a room, feeling like I’m a burden on everyone who loves me….I was fortunate to undergo evaluation and be prescribed a low dose anti depressant which is helping, and many of those feelings are fading away slowly. I wish you luck as you continue to battle this illness.