Let’s talk more about postpartum depression and weight gain, because not even having walked my way out of the long tunnel of the depression is everything back to normal. In my last post I wrote about my postpartum depression and compared it to being ran over by a bus and left for dead. Pretty bad. I spoke about my weight gain openly, with happiness, in light of the fact that I had, had to enter that dark tunnel of unexplainable postpartum depression – and completely blinded by the lack of light, I still made it to the other side – but speaking about my weight with happiness, does not mean I am happy about the weight or other lingering effects of the postpartum depression. Being happy that I conquered one of the hardest mental (physical) struggles I have ever been through, does not take away the pain of having missed the joy, the moments of growth, that would have been found in my babies if I had been more present.
I remember hearing in my own community a story so sad about a mother who suffered from postpartum depression, that I don’t even want to repeat it. She had ended up taking her own life. Celebrities have come out to talk about it, those who have experienced it after their own pregnancies. After my recent births a social worker was quick to come to my room both times to make sure I was well informed on the dangers of postpartum depression and make me aware of the community support available. Both times I didn’t think I’d need it, mainly because having dealt with depression – I thought I was already well supported.
I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the bus that hit me. There is a difference between the depression and PTSD I have been diagnosed with, and what I experienced after giving birth (about six weeks after). Depression and PTSD are hard, they are traumatic, they are difficult to deal with in any life situation but especially as a wife and as a mother – I will talk about them, but these past few months were something different. Not all mental health issues are created equal. Mama’s if you think you are suffering – pick up your phone, call your hospital’s social worker, and get help. It is okay to ask for help. Mama’s, look at that precious baby – consider how you’re feeling, and listen to me: it is necessary to ask for help.
Christy Teagan gave an interview about her postpartum depression that was well done and very informative, she went through a lot of how she felt through her many different moods. One that hit home for me was when she said she kept clothes in her pantry downstairs so she could sleep on her couch and not have to go upstairs to her room (it seems like it was for days) to get changed. That complete lack of motivation was me. I went for almost three weeks without showering at one point. I would sit on the couch with my babies during the day and we would stay there all day; reading, playing, eating, crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “i’s” to keep everyone feeling loved and alive, so to speak. There was a smile on my face and most people who know me wouldn’t have thought anything had changed (outside of those in my own home), but inside, inside I was in so, so much pain – deep aching pain. And it was pain without cause. Do you know what it does to your mind when you’re in pain for so long and no one can give you a reason? You feel crazy. Downright insane.
I’m going to tell you something personal. Something I’ve been judged for, but something I believe is no one’s fault. In my last post mentioning postpartum I spoke about being at my Brother’s grave. He had Psychosis before passing, he had, had severe trauma and painful experiences. He took his own life. That is probably the single most painful experience this life has put me through, losing him. During this time of postpartum depression when no one could tell me why I felt such heavy pain, I began to wonder if his mental illness’ weren’t genetic and if I had no control over what would happen next. Thankfully medication began working for me (the weight gaining one), but just the thought that I may have such a serious problem – even though I knew and had been diagnosed with postpartum depression – the thought that it was something else (because no one could tell me why I had postpartum depression!), was like spinning into a black hole – it was misery beyond misery.
And Mama’s, that’s just a bit of my story. If you are feeling pain you can’t explain in anyway, and carrying this beautiful perfect being that just came out of you – if you can’t feel towards your child and have a complete lack of motivation (think keeping clothes in the kitchen so you don’t have to walk all the way to your bedroom) 1. You are so not alone. Know that, feel that, find comfort in that – there is nothing wrong with the fact that something is wrong with you – yay! 2. Get help. Now. Tell someone who understands, a professional is best because they won’t just listen and try to comfort in a comfortless situation, they will seek to do something about it and you need that. Trust that there is help, find the little comfort you can in that. As best you can put out of your mind how long you couldsuffer with this, how bad this couldget – every story is different and if you get help now you could wake up tomorrow being one of the miracle stories. Don’t add the stress of the unknown to the very real pain you are going through now. Have I said enough? Have I convinced you to pick up the phone? If I haven’t then email me and tell me why and let me convince you because that precious angel you just delivered is waiting to feel all of your love and there is so much joy waiting for you to feel for her or him, there is so much joy waiting for you. It’s going to be okay Mama’s; all your excitements and baby hopes and dreams when you were carrying that little one, they’re going to come true. You will get through this.
I am over the pain and the feeling crazy – I am out of the major postpartum depression, but I am left having put on 35 pounds (on top of my already 15 – leaving me 50 pounds heavy), I don’t EVER physically feel good (I believe because of the weight gain), it’s hard for me to keep up with my kids, and some moments I just feel down. Down that I had to go through it. Down that it was so pointless. Down that I missed basking in the joy of some of the moments with my babies that I otherwise would have had. Down that I have a million things to do and no energy to do it. I got through the tunnel of postpartum depression relatively quickly (three months) – and now I have to start the difficult journey of healing, and I just want someone else to do it for me while I love on my babies.
I feel strong for having gotten through postpartum depression that got as severe as it did. I feel like I could conquer anything now (I am! I’ve taken on this blog; I’ve decided to have another baby). I survived every day and kept two infants alive and feeling loved though I was in agony every second. That is something worth feeling proud of. I do feel proud of it. But I wanted to come back and also speak about the reality, that pride does not take away the uphill battle of healing, it is not all sunshine and roses, and I do realize I’ve still got work to do. I mentioned life threw me a curve ball and now I get to throw it back. This is my first step. Recognizing I’ve got to go over and pick up that ball…even though I’m tired.
Mama’s, you just had a beautiful wonderful life, the greatest gift you’ll ever be given – if you’re suffering, make sure you get help so you can fully experience that gift, and if you’re like me and now dealing with the effects of that suffering, pat yourself on the back if you ate three meals today, remembered to use the restroom before you peed your pants, and kept your family alive. We’ve got this, and one day at a time we’ll pick up that oh so unwanted curve ball life threw our way and we’ll toss it back, living fully all those joyous experiences these babies were meant to offer.
You’re not alone. You did not cause this. And you can get through this.