If you’re anything like me, at one time or another you’ve had a black cloud of anxiety and depression hanging over your head. Constantly wanting to hide what you’re going through because you don’t want people to feel bad for you, or even worse, judge you. That the stigma of treating mental health was something that should be hidden. I never once tried to embrace the stigma. Overall, I thought I was prepared for what postpartum depression would bring my way. Unfortunately, I was so unaware of was the physical, mental & emotional toll that postpartum depression would take on me.
Statistics on postpartum depression state that “approximately 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the ‘baby blues’…the reported rate of clinical postpartum depression…is between 10% to 20%”.
I had a somewhat easy pregnancy. The morning sickness during the first trimester, the crazy cravings & a strange hate for the smell of bacon. I ended up needing a c-section but wasn’t fearful or overly concerned, and before I knew it my 9-pound baby came screaming into this world. It wasn’t until about a week after she was born that I started to notice something was off. All of a sudden, I had an increase in suicidal thoughts that shook me to my core. Specifically, there was a moment where my husband told me to go for a drive to see if that would clear my head. I remember coming home, parking my car in the garage & having some heartbreaking thoughts about myself.
Thinking about that now still breaks me – that I had allowed myself to get that low. Physically, I hadn’t eaten since coming home from the hospital and I was starting to get too weak to hold my own daughter. That was my breakdown moment. I sat there in bed crying. My husband knew I needed help & I agreed to go to the hospital. He called our friend Stacy* at 6:15 am on a Saturday & she came over immediately to take our daughter so we could go to the hospital. She gave me this hug & strangely, I can still remember exactly how it felt.
It was something I needed to feel like everything would be alright.
The hours after arriving at the hospital are a blur. Immediately, I was taken to a room with a security guard outside, doctors coming in to ask me questions, nurses to take my vitals. It was decided that I needed to go to a mental health facility. I was transported via ambulance to the facility where everything I had with me was taken and was given a really cute (just kidding) blue scrub outfit to wear.
Spending 5 days in this facility working on my mental health has changed me for the better. It has helped me realize that I shouldn’t have felt like such a burden. The people that were there to help me were there because they cared deeply for me.
It has been quite an adventure since my postpartum depression journey began.
I love being a mom to my precious daughter. I love living the life that I’m so blessed to have. That doesn’t mean that my depression immediately went away. I found a medication plan that works to my needs, I have a therapist that I see often & a psychiatrist to keep my medication in check. The stigma of mental health illnesses is shocking – here I am, not wanting to share my story with people because I was embarrassed. I’ve learned to embrace my journey & share with other mamas that may be struggling.
Here’s my advice. If you feel like something is off, it probably is.
Call your OBGYN immediately and let them know what’s going on. Find yourself people that believe in you. Don’t ever think you’re a burden. Unsure if you have anyone like that? Confused of what step to take next? I am here for you. I’ve been there, mama and I can promise you, it gets better.
*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals.