September 10 is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day. This day is used to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention around the globe. Maternal suicide is very rarely talked about but is a very real issue.
Two things so many moms struggle with postpartum behind closed doors. There is still a stigma that surrounds mental health, and that stigma almost cost me my life.
My second pregnancy was hard on me from the start, both mentally and emotionally. We moved to a brand new state where I had no friends. That meant I had to leave the full-time job I loved and I became a stay at home mom. Then to make matters worse, my pregnancy became high risk, which meant I was going to the doctor twice a week. I worried about my baby constantly.
I didn’t think it could get worse. But then it did.
After he was born, the hormones hit me hard. The depression started almost immediately. Everyone talked about baby blues, so I had high hopes it would go away.
Breastfeeding only made it worse.
Since I didn’t breastfeed my first, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. The painful, cracked nipples. The forceful letdown that caused my son to scream and choke. Just the fact I was responsible for every single feeding with no help from my husband was hard. I willingly took on that responsibility because I was now a stay at home mom. In my mind, it was my job to feed him since I was no longer bringing home any money to pay for formula.
I should have asked for help.
I had a c-section, so my first postpartum checkup was at 2 weeks. They asked how I was feeling, and I lied. I said I was feeling good. But I wasn’t. I was miserable and it was only getting harder. I was ashamed that I was so sad and not bonding with my baby.
I felt like a failure.
I continued to breastfeed without saying a word about how much I hated it. How much anxiety I felt just hearing him cry. I would sit in bed at night, while my husband slept next to me, crying. I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I didn’t want to be his mom anymore. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to go back to working full time, earning money, and raising just one kid.
I didn’t want to live anymore.
I would often think about my husband raising the kids without me. I thought about my daughter growing up without a mother. Luckily, those intense feelings and intrusive thoughts started just a few days before my 6-week appointment. I decided I needed to ask for help. But I still lied. I said I was crying often and I wanted to try the medication. I never told a soul just how bad I felt.
I’m thankful for medicine. But it wasn’t an immediate cure. The hope that I would feel better helped me push through. I started feeling better within the next few weeks. Breastfeeding got easier as the weeks went on, too. His cry no longer made me anxious. I finally started to bond with my baby boy. Four years later I’m still a medicated mom and thriving. Sure, I still struggle, but it’s a manageable struggle.
Postpartum depression could have ended my story. Please, mama, don’t let it end yours. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You deserve to be happy and there is no shame in asking for help.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, struggling, or needing someone to talk to, you can call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 for free, confidential support 24/7.