Postpartum Depression

Mid May, 2019, at exactly 2PM was one of the happiest days of my life. Funny because, I was also sobbing uncontrollably . Her cry was so strong, sending echoes across the room. They put her on my bare skin and somehow, I knew it would never be the same. See I’m an optimist, and with my family around me, I thought to myself, it can’t be that hard. Weeks went by and it took some adjusting. Everything is about adjusting, the first trimester, you get used to the fact that, you are actually growing a life inside you, then comes the body changes, this was a bitter pill to swallow for me. The fact that in a few months, you are expected to pop something out, scared but can’t stop anticipating. Watching videos of the whole process online, does not make it easier either. The sleepless nights, back-aches, and endless worrying, making sure the baby is safe. Then your heart skips a little when they kick, you smile, as tears roll down your eyes. Happy and anxious at the same time.

So when its time to say goodbye to the plumpness, and the extra weight that you had sort of become accustomed to, the reality that, this is your life, the freedom of just walking in and out without it requiring planning, just taking a shower for more than five minutes, gone. The little things are not so little anymore. It was all changing so fast. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely happy, but still, having unexpected feelings. Where did the sudden mood changes come from? I don’t remember taking lots of pictures a few months after, because who is this person in the mirror staring back at me? It is expected to be a exuberant moment, everyone calls to check on the baby, but who is checking on you?

Postpartum depression is real, most women go through it silently, others like me go through the motions without knowing what it is. You are filled with guilt for not fully enjoying the moment. Looking into their angelic eyes, you want to give them the whole world, but what if you cant? worse, it was during a pandemic, and you wonder, was it fair, bringing them into a world that seems to be ending. If only they came with a guide. Is it really necessary for the vaccine jabs to hurt that much. At the same time you can’t miss your hot water bath for the stiches. Others don’t have enough milk, and for those who do, its a never ending cycle of changing tops and smelling like breast milk. If your partner is not supportive, it sends you to the deep end. I was lucky to have my sisters and friends around, but there was so much they could do, and its okay, because they too had their own chaos to tend to.

It is important to note the difference between, postpartum blues, depression, and psychosis. The blues occurs around 5 days after giving birth, its characterized by mild anxiety, tearfulness and mood swings that come and go, but do not hinder a new mom from doing her tasks. Depression on the other hand, lasts for a few months, and the symptoms could be lack of sleep, feelings of worthlessness and incompetent ,neglecting self care, loss of interest in usual activities and suicidal thoughts. psychosis, is a more severe case, and the symptoms onset within 48 to 72 hours, after giving birth. They include, restlessness and confusion, insomnia, sudden mood changes, either very elevated or too low. Hearing voices that causes one to harm themselves or the baby. This is likely to occur when there is a pre-existing condition like bipolar or other mental illnesses. Another condition that one might experience is, obsessive compulsive disorder. (OCD) and this might be confused with the instinctive protective nature of a mother . Symptoms include, obsessions with contamination, or aggressiveness, towards the people around you, who might maybe hold the baby in a way that you don’t agree with, or in my case, during covid i was too paranoid that, I would spray my brothers whole body with sanitizer, to make sure he wasn’t “contaminated”, when he came to visit. Others might experience compulsiveness like, washing, cleaning and checking on the child all the time.

The point is, depression doesn’t care about the good things happening in your life. You don’t choose to feel that way, its a mixture of hormonal, lifestyle, emotional and physical change. This can be too much for one person, especially, if you went through a hard time during pregnancy, your income is low, your relationship is on the rocks, You are not getting enough rest, you are a young mom, doing it all alone, and the society is trying to impose it’s values on you. Or not, as i said, it happens to most women despite the circumstances.

Good news is, these symptoms go away by themselves after sometime, like in my case, (unfortunately after loosing a lot of hair, yes that’s also a thing. It grew back) If not, it’s completely treatable. I would recommend talking to a professional, get early diagnosis and start treatment soon. It could be personal combined with couples therapy, or mixed with medication,(prescribed by your doctor). Going for walks to get fresh air, working out,( if the doctor okays it) also helps. Join new moms groups too, you will be surprised that you are not going through it alone, sharing these experiences can be uplifting and educative. Most importantly, communicate with people around you, ask them to watch the child, as you nap, enough rest is vital.

Tell your partner how you feel, and where they can help. Remember they can’t read your mind. when they feel helpless, its a matter of time before they start spiraling. Don’t feel guilty for not being okay. A child picks up on what you give, they sense your stress. You can only give them the best, when you are at your best.

PPD is NOT a sign of weakness or being a bad mom, so don’t feel ashamed to speak out. Spread awareness, let people know its okay, its treatable, it gets better with time.

Note: Most of the signs and symptoms come from DSM 5, You can read and learn more about mental illnesses there.





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