It wasn't until after my fourth child was a toddler that I realized I had experienced Postpartum Depression (PPD) after the birth of each of my children.
I'm a smart person. I read all the books and knew all the signs. Or so I thought.
Looking back now, I wish I had done something more than just assume what I was feeling was "the baby blues." You know, I thought it was normal to cry at the drop of a hat and feel anxious about leaving the house.
So not normal at all.
I'm pretty sure if I had known more, I would have gotten help. And maybe those early months would have been better, for me and my family.
Many new moms (and their partners) are aware of some of the symptoms of PPD. But there are lots of other symptoms that are not as widely known. Add in the talk about the "baby blues" and it can all be misinterpreted by these new moms and their spouses. In other words, there are too many women out there who are not getting the help they need.
I was definitely one of them.
As I've now since learned, a symptom of postpartum depression can be anxiety. In fact, it can even be the strongest and possibly the only symptom.
See, I would cry a bit at night and during the day, when my colicky baby wouldn't sleep, but because I never felt like harming myself or my baby, I figured I was just hormonal.
However, I was extremely anxious and frequently worried about going out in the car with her or leaving her with anyone. I'd have to have things a certain way or I'd freak out.
But because I'm an anxious person anyway, I suppose those feelings didn't really seem that unusual. And since I did a pretty decent job of coping with it on a regular basis, I figured I wasn't experiencing anything out of the ordinary and could just keep going the way I was.
Boy, was I wrong. The anxiety plus the exhaustion, hormones, and desperate attempts to be the best mom I could be, and it was pretty much disastrous.
Thankfully I was able to power through, but not without struggling every single day feeling like I was doing something wrong. That I wasn't a good enough mother to my children.
That I was somehow failing my baby.
Now that I know more about PPD and how it manifests differently for different women, I want to make sure other mothers know. I want them to feel comfortable reaching out to their friends, family, and doctor. And I want them to understand that if they're feeling like this, it's not just part of being a mom. You should get help and not feel bad about needing it.
You'll be happier. Your partner will be happier. And your kids will be happier too.
Did you have PPD?
Image via kit4na/Flickr
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