My postpartum depression (PPD) totally caught me by surprise. At first I didn't even recognize that I was depressed. I mean, of course I wasn't depressed, right? I had a beautiful baby so happiness is the only thing I can possibly feel, right? Wrong. Eventually I was forced to admit that I was depressed, regardless of my baby's existence, and sought help from family, friends, and professionals. I confronted my postpartum depression, I just had no idea how intense that confrontation would be.
My postpartum depression started with feelings of exhaustion. I remember thinking, "Is it normal to feel this tired?" Then came the difficulty breastfeeding and feeling like I had failed as a mom because I wasn't able to exclusively breastfeed. My (then) husband was not supportive at all and, as a result, I felt so alone. I was sad and anxious all of the time and unable to sleep a significant amount and even when the kids were asleep. I would cry for hours, worrying about my kids, while I simultaneously convinced myself that I was a bad mom for feeling the way I did. I finally got up the nerve to talk about it. I told a friend and then, with her support, told my midwife. They told me that I was not alone and that medication or therapy could help.
It was so weird to confront my depression. I had never admitted to anyone that I was less than perfect, and I certainly never wanted to admit that I was not a "perfect mom." It felt so bizarre to take anti-depressants for the first time in my life and to prioritize self care and sleep, recognizing that I needed to recover from postpartum depression just like I needed to recover from childbirth in general. Eventually, I started to feel like the fog that had surrounded me was lifting, and I was finally able to find joy in new motherhood. To get there, however, I had to go through some pretty intense things, including the following: