Ask Me Anything Series: Postpartum Depression - Real Mom Recs

Ask Me Anything Series: Postpartum Depression

Ask Me Anything is a collaborative series featuring individuals and families that are facing challenges or are unique in some way. People can ask them anything they’d like to know about their story as long as it’s respectful.

The goal of this series is for people to gain a better understanding of those in unique situations. Open communication is key to understanding one another. If you would like to be featured in a future post, email me at [email protected]

This post was written by guest blogger Jenn R. of This Mommy Is Real.

Ask Me Anything: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

When did you realize you had PPD? Did you seek help right away?

Around the third week post birth I realized something was not right.  I had a difficult and unexpected birth process, and I suffered from insomnia and anxiety right after.  I felt really out of it and not connected to anyone or anything. I didn’t feel any motherly bonding or blissful moments. In my mind, my son was a baby, but not MY baby. While I provided care for him like every mother should, I felt like a shell or a robot doing a job.

My mind would not rest. I was constantly worried and scared.  In the third week, I experienced a very debilitating panic attack in the middle of the night. The next morning, I realized that something was very wrong and that I needed help.  I started calling the local urgent care office, but eventually spoke with an online psychologist the same day.

Can you share with us the signs or symptoms of PPD so new moms can recognize it better?

PPD and PPA can happen to experienced and first time moms. It’s not guaranteed that a mother will experience it with each birth. PPD and PPA are different from the “baby blues”, which are temporary and fade within a few weeks or so.

Some signs may include:

  • Excessive crying
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Irritability, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed
  • Insomnia or eating problems
  • A feeling that something isn’t right
What was it like parenting with PPD? 

Truthfully, to this day, I can’t remember all of it because I was constantly in a fog. I do remember that it was very difficult. My thoughts and feelings consistently affected my ability to function normally. I am a first time parent, so I was already struggling with childcare skills. PPD/PPA didn’t make it any better.

The lack of sleep and constant struggle with breastfeeding made it worse. Because I was anxious, I felt like my son could sense it when he nursed.   I felt like a complete failure. I was nothing like the person I used to be, and I could not recognize the person I had turned into. I was no longer confident. Instead, I was a fearful person who constantly suffered. I cried constantly.  Certain thoughts were always running through my mind:

  • I am a failure at motherhood.
  • My poor child is going to suffer because I am a bad mom.
  • I can’t do this. Please don’t leave me alone with this baby.
  • I am so scared. What if I hurt him?
How do you think your mental state affected your child?

A lot of mothers worry what affect PPD / PPA has on their children. The only issue I saw was when we were nursing.  I’m sure that my anxiety and lack of sleep affected the feedings and his ability to be comfortable. However, aside from this, the good news is that as babies, they are too young to commit this period to memory. As long as their needs are being met, and they are not neglected, they are unaffected. My son is proof positive. He is known as the “super happy baby” out of the baby groups. He smiles all the time, and is hardly cranky.

What was the most frustrating thing that people would say to you during that time? 

It was really difficult when people called it a “phase” or “just the baby blues”.  I know they meant well, but this is the time when the mother is so vulnerable, so statements like that feel dismissive.  Sometimes it seemed as if what I felt was not important or trivial.

It was also really difficult to see other mothers (both in person and on social media) have seemingly perfect experiences. I definitely didn’t feel that way, so seeing that made me feel worse and alone.

What was your response to that?

In the beginning, I would remain silent, or I would start crying without explanation.  I had no idea how to process my feelings and deal with their intentions at the same time. However, as I slowly began to cope and recover, I learned to be my own advocate. Because it has made such a significant impact on my well-being and my role as a mother, I started to share what I was really feeling and how it was affecting me.  I became more assertive and open which actually shocked people because they don’t necessarily understand PPD/PPA and its effect on mothers.

Did you use any medication to help battle your depression? Was it effective?

In beginning, I did not. I was very anti-medication because I was afraid of effects on my son (research shows little to none depending on the medicine). I attempted non-medicinal strategies for a couple months.

Eventually I decided to include medication in my recovery because I felt as if my recovery was stifled.  My body rejected the first medication. After a few weeks, I switched to the medication that I am on today. I haven’t had any side effects, and I feel as if a fog has been lifted. While I still have my moments, I am able to recognize them and deal before they overtake me. I am in a better mindset to utilize my coping skills. There is a new clarity, and I think it has given me the opportunity to take more initiative in my recovery.

What strategy was most effective to overcome your PPD?

I don’t think there is just one catch-all strategy for overcoming PPD and PPA.  For me, it was a combination of the following:

  • Having a strong support network (friends, family),
  • Consistently attending and participating in a PPD/PPA Support Group
  • Undergoing Therapy with a Psychologist that specializes in Women’s Issues
  • Seeking the assistance of a Psychiatrist that specializes in Maternal Mental Health –  she was in charge of reviewing my medication requirements

There is one thing that I did on my own which I felt was instrumental in my recovery: I challenged myself to avoid isolation at all costs.

Isolation has a profound effect on the intensity of PPD/PPA. Thus, it is important to take the steps to talk to trusted friends, family and mental health professionals. It’s important to take yourself out of physical isolation as well – having some freedom and a change of environment will help. Once you put yourself out there, it becomes easier to talk about the situation; it helps you become more receptive to care and coping strategies. You feel less trapped or stuck in time.

What advice would you have for new moms who think they might have PPD?

If you suspect that you might have PPD or PPA, don’t feel ashamed to speak up. Your OB should provide you with a simple post birth questionnaire. It asks you about your feelings and well-being. A certain score indicates that you might be suffering. You shouldn’t feel bad if that’s the score you get. It means you will be getting the help you need!

Don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. You’re doing this for both your well-being and that of your child. Remember, you are NOT alone and this is common.  These moments are all but temporary, and you will find yourself again.   PPD and PPD ARE treatable and there resources out there to help mothers like us.

Jenn R lives in California with her husband, dog and young son. She began blogging this year to help herself and others recover from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. When she’s not in the blogging world, she works full time the import / export industry and sells on the Poshmark platform as a hobby. You can read more about Jenn at thismommyisreal.com.
Thanks to the wonderful bloggers who contributed questions to this post:

Author

Adoptive mom, biological mom, slacker mom, Disney mom, and above all things a REAL mom. Fan of blogging, sleeping, and pretending not to hear my kids fight.

18 comments

  1. Well said, Jenn! Thank you for speaking up about PPD/PPA. So many moms suffer in silence. Your story is inspiring, and provides hope that there WILL be brighter days. Making friends with others going through this has been most therapeutic (for me). Just knowing you’re not alone in these dark times, is so comforting. You’re an amazing person, mom, wife, and friend! Thanks for sharing your (our) story!

  2. Fantastic Jenn! I can totally relate to everything you said and I hope this Q+A helps many suffering women get the help they need and heal and to not feel ashamed. I love that you took on your PPD/PPD head on – you are an inspiration!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I commend you for telling your story. This is such a serious discussion, and moms need to know that it’s OK to talk to someone about these things.

  4. So brave of you to share this, Jenn! I also suffered from PPD and did not realize it for quite some time. All the symptoms ring true. I know this post will help others who are suffering.

  5. This is lovely. I had postpartum anxiety disorder, and it took me forever to figure it out because you only hear about depression, but I didn’t feel those things. I felt like the world was ending all the time! Having moms talk about it takes away stigma and helps people figure out when something is wrong. Would love to see one about anxiety too!

    1. Thanks for your suggestion, Barbara! I am hoping to add LOTS more stories from real moms in this series in the near future!

  6. This is a great post. I often ask friends who’ve just delivered how they’re really doing and always try to mention PPD & PPA in conversation. It’s important that people understand there’s no shame in it and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

  7. I had PD after all of my children, it was hard to go through alone because you feel like nobody else understands. There is a certain stigma associated with it.

    1. So awful that it is such a common thing, yet people going through it feel alone. I hope with time we can eradicate that stigma.

  8. Such a brave account of the realities of an important issue which is still a little sensitive & misunderstood in many ways. The more we discuss this and lift the cloud of confusion the better for all involved. So beautiful, thank you for your honesty!

  9. Reading this was a kind of lifeline. It makes me feel slightly less alone during this terrifying time. Thank you for that.

    1. Kate, Please know that you are not alone. If you need help finding someone in your community to speak with, please reach out to 211 and they can connect with a support counselor. Hang in there!

  10. Hello,
    I first want to thank you for sharing your story. You have answered a lot of questions I have had when I think back to my PPD/PPA experience. I didn’t even realize that I had it until recently. Your post describes how I felt perfectly. I know I’m not alone now, and that how I felt, and sometimes still feel, has a name and a reason.
    You are so brave to write about it, and you’ve even made realize how important it is to share this experience. I haven’t been brave enough to post about it yet. You’re right, so many moms who haven’t had it underestimate how you’re feeling. The response I disliked the most was, “Stop crying, you’ll make your baby sad.”
    I didn’t know how isolation makes it worse, and that’s exactly what I did to myself.
    Anyway, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing. I do have a question for you, if that’s okay? How long did your PPD/PPA last?
    Thank You Again.

    1. Hi Steph,

      I’m so glad that my post has helped you identify what you went through. You are definitely not alone and it is more common than people realize.

      The worst of my symptoms went away about a couple months after they started. Some things still bother me, but no where near what they did before. Nowadays if a symptom or trigger happens, it’s not too bad and I can identify and cope well. I’ve made a lot of improvement and those days really do seem far away.

      You sound like you’ve made some improvements and that shows you’ve come a long way. I think that in itself is inspiring! Please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] if you have any more questions. I’m more than happy to answer them. Take care mama!

  11. Something that I always tell my new mom friends is that it is totally okay if you don’t have love at first sight with your baby. I did not have that with my first and it took a good 3 months for me to feel connected to him. Becoming a mom turns your world upside-down and we need to allow ourselves time to adjust. This does not make you a bad mom. This makes you human.

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