What Postpartum Depression looks like.

The other night I watched a movie about a woman with Postpartum Depression (PPD) who kills her children. Actually, I think they said it was manic depression but it made me think about PPD so I’m going with that. That’s really vague, isn’t it? I don’t want to say more about the movie than that because maybe you want to watch it and I’d spoil it and you’d hate me. It’s a good movie, so I won’t risk it.

Anyway, the point is that the movie made me think about PPD. In a “Holy crap I hope someone would help me before I ever got to that point” kinda way. I’ve dealt with PPD before, and though I never wanted to hurt my child, myself, my husband, my dogs, small rodents, bugs, or anyone/thing else, I know it can manifest itself in that way and that scares the crap out of me (a lot). I always wonder how the PPD gets to that point. How someone doesn’t step in and help these mothers with what they’re going through. How the mothers can’t see it themselves (which is honestly what scares me the most – the chance of not being able to see it myself). But then I remember that us women are good at hiding & suppressing our feelings. That PPD doesn’t have a look. But it does have a stigma. Let me show you something …

This is the face of PPD.

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This is the face of PPD.

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This is the face of PPD.

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Can you see it? Because I couldn’t. And yet, during each of those photos, I was in the middle of undiagnosed (and thus untreated) PPD. That’s not what many people expect PPD to look like, right? They expect crazy eyes and unkempt hair. Angry faces. Sad faces. And sometimes it does look like that. But remember what I said about women being good at hiding at suppressing our feelings? Smile for the camera – that’s me. I think a lot of that stereotypical image about PPD keeps women from getting help when they truly need it. Their friends can’t see it. Their husbands can’t see it. Maybe they can’t even see it.  I couldn’t.

I thought I was tired & hormonal. As new mothers, we have the right to be. But sometimes it goes beyond that. There’s a definite difference.  Periods, pregnancy & new babies make me hormonal – but that hormonal I can control. This may come as a surprise to some of you (or not) but sometimes I’m hormonal and that makes me a bitch. The great thing about being a bitch is that I can go, “Oh, hey. I’m totally being a bitch” and make the conscious decision to NOT be a bitch anymore. The scary thing about PPD (or really any depression, for that matter) is the inability to turn it off, in whatever form it manifests itself – bitchiness, irrationality, sobbing fits, insomnia, binge eating, not eating, etc.

For me, there were two stages of PPD. There was the stage where I was a mess and had no idea. Then there was the stage where I knew I was a mess, wanted to not be a mess, but couldn’t will myself to not be a mess anymore. I don’t know which is scarier. Probably the later. Because it’s like living in a shell of yourself and being trapped there.

The thing is, you don’t have to be trapped there. It’s OK if you wake up one morning and find yourself stuck in that shell. Really, it is. Eff the stigma. It doesn’t make you a weak or a bad person. It just makes you human. It’s OK to tell someone you trust, “I really don’t feel like myself right now” and ask for help. I know, I know – you’re a new mom. You’re a MOM. You are strong, you are the caretaker, you can fix everything! But no, maybe you can’t. And that’s OK. Maybe you need others to help YOU. Maybe you need others to take care of you for a while. To be strong for you. That’s OK. You’re still a mom and you’ll be a happier mom … no, screw that, a happier person by being good to yourself & allowing others to be good to you.

Forget what you think PPD looks like & feels like. If any of this has struck a cord with you – ask for help. Tell someone how you feel. You deserve to be happy with yourself. You deserve to be happy with your life. And if you know a new mom (or a not so new mom) who is struggling with PPD – GIVE her help. Don’t wait until she asks. Just throw your arms around her and tell her you love her. You’ll both be glad you did.

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8 responses

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. PPD is such a broad term because it can impact people in such different ways. It isn’t always the typical depression symptoms…and I think that is part of what makes people second guess what they are going through.

    Thank you for talking about what you went through. Sharing our stories is the best way to show others that they are not alone…and that they will be okay.

  2. Right on, Momma. I’ve become increasingly more aware of PPD and how rampant it is (especially working at the Center) and have dealt with a lovely case of the baby blues since having Ari. It’s scary shit.

  3. This is an awesome post! I suffered from PPD and have written about it too.It’s so hard and you are so brave to do it! Thank you!
    You make such an excellent point of how we hide it. I look back at pics and I can tell I’m sad but I don’t think other people could.
    I wish more women would realize that it’s ok. I wish we could get rid of the stigma. Perhaps, with more women like you we can!

  4. AWESOME post! You blog and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it, it hates me and won’t let me in all the time! Anyway….what a great post. So many people need help and we all need to reach out!

  5. I loved this post. PPD was the worst time in my whole life and I was worried that I’d have it again the second time around, but I didn’t, thank God. I think doing research and just knowing that I had the potential to have it again sort of scared it away. I hope at least one woman reads your words and gets help for herself. We don’t have to suffer like the woman in The Yelow Wallpaper. (remember that story from high school)?

  6. Beautiful post – thank you for sharing. I think so much of the stigma of PPD is that so many women don’t want to talk about it. Beautifully written.

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