PSP members share their personal experiencs with PPD in response to one memberr's cry for help on the Yahoo Advice List.
Important Message from Park Slope Parents: These posts have not been checked for accuracy but are instead listed to show the complexity and emotionality of PPD. The content is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for mental health and medical advice. ParkSlopeParents.com is not intended to, and does not, provide mental health and medical advice diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical and mental health advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on the PSP Yahoo! Group or on the PSP.com web site. Never rely on information in an e-mail or on our web site in place of seeking professional mental health and medical advice.
Here's one parent's story and the feedack from PSP Members:
"I am a first time mom of an almost 9 month old. At the moment, I am home with him full time though I'm hoping to return to work part time in the future. We are moving out of state in January. I know moving is an incredibly stressful life event, as is having your first child.
Lately, I have found myself quite unhappy a lot of the time. My husband and I are fighting constantly. I am not sleeping well (though honestly, this is not something new- I've struggled with insomnia for years). I feel overwhelmed and at times incredibly frustrated. There are moments when I actually find myself filling with rage- mostly at my husband. We are both obviously incredibly stressed with the move.
Our weekends are spent going to the new house to finish up some of the work we are doing before we move. I am still breastfeeding and feel like I never get more than a few hours at a time to myself and that is pretty rare! I am not exercising (I was really good after my son was born, but now feel too tired and lacking in time), which makes me have a terrible view of my post baby body. I cry easily. I worry constantly how all of our bickering and my obvious mood swings will affect my son. Though we are trying to make an effort to spend time with friends, at the most this is happening 1x/week. Aside from some of my mom friends and my husband, this is the only social interaction I have. And to top it off, I have such incredible GUILT for feeling anything but blessed with the many, many abundances that my life has afforded me. I truly do not think I have any right to be anything but happy. Unfortunately, that is just not the case at the moment. I guess what I'm wondering is if the depression and stress that I am experiencing sounds normal- due to these MAJOR life changes or if it's possible that I have PPD- especially now at 8 months? How do you know what's normal and what's not?"
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"Sounds like everything you are going through makes a lot of sense and, whether it's normal reaction to major life events, or a case of clinical PPD, why not get some help with it? I suffered severe postpartum anxiety that didn't really begin till 6 months and didn't become unbearable till 9 months, so I definitely think a delayed diagnosis is certainly possible. For me, zoloft was a godsend, as was my therapist. I am also happy to talk anytime about this, I wrote about my experience for Cookie magazine and believe very strongly in being open and in getting help when you need it. Changed my life."
"This could have been me at some point. I think it could have been most of us.Truly, I remember feeling just as desperate and angry -- and I wasn't moving. I think this is why people refer to that period of having a baby or a young child as "being in the trenches".I doubt it is post natal depression - though it's certainly depressing. In my own case, the division of labor between my husband and I became a real source of stress. I had this inner tally card where I kept track of who did what and used this to fuel my bottomless pit of seething rage and resentment, none of which I communicated effectively until I lost my temper like a raving banshee bitch from hell. As you can imagine this was highly effective.
But that was then. What really helped me was regular child care, in the form of someone who stayed with the baby for a few hours a couple of times a week. It was hard to afford at the time but it saved my sanity because it meant the I could take care of myself - sometimes this took the form of seeing a friend but more often - because I am a bit introverted, it was having a quiet coffee or standing in Loom staring at stationary. The point was I needed time to do the things that helped me to regain my strength and composure. (For you it might be seeing friends or getting the hell back to work. Everyone is different). It meant I could have a more coherent conversation with my husband about our division of labor. It meant I could regain some perspective.
My advice to you - what I wish I'd realized then is that all this is perfectly normal. They key is maintaining your perspective. Often, the things that seem Really, REALLY, INSANELY important - both in a move and with the baby aren't.They just aren't. It may be a pain - but as long as no one dies it's probably not as crucial as you think it is.
More likely it's a manifestation of free-floating anxiety - the big tip off being that you ruminate on them at 4:44 AM.
Keep the faith: you will lose weight. You will get your boobs back.
Start supplementing if that makes it easier or and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY.
Someone else doesn't like it? It's not their life, it's not their baby. A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do and if tapering back on breastfeeding means other people can help you so you do not end up as a segment on Nancy Grace, this is a good thing. You WILL learn to adjust to this new situation. I know it's a pain in the ass but it just takes TIME.
Try to do one thing everyday to help it along: pumping a little extra milk, taking a long walk. Do things that make you happy - like making apricot ketchup or defacing photos of Michelle Bachman. And try not to take it out on your partner.There's nice section on partnership in parenting in Equally Shared Parenting - a book from a few years back that's worth reading. Though the book annoyed me over all (probably because I'm a cynical old goat) the part about parents nurturing each other's hopes and dreams and spirits, was really very lovely and apropos. Again, it offers perspective, and if you're like me, it will make you cry and remember why you fell in love with the person you're with in the first place. Surely that's worth going through the process of working out how to help one another.
In your situation this is even more important because you are about to move. Just accept that it's going to take at least two years before the new place really feels like home. It's okay to feel sad and conflicted. That' s normal. It passes. There's no point in torturing yourself with guilt.
Anyway, I'm not sure this helps but I just wanted to reassure you that you can come out the other end stronger and happier. Unfortunately you just kind of have to go through it to get through it - but you do get through it and whether that's by the seat of your pants, with some sort of outside help - if you're comfortable with a counselor, etc. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you don't let the disorientation of moving and new parenthood keep you from leading your life. (If that makes any sense)
Hang in there. It gets better.
I just want to second what a previous poster said...who cares what you are going through is called. You feel terrible and deserve help to feel better (be that meds, therapy or both) P.
"You may or may not have PPD, but I think only someone trained to make such diagnosis can tell you that. Call it what you will: PPD, depression, stress, overload, whatever, you are going through A LOT, your feelings are real, and there are resources out there."
"Most everything I wanted to say was covered, but I wanted to mention/reiterate three points:
- Putting the baby down in a swing/bouncy seat/blanket on floor/playmat, etc., some of the time you're home is more than OK, it's good for baby. Lots of interaction is important, but babies take the time you're not talking to them/looking at them to process all the good stuff you do with them the rest of the time. Babywearing is terrific, but don't feel guilty about putting down your little one some of the time.
- I often say that my husband and I have fought/argued/sniped at each other more during the two years we've had our son than in the previous 8 years we were together combined. Division of labor/relative freedom comes up as the main them, as well as feeling like a scorecard is constantly being tallied of who did what, who got to go the gym, who nagged whom about getting stuff done....Now that our little guy is 2, this has let up a lot. And it got easier gradually. I arranged for some childcare and took on some freelance work and while it's still not easy it is A LOT better than it was when we had a little baby.
- Don't underestimate how much harder it is now that it's pitch-black outside by 4:30. Ugh! After the Winter Solstice it will start to get a little lighter earlier in the morning and stay lighter a little later in the afternoon. You are spending so much time awake during dark hours--it's just so hard on the psyche.
But this is the toughest time of the year for light. Try and take advantage of the light that is available by getting out in the morning/early afternoon for as long as possible before the next feeding/nap time. Hang in there."
I am replying publicly because this happened to me and only after it happened did my sisters and friends tell me about it. I was furious!
I vowed to break the silence so other women wouldn't feel alone. I'm a minister and I shared it publicly with my congregation as well and was astounded by the number of women who approached me later saying the "cult of motherhood" forces us into silence and the lie that this mothering endeavor is only joyful. I said later for that!
My thoughts are it is both normal AND some sort of depression. This is what I determined with my wonderful and supportive obstetrician who said even in a perfect world the hormonal change would still have taken me for a loop and it's not a perfect world. Just knowing this helped ease the guilt, anger, and tears a bit. And my doctor offered Zoloft which I couldn't take while breastfeeding. By the time I weaned my daughter I was more myself and didn't need the medication.
I think exercise and time to yourself is critical. I know you don't know me but I'm so passionate about this that I'm willing to offer myself to come sit with your baby while you do what you need. E-mail me and I'm happy to come meet you or to talk via phone."
"As others have suggested do something for yourself every day whether it's yoga pedicure napping reading. It will get better but u have to find your happy and health to be there with and for your family. Lean on friends and families. Be kind to yourself and try to relax. Nobody ever really discusses the first 9 months-- baby is a blob and doesn't show much love and appreciation and husbands can't do anything right.
They usually aren't as nurturing as we are and YOU need to be nurtured as well as baby. I know you will be ok. Hang in there."
"Well said, N.! I was experiencing similar issues recently after having my second child in less than two years. I saw a young, approachable GP who was highly recommended when I'd had the flu. I tearfully explained my feelings to him (anxiety was the biggest for me). He believed it was postpartum even though I was seven months out. I had just weaned and he assured me that changes in breast feeding often monkey with a mother's emotions, inciting late onset postpartum and suggested an antidepressant. I was not too keen on the idea and instead left with a prescription for valium. I filled it, took it once to help me chill out one night before bed and never needed it again. I've found having them in my medicine cabinet has been the help I needed. Just knowing they're there if I need one relaxes me! I'm not naive. Many people need much more than just a placebo, but my point is, don't be ashamed to reach out and find help even if it means you have to ween the baby.
Like N. said, eff anyone (paraphrasing) who has a problem with it. It's your body. Good luck, Anonymous. It will get better. I'm happy to recommend the GP, just reach out offline. He's in Manhattan, though.
Focus on how all the extra room you'll have in your new house will help you to find some alone time! Oh alone time, how I've missed you...
Mom to two
Some days I win. Some days they win. They won today."
"So-- post partum depression gets all the attention, but its only half the picture. There is another very common post partum mental health challenge -- Post partum anxiety and OCD. This link is really helpful in describing what that is-- and helps you figure out if you've got the normal run of the mill baby blues vs post partum depression-- or, normal run of the mill baby anxiety or something more significant. If you see yourself in THIS LIST, check in with a doctor or a counselor."