wherein i talk about my issues with postpartum depression.

this is the post i vowed to write and subsequently decided not to write. then i realized that this is not something unique to me. thousands of women deal with similar issues everyday. perhaps it is presumptuous of me to think that a blog post could show a total stranger that she is not alone. then again, perhaps it isn’t.

the best place to start is the beginning. two or three weeks after sylvie was born, i began to cry often and at length. we’re talking multiple times a day, everyday. i chalked it up to hormones and sleep deprivation. it never stopped, however, and it began to worsen. somewhere around three weeks ago, i realized that i was terrified to be alone with my baby. i felt out of control and completely incompetent as a mother. i agonized over every little parenting decision i made as if somehow each tiny mistake would screw her up for life. my self-confidence was at an all-time low. i was not able to sleep, even when sylvie and travis were sleeping. i let the anxieties of the day swim around in my head. i fixated on them and my mind never shut off.

i began to hear sylvie crying when she wasn’t. i know this is normal to some degree. my husband will often hear her too, at night or in the shower. the difference is that he can distinguish the real from the fake. i cannot. i woke up every hour or so, all night long, thinking i heard her cry. i heard her in the grocery store, when i knew that she was home with her father. i heard her everywhere i went, whether she was quiet or sleeping, with me or not.

i dreaded being alone with her, especially at night. everything gets harder at night. sometimes, like any other baby, she will cry and cry and cry for an hour or more. some nights, most nights, i couldn’t take it. i just sobbed with her in my arms. i screamed. a few times i put her down in her crib and bashed my head into the wall or slapped my face as hard as i could. i didn’t understand why i couldn’t do this. i truly believed i was failing her as a mother. i never got the impulse to hurt her. only myself. i felt as if i needed to be punished for losing patience or not knowing how to cope.

a couple of weeks ago i was alone with sylvie while travis was at class. it had been a particularly trying night. i put her down to sleep, but she wouldn’t stay down for more than 5 minutes at a time. i tried to tire her out and put her down again. she wasn’t hungry or wet, hot or cold. then she got over-tired and the crying began. 45 minutes in, i lost it. i put her down in her crib and just screamed. not at her or at anything in particular. i just screamed. i hit my head into the wall. hard. i sat on our deck in the cold, while she cried inside. i called travis and he came home early from his class. i called my parents and told them how i had been feeling. i cried a lot that night, but i came out of it feeling so much better. i found the number of a large psychiatry practice nearby. i wrote down that number to call the next morning. i had a plan.

i called that office the next morning (a friday) and set up an appointment for the following monday. i have been seeing a licensed therapist once a week and will likely start with a psychiatrist to discuss medication options. i am feeling a little better, but i know we’re not out of the woods yet. i love my daughter and my husband more than anyone or anything else. i want to get better for them. i want to be the best mother and wife that i’m capable of being. i want to be the mother and wife i know i can be. i don’t want to hurt myself anymore.

this blog started as a touchstone to keep my friends and family informed during my pregnancy. i has become so much more than that. it has served as catharsis after sylvie’s birth and now for this. it is an outlet on the tough days. writing here is something i always looks forward to, despite how sad i may feel. my experiences are not unique, but they are mine.

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8 responses to “wherein i talk about my issues with postpartum depression.

  1. I think you’ve done a very couragous thing by sharing this. This type of honesty is always difficult, but as a new mom I think it is 1000 x harder. You’ve done a great thing by reaching out for help and you have an amazing support network with Travis and your parents and you’ve also got all us mama bloggers too!

  2. I think you’re very brave for writing about this – it is very honest and i think other moms need to know that they are not alone! just want you to know that I’ll be thinking about you!

  3. Sweet Saucer – you are such a good person. I have so much respect for your decision to empower yourself. Your brother and I are so proud of you and what a wonderful mother, wife, sister and Auntie you are! I can’t wait to get you down here and give you a good hug!

  4. Thank you for putting this out for all to see.

    I have felt the exact same way you are describing- the screaming, the slapping, etc…. I’ve never seen anyone own up to it before.
    It is so so so helpful to know you’re not alone.

    The Internet ❤ s you.

  5. i’m sure this was a difficult entry to write, and you show so much courage in sharing this with the world. i hope it reaches someone who is in a similar situation and lets them know that they are not alone in feeling this way.

  6. Hi there – I’ve been following your blog for a while as we were due a few days apart and I love reading your honest posts and seeing your little girl get bigger at the same time as my little boy! I think it’s amazing you feel brave enough to write a post about this and I’m sure it will help lots of mums to know they’re not alone.

    I just wanted to suggest something – when I try to put my bub down to sleep in his cot he cries too, or wakes up if I rock him to sleep first. So we co-sleep, and in the day I either wear him or feed him to sleep in our bed then leave him there. It works, and he has never screamed in the night – only wakes for 10-15 mins to feed then falls asleep again, because he’s right there next to me. I know co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, and yes I do want him to sleep in a cot eventually, but I think you should do what makes you and the bub happy first and foremost. This is just a suggestion, as it works for us and everyone is happy, no sleep deprivation or screaming fits at night!

    Good luck and love the blogging 🙂

  7. Just in writing this post, it shows how far you have come. As a person who has struggled with depression {and an eating disorder that almost took my life} for years, I know that the VERY FIRST step towards recovery, towards getting better, is recognizing that something is wrong, that you have a problem.
    I’m so glad you’re getting help and seeing a therapist. I saw a therapist once a week for so long that I couldn’t imagine life without her in it. I’m a firm believer that EVERYONE can benefit from being able to talk to an unbiased professional.
    You’re a strong woman, and a wonderful mother. No, you’re not perfect. Nobody is. And like you said, tons of women struggle with postpartum depression- that we know about- and just think about all those who probably aren’t ever diagnosed.
    I know you can get through this!
    Stay strong!

  8. I agree with all the responses you have received here: You are such a strong, brave, and wonderful person.

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