Postpartum Depression & What it Feels Like.

Posted by Elizabeth Alex on

I faced postpartum depression after delivery. This post is a little glimpse of what it felt like for me. This may be better or worse for you. Either way, you've got to know WHAT it is to fight it!! For my friends and relatives who read this post, it may seem like I am airing my dirty laundry in public. But, honestly, this is the only way I can reach out and spread awareness about this disease. Yes, Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a disease. Disease of the mind.

 Postpartum Depression Facts

  • PPD is triggered during pregnancy and after childbirth. 
  • The hormones fluctuating in this phase are to blame.
  • About 15% of women can be affected by postpartum depression.
  • As a ripple effect, Fathers can be affected by this as well.
  • It is treatable! 

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Crying
  • Resentment towards spouse
  • Thoughts of harming the baby
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, suicidal
  • Eating or sleeping disorder. Sometimes both.

If you feel any or all of these symptoms for more than 10days after childbirth it could be a sign of postpartum depression. See my tips to prevent this at the end of this article. 

A Note for New Dads

If your partner shows any of these symptoms, chances are you would develop PPD as well. Does your partner have any of these symptoms? If so, instead of fighting back, give her a warm fuzzy hug. Let her know you are there for her, for better or for worse, REMEMBER? If your partner shows any of these symptoms, be patient with her. If your partner shows any of these symptoms, be kind to her. She needs the assurance that you are there for her even if the world “seems”  to be against her.

 

Depressed Liz

If you ask my husband, he would tick mark on all those symptoms. The poor guy. He and my Baby#1 got the worst of it. I never experienced this with my first pregnancy and childbirth. I felt depressed a few days after my second c-section. During this terrible ordeal, there was yelling, smashing of cutlery, lots of tears, and sleepless nights... I had no control over my emotions or actions. I couldn't talk to my mother or tell her what's going on either. 

Postpartum depression was like PMS on steroids, for me. 

I am even guilty of losing it with Baby#1 who is only about 2 years old. Imagine that. How cruel I would’ve seemed to my own child. I will never forget this moment. For some reason, I lost my cool one of those days and *smacked* my toddler in the face. She turned to me. She didn't even cry but I could see disbelief in her soft eyes, saying softly “Maa?” That monosyllable was loud enough to ask me “why mama? what did I do so wrong that I deserved this slap? I thought you loved me.” Ahh. Pains me to even think about that moment *eyes flooding with tears* Hitting children in anger is one of the worst things you can do as parents. It is abuse and I am guilty. So imagine feeling that overwhelming guilt mixed with depression. It's like sh*t run over twice. I would often curl up in fetal position on my bed and think to myself: “What have I done to deserve such wonderful children!?” or “What is wrong with my body, it’s so ugly now!” or "I am a horrible mother" Yes, there was a lot of self-loathing.

Un-Depressed Liz

Like any other diseases, PPD is also treatable. Counseling, therapy, and even antidepressants may help. I did not seek professional help to get out of it and could not focus on my doctrine even. So going to God was out of the question for me - only because I had conveniently distanced myself from Him. But God. He was still there for me. He sent me messages sometimes using others.

The Great Reminder

As I fell back into eating disorder the only thing that cheered me up was chocolate. Then one day, my friend Julie made this no-bake dessert for me. It saved my sanity. How? It wasn't the chocolate but the thought that I didn't have to do anything for Julie. Her selfless gesture was freely done, just for me. I felt I wasn't so worthless, after all.

Julie handed me a big tray of this goodness. It was that exact moment when I realised what selfless love was. The exact kind of love (x million times over) God has for me. I was immediately humbled. I had tried to solve this problem on my own. Believed all the lies my head (or satan) was throwing at me. I forgot all about God and how He had rescued me before. I forgot that it was the love that Christ had for me, that He gave his life on the cross.

When I thanked Julie for saving my life, she reminded me that it was God who had used her to meet my needs. And what a reminder that was! No matter how I was feeling or acting, God was there for me and He can help me. And help me, He did. All I had to do was ask!

My PPD treatment

The scriptures say "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8  After three weeks, I finally gathered all my bearings and prayed. I asked God to help me get through this. I opened up about my depression at church. My friends and church family prayed for me as well. Oh, the power of prayer! Before I knew it, my appetite was back. I was savoring every meal and it made me feel so good that I was going to sleep at regular human hours. Praise God! And that’s where I am today. Calm enough to return phone calls to my family and friends. Eating and pooping well. Resting and savoring every moment with my children. I am here -  a pillar of peace for my children to lean on. If you or your partner has PPD, make sure to get help immediately.

How can you prevent PPD?

Taking naps often to stay rested, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise is basic, but certain activities I did helped me prevent PPD with my third child. See if they help you also: 

Lots of Skin-to-Skin time with my newborn. Skin-to-skin care simulates the protective and nurturing environment of a kangaroo pouch. By definition, kangaroo care is developmental care by holding an infant skin-to-skin against the mother or father's bare chest. Learn more about Skin to Skin benefits here.

Massage and Bathe your baby YOURSELF. I need to emphasise this because in India its a common practice to let a Helper-maid bathe newborns. Have you ever seen them in action? It is pure TORTURE and abuse for newborns to say the least. These bath-ers have zero compassion. This is just CHORE for these people, and I am not ashamed to bash this one tradition. I loathe it. OK LIZ, breathe. Just breathe. Bathe with your baby. More skin to skin, its calming and a beautiful bonding experience. Don't let a tradition like this rob you of these precious moments.

Babywearing. According to American Academy of Pediatrics It's impossible to spoil a baby by holding them too much. Did you know? Baby wearing can reduce crying, which is less stress for everyone! Stay Tuned for my review on Baby Carriers- coming soon! 

 
Me time! Make time for only you. No babies, children no husband no in laws. Even if it is just 15 minutes. Tell them you can’t be disturbed; creating boundaries is healthy! They can hold down the fort for that long. My doula suggested, go on a balcony / fresh air if you can and just breathe. Get something to drink and enjoy it. Anything just for you. My time in the bathroom washing my hair Once in 3 days is almost sacred. I also wake up earlier than everyone to spend time with God, it’s brings me joy and I look forward to it. Do what brings you joy, if you are able.

Thank you for reading my story - please share it with your loved one today.

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