I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my postpartum depression, and wondering why it hit me so hard.
No one knows the exact cause.
For a while I called it postpartum anxiety, because the word depression has such a bad connotation, and I don't want people to think that I ever considered throwing my baby out the window.
I have gotten less embarrassed about talking about it in person (it was fairly easy to share on the blog, but not so much in person), and it's my newfound effort in life to make sure other women know how common it is to feel down in the weeks after birthing a baby. I know not everyone deals with it, but I'd love to remove the stigma around it.
There are lots of forms of postpartum mental health disease, and I find it difficult to diagnose myself. I saw my midwives during it, but basically they just gave me a questionnaire to fill out and I "passed" to the point where they let me decide whether or not to seek medication and counseling. I probably had a combination of these:
- baby blues
- postpartum depression
- postpartum anxiety
- postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder
Whatever I had, I can't help but try to figure out how to NOT get it next time.
Was it because...
- I tried to breastfeed, and that responsibility made me anxious?
- Breastfeeding didn't work for us, and I wanted it to?
- I didn't fully expect what it would be like to become a mom--the weight of the responsibility?
- My delivery was traumatic?
- I didn't get an epidural?
- Hormones are just crazy?
- I am a deeply emotional person?
- I am terrible at dealing with change?
- My identity was based on going to work, leaving the house and wearing a cute outfit?
- I have more anxiety than other people in my "normal" state, and therefore I am more susceptible?
- I was overwhelmed with having family around and trying to figure out the baby?
- I just need my sleep?!
Those are all things I've wondered. Maybe they all had an affect. I don't know.
Here's what I do know...
- It came on about one week after she was born (which is common).
- I did not go on medication. I'm not saying that's the right decision for everyone, but it's what I decided to do.
- My blues/depression was crazy for a couple weeks, and then faded away over time.
- It faded a lotthe exact day I decided to quit breastfeeding.
Even now, I occasionally get flare-ups of the blues. Sometimes Eric gets a little down, too, when we are spread too thin. So I think it's common for new parents. A couple weekends ago I told him to get out of the house on a bike ride to get rid of the blues he was having, and that seemed to help. We all need to take care of ourselves before we can give our best to others.
- I am considering placenta encapsulation.
- I want to try breastfeeding again, but I strongly wonder if I have the dedication required.
- I'll be more aware of what I'm feeling and what is making me feel that way.
- I hope Eric can take more than a week off of work.
- Could be completely different!
Every time I'm around a mom (old or new), I ask if they enjoyed being pregnant, how their labors were, how breastfeeding went and how they transitioned into new motherhood. For some, the transition was joyful, and then there are others who will admit that they felt like I did. I try to find consistencies that line up with my own experience.
It's my own little form of postpartum research. It fascinates me!
I'm curious of your thoughts!