Eek! This is it! I’ve been thinking about it, procrastinating, and wondering if anyone would care to read what I write. Or if I could possibly have anything important enough to say.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on any one thing, really. BUT, I have had some experiences over the past few years that have taught me a ton! I’ve also had some experiences that I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through. And if I’m honest, that’s the main reason I wanted to start this blog.
I think it’s kismet, or destiny or whatever you want to call it, that my first blog post is in May, since this is the month for Mental Health Awareness. It’s not easy to shrug off the stigma that exists (although it’s bullsh*t) around mental health issues, especially when you are a mom. You worry that your admission that you struggle with PPD (Postpartum Depression) would lead some to question if you are fit to be a mom, and others to wonder why you can’t just suck it up or snap out of it.
But Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (formerly referred to as PPD) occurs in approximately twenty percent of women. It is not always recognised by the person experiencing it, or their healthcare provider. When it is diagnosed, it might be easier than before to access medication for treatment, but follow-up is often lacking. Adjustments can and should be made for the patient to be able to get back to their “old self”- and let’s be honest, here, once a parent, you are changed forever, but you should still be able to enjoy the things you used to, and have more good days than bad days (at least, right?). Since I already mentioned that I am not an expert, I will note that my previous description of what makes a person their “old self” is lacking, as there are many more parameters a health professional will consider, in trying to help you regain your emotional and physical health. Talk therapy, recognized as beneficial, is not always covered, or not in network, etc. Exercise, while known to help in these cases, might just feel out of reach when someone is in the throes of depression.
I’m not slamming health care providers in the least. Everyone knows that Doctors have little time to spend with each patient, mostly due to the pressures of trying to work within the insurance systems currently in place, and even when your Dr. is generous with their time, you might not feel comfortable bringing it up. For that matter, you might not even know anything is wrong.
I mean, obviously a new mom knows her world is rocked (as a good friend warned me) , but since everything is so out of your control and so vastly different from your life when it was ALL about you, how do you know that this new normal doesn’t just suck? That maybe, although you thought you wanted this your whole life, and couldn’t wait until you became a mom, motherhood just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
For me, this is what I thought, and what I felt. I loved my little baby, and thankfully, I could take care of him, and take care of myself, mostly. But it saddens me, still, to remember how little I enjoyed it. I remember wishing each stage to hurry up, because then maybe it would get easier. And it never occurred to me that things could be better. That I could feel better. In this instance, I did go on antidepressants when my son was around three months old, but I never went back for follow-up on this issue. I didn’t realize that tweaking things could have made life better all the way around. So, I suffered. My son suffered, my marriage suffered. Everything, really.
Recently, I have started being more vocal about my experiences as a new mom, and now, as a not so new mom. My oldest son is 7! I do it for a good reason. I mean, yes, I have always been a bit of an over-sharer, but I have tried to reign that in as I have gotten older and wiser. In this case, though, I won’t stop sharing. I’ll admit I was scared at first, especially to put it in writing. But I believe with all my heart that talking about these struggles will make it easier for another mom or dad in the future. And that is really important to me. A couple of months ago, I posted a lengthy comment on fb, sharing some of what I experienced. Afterward, I felt nervous, and vulnerable. But the next day, I bumped into a fellow school mom, and she said something that made me know it was worth it. I can’t even remember exactly what she said, but I remember she stepped aside from the group we were in, and I think she told me she thought I was brave. I don’t think she knew it, but her words brought tears to my eyes. That kind of sealed it for me, that I made a good choice, and that telling my story, or parts of it would be of help to others.
So that’s it. My first blog. On a most important topic. If you are still reading, thank you! Please know that if you are experiencing PMAD symptoms, you are not alone, and there is help available! I’m going to include some links that I hope are useful, and I’m going to make a request. I saw a campaign on Jenny’slight.org, an organization that was started after Jenny’s family lost her to suicide when her baby was just a newborn. They are asking everyone to ask the new mom in your life how she is really doing, after the birth of her little one (or adoption). If you can relate to anything I have written, or you have questions, please leave me a comment! #askher #mentalillnessfeelslike
Resources & Sources: