Close to 1,000,000 suffer from postpartum each year and that’s only the reported cases. Close to 10% of women don’t even report feelings of postpartum because of fear or shame. In fact, more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. (postpartumprogress.org, http://postpartumprogress.org/2011/02/how-many-women-really-get-postpartum-depression/).
So with all these statistics out there, how come no one talks about it? I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after I had my first child and it was gut wrenching and heartbreaking. I think the biggest struggle was the fact that it went undiagnosed for so long. There is so much emphasis on the care of the pregnant mom and the unborn baby, but as soon as you have your child, the care becomes virtually nonexistent. You see your OBGYN two weeks after delivery as a check in, but let’s be honest, who is thinking clearly at this time? No one. I didn’t sleep for 72 hours after I had Zeke. I was hyped up on adrenaline and anxiety. I had no idea what I was doing. The reality is no one has any idea what they are doing, but very few will admit that. All the sudden you are responsible for this tiny human being, that you know nothing about, that cries A LOT that needs to be fed constantly, and demands all of your attention. Even if someone tries to explain it to you, you just don’t get it until you experience it yourself. The transition from working full time and being quite independent to quitting my job, feeling very isolated and now responsible for a whole other life who I didn’t really feel connected with was much harder than I thought.
Many doctors chalk up how you are feeling to baby blues, lack of sleep or hormones. The reality is if you don’t feel like yourself, and your baby is more than two weeks old, go and talk to a doctor. I had a history of depression, which my doctor was aware of, and I was still told that I didn’t have it. Well newsflash I had postpartum depression and unfortunately I went undiagnosed for close to nine months. I went to several medical professionals before someone really listened to me and heard me out. The thing I learned from this whole experience is the only who will fight for you is you.
You aren’t the first mom, who hasn’t immediately taken to being a mom, postpartum or not, you aren’t the first mom to struggle, you aren’t the first mom to feel alone, you’re not the first mom to say this is a lot harder than I thought it’d be and nor will you be the last.
I had the opportunity to speak about my struggles with postpartum depression through an amazing organization called http://www.fearlessmom.com I shared my story, in a roundtable discussion with a therapist who specializes in anxiety and depression as well as the head of Fearless Mom and another mom.
I hope this talk sheds some light on what you are going through or what you have overcome, and please if you know someone who you think needs help, reach out and encourage them. We are all in this together.