“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton
It took a moment of sharp, overwhelming, terrifying – and physical – pain to wake me up to the reality of my depression. In the dim light of the baby’s room, at three in the morning as I nursed my son, I suddenly felt a crippling chest pain. It petrified me, but it made me realize: something was really and truly wrong with me.
In the weeks leading up to that moment, I had gone through each day’s routine grudgingly, foggily: feed the baby, dress him, feed myself, help my husband get our older son ready for daycare … all this was so difficult for me to do, and took so much of my energy, that I rarely bothered to dress myself, take a shower, or brush my teeth. I wore the same clothes for days at a time. And when Will left for work, it got worse: I was alone with the baby, and so worried. What if something went wrong? What if I did something wrong?
Through all this, I would have told you that I was fine. Tired, but fine.
But after that chest pain, I needed an answer. I opened the computer and searched: “heart attack in women.” But I didn’t have the right symptoms (and I hadn’t died). Deep down, part of me knew the answer to what was going on. I typed the words: “postpartum depression.” And finally, it all started to make sense.
When you are suffering from an “invisible” disease like depression, the tendency is often to blame yourself for it. The people around you, too, might not understand what is happening, and might push you to be “normal” without realizing that you are bound by an invisible rope that makes it so hard to just do the bare minimum.
I’m here to tell you that it is not your fault, and that, if you think you might be going through PPD, it’s okay to speak up. In fact, speaking up about it might save your life.
I also want you to know that the symptoms of PPD are not all in your head – that is to say, depression is a chemical imbalance that expresses itself throughout your body. It’s not usually something you can just “snap out of” or overcome with positive thinking alone. It is very real, and very serious. And it is very treatable.
Postpartum Progress has put together a guide to PPD symptoms that has helped me quite a bit. I know it can help you too. And as always, if you have any questions, or if you just aren’t sure who to talk to – I hope you will talk to me.
With Love and Mommy Hugs,
Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net