It’s been almost four years since that June morning and I am no longer depressed. I have a second son now and didn’t have postpartum depression with him. I have since bonded with and love both of my boys more than anything in my life. My bond is strong and secure with my sons.
I am happy.
My sons are happy.
So when did my PPD go away? I’m not exactly sure. I suppose it gradually got better with time and antidepressants. By my son’s first birthday I guess I felt “better” or at least better adjusted. By this, I mean I looked forward to spending time with him, I felt a connection with him, and that “mother/son” bond had been formed. I was able to sleep again, and I wasn’t constantly obsessed with thoughts and worries. I (somewhat) came to terms with the fact that I will never again feel the kind of “normal” I did pre-children and this was my new normal.
Oddly enough, I never questioned why I became depressed. Was it the traumatic birth? Maybe. Was it because I am prone to depression and anxiety? Possibly. I’ll never know, and that’s ok. What matters is that it happened, and I am finally able to look back, process it, and move forward.
Looking back at the situation, I learned many things about myself. One being, I don’t want to admit when I’m struggling. My approach is to pretend everything is ok until it is. I don’t want people to think I’m weak or I can’t handle the situation, so I keep quiet. I’d like to say I learned from my experience and I’m more open and honest about my feelings now, but I’m not sure that’s true. I still tend to keep things internalized for the most part.
One thing that has improved is my ability to recognize a difficult situation as being temporary. When I was in the midst of PPD I was certain I would feel that way forever. Now that I know that is not true, and in fact feel the opposite way – that having children is the most positive aspect of my life – I see things in a different light. I have a better perspective on time. I am now able to understand that everything – every feeling, every situation – is fleeting, for better or worse. I’ve learned the value of endurance and patience.
Another thing that has happened as a result of my experience is the way I view myself. When I was depressed I felt ashamed. I was disappointed and angry with myself for failing. However, in hindsight, I didn’t fail. I struggled. And by successfully emerging on the other side of it, I am stronger. I struggled, and prevailed.
Putting my story down in words has been an interesting experience for me. In ways cathartic, in other ways embarrassing. When I started writing, I promised myself I would be unabashedly honest, whatever the consequence. I will tell you though, I cringed as I typed the phrases “I regretted having a baby” and “I hate my life” but those feelings were genuine and undeniable at the time. I’m hoping no one feels differently about me. Or at least thinks less of me. Ultimately, there are a couple of reasons I shared my story with you. One is the hope that if you can relate to my experience, on any level, you are able to find some comfort in knowing not only that you aren’t alone, but you are stronger than you think. That if you are struggling, you are not failing. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I can now say with certainty – it gets better. Not easier. BETTER.
The other reason I wrote about this is to highlight the fact that depression and/or anxiety are very physical conditions that can, and should be treated. You can’t “just suck it up”, ignore it, or wait for it to pass. Believe me, I know.