Have you ever never met someone and yet you feel like you know them, or had them change your life? That is what Heir to Blair is to me. Beth Anne is an incredibly witty girl that has a real talent for writing and inviting you into her life and family. She has southern sass, an amazing husband, and the cutest little boy! But despite her touching and often hysterical moments she also reminds us that she is a real person with real problems. And her main problem is one that many women suffer from, yet not many talk about it. And often, since it's not spoken of, many don't know how to recognize it or how to deal with and support someone who has it. This great IT is postpartum depression. I want to thank Beth Anne for taking the time to write about this very personal subject and I pray that we can all be as brave as she is being and has been.
So without futher ado Beth Anne from Heir to Blair
About 15% of women experience a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) after giving birth. Shocking? Yeah, it shocks me, too. It shocks me how low that number is, considering the radical changes a woman goes through on physical, emotional, & chemical levels. Her body is split in half, her hormones are experiencing more chaos than a Lady Gaga concert, & she's catching (maybe) 3 hours of shut-eye in a 24 hour time span. But it's not about sleep. Or healing lady-bits. It's a mind-altering medical condition that has horrifically low awareness. Non-believers tell us to get more sleep. To "buck up" & take responsibility for the life we brought into this world. They tell us to wait for our hormones to "level out."
We suffer from overwhelming despair, insignificance, & lack of worth with postpartum depression. We fear leaving the house, leaving the baby, or even touching the baby with postpartum anxiety. Obsessive thoughts of harming the child, ourselves, the dog - these create a reign of terror that is postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. & that small portion that experience the terror that is postpartum psychosis - visual & auditory hallucinations, delusions, & a complete detachment from reality.
& we, sufferers of postpartum mood disorders, have something to say back to the world.
A good nap will not snap us out of this. Sleep is great. By all means, offer a new mother (especially one with a PMDD) the chance to rest. But it's not a cure.
We can't pray our way out of the depression. That is simply insulting. Don't say it.
It's not about our "new body" & inability to fit into pre-pregnancy jeans. In fact, dieting & hypoglycemia can exacerbate symptoms.
Not everyone needs anti-depressants & medication. & more importantly, be wary of any doctor/practitioner that automatically prescribes meds with no other therapies or follow-ups.
But if medication is needed, there is no shame. I take a little blue pill every day - it is simply better living through modern chemistry.
We can deal with motherhood. The most hurtful thing ever insinuated was that I could not handle being a mother. That I was too inept & selfish to "deal." This was the root of my worry & depression, so hearing it out loud from someone else nearly shattered my heart.
We are good mothers & we love our children. I loved my child so much that I was willing to take pills everyday, agonize in therapy, & even admit myself to a hospital. Because I wanted nothing more than to give my son a healthy momma.
Having a postpartum mood disorder does not mean we will hurt our babies. The media LOVES to sensationalize postpartum depression & psychosis. But we're not all Andrea Yates. Most infanticides are the result of postpartum psychosis, which is a rare PPMD, & occur in roughly 5% of postpartum psychosis cases. We are not killers. & more importantly, we could eliminate that 5% & stigma with a little more awareness, education, & understanding.
In fact, there are so many "levels" of PPMD severeness. The women who suffer deeply are crying out for understanding. But the women who do not have it as "severe?" They do not suffer any less. They are hurting, scared, & angry just as much as I was sitting in my hospital room. They are not "lucky" because they don't require high doses of medication. They need love & support & the confidence to share their stories, too.
Above all, the greatest thing you can know is that we will get better. This is not forever. With the proper care, time, & understanding, we will be whole again. It has been a year long road for me, but I am finally back on the road to recovery. (I don't know who is more thankful - me or my husband.) I am so thankful to my incredibly supportive family & my amazingly wise psychiatrist. & my husband...I have no words. I'm not whole again & there is still a long road in front of me. But I am getting there. With a little more heart & strength than I had before.
Thanks Beth Anne for your story. Hugs to you and your beautiful family!