Postpartum Depression: Beginning Your Journey Toward Healing
As a new mother, I anticipated an unrealistic level of blissfulness that would follow the birth of my baby into the world. So imagine the unexpectedness of postpartum depression during a time in my life that I thought would only bring sheer joy.
After all, I had dreamed about becoming a mother for as long as I could remember.
Now that our daughter was finally here, I couldn’t understand why I felt so disconnected from her; like an out of body experience, I simply seemed to be going through the motions of my new responsibilities as a mama.
Challenging the Stigma of Postpartum Depression
Perhaps the problem is rooted in the shame and stigma that surrounds postpartum depression (PPD) and all that this fateful diagnosis can involve.
Although it is estimated that 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression after childbirth, there continues to be little open discussion about this mental illness.
With the lack of support and resources that mothers have in the postpartum period, it is only too clear why most women struggle in silence during one of the most vulnerable and delicate phases of life.
The combination of physical and emotional stressors following childbirth, in addition to lack of support, can be a formula for calamity.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
For me, PPD surfaced in the most unexpected ways, which gave me little understanding as to what I was dealing with. I found myself restless, silently stirring about our cramped two-bedroom apartment while the baby napped, fearful of doing anything that would set her off crying again.
At night, I anxiously paced the floor of our bedroom, baby in arms, feeling helpless and exasperated by cries that I couldn’t seem to understand. I began to dread nighttime and the disrupted sleep I would receive.
Even when I had the opportunity to sleep, my mind continued to ruminate over the day’s events, as I lay there wondering what I was doing wrong and why I was such an inadequate mother.
The face of PPD looks different from woman to woman but the influencing factors are often similar. We are all mothers who love our children beyond what we could ever express; yet, we are faced with overwhelming change in a rapid time span.
Connecting to Help and Support
Thankfully, help and resources do exist for mothers facing postpartum depression, and it is not something that we need to go through alone. The nature of this mental illness can cause us to feel as though we have failed as mothers, but this feeling of shame will only isolate us farther from the help and support we need for recovery.
You are not to blame, nor have you done anything wrong.
Trust your God-given intuition as a mother, enough to recognize when something does not feel right, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you think you may need it.
Our children do not need perfect, super-moms; they need us as we are, in all our humanness and brokenness, from which healing and restoration can begin.
If you suspect that you might have Postpartum Depression, consider utilizing the resources available through the Postpartum Support International and speak with someone you trust.
Even through the darkest of circumstances, there is hope for healing and recovery.