Postpartum depression is something that mothers are really only just beginning to discuss out loud.
And I would argue that most mothers are still prone to only discussing postpartum depression after the fact. I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to best approach this initial discussion about PPD, having realized long ago that it is a topic important to many of my readers. Back in September 2016, I wrote a twin parenting post with a link to a PPD quiz that is to this day still the most clicked link on this blog. Which, for me, is astounding seeing as I added the link at the bottom of the post almost as an afterthought.
But it highlighted two major things for me. 1.) PPD is something a large majority of my readers are thinking about and 2.) PPD isn’t necessarily obvious to those who are experiencing it.
Postpartum depression has many faces.
I think what can be confusing for many mothers (I include myself here!) is that PPD doesn’t always look like “general” depression. As someone who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression before I had children, the fact that I didn’t recognize my own PPD until I was well within the throes of it was really surprising. And I have friends who have said the same thing.
So how did we miss something that we all considered ourselves knowledgeable about?
Turns out we were all well versed on the classic signs and symptoms of PPD but much less familiar with its other faces.
The mysterious beast that is postpartum depression.
Like many mothers, I had associated PPD as exclusively connected to one’s connection to motherhood and/or your child. Because, like most mothers, I believed PPD only looked like the following:
- not feeling bonded to your baby
- feeling like you “can’t do this”
- disturbing thoughts
- extreme anxiety over the wellness of your baby
And more thoughts of that nature.
But like many women, I experienced zero of the above symptoms and yet, I still found myself in my doctors office around 10 months postpartum telling her something was seriously wrong.
My own experience.
My personal experience with PPD had nothing to do with my children or motherhood as I understood it at the time. Rather, it everything to do with a slow loss of connection with myself. I didn’t see PPD as it ran its fingers through my hair and clinched its claws around my neck, but as I doted over my children I slowly stopped remembering to change my clothes, I didn’t care if I showered, or cooked myself food. Or on the flip-side, I would aggressively over-eat. The exhaustion became different. I didn’t have energy for anything outside of caring for my children. However, because I loved and felt bonded to my kids, and was throwing every ounce of myself into caring for them, I didn’t recognize PPD for what it was until I was little more than a shell of myself. I wasn’t happy or sad. I felt absolutely nothing. To say I felt robotic would be a massive understatement. PPD had caused me to stop caring about myself in every sense of the words.
There is so much more to this discussion and so much more to be said but I think this is where I will leave the topic for now. I hope I’ve broaden you’re view of what postpartum depression might look like. And at the very least, I hope you feel less alone if you’re experiencing the lesser talked about symptoms of PPD.
Don’t be afraid to talk to family and friends simply because you feel your experience isn’t “as extreme” as cases you may hear in the news. No matter the degree of intensity, your experience is valid, real and worth getting help for.
Not sure how to talk to your partner? This is a great article with direct talking points.
Feel more comfortable talking to your doctor first but not sure where to start? This article is for you.
PPD can affect the whole family; support for your partner can be found here.
Let’s talk about postpartum depression. If you’re comfortable, share your experience in the comments.