I’ve been suffering in silence for a while now. The struggle has been hard. It’s taken it’s toll on not only me, but my relationships. It has affected me as a mother and as a wife. I struggled in silence for many reasons. The number one reason that I took so long to talk about this and to get help is that postpartum depression is such a stigma in our society. Let’s face it……mental illness IS a stigma in our society. Nobody wants to talk about it and nobody wants to deal with it. You may know someone that has a mental illness, or maybe you have a mental illness. The truth is this: someone you know or love is going through a dark time right now and you may not have a clue that it’s going on. It’s so easy to hide behind a mental illness, especially depression; to pretend like everything is fine. It’s incredibly easy to plaster a big smile on your face and laugh along with someone. You can’t see a mental illness clearly like you can see someone with a physical illness but let me tell you, it’s there. And it needs to be talked about. So let’s talk about mental illness. Right now.
I was incredibly scared to admit that I was under a dark depression. I knew that I was suffering from PPD, but I didn’t want to admit it. I figured, hey, this will go away, I will be fine. I’m a mom and I just have to deal with this. People get depressed, people get sad. People get over it. The truth was, I wasn’t feeling better. I wasn’t fine on my own. I pushed my feelings away and kept going through every-day….just going through the motions. I was literally like a robot; taking care of my boys, making sure they were healthy and happy; taking care of my husband, making dinners, cleaning, feeding the cat and dog, doing the grocery shopping. I would go through these motions like a robot. I was on auto-pilot. I just wanted to get from point A to point B and that was it. I found no joy in every-day life. I would look forward to one thing every day: laying in my bed at night and sleeping. Every morning was a struggle for me to get out of bed and do it all over again. I can’t tell you how many times that I wanted to be selfish and stay in my bed all day long and sleep. But you can’t do that when your a mom….little lives depend on you. So, I pushed through. It was Hell. Even, and yes even MY OWN CHILDREN weren’t making me happy. I felt like the world’s worst mother! I felt like something was incredibly wrong with me. Yes. I do love my children and I never felt inadequate to care for them, but simple things that I used to enjoy doing like reading books and playing outside….I didn’t want to do. This was the worst feeling I could imagine because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t feel “normal”. I so desperately wanted to feel the way I used too, yet, I didn’t know how. My days would blur together. I would be in this fog of never-ending loneliness and sadness. It’s ironic to say, but I felt SO lonely yet, I was (literally) never alone.
Pretty soon, I wasn’t just feeling depressed, I became angry. I would snap over the smallest things. Every little problem would really agitate me, send me over the edge. I had no idea why I was being so angry but little did I know, this was a side affect of the depression. My depression was manifesting into not just lonely and sad feelings, but real anger. Now…I really thought something was wrong with me. I felt crazy. I wondered what kind of switch went off in my brain to make me feel so different. I wondered even more if I could ever be “normal” again. (what IS normal. I forgot what that feels like) This made me even more afraid to reach out, to ask for help, because what if something really was wrong with me! I don’t know, but when your going through this, you literally think of all the worst scenarios possible….like, I didn’t want to look like a bad mom. I didn’t want people to know that I had postpartum depression. She must be weak. She can’t handle the simple tasks of taking care of her kids and being a stay at home mom(in all reality– if you are a stay at home mom you KNOW that it is anything but SIMPLE…) She probably doesn’t love her kids! THOSE were the thoughts that reeled around in my head. Being a mom is what I am, it’s what I live for and some days, I feel like it’s literally what defines me….so how I’m portrayed as a mom is really important to me. I know I’m not the world’s perfect mom…no such thing…but I never want someone to assume that I’m a bad mom or that I don’t love my boys. I felt like if I admitted to having depression and being unhappy, then I would be admitting to not loving my boys or my husband.
I won’t go any further and say that if you feel like what I just described, PLEASE KNOW that is very much not the case. You can have postpartum depression and be a good and loving mom. I was incredibly SCARED to come out with my postpartum depression, in fear of judgement and other things….so I did what I do best when I don’t know what to do: I wrote it all down. I wrote what my PPD has felt like; all of my raw feelings of guilt and sadness. I needed to make sense of it. I needed the people that I love to make sense of it. I wrote this article and did a crazy thing and I submitted it to ScaryMommy. I guess that Lisa, the associate editor, liked it enough for it to be published. I felt awed that my story would be out there for other women, like me, going through this awful experience of postpartum depression. I NEEDED to get my story out but mainly- I NEEDED other moms to know one simple thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
After this was published, I let my husband read it. Ricky has been very VERY supportive through this whole experience. …I can’t begin to tell you how hard of a road this has been for us. He tries as hard as possible to understand and be here for me during this dark time. Having him read the article, I think, let him put my depression in perspective and helped him understand what I was actually going through.
One amazing thing that came out of writing that article was being reassured this: I was not alone! Not only did I have tons of amazing comments from readers, but moms that I knew had reached out to tell me THANK YOU for writing that.
I talked about the stigma and I STILL talk about it. Since I wrote that article two months ago, I have reached out (with much help from Ricky) and have gotten help. While I am not 100% better (there are still rough days!!) I am starting to feel more like myself. It isn’t easy, though. Trying to find myself again comes at a price of really dealing with issues that could so easily be swept under the rug. I’m tired of sweeping..I need to deal. We ALL need to deal with mental illness. It shouldn’t be this dirty secret that nobody wants to talk about. It’s a REAL problem in our society and until it gets looked at like other diseases, then people will never take it seriously.
Nobody should suffer in silence. If you or someone you know may be depressed or have another type of mental illness, PLEASE reach out. There is ALWAYS someone out there that understands. I understand. You don’t have to feel like you’re the only one against this terrible disease. I promise you, you are not.
I included crisis phone numbers below.
Reach out to someone and say a kind word. It just may be the thing that saves their life.
SUICIDE—If you are currently having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Non-U.S. citizens can visit IASP or Suicide.org to find help in their country.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY– If you think you might be suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, or need some extra support, call womenshealth.gov at 1-800-994-9662. Check out the womenshealth.gov website for more information and resources.
MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS– If you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), or call the NAMI Help Line at 1-800-950-6264.