Postpartum Depression - By Kayla Keen

I always thought postpartum depression looked more like being sad and crying a lot, having ill feelings toward your baby, or never wanting to leave your bed. For a lot of women that may be the case. What I didn’t realize is that there are so many ways postpartum depression can take form. For me, it’s yelling at our dogs when they’ve done nothing to deserve it, it’s being angry at my husband when he doesn’t read my mind and just KNOW when something needs to be done. It’s having days that I don’t want to do anything besides watch tv and snuggle my baby, it’s not wanting visitors and being irate when someone shows up unannounced. It’s canceling plans I would otherwise be excited about it, it’s seeing dangers for my baby everywhere I look. It’s anger, it’s irritation, and an overall numbness. The word I used to describe it to my doctor was simply feeling “blah” all the time. Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyday is like this. There are days when I think, “I don’t have postpartum depression. I’m FINE. I love life. I’m so happy.” It’s just that those days are off balance with my “bad” ones. 

The tipping point, for me, was a particularly bad day. I was in an incredibly sour mood. My husband and I fought because of it. Harsh words, hurt feelings, and lots of tears. He’s also the reason I started to wonder if there was more to my feelings than just being a new mom. Many times over those first few months, I had gotten comments like, “why are you so angry all the time?” Or, “what did I do wrong now?” The answer, really, was nothing. He hadn’t done anything truly wrong, just like it wasn’t my dog’s fault that he had an upset stomach and puked on the floor. I had come to the realization that these feelings were not normal. So, I made an appointment with my doctor. I had to take a short quiz that assessed my mood. A score of 13 or higher is considered having a postpartum mood disorder. I scored a 14. My doctor and I discussed treatment and I was placed on a low dose of sertraline. When my husband came home from work later that day, he asked me how my appointment went. I told him and his first words to me were, “how can I help you?” I told him I need kindness, I need grace, and I need extra help around the house to ease some of my stress. Since then, he has given me that and more. After just a few days on medication, I was completely different. So different, in fact, that my husband asked me why I told him I loved him!!! He told me I hardly ever told him that first anymore. Dagger. To. The. Heart.

That was four years ago after my first baby was born. I’ve had two more children since then and have remained on that little green pill for all this time. I decided to share my story for two reasons. One, because I’m so incredibly thankful. I’m thankful for a husband who loves me unconditionally. He sees me at my lowest lows and my highest highs. He works so hard for our family. Being a one income household has not been easy, but every day he shows up, he works hard, and he loves us well no matter what. He’s supportive, he’s helpful, and he’s the best dad to our babies. I’m forever thankful that he chose me to walk through life with. I’m thankful for our children. I’m thankful that I get to be their safe place and that they love me and want their mama, even on the days that I feel like I’m falling apart. The love and bond we share is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I’m thankful for my sister-in-law and my best friend. Those two women are my people. They get me like no one else, and I can’t thank them enough for being there for me at any given moment of the day. I’m thankful for my mom and mother-in-law, who would drop everything in an instant to listen to me vent, to offer to help with the kids and the housework, to give me a hug and reassurance. I’m thankful for a doctor who is kind and supportive, who hands me tissues to wipe my tears, and gives me a hug when I’m crying in her office. Six years ago when we were struggling to get pregnant and four years ago when motherhood and life had overwhelmed me. I’m thankful for so many people and so many things, now and always.

The second and most important reason I share my story is because I believe more women need to read things like this. New moms need to know that PPD/A comes in all forms. They need to know that it’s okay to ask for help. They need to know that a lot of things they hadn’t felt before they became a mother are normal, but some of them aren’t. When we become mothers, EVERYTHING changes. So many of those changes are magical, but so many of them are hard. Sometimes, those changes make an impact on our mental health. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s normal. It’s COMMON. We should never, ever be afraid to talk about it, especially when our mental health is at risk. Needing counseling or medication does not make you a bad mom. Acknowledging the hard doesn’t mean you don’t love your babies and are grateful for them. Moms, PLEASE advocate for yourselves. Reach out to those who love you. You are never alone.

Thank you for letting me share my story. My hope is that this post makes at least one person not feel so alone. 

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