*Disclaimer:* This is my story dealing with Postpartum Depression. What worked for me, may not work for you. Postpartum depression is a very serious illness and should not be taken lightly. Please consult your doctor, before attempting to treat it on your own.
Becoming a mother is my biggest and best accomplishment of my life and I have loved every minute of discovering the person my daughter is becoming. I wouldn’t trade being a mom for the world, however, there is a side to motherhood I was never expecting to experience. Mommas, I’m about to get real with you. When postpartum depression hits, it hits hard.
I was 23 years old when I had my sweet baby girl, Hayvn. My husband and I had been married for just under two years and were still getting the hang of the whole marriage thing. I lived 538 miles away from my family and hardly ever saw them. My aunt that I was very close to had passed away suddenly, just a couple months before, and on top of that, my husband had decided to make a career change.
About a month postpartum, my husband had received a job offer in Nevada, about 7 hours away from where we were currently living. We felt good about the offer and the pay was good, so we decided to take it. Looking back now, I was so emotionally unprepared for what this endeavor would entail.
A requirement for this new job, obviously, was to relocate. Seeing as the new position was in a different state from our current residence at the time, we went into it know that we must move, however we were shocked at how soon it would need to happen. His new job gave us two weeks to find a place to live, as well as have my husband complete his training (which involved 10 hour days, every week day) and then a 10-day business trip on the East Coast, one week after that.
Since all of these requirements came at once, the packing fell solely on my shoulders as well as learning to care for a colicky newborn, and maxing out at 4 hours of sleep each night. To say I was overwhelmed would have been an understatement. Not to mention, uprooting our family from a place we had called home for the past four years.
Through this entire process, I had lost myself. I had become a shell of the happy, bubbly girl I used to be. I was sad, lonely, and had begun to shut the world out, including my husband. I lacked energy, and found little pleasure in doing anything. The only thing that brought me any sort of happiness was when my little girl would look into my eyes and smile. Before I knew it, months had passed and I had hit rock bottom.
What Are the Signs?
Coming from experience, you may not even know you have postpartum depression. Having a baby, especially your first, throws life into overdrive. Everything is new, you have stepped through this portal into a new realm. Motherhood is no easy task and starting out can seem extremely overwhelming.
Overnight, you’ve gone from a single being, responsible for only yourself, to becoming a source of life to another human being. You are now a caregiver, responsible for supporting the life of a tiny, helpless, human. On top of that, throw in insane amounts of hormones, where the levels fluctuate immensely over a short period. No pressure, right?
While you’re in the eye of this hurricane, life becomes a blur. You fall into this hollow, mundane routine of simply surviving the next 24 hours, rinse, and repeat. You forget who you are and who you used to be, through sleepless nights, confusion, learning the needs of your newborn, and heaven forbid your baby has colic.
So what are the signs? (Consult your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms)
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Crying more often than usual
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
- Oversleeping or being unable to sleep when your baby is asleep
- Having trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Frequent feelings of anger or rage
- Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
- Suffering from physical aches and pains
- Eating too little or too much
- Avoiding friends and family
- Having trouble bonding with your baby
- Persistently doubting your ability to care for your baby
- Thinking about harming yourself or your baby
Sound familiar? Recognizing the signs, can help you identify how you are feeling and knowing you are normal, and that life won’t be this way forever. Mommas, I am here to tell you, life gets better. It gets so much better.
I remember being that shell of a person and thinking it would never end. I remember feeling like this was my “new normal,” but guess what? I was wrong. Life with my baby has opened my eyes to how beautiful everything is, and has given me that purpose I was desperately searching for.
I beat my postpartum by relearning who I was and by embarking on a journey full of growth and introspection. Through my journey, I have discovered my potential and who was hiding behind the veil of depression. With perseverance, and the love and support of my family and husband I was able to find the joy in life again.
Take Some ‘Me’ Time
Moving away from my friends and even further away from my family, after only one month postpartum, definitely made me feel isolated. Everything was new, and I don’t do well with change. I was learning how to be a mother, trying to communicate with my newborn, adjusting to my new body, and settling into a new community almost 1000 miles away from my family.
At a time like this, the last thing I thought I needed was alone time. But actually, the opposite was true. Before we made the move to Nevada, my OB/GYN had told me that I must incorporate an hour a day for myself, and an hour a week for me and my husband alone, without Hayvn.
I didn’t put much stock into this advice until about 2 weeks postpartum, when my husband forced me to take some much-needed R&R. He would insist on taking the baby for an hour and letting me do whatever I wanted in the meantime, which, let’s be honest, most of the time I would just take a nap. But, this hour alone really helped me reset and to feel refreshed.
Still, a few months later, after the big move he has still made sure to give me that hour. Every day he comes home after work and will take Hayvn off my hands and let me do whatever I want. This has had a huge impact on my attitude. That short time away to clear my head has helped me to rejuvenate my tired mom brain, and to see the optimistic side of things instead of constantly feeling in need of a break.
Take some time for yourself, and don’t feel guilty for a minute. If you don’t have a partner, ask a family member or a trusted friend, and take an hour to decompress. You will come back to your baby with a refreshed mind and a better outlook, ready to face any challenge motherhood throws at you.
Develop A Passion
When I wasn’t napping, I would take these much-needed ‘me’ times to find hobbies or interests that sparked some sort of life inside of me. I have always been drawn to artistic releases, basically anything that allows me to be creative. That’s when I found photography.
Ever since my husband and I got married, I had always wanted to get into photography, but being newlyweds, a new camera, and all the equipment that comes with it, just wasn’t in the budget at the time. When we had our daughter, I started using my smartphone to take countless pictures of her, and my husband saw my interest in photography peaking.
This last Christmas he surprised my by getting me my first ever DSLR camera and since then I have discovered a passion inside of me I never knew was there. Upon taking my camera out of the box, I started watching YouTube videos on photography. I found myself spending the hours Hayvn was sleeping, on photography.
My mind had become immersed in being the best I could be, which resulted in self-confidence and fulfillment. Since discovering I had postpartum depression, I had realized I had been seeking validation that no one could give me but myself. Diving into a new hobby had set me free. I no longer needed validation because I was an eyewitness to my own progress. Seeing each photo get better and better was proof to me that, my hard work was paying off.
Developing a passion with photography helped me redeem that self-worth I thought I had lost. It unveiled the haze of my depression and gave me energy to do something again. It may not be photography for you, but finding something you can be passionate about can ignite that spark you need to get back to feeling like yourself again.
I remember when I first had Hayvn and my husband had gone back to work. He would call me at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I would just barely be getting ready for the day. I remember feeling so overwhelmed, like I was never going to get the hang of this mom thing, and feared I would never get anything done.
I remember looking around my house and seeing what looked like the path of a giant windstorm with debris strewn throughout. I am a very organized person and a creature of habit. My messy house was starting to make me uncomfortable in my own home, yet I felt there just wasn’t enough time in a day to do anything about it.
So I decided to dig deep into myself, and figure out what helps me stay motivated, and for me that is making lists and setting goals. At first, my goals were almost comical in the sense of how small they would seem to any other person. Items as simple as making the bed. But, that’s okay. A goal is a goal no matter how small. In fact, the smaller the better-at first.
There was a sense of fulfillment I found when crossing a task off my list. This, to me, meant that I had accomplished a goal I had set. Just the simple fact of knowing that I was capable of getting something done, even if it was a minute task, helped drive to me to eventually accomplish bigger goals.
Achieving a goal you have set, lights a fire and motivates you to do more. Starting small makes the goal achievable, and acts as a stepping stone to embarking on bigger endeavors. Make a list of three things you want to accomplish each day, once you have managed to accomplish all three of those tasks for a week, add a new task to your list. Do this for a month and the results will amaze you.
You Can Beat Postpartum Depression
No matter what the circumstances are, entering the world of motherhood can seem overwhelming and it happens all at once. You’re flung into this tornado of information. Trying to learn the needs of your newborn feels like trying to learn a new language without a translator. The amount of sleep you’re getting- or not getting- begins to feel like a torture tactic used in war.
But, through the haze of all this confusion, is light. In your arms lies the most precious of all beings, your new baby. You have created this miracle, and you are their source of life. What a wonderful feeling to be so needed by someone who upon meeting, you instantly adore more than anything. Embrace the immense love you feel towards your new baby and carry that through this storm.
Find the time to take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to confide in those that are close to you. Find something to be passionate about. Develop a hobby or learn something new, try something that might even scare you. These are the things that make us feel alive when we feel the life is being drained from us.
Set goals, big or small, and watch in amazement at how you accomplish them. There is so much to be said for the feeling that comes from crossing a task off a list, no matter how small the task.
Becoming a mother is an amazing gift that we, as women, are blessed with.
You are stronger than you think, and you can beat your postpartum depression. Take it from me, life gets better, and you learn as you go. Embrace the chaos and find humor and joy in the little things.
I love hearing from my mommas, and I want every momma out there to know they are not alone in this journey. Please know this is a safe space and feel free to share your thoughts, stories, or advice.