(Almost-3-month-old Duke and me)
A couple months ago, I had a good friend point out that, in the beginning, I didn't really called my postpartum depression by its name on this blog. I talked all about it here and here and referred to it all as "baby blues." It was interesting because just a few days before she brought this to my attention, I had been thinking about it. So I wanted to clarify for my future self's sake and for your sake.
I don't think I avoided the term "postpartum depression" because I was in denial. I wasn't trying to prove anything either. I feel like I was/am pretty honest about the emotional rollercoaster that is motherhood. I always want to be honest. But I think I thought that there was no way I could have that - that thing that I'd always heard about moms having when they have babies. Sadness and depression after having a baby? No way! It always sounded so terrible and even thought I felt pretty terrible, maybe calling it by its name would make it worse. I think it was my attempt at trying to be positive about something.
Looking back, I know it was postpartum depression and not just the baby blues. (And if you'd like a quick introduction to both, click here.) I had it, I had it bad.
When you have PPD, you almost get sick to your stomach when someone says, "So, do you just stare at him all day???" Many, many, many people would ask me that and I felt absolutely nothing. No emotions ran through my body. I was stale. It wasn't because I didn't love Duke, but there was this looming cloud over my life and I couldn't get out from under it.
When you have PPD, people text you and ask to come over. You say no. You are so covered in a state of complete chaos that you cannot enjoy even the good things.
When you have PPD, sweet friends come over and bring you food. Your husband cleans the whole house. But you feel completely empty and hopeless. Even when everything is taken care of, you feel trapped and alone.
It's sad and it's hard.
The worst part is seeing other moms loving the baby phase. I thought (and still think for the next time around), I would love to love the baby phase. I want to. I genuinely want to! That's what's hard about depression - you can know the truth, know what you want to feel, know what you should feel ... but then not feel any of it.
PPD can make you feel lesser. Like you're lesser of a mom, you weren't cut out for this, etc. But none of it is true. Some people deal with it and some people don't. That's the simple fact. Some moms out there may be reading this, feeling confused and unable to relate to any of it. That's exactly how moms that deal with or have dealt with PPD feel about the other moms that glide through the baby phase with grace, ease, and smiles. You're confused about our depression. We're confused about your happiness. So, moms, we must be sympathetic towards one another.
The truth is that PPD is just what it is: depression. There are no quick fixes. Time is your best friend. After a month, I felt better. After 6 weeks, I remember feeling almost normal. After 4 months, my life felt even brighter. After that, the PPD residue was gone. Sure, there are plenty of hard days when I never want to change another diaper again or I want more freedom or I feel simple or (back in the reflux days) I just wanted to stay clean. But that's called Welcome to Motherhood. And that is normal.
None of this is meant to discourage any of you. I just think it's important to talk about it truthfully. I look at my sweet 15 month old boy and am filled with a love that is absolutely indescribable. The feelings of PPD do not last and they are not who you are. Moms with PPD - you are not alone and you will see the other side!