“There was a moment when I questioned my very existence that I no longer want to live, not even for my baby.” –a depressed mom’s daunting confession.
Every First Encounter Is Different
It’s that first few seconds of giving birth, seeing the child and hearing her cry yet not wanting to look at her or hold her as the nurse puts the baby in the mom’s arms. It’s the overwhelming guilt-feeling of devastation whenever her daughter cries,and she handed her over to her partner just to quiet her down.
First-time moms with depressive symptoms are usually scared to hold their babies, having anintensesensitivity to whatever the babies do, and frustrated whenever they are unable to figure out what makes their babies upset.
Without treatment, postpartum depression can progress and severely affect the bond between mother and child. In the long run, the consequences of the condition can be passed down to the child without warning.
“Simply put, postpartum depression is the presence of a clinical depression during the postpartum period. In that way, postpartum depression is exactly like any other depression that is unrelated to childbirth. But there’s more to it than that,” according to Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW.
Postpartum depression brings about questions like:
- Am I holding my baby too tight or too loose?
- Is it okay to go out with her or drive around with her?
- Should I be left alone with my baby? Am I qualified enough?
- Was it the right choice?
Along with these uncertainties and fears was the unshakable emptiness, the hollowed space within that is usually paired with sadness and anger; that void that one cannot just “shrug off” easily. When one can no longer find the joy that was once felt upon realizing that life is to be born on this earth, that’s when melancholia seeps in.
“Depression impacts your ability to carry out everyday activities, and will even prevent a new mom from caring for their baby. Postpartum symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth,” says John Grohol PsyD.
Gasping For Air
“There were days when I have to drag myself just to get out of bed. I find myself constantly arguing with everyone,and I felt cranky all the time. The pressure of taking care of the baby all by myself dawned on me that I even fought with my partner for the failure of support and understanding.”
It was like a battle within that one just cannot win. When postpartum depression hits you, it will break you down until you feel like giving up. It will be the worst two weeks of a mother’s life after giving birth, marked by ambivalence, unexplainable sadness, inconsolable crying, uncontrollable mood swings, and isolation.
Acceptance Is Key
Hardships and complications cannot be disqualified from being a parent; they are part of the ups and downs of motherhood. Having depression in the mix adds more stress, pressure, and anxiety not only on the woman but also to the people around her. Upon recognizing the existence of depression, survival from the condition requires two basicthings:
- The willingness to be treated
- A strong support system
First, the mom must accept that there is a problem that needs fixing. Next, is the willingness of not only the mom but also the partner to be treated becausemothers are not the only ones affected by PPD. Seeking out treatment is the best way to overcome depression without discounting a sturdy support system.
Aside from a variety of treatments, there are always ways to cope at home. Some of these coping strategies are:
- Setting realistic plans
- Assuming responsibility reasonably
- Get priorities straightened out
- Confide in friends and family members who don’t judge or give unwarranted advice
- Participate in group therapy to get rid of isolation
- Exercise more often
- Follow healthy sleeping and eating recommendations
- Find time for yourself through relaxation
“A new study has found that although one-in-seven women will experience postpartum depression, it often goes unrecognized and untreated,” an explanation by Paul Joannides Psy.D, which means that treatment is necessary.
Getting over postpartum depression is a long and winding road; gradual deterioration of mood swings is expected. It takes time to recover from PPD, so do not beat yourself up if you were not able to “snap out of it” immediately. Sometimes, depression comes and goes. For as long as you follow-through with your healthcare’s advice, you will be alright, eventually.