Somehow, I miraculously dodged the postpartum depression bullet like a ninja wearing a giant diaper-pad after the birth of my son.
I’m not sure how I did it, to be honest.
So many things went wrong those first few months that I should have been thrown into a pit of despair, starting with the unplanned c-section I still get choked up talking about.
Maybe I just didn’t have room for PPD.
Maybe something else was in the way.
Unfortunately, we’re all out of PPD at the moment, but would you like to try the suppressed grief instead?
From the unplanned c-section recovery, to the Great Breastfeeding Battle of 2014, to the most terrifying milk protein allergy hospital ordeal of all time, I still wonder how I came out of that first year relatively unscathed.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, a staggering amount of new mothers aren’t quite so lucky.
As many as 20% of new moms experience varying degrees of PPD, and as many as 80% experience a mild form, known as the “baby blues”. Symptoms include overwhelming sadness, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, sleeplessness and trouble bonding with the baby. If these symptoms persist and are left untreated, this type of depression can last for months, or even years after the baby is born. For the handful of women I have personally known to fight this battle openly, I also know that there are just as many, if not more, who choose to fight behind closed doors.
I happen to know a little about the latter.
When my father died, I shoved it all away. I refused to talk to anyone, and the worst part was that the grief I declined to acknowledge was compounded when I experienced recurrent pregnancy loss a short time later.
So if you’re reading this and you’re going through some pretty heavy stuff – PPD, grief, anxiety or literally anything else – I want you to know that you can reach out to me, anytime. Leave a message below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you know me in real life, get in touch.
But I also want you to know a couple more things, and I’m not going to go easy on you.
1. You are not brave.
I say this with love, because I know what it’s like trying to do this alone. It won’t work, and it won’t get better, I promise. Fighting alone isn’t you being fearless, it’s you being stubborn. Asking for help takes real courage. Reaching out is brave.
2. Burying your feelings isn’t cute.
I wish I sought help a long time ago, when I needed it the most. Instead of dealing with my feelings in a healthy, adult way, I have always been more comfortable burying them, or burying them at the bottom of a box of wine. As you can imagine, it’s been highly ineffective. I know you may be shocked to hear this, but burying your feelings doesn’t actually allow you to feel anything at all. It masks the pain, and until you feel each loss—I mean really feel it—you will always be stuck in that pit I mentioned earlier. Don’t get stuck there. It’s uglier than you could ever imagine.
Don’t tell me to “get over it” unless you want a drop kick to the back of the head
As I sat in my midwife’s office today wiping away tears that seemingly came out of nowhere, I felt completely humiliated.
It’s been two years. Why can’t you get the hell over it? I scolded myself. Crying in front of complete strangers is easily in the top-three most humiliating things to do in public, next to sneeze-farting and getting your period in a white skirt.
We’re just constantly told to “get over it”, and I have no idea why. We are told this so much that today, I was actually angry at myself for not “getting over” a traumatic birth experience that happened to me two years ago. But feelings aren’t simply something you can turn off, like flipping a light switch, or that time I found out that Johnny Depp hit women.
(You’re dead to me, Johnny).
Bad breakup? Get over it.
Stressed out at work? Get over it.
Simply feeling sad about life? Get over it.
“Get over it” and “move on” are the boilerplate poster children of bad advice, and frankly, I’m sick of hearing them. Believe me, if someone could just “get over it”, they would. No one wants to lie in bed all day with the curtains drawn, wallowing in anger, sadness or grief.
So here’s an idea.
How about instead of asking people, women, moms and everyone in between to “get over it” and “move on”, we say, “Hey, let’s talk about it,” instead?
How about that?