Postpartum anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks, folks. It came on strong, and it still tries to take control almost 15 months later. The picture in this post was taken in the middle of my postpartum haze. You can see the exhaustion in my eyes, but I’m still trying to hide behind my smile.
Postpartum Depression. What a loaded term! I’m guessing this will be my first of many posts on the subject.
I had no idea what PPD even was or how it affected moms. I was ignorant. Let’s end that.
Let’s talk about what postpartum depression actually means. There are 3 different categories of severity when it comes to mental health post baby. The baby blues, postpartum depression & anxiety, and postpartum psychosis.
I am going to list the symptoms for each according to the Mayo Clinic, which seems like a pretty legit source.
• Baby Blues: mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, crying, reduced concentration, appetite problems, and trouble sleeping.
• Postpartum Depression/Anxiety: depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from friends and family, loss of appetite or eating much more than normal, inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much, overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy, reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, intense irritability and anger, fear that you’re not a good mother, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy, diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions, restlessness, severe anxiety and panic attacks, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
• Postpartum Psychosis: confusion and disorientation, obsessive thoughts about your baby, hallucinations and delusions, sleep disturbances, excessive energy and agitation, paranoia, attempts to harm yourself or your baby.
My experience was definitely on the severe side of things. I was headed down the path of psychosis. I experienced hallucinations, sleep disturbances, obsessive thoughts, and extreme memory loss. Had I not received treatment early on, I don’t know how my journey would have changed. I can tell you one thing. I don’t think it would have been good.
For the first two weeks of my daughter’s life, I was in such a state of panic that I did not sleep. I would drift off for about 30 seconds before I would wake up in terror. For two whole weeks, that’s as close as I came to rest. Guess what? My body started to shut down. Thankfully, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum anxiety early and started taking medicine right away. I’m pretty sure it saved my life!
Mamas, there is zero shame in seeking help if you experience any kind of postpartum issues. Talk to your doctor. Take medicine if you need it. See a therapist or counselor. We have to treat our mental health as important as our physical health. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to tough it out. It’s not worth it.
Take care of yourself! End the stigma!
Postpartum Support International Helpline: 1-800-944-4773