Do You Have Postpartum Depression?
Many women struggle with postpartum depression after labor. I had a pretty severe case of postpartum depression the first month or two after Emm was born, a lot because of the circumstances of her birth and a lot because I deal with anxiety anyways.
But how do you know if you have postpartum depression?
It starts small. One day you might just be worried that you’ll trip when you’re carrying your baby and the next you may wonder if you’d ever do it on purpose. Other times, women just feel downright awful and can’t explain why. Maybe you’re getting into a lot more fights with your partner, maybe you’re sleeping even worse, it could be anything. But if you feel worried that you may hurt yourself or your baby, you should see a specialist.
I had postpartum depression
For me, postpartum depression came in the form of fear. I rarely worried that I’d hurt my baby, but I was deathly afraid that someone else would hurt her. And to an extent, that is a normal new mother response. But I was taking it to the extreme, to where I had to do some deep breathing and meditation whenever I handed Emm to someone else. I was soo stressed out about it that I could barely handle that.
I was getting so stressed out, all the time, worrying about the things that could happen to her.
Did I go to a counselor right away?
Of course not. Nobody wants to see a counselor, it insinuates that there’s something wrong with them. You have to take a big slice of humble pie to go.
And besides, I justified, ‘I’m sure my response was normal’. My baby had suffocated inside me and there was nothing I could do to help her. That’s a big recipe for an overprotective mom. But eventually I got up my gumption, shelled out $150, and went to the counselor. I was sure it was going to be a waste of money, but I was desperate to try anything.
It wasn’t at all like I thought it would be.
She didn’t sit there, digging up the past trying to decide why I had postpartum depression. In the movies the counselors always say something like, “Now what does this have to do with your mother’s penchant for silver earrings?” (Or something else that is comically and totally unrelated)
She just asked me to talk. Honestly I talked about 90% of the time I was there. She was an amazing listener, and asked constructive questions that would prompt me to talk for another five minutes straight. I told her about all the details of what happened to Emm and I, how it killed me to be helpless for my baby, how I loved the NICU nurses, everything. We talked about my habits as a mother now and the things I liked and disliked about it.
At the end of the hour I was sad I had to go. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders that I had been carrying for months. And do you know what it was?
Someone to listen and understand without judgement.
Yes, I had lots of relatives who helped me. It was great! But relatives and friends are a little too close to really help you (unless they’re a counselor, in which case, you’re lucky!). Most people don’t want to sit down with you and let you unload the details of your circumstances. Why?
- They probably already know you’re depressed
- It’s difficult for them to hear about your suffering
- They probably don’t really understand how you could be thinking that way
- They don’t want your depression to “rub off” on them
And it’s only natural for people to think like that. But a counselor doesn’t, thank goodness!
**And I should note– my husband was an amazing listener too. But he couldn’t help me too much, because he was hurting too, and he’s a guy. You know?**
The counselor listened constructively. The weight off of my shoulders was that I had told someone all my deepest darkest fears, and she had responded with comfort and confirmation. She let me know that she heard me, and that it was natural that I had thought that. One thing she said that helped me a ton was,
“Most women don’t understand that birth really is traumatic. Even without tragic circumstances, it really is. Most ladies think that because most women do it, it must be commonly simple. But it is not! It is one of the scariest and most difficult things anyone can do. Even just for how your hormones and stress changes after the baby is born, let alone how labor is!”
After that she explained to me that it was totally understandable how I felt. My feelings were natural and normal.
And for some reason, hearing that made a world of difference for me. She had sat and listened to me tell her things that I thought were terrible thoughts for a mother to have, and she said it was natural. Normal. I was reacting to my experience in the only way I knew how, and that was normal.
But she wanted to help me be extraordinary. Feel better than most women do after birth. Because everyone deserves to feel better than postpartum depression!
And she proceeded to teach me how I could help my postpartum depression. Things I could actively do every day. And honestly, a lot were things you can find on the internet. I was familiar with her ideas. But she tailored them to me. “If you do this one, you will see this result.” And that helped motivate me.
However, the biggest thing I took away from my counselling, was the opportunity to unload my feelings on someone and them not think badly of me afterward. That made me feel so, so much better. She gave me the opportunity to cry and tell my scariest thoughts and then turned around and praised and lifted me. It was awesome!
So why should you see a counsellor for postpartum depression?
Because they really know how to help you, even if all you need is someone to listen.
Thanks for reading!
Have you had postpartum depression? Did you see a counselor? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!