What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a form of clinical depression that can affect women, and less frequently men, after childbirth. Studies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%. Postpartum depression occurs in women after they have carried a child, usually in the first few months.
A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself.
Postpartum Depression for me was a little different with each of my children. With my son, my first child I just felt sad and alone. I had a great support system but I felt very lonely all of the time. With my second child my daughter PPD hit me like a ton of bricks. It began in my pregnancy, I wasn’t sleeping well but mostly I was having severe panic attacks and unusual thoughts. Thoughts that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my baby and worries that I didn’t have enough love in my heart for two children.
When Hailey was born the symptoms of PPD increased heavily. I felt completely overwhelmed, I was exhausted and I had no drive to connect with my baby. I knew in my heart I loved her but I kept having intrusive thoughts like “She’s taking you away from your first born” or “You have ruined your life by having another child”. I resented her, I thought about hurting her, I even felt relieved sometimes when I had these thoughts.
Then my guilt set in, what kind of horrible mother was I for feeling this way. I didn’t deserve this beautiful helpless baby that I cradled in my arms. At my lowest point my daughter was extremely colicky, crying for 2-4 hours at a time. I couldn’t take it, my patience was gone and I was having panic attacks multiple times a day. The torment went on for some 8 months. I never told a single person, a big mistake on my part. I didn’t know much about PPD at the time and I thought my kids would be taken away from me if anyone knew the awful things I felt and thought. I confided in God alone, who was my strength my rock.
I SURVIVED the horrible experience, I did connect with my beautiful sweet and energetic daughter. My heart wasn’t big enough for two kids so it swelled up and my love expounded boundaries I didn’t know where possible!
PPD is scary, for some it is terrifying but “This to Shall Pass”. You can heal, you aren’t alone and you will survive this. Myself along with thousands of other women are proof that it is possible.
I wouldn’t trade my experience with PPD in, not in a million years, it showed me how strong I am. I am a stronger more powerful woman because of what I lived through.
What should you do if you think you may have symptoms of PPD?
- Talk to your doctor
- Seek out a therapist
- Find a local organization that does group support or phone counseling
- Knowledge is power, use the web or books to read up about PPD or connect with others who are experiencing PPD
- If you live in Missouri or the St. Louis Metropolitan area visit http://www.mothertomothersupport.org/
- If you live in another area visit http://www.postpartum.net/
- Postpartum support has free “Open Forum” sessions on Mondays for dads and Wednesdays for all callers. These sessions are informational only and open to anyone with questions or concerns about themselves, a loved one, friend or family member. These sessions are confidential, there is no need to say who you are. Limited to the first 15 callers. Visit http://www.postpartum.net/ for call schedule and access codes, or call 1-800-944-4773 for further information.
- What we think = What we believe. Positive thinking is a must! If you find yourself getting unwanted negative thoughts try to combat them with positive ones. For example if you think “I am a horrible mother” respond to your self with “I am doing the best I can” or “I can not expect from myself the same as before my baby was born.” or “Even though I might feel bad, getting through the day is proof of my strength. I can be proud of how much I accomplished when I get through the day feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed.” “Some of what I am feeling is just like what other mothers feel. We all feel tired, stressed or irritable at times. I am not alone.” In the beginning you may not believe great things about yourself but if you start battling the negative with the positive it can make a world of difference and eventually you will believe and know what a wonderful mother and person you are!
- Rest! You are not superwoman and the house work can wait, learn to take care of yourself first the chores can come later, it is crucial that you don’t over exhaust yourself.
- Meditation tapes are a great way to recharge your mind. If you can, take 15-30 minuets a day and listen to a guided meditation tape to help relax and recharge your battery.
- If you are having obsessive compulsive thoughts try singing. Repeat a song over and over in your mind until you don’t hear the bad thoughts any more. (When I was going through PPD I sang “Amazing Grace” over and over and over. It really helped me focus my mind on something other than the negative thoughts I was having.)
- Try reading things that are positive and as much as possible stay away from any negative influences.
- For the next month say over and over to yourself, “I approve of myself.” Do this three or four hundred times a day, at least. No, its not too many times. When you are worrying, you go over your problem at least that many times. Let “I approve of myself” become a walking mantra, something you just say over and over and over to yourself, almost non-stop. - Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”
Some Positive Readings
“In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole and complete, and yet life is ever changing. There is no beginning and no end, only a constant cycling and recycling of substances and experiences. Life is never stuck, or static, or stale, for each moment is ever new and fresh. I am one with the very power to create my own circumstances. I rejoice in the knowledge that I have the power of my own mind to use in any way I choose. Every moment of life is a new beginning for me right here and right now. All is well in my world.”
- Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”
In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole and complete. I see any resistance patterns within me only as something else to release. They have no power over me. I am the power in my world. I flow with the changes taking place in my life as best I can. I approve of myself and the way I am changing. I am doing the best I can. I rejoice that I am in the rhythm and flow of my ever changing life. Today is a wonderful day. I choose to make it so. All is well in my world.
- Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”
(This next one is my all time favorite a very powerful statement written by a 15 year old girl when asked the question, “How can I prepare myself for a fulfilling life?”)
My Declaration of Self-Esteem
I am me.
In all the world there is no one else exactly like me. There are people who have some parts like me but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore, everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone choose it.
I own everything about me - my body, including everything it does; my eyes, including the images of all they behold; my feelings; whatever they might be - anger, joy, love, disappointment, excitement; my mouth and all the words that come out of it - polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice loud or soft; and all my actions, whether they be to others or myself.
I own my own fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By doing so, I can love me and be friendly with me and all my parts. I can then make it possible for me to work in my best interest.
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and the ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at that moment in time.
When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did, and how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that which is unfitting and I can keep that which proved fitting, and invent some thing new for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
I am me and I am okay.
- Virginia Satir