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Today Tuesday, 16 October, 2018
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February 13, 2015
In the Raw: Waking up to PPD
I was driving home one summer night, when it all hit me like a ton of bricks.

I started crying uncontrollably. All I could think about was my endless to-do list, and that clearing that list had become an impossible task.

“How do you do it all?” my friend asked me, and I smiled at her, inside ashamed of myself. I have three children ages 5, 3 and 10 months, and I can tell you, I don’t do it all. Half of the time I feel like I’m sleep walking, the other half I feel like someone else has taken over my body and is doing everything for me while I sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m home all day long, and keeping up with this is place is next to impossible. I’m so grateful and happy to be a mom, and on the outside, it might look like it’s nothing, but on the inside, sometimes I am just so miserable, that it makes me feel like a fraud. The stress of having to do everything, suddenly caught up with me, and I just couldn’t understand why.

I started to really melt down when my son was about 5 months old. I could feel it spilling all around me, feel my anxiety coming on, about everything in my life. My clothes didn’t fit me anymore; everyday another shirt was being folded and put away into the pile of clothes that I’ll probably never wear again. My hair started to gray, and I forgot what it was like to put on makeup. And in general, the idea of getting myself together for any occasion, gave me the runs. Eating, sleeping, even going to the washroom seemed like a stressful ordeal. It was so bad that even when my kids were not around me, I still couldn’t relax and just enjoy myself.

And then there was the house of course. The endless merry-go-round battle of having to keep it clean and tidy, only for all of it to fall apart again in minutes. The laundry, the toys, the dishes; one big endless mess. My house was never that clean house, but knowing that it never would be made me cry. And the meals. Getting dinner ready every night, sometimes with all three kids in my hair, was a race, a true combat to survival, where I would often forget to eat it myself, but rather just hold on and count the moments ’til bedtime.

I am going to say that I am fortunate too though. I have a great partner who does a lot as well. But when the kids are finally in bed, we creep downstairs only to spend the evening cleaning the kitchen, and falling asleep either on the couch, or in separate rooms, only because we are too tired and stressed to get to bed together.

This made me feel so sad and lonely and old to the point that I stopped writing. I actually stopped reaching for my computer all together. I often forgot to return phone calls and was feeling down when the invitations to go out no longer occurred. I just started to feel out of touch with the world around me. The guilt that swept over me was awful, but I let it go and focused on the house. Everything became about the house, the kids, and very little about me.

Maybe I was going through some sort of life crisis. I mean I was just turning 31 and finally coming to terms with the fact that I will never be 17 again, or have the body that I once had, but accepting that also meant that I was going to have to accept the fact that I’ll be 40 in just 10 years and continue doing the go-around. Everything got so overwhelming. Alyssa (my oldest) was starting school, I was suddenly a mother of three, and I hadn’t even done half of what I had wanted to do with my life. Rather than finding my passions, I spent my days sorting out closets and changing diapers. It felt like life was passing me by, and I was just getting older, fatter, and I was never going to get there, to that moment where I’d find myself again.

I drove home and found my husband sitting on the porch with our son, watching the sun set. “What if this is it? What if this is as good as it’s going to get?” I asked him, crying, feeling like the world had collapsed.

“Well, then we make the best of it.” He responded. He tried his best to support me. He was worried about me. I was not myself and no longer able to hide it. I was crying all the time, anxious, irritated, always feeling guilty, unable to get comfortable in my own skin or be able to look anyone in the eye. It felt like the world was coming to an end, and I was just hopeless. I didn’t know why I was feeling all of this, but I understood that I needed to tell someone. My husband encouraged me to speak to my doctor, and that’s when I learned I had developed Postpartum Depression (PPD).

This wasn’t the first time in my life that I had developed depression, but the first time that I had decided to take care of it. However, this was also a difficult task as I had a hard time talking about it. I was too afraid of the questions that would be asked like “what’s wrong?”, “why are you depressed?”, “doesn’t postpartum depression happen only to first time moms?”

So I started researching about PPD and I found out that lots of women have experienced some form of PPD (usually starting off as the “baby blues”) after having their baby. PPD is specifically brought on by the changes in hormone levels after pregnancy, and can occur in women with their first, second or even third baby. However, women who have experienced depression in the past, have little support to care for the baby, or have high levels of stress in their lives are more susceptible to PPD. I had both, experienced depression in the past and often do experience lots of stress in my life. Maybe I had developed some PPD with my first two babies, but I was much better at bouncing back, than this time around.

The most scariest part for me about PPD was not being able to take care of my children. The thought that I could potentially end up in a place where I wouldn’t be able to tend to their needs, made me all the more conscious that this was serious and that I needed to treat it ASAP. I started to slowly open up to close friends and family, only to discover that I was by far not alone, and had other women share their stories with me. I was grateful that the questions I dreaded were never asked of me and instead I was offered support, which made me all the more determined to take care of myself.

I can still feel the PPD inside of me, a demon ready to exploit me, but I refuse to allow it to take over my world. I started to look at my life suddenly with a different pair of eyes. I have accepted that indeed the list of things to do will never end, but I have also come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to finish it all. Things can wait, and it’s okay. My children come first, and I have to be at my best to take care of them, and that also meant, sometimes taking time for me and doing things that identifies me as a person, not just as a mom and a wife, which we often forget to do when we are so wrapped up in our family life. It is an ongoing battle until I feel like myself within my own skin, but I believe I will get there soon.

For anyone who suffers from PPD, know that you are not alone. The most important thing is to take care of yourself first, and get the help and the support needed to battle through this. Below are a few websites to check out to learn more information on PPD, symptoms to look out for, and the support to over come it.
Malvina Beker

http://startwithmom.com/blog/?p=924

 
 
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