“You are not depressed, you are just tired from the new baby!” You have a beautiful new bundle of joy what do you have to be sad about?” “Snap out of it, you have a child to take care!” I have heard each of these things and more from family and friends, both with my first child and my now with my second.
No one like to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety. Many women are embarrassed or feel like they will be looked at with disdain if they admit they need help. They are afraid that people will think that they can’t take care of their child. But the thing is PPDA is a real thing. It can be completely incapacitating. Trust me, I know because I suffer from it. With my first child I cried constantly for no reason and every reason. I ran the gamut of emotions all day. Only at that time I had no idea I had PPDA. I have anxiety normally when I am not postpartum so I just assumed it was a little exaggerated since I was a first time mom and didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I have an incredible support system and my cousin told me I needed help. I sought out a councilor and it helped tremendously. I started blogging and after a difficult struggle I got through it.
Cut to four years later and it is happening all over again. I had my son 12 weeks ago and the PPDA hit me like a ton of bricks. It is so much worse than before. I cry all the time, I have no interest in doing anything that I need to do. Even though I love my children more than anything I don’t really want to do things with them. I am getting very short and cranky with my older daughter and just going through the motions with my son and husband. The positive is that this time I was able to recognize it and I decided to do something about it on my own before I was too far into the depression to pull myself out. I decided to join a clinical study for a new PPD medication. At the current moment there are no medications that are specifically geared toward PPDA. When moms seek out help for the PPDA they are put on things like Zoloft.
The research for the clinical study shows that PPDA is caused by the rapid decline of the pregnancy hormones causing the symptoms PPDA. The medication works to put the hormones back into the system and slowly reduce the hormone and a more manageable rate. I have had two psych evaluations and a physical before being allowed to participate. After all that I was approved to participate. When I received the news I thought, “Yay I am able to participate!” but at the same time I thought, “Great, I have PPDA!” so it was a little bittersweet.
Not only am I hoping that the new experimental medications with help me with my depression but that it will also help other moms and the future overcome their depression. PPDA is a serious problem and society need to acknowledge and talk about it. Too many moms have suffered and even taken their on lives due to the severity of their depression.
I am putting out a call to action. If someone know seems to suffering from any form of PPDA please reach out to them. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them if you can help in any way. Even if you just listen or hold their new baby for a few minutes. You will be surprised how much the littlest things can help. I will keep you posted over the next 6 weeks while I am participating in this study. I am praying for positive results.
We all suffer from it. Whether it is self-inflicted or brought on by someone else’s judgement we all feel shame. We may be ashamed of something that happened in our past when were we young and inexperienced, we may be ashamed of something that someone close to us did that reflected poorly on our choice in associations, we may just be insecure and ashamed of it. But make no mistake, we ALL feel shame, and that is OK! What is not OK is shaming others. Judging people for the decisions they make based on their own lives and situations when we have no idea what their life is actually like.
Personally, I feel that Mom Shaming is the worst kind of shaming. Every mom (and every dad) is doing the absolute best they can do for their children with the resources they have. Whether they choose to breast or formula feed, rock their babies to sleep or let them cry it out, send their kids to daycare or stay at home. All of these decisions are made based on the resources, parenting beliefs and experiences of the parents making them. We do not know what their situation is, so who are we to judge them. A mom may be a breast cancer survivor that had a double mastectomy and cannot breast feed no matter how much they want to. A mom may want to formula feed because they cannot get over the debilitating postpartum depression but cannot because the cost it too high. A mom not be able to stay home because she needs to work to support her family. We do not know what the situation is but it is none of our business.
I try to never judge any person on this earth for the decisions they make, but especially other parents. I am certainly not perfect and there are times I find myself having that judgmental thought but when I catch myself I stop and ask that mom if there is anything I can do to help them in that moment if they look as if they are struggling. Or I offer a kind word of encouragement because let’s be honest we can all use more kind words offered to us on the regular. The kind words I offer could be the only kind words that mom has heard all day.
I was catching up with my friend Jamie yesterday, she recently had her son about 5 months ago and my second child is 2 months old. We were chatting about the difficulties of midnight feedings, strategies for sleeping, dealing with the incredible amount of weight that we moms deal with on a daily basis. We also talked about the joy our babies bring us, the smiles, the laughs, the coos, the looks of love and how all the hard parts are worth every stressful moment when they look at us. As we parted ways and made loose plans to be walking buddies she made a comment that hit me like a ton of bricks, “You can never have too many mom friends!” This is unbelievably true! We should not be breaking each other down but building each other up. We should be helping each other make it through the day if need be. We are all moms that could use a shoulder to lean on, or a helping hand, or a kind word. We are a village going through the same thing no matter how different the situation.
So when you see a mom struggling, offer a kind word or helping hand. If you are talking with a mom about their parenting choices hear what she is saying. Take it in. Understand what she is saying. You don’t need to agree with her choices but you do need to respect that these are her choices. If you are staunchly against her choices make the conscious decision to not be a mom shamer and keep your mouth shut. Unless they choose to not vaccinate their children, then you should make the conscious decision to never bring your child around their child.