Post-Partum Depression

The more I read about Post-Partum Depression, the more I feel that it is an inevitable conclusion for me. To be honest, it has taken me a long time to write this post, because I am extremely terrified of this happening to me.

Out of all the mothers I know, not one did not go through PPD. Common factors I found while talking with them were:

  • being too tired to self-care,
  • taking care of someone unconditionally without getting any feedback but negatives (ie. baby crying) took its toll and produced feelings of disconnection with the baby
  • feeling guilty about not connecting with their baby and feeling like they were bad caretakers
  • being isolated
  • not feeling comfortable to talk to other people about what they’re going through out of fear of being judged, and so on.

I hear all of their laments and feel that these would very much apply to me. PPD just seems so hard to escape.

I jokingly say that I have so much experience with depression that I will be able to coast through PPD, but after reading articles about PPD and Bipolar Depression, I am feeling more and more paranoid. According to EverydayHealth, one in ten new mothers experience PPD, with such strong feelings of despair, anxiety, and sadness that they can’t cope with daily life.

“As many as 70 percent of new mothers experience the “baby blues” after childbirth. Within the first few days after the baby arrives, they may become angry for little reason, cry without warning, feel self-doubt, and have difficulty eating or sleeping. But these feelings usually resolve on their own, in a matter of days.

However, new mothers who have previously dealt with bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer a mood swing far more deep and devastating than simple “baby blues.” Studies have found that women with bipolar disorder are more likely to have postpartum depression than either healthy women or women with major depression. The research indicates that anywhere from half to two-thirds of women with bipolar I or II disorder may face severe depression in the months after delivery.”

Bipolar Disorder and Postpartum Depression – EverydayHealth

I was reading an article written by an English Professor who had Bipolar Disorder. She talked about her experience with severe psychosis after childbirth. After a night of painful labour, she went into full mania after giving birth. What broke my heart was reading how she was then committed to a psychiatric institution and had to be seperated from her baby for three weeks, for both her and her baby’s safety. This will completely break my heart if it happened to me – to be seperated from my newborn child. That would completely tear me apart. What a brave woman for having gone through this.

To be honest with you, dear readers, PPD and PPD induced psychosis, absolutely terrifies me. But I think what will help us to move forward is to make sure that we keep in touch with our partners, our friends, and our community and be completely open about what we feel. Chances are, we are not alone in feeling guilt, nor shame. This is when our trusted psychiatrists and therapists will really need to step in.

I suggest, if you are having difficulty talking about feelings you are ashamed of, to write it in a journal and present it to your friend/psychiatrist/therapist/partner/group and have them read it silently to themselves. This has always helped me in communicating in the past. This way, I am not hearing myself verbalize these feelings but am still finding a way to succesfully communicate it with another person. I learned that a major factor in PPD is that feeling of isolation – so if we can take the first step in breaking through that solitary feeling and finding a consort who can make us feel that we are not alone, I suspect the feelings of shame and guilt would lessen and we would feel supported.

Here is a list of Post-Partum Support Groups I found after a quick search online:

Postpartum Support Group at Mount Sinai – offered virtually, requires a referral from your doctor

PSI Online Support Meetings from Post Partum Support International– requires registration, offered virtually, casually, once a week, no need for referral, international

Postpartum Support Group from North York General Hospital – accepts self-referral, virtual, once a week

Toronto Services for Women with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety – a comprehensive list, .pdf

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