I know a woman who is amazing, smart, strong, kind. She recently had a baby. My friend is now in a place that many other amazing women have been in before — that dark, lonely place of depression and fear. And we, you and me, are going to help her. I am going to share my story of post-baby depression (again). And then you are going to share a bit of your story or a bit of encouragement in the comments section. Please, please do this.
Post-baby depression sucks. Actually, it’s worse than that: It is suffering. It is shame. It is soul breaking.
I remember feeling like a shadow of myself – thin and stretched and so tired. I couldn’t summon the energy to talk to my husband or to coo at my daughter. At night I would rock my perfect little baby and cry, or just stare out the window at the street lamp, unable to connect with the tiny person in my arms. And then I couldn’t sleep. I was so tired and I couldn’t sleep. I was so afraid that if I let my guard down something terrible would happen. If I slept I was certain I would lose my baby. I would lay in the guest room so as not to wake my husband and I would cradle a pillow to my chest trying to keep myself together, trying to keep my aching and empty heart in my chest. I would think about what a terrible mother I was, what a failure. I couldn’t tell anyone how much I was hurting – I didn’t have the words, I didn’t have the energy, and I was so ashamed. How could I want a baby so badly – go through all that we did to get her – and then feel like this? How could I be such an awful person?
This went on for months. What people had told me would be some of the most joyous and wonderful months of my life were quite possibly the worst, most wretched months I had ever had. I thought no one knew. But people did. I know now that my parents and my husband noticed. But they were scared to talk to me about it. Finally my acupuncturist talked to me about it. He told me it was OK, it was normal, he told me I was not alone. And he told me I would be OK. I believed him. His words were a spec of light in the dark pit of depression. I did what he said – I made an appointment with my doctor, I talked to my husband and parents. And the relief was immense. It was huge. It was like the first warm sun of the spring.
I made some decisions. I went on medication. I asked for help. I talked about my feelings and fears a little more. And slowly I found my way back to the light, to myself, and to my daughter.
So to my lovely and amazing friend: You might be feeling alone; you are not. No one tells you that becoming a mom is incredibly isolating. It is. You may be feeling sad. You may be feeling mad. You may be feeling worse than you have ever felt before. It’s OK. There are others of us who have been there. We can help you. There are lots of us waiting to grab your hand and pull you up into the light.
(You can read another of my posts about depression here.)