So in honor of Mental Health Awareness day (which was yesterday, but give me a break, I’ve been battling piles, remember?), I decided to describe a little more about what Postpartum Depression (PPD) is not.
I promise Sluiter Nation hasn’t become JUST about PPD, but my diagnosis is new to me, and I have been learning so much about it, that it helps me to “blog it out”. I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of support, but there have been some questions and confusion, so this is my attempt to clear that up…at least from my own experience. So here goes…
- A Bad Day. PPD is not about having a crumby day and then feeling bad about it. I know what a bad day feels like–I’ve had those too. This is different. There are things DURING my day that can feel worse because of the PPD, but it doesn’t necessarily get better with “a new day”. Sometimes the feelings of being overwhelmed or being angry don’t just dissipate with the hope of better things tomorrow.
- A Mood Swing. First let me say that women don’t appreciate their crabbiness–ANY crabbiness–being blown off as just a “mood swing” because of hormones or “that time of the month”. Unless WE say that is what it is, it might not be true. And with PPD it’s more than that. I can control myself during a mood swing; I can keep that to myself. When my PPD gets bad, I can’t control the emotions–in my case it manifests itself as anger and hopelessness. Telling me “cheer up” really only make it worse.
- Me Missing My Son. Yes, I miss Eddie when I am away. What parent doesn’t? We all know that even when we are pulling our hair out to get away from them, the minute we drive off, we sort of miss the those ones. PPD is more about the guilt of not being around–of missing things–of putting other things before my son. For instance, when I feel like I’ve done a great job as a teacher, spent a lot of time working on a lesson plan, did a great job executing it, and then got it all assessed, but came home late, I am PLAGUED with guilt. Not just “awe, I missed seeing him throw balls down the stairs!” but “what kind of mom am I to put other kids before my own? I will never get that time back! what have I DONE?!?” sort of guilt. It cripples me to the point that I can’t focus. I can’t be “good” at anything when this kind of guilt takes me over.
- Depression. PPD is it’s own kind of depression. I never felt overly sad or down. When people say they are “depressed” about something, they are usually using it as a synonym for sad. I wasn’t sad–I’m NOT sad. PPD made me irrationally paranoid and angry–not “depressed”.
- Like the commercials on TV. I am not a little mento-like creature ho-humming around my life. I’m not a wind-up lady falling off a picnic table. I am not a grandma with achy-hands. Sad music isn’t playing as my soundtrack. This is what people think of because this is what the media tells us is DEPRESSION–but it’s a blanket statement. Yes, there are thousands of people with this kind of depression, but that is not PPD. PPD suffers look like ME not like a mento.
I am on meds now, but there are still bad days. Someday I hope to put the “I’m a PPD SURVIVOR” badge on my blog, but for now, “I’m a PPD FIGHTER”. Every day.
But it’s worth fighting against because I have the boys of Sluiter Nation cheering me on. And all of you!