Content Warning: This story contains frank discussions of depression and suicidal thoughts.
We are proud to welcome Lenny to the blog this week, as a Lil Helper Ambassador here to share her story on postpartum depression. If you or someone you know needs help, CAMH is a great place to start.
Lenny’s Story with Postpartum Depression
Depression has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I knew that I would be of a higher risk for postpartum depression when I got pregnant. I knew, but I was not prepared.
Everything started off wonderfully. I was happy, puking most of the time, but still happy to have this life growing inside of me. I prayed to that porcelain goddess most days, while still keeping my spirits up. Slowly, though, that sinking feeling started growing.
Who knew one could suffer from depression DURING pregnancy?! I was always told it would come after the baby is born. That’s what they call is Postpartum Depression, right? Boy, was I wrong. I was more irritable, as my tolerance for things grew very thin. My eldest son was so gracious with me. My mood was so low, but this was deeper and more hollow than what I’ve experienced before. I could not sleep. I couldn’t bare to talk to my husband about my feelings, even though he was my best friend. The never ending sadness consumed me.
A Low Point Leads to Seeking Help
One night, I went for a walk. It was winter time and I wore my sandals and a coat and walked into the open field. I didn’t care that my feet would freeze, that it was blowing and cold. I just wanted to escape this prison I’ve made for myself in my mind. I found myself under a tree, bawling. The guilt I had for not enjoying this pregnancy was so hard to swallow. It was time for some help.
The hardest thing was admitting that I needed help, but oh so necessary. The thought of medications whilst I was pregnant and the stigma really stuck with me and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had to promise my doctor that I would start as soon as this baby was born!
Naively, I thought this would all just go away once my baby was born, and I wouldn’t need medications to help me. I started counselling instead. To this very day, I am still with that counsellor. He saved me, and helps me carry the weight of my depression with grace.
Giving birth can be just the beginning
August 1st my beautiful, 9lbs 8oz baby was born. And beautiful he was. Who knew a love like this even existed. My heart was so full of love, yet my stomach was in knots. Anxiety is an evil beast that sunk its claws in. I was so worried if I drove that something horrible would happen to my fragile little one. So, I stayed home. If I went anywhere I cried - he cried - and I probably pulled over more times than I can count to make sure he was ok.
The thought of the next trip outside of the house was met with such intense anxiety that I would shake. My midwife was always just a phone call away. Thank the heavens for Midwives, truly, as my team was incredible. Between their support, and that of my doctor, I knew I was in good hands. I knew it was time to take those darn pills so I could finally start enjoying this time with my sweet boy instead of worrying so intensely.
It did, however, get worse before it got better. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted to die.
My son would be better off with a mother who wasn’t sad, worried, and distant. So I thought. Oh, how wrong I was. I was (am) the perfect mother for my baby. I love him, and even though I struggled, he was my world and I his. Asking for help was the hardest thing I have done. Who likes to ask for help, and why is it so darn difficult to do? Saying OUT LOUD to someone that I was having a hard time, and I had postpartum depression was such a scary thing to say. I was so ashamed to tell someone that I was struggling being a mom. We’re taught that motherhood just comes naturally, and because I had done this once before I should know what to expect. Depression does not care how many children you have, how seasoned in parenthood you may be, it just comes.
The stigma around mental health, especially after the birth of a baby, is REAL!
You Are Not Alone - How Common is Postpartum Depression?
Thanks to my lovely support team, I found a support group for people just like me. I couldn’t believe that this sort of thing even existed. Other parents were experiencing my same struggles and we could all talk about it openly. Say what?! What a validating experience, let me tell you! To be in a room and not feel judged for the intrusive thoughts was liberating. I was scared, shy, nervous, ashamed - but I felt validated. I felt less alone. My journey to healing and feeling better was starting. I could finally see the mother I wanted to be.
The biggest thing I have learned through my dark days (as I call them) was that the insatiable loneliness doesn’t last forever. 1 in 4 women experience PPD/A. It is common. You are not alone. I repeat, you are NOT alone. The first step to getting the help you need is to just tell someone how you’re feeling. It will be hard, oh so hard, but that baby needs a healthy you. You need a healthy you. Let’s work together and stop the stigma around mental health and TALK about it. It starts with just one conversation. Every path is different, and medication may not be the answer for you and that is ok, but start talking and you will see that silver lining shine.
I still have dark days, 4 years and another child later, but I have the tools to get me through. I have the voice to advocate for myself when I know I need someone to walk with me. I finally know I am not alone. You are not alone.
Looking for an online community to get started talking about your mental health and parenting? Find us on Facebook at LilHelper: Unsnapped for likeminded and supportive parents who are always ready to listen.
About the Author:
My name is Lenny. I am a mom to 3 wonderful, busy, creative boys. We have a neurodiverse household. I am living life in the country with my family, and my fur babies. I am passionate in the kitchen and my corny jokes always make me laugh (yes, me…not so much my husband). Lover of books, nature, and a good cup of tea.