I remember sitting in the pediatrician's office with my 6 week old baby silently repeating to myself, "Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry." This was my second child and for the past month I had been in a constant state of emotional instability. The doctor was in the room now, asking me how everything was going with my sweet baby girl, but a few minutes earlier, his nurse had made a sharp comment (I don't even remember what it was now) that threatened to open the floodgates that I was so desperately trying to keep a tight hold of. I had a great relationship with the doctor, who consistently referred his patients to me for counseling, and I trusted him implicitly with the medical care of my children. Looking back to this appointment now, 7 years later, I know that he would have been very supportive of the internal struggles that I was experiencing, but at the time I was thinking, "I am a mental health therapist, I am a second time mother, I am fine, I am fine." I can now admit that I was not fine. It took six more months of walking through anxiety muck under a cloud of depression before I finally sought help. I am so grateful to the professionals who supported my journey back to emotional health and strength, and am sorry that I didn't seek support earlier, but I am grateful for my experience because it allows me greater understanding of the women that I work with now.
I understand the guilt, shame and embarrassment that mothers feel when they aren't happy after the birth of their baby, and the hopelessness that comes with it.
I understand how moms can love and care for their children while they feel like they are personally drowning in negativity, sadness and anxiety.
I understand how difficult it is to let people, anyone, know that you need help for something that you can't find the words for and don't understand yourself.
I also understand how powerful and healing it is to talk to someone who doesn't judge you and helps you move into the light.
Postpartum mood disorders are extremely common and can strike any mom, even without any risk factors. It can present as primarily depression with pervasive sadness, helplessness and hopelessness, or it can be predominately anxiety with insomnia and unrealistic worries. If you are experiencing unusual sadness or anxiety after having a baby, know that you are not alone! There are people who would be overjoyed to help you through this challenging time. The first step toward getting help is the hardest, but you and your family will be so glad that you did.