My previous post, Kids make everything better, received a comment yesterday afternoon. After deliberating on whether or not to approve it, I made the decision to delete the comment. However, the words from this woman’s comment are still haunting me and given the nature of my work, I view the chance to respond to her comment as a sincere opportunity to show compassion, warmth, and a bit of wisdom with her as well as with the rest of you.
The comment follows:
post-partum depression sux.
but come on excited about peeing outside. three years olds get excited by everything.
do you really believe that kids make everything better? if so then why the PPD?
Yes, Postpartum Depression does suck. It sucks a lot. Not fun to go through it, not fun to watch someone go through it – I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But is an illness – something that we have no control over, something that we need treatment, support, and sometimes medication in order to recover. The stigma attached to admitting to postpartum depression is a huge barrier to treatment, especially when mothers are having intrusive thoughts about harming their child. These mothers (and I was one of them) become scared that if they are honest about these thoughts, their children will be taken away from them. They become consumed with guilt and riddled with more anxiety that they are a bad mother because they have these thoughts. BUT these thoughts are not their fault – they are not to blame – and seeking help/treatment makes them a GOOD mother because they are taking an important first step in admitting something is wrong. For a lot of mothers, taking that first step is a very daunting one. And that’s why I do what I do now. I didn’t know where to turn for help. I did go to my doctor with my first case but was denied treatment because I wouldn’t stop nursing for “trial medicinal therapy” and I was more than the DSM-IV standard of 4wks postpartum before I sought treatment – even though most postpartum cases ARE diagnosed between two and four months Postpartum. I know now that I should have sought additional help from another physician. At the time, I was so depressed I didn’t have the energy to do so. So I struggled from day to day. Eventually I improved (or thought I did) and then we got pregnant with our second child. Looking back, I was depressed the entire pregnancy which is what led to my second bout with Postpartum OCD, my most recent episode. My last episode taught me quite a bit and I have certainly become a better person for it – because I chose to turn and fight and not give in or up. And now I am paying it forward – helping other women just as there were women there to help me this time around. I feel that it is the least that i can do.
And yes, I believe that kids DO, on occasion, make everything better. Kids have a way of blurting out the funniest things or the most inane thing RIGHT when you need them to. If it weren’t for my three year old’s charming and innocent wit during my postpartum days, I don’t think I would have continued to have at least a few bright spots. She was constantly trying to cheer me up and make me laugh – even when I didn’t want to. But even she’s not a miracle worker and the PPD, just like cancer or diabetes, had to run it’s course before I started to improve. Having PP OCD was not my fault, I was not to blame, and I did get better – with help, including my daughter’s constant optimism and insane sense of humour.
Women with PPD deserve to be treated honestly, compassionately, and respectfully. They do not deserve to be belittled or told to snap out of it – trust me, if we could, we would. Unfortunately, we can’t. And I’d be willing to bet that most women who have suffered from PPD would agree that it’s very similar to being hit by a MAC truck while strolling in the park on a blissfully sunny day. It sneaks up on you and before you know it, you’re struggling to climb out of a deep dark muddy hole. Recovery from the emotional scars PPD causes is messy, difficult, and yet quite rewarding when your head finally pops out and sweet sunshine and fresh air hit you – making you realize just how hard you’ve had to fight to get to where you are.
I am very proud to say that I am a TWO TIME survivor of PP OCD who is now paying it forward and shining the light on the path towards recovery for other women and families. I pray every day that I won’t relapse after this birth. Sure, I know more now, but there’s still the statistics, and yes, I am hoping to beat them but also preparing not to by educating my family (near and far), getting a plan in place in the near future for the “what if”, and filling my support up to overflowing, which is what I would advise any new mother to do if she were in my shoes. And I am blogging this pregnancy because I feel I owe it to other mothers out there in my shoes (planned or unplanned pregnancy after PPD), to give them a source of hope and light – to give them somewhere to come and not only find another woman who is traveling the same path they are, to help them feel less isolated during their journey, but also to find access to resources and information that will give them courage and strength to help them as they walk their own paths. I pray that they will not suffer as I did – but if they do, I want them to know that help is out there – only a click or two away. They do not have to be alone during such a difficult and misunderstood time in their lives.
Excellent response. In the bad moments, yes, it does feel like the babies make PPD worse – the crying, the tantrums – it can all raise my stress level and anxiety considerably. However, the childlike wonder and excitement and innocence about the simple things never failed to bring a smile to my face. Those are the moments that always kept me going through the next dark valley and back into the sunshine again.