Not long after my daughter was born, things started to shift inside of me. The sleep deprivation really got to me immediately. And for a long time, I thought that just being really exhausted was the only issue I was having. But I had a really hard time adjusting to being a mom. It felt like there was always this cloud over me. A heaviness keeping me from being completely present and enjoying my life with my new baby.
It was so subtle to me that I didn’t even realize it at first, but one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had postpartum depression. And I hadn’t been doing well for a long time.
My emotions made me feel guilty
I had no patience. Addie’s crying made me feel angry. When she wouldn’t sleep, I felt frustrated and annoyed. There were times when I’d have these terrible, intrusive thoughts. And that made me feel horrible. It didn’t feel like me at all, it felt like someone else had taken over.
First I would feel angry and annoyed and then I’d immediately feel so guilty for feeling that way. Just as quickly as the anger came, it would disappear, and I’d have a complete breakdown. I’d hold Addie so tight while I cried and kept telling her I was so sorry.
The guilt over the thoughts and feelings I had was overwhelming. Because of that, I kept everything to myself and put on a mask to hide it all. All I could think is that no other mom could possibly feel the way that I did. A good mom would never struggle with these kinds of feelings.
I wanted to escape
There were a lot of times when I’d wish that I hadn’t become a mom. My old life seemed so much better. It just didn’t make sense to me though. I wanted this baby so badly and loved her so much, and yet I wanted to run away. Any other woman would be overjoyed to be this baby’s mommy. Having a baby is an incredible blessing and I knew that so many women wanted what I had. So why wasn’t I happy?
At the end of every single day, I thought about how I had messed up. I didn’t hold Addie enough, or kiss her enough, or play with her enough. Why would God give this baby to me? I was a horrible mom and she needed someone else. Someone better. He picked the wrong person to be her mom. He made a huge mistake by choosing me.
I felt completely alone
I distanced myself from everyone and everything. And as time went by, I drifted further and further from God. Everything that I was feeling kept me in this place of shame and isolation. It felt like He had given me this huge blessing and I was being so ungrateful because I didn’t enjoy being a mom most of the time.
I kept buying into the lie that I was a bad mom and that I wasn’t good enough. I believed that my baby would be better off without me and that everything would be better if I were dead.
Even with so many good things happening in my life, I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide from the world. I felt disconnected and alone.
Every night I’d pray so hard while I cried and cried, begging God to help me. To make me the mother I should be. The mom that my daughter needed and deserved.
Even the smallest things were overwhelming
I couldn’t keep it all together. My house was a disaster but I felt paralyzed and unable to do anything about it. The chaos of my life was overwhelming to me, but simple things like doing the dishes or even just taking a shower were extremely difficult.
I felt in over my head and like I just couldn’t do any of it. It was like I was drowning and I couldn’t keep my head above water. Every day I was just doing all I could to simply survive.
I used all my energy to make sure my child was cared for. But I felt like it took everything I had, and at the end of the day, I didn’t have anything left for myself. I was so empty. Every day I was just going through the motions, but inside I felt dead.
Anytime I was around Addie I’d try as hard as I could to put on a happy face for her. I didn’t want her seeing me sad. By the time she was in bed for the night, I was completely drained. It was exhausting putting on this mask every day.
Finally getting help
It took me longer than it should have to reach out for help. I talked to my husband about everything that was going on and how I was feeling, and we decided to go see my midwife for help. At my appointment, my midwife asked me a bunch of questions about what had been going on, and based on my answers, she diagnosed me with postpartum depression.
There are a lot of different treatments for postpartum depression. We discussed counseling, support groups, and medication, among others. In the end, we decided to go with medication to treat my depression. We also made a plan for me to eat healthier, get more exercise, and get out of the house more.
On top of all that, I started making Bible study and spending time in prayer more of a priority. Strengthening my relationship with God was the most important step in my recovery. Even now I have my bad days when His grace is the only thing that gets me through.
Just starting the treatment gave me a glimmer of hope because I knew I was working towards getting better. I didn’t feel like I was in it alone anymore. It still took a few weeks for the medication to kick in, but once it did I felt like I was me again. I was finally able to experience motherhood without that terrible shadow over me. And everything was so much different now. My smiles weren’t forced anymore and everyday life didn’t overwhelm me.
If you’re having a hard time being a new mom, know that you’re not alone. 1 in 9 moms gets postpartum depression. Reaching out and talking about what you’re dealing with is the first step to getting out of that hole. The more you keep it all inside and stay silent about your struggle, the more it has power over you, and the more you feed the cycle of guilt, shame, and isolation. Postpartum depression isn’t something that has to be faced alone. There is help and there is hope.