Coping With Postpartum Depression: Do You Cry In The Shower Or Hide in the Bed?

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When you are in the thick of antenatal or postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD/panic/PTSD (hello, laundry list!), you do whatever you can to get through.

Last night on the Twitter #ppdchat, there was a brief discussion of some of the coping mechanisms we use during this time. I wanted to mention them, only because I think it's important for you to see you aren't the only one doing these things.

Locking yourself in the bathroom — I didn't really lock myself in, now that I think about it, considering my 10-week old wasn't likely to come walking in on me. But I went in there more than once, sat on the toilet seat and cried until I could cry no more. I avoided looking in the bathroom mirror because I didn't want to see what a mess I was. I distinctly remember saying to myself over and over, "I can't do this. I just can't do this."

Sobbing in the shower — I can remember standing in the shower crying my eyes out. What is it about showers, anyway? Something about the water rushing over you makes it easier to let it all out. Plus, no one can tell if you are crying or your face is just wet.

Going to bed — Some of us do whatever we can to get into our beds and hide under the covers, as if to shut out the world outside. It gets hot and stuffy under the covers, but when you are miserable, what does it matter?

Busying, busying busy bees — Others find every way they can to keep themselves busy and refuse to stop moving even for a second, because if they stop moving they'll have to think about how they feel. That was me. I scrubbed bottles. I washed clothes. I rearranged the changing table incessantly. Never. Stopped. Moving.

These are just some of the things we do. Have you done them? Can you see you are not alone or a bad mother for doing them? What else have you done to cope? To let it out?

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Chrissie says:

    I have done all of these things (way more than once) and am also a fan of sitting in my kitchen floor and sobbing into a dish towel. "I can't do this. I just can't do this." <–My mantra as of late.

  2. All of the above, including Chrissie's. Also, my favorite was my closet. It has a little nook that I could hide in, cry, and can hear next to nothing from the rest of the house. I used this to hide when hubby was home.

  3. I was the busy bee for sure. In fact, my first waking moments of thought included panic of how I was going to distract my mind for another day….

  4. I'm a big fan of the crying in the shower. There's a kind of privacy behind that curtain you just don't get anywhere else, I think. I watched TV. Hours of TV. Hours of terrbile, trashy TV. I think it was my way of tuning out the pain of the PPD. And when I wasn't morphing into a couch potato, I was the busy bee. The plan was that if I looked okay, maybe I would be okay.

  5. I think it was me during PPDChat last night who initially brought up locking the bathroom door and crying there. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many other moms have done/do the same thing. Feeling less alone is a crucial part of recovery, at least it has been in my experience of PPD/PPA.
    And even just this week, although I am "recovered" from PPD now, I found myself in the locked bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror, saying "I can't do this anymore. I just can't do this." And I was wracked with guilt when I realized that "this" meant being a mother. But the guilt snapped me out of that thinking and back into a more positive stream of consciousness, telling myself that I have to do this and usually enjoy this and that it was just a bad day. Not even really a bad "day" but a bad few moments, and we all have them.
    This is such an important, helpful post (as many of yours are). I hope it gets tons of hits.

  6. I am a busy bee for sure. I try to fill each day with something, anything to keep me moving and not feeling. If I'm busy and around other people, I'm not crying or feeling like a total failure.

  7. I am busy bee until I get too exhausted. Then I am the t.v couch potato and the stay in bed girl. Why is it so hard to be with yourself?

  8. busy bee! And moving furniture. if I could excert control over objects I could control my helpnessess and incompetence … right? I'm MUCH better now. But I have to admit I still lke moving furniture :)

  9. I've for sure have done all these things. Exerciseing excessly was another coping mechinism. Reading and zoning out was a big one with my first child. My second child, I'm on meds and haven't gotten PPD. But I still find myself doing all these things again. I think even Mom's that don't have PPD do these things. I'm a full stay-at-home Mom, quit my job again to stay home with second. I find it's much worse staying home and dealing with the kids all day than going to work and getting your mind off of things other than your life.

  10. I went to Target…. and then we realized I was spending over $500 a month there… oops. It was just a happy place and I could bring my son in his seat and walk around with a coffee. It felt "safe" I guess. I also started going to a hotel by myself 1 to 2 nights a month just to get away. I remember standing in a hotel room one night giving myself a pep-talk in the mirror "you are great mom – you can do this – you CAN do this!" It took me a long time to believe it.

  11. I went to Target…. and then we realized I was spending over $500 a month there… oops. It was just a happy place and I could bring my son in his seat and walk around with a coffee. It felt “safe” I guess. I also started going to a hotel by myself 1 to 2 nights a month just to get away. I remember standing in a hotel room one night giving myself a pep-talk in the mirror “you are great mom – you can do this – you CAN do this!” It took me a long time to believe it.

  12. christine says:

    totally agree with Selma, i would hide in the closet or on the other side of the bed so no one could see me when they came into the bedroom.

  13. christine says:

    Maura, i totally know what you mean i would have to plan my day, minute by minute to keep my mind distracted, i also prayed each morning to get me through till lunch time then at lunch to get me through until my husband came home from work and then at night to fall asleep without worrying if the baby was going to wake!!! what a vicious cycle

  14. I found that I wanted to cry and no tears would come. And that was really depressing. I needed the release and couldn't get it.
    So I could climb into a shower as hot as I could stand it and just wait until the water ran cold. I'd try to block out the sounds of Joshua's cries with the sounds of the water. Sometimes it would work. Sometimes it wouldn't. But it was my escape for 20 minutes or so.

  15. Before ppd, I was a busy bee – now I just hide in my bed. I plan stuff but when the time comes, I don't feel like doing it. I have forced myself to go to the gym – it is also nice to go there and get away from everything, like an escape. And I do cry in the shower too!

  16. I locked myself in the bathroom more times than I can count. I can remember my husband always sitting on the other side trying to coax me out. But in the bathroom, I felt safe to be a blubbering mess without any audience. Especially in the shower.

  17. I went in the bathroom and turned on the vent fan so I would drown out Eddie's cries and I would just sit on the floor and bawl.
    If someone was home to care for Eddie other than me? I went to bed.
    Anxiety drives me to sleep.
    Depression drives me to the bathroom floor to cry.
    And I also repeated over and over "I can't. I just can't."

  18. I was a total shower crier. It was the only time I had by myself and the sound of the shower and fan could drown out the sound so my husband wouldn't hear.
    My anxiety would keep me awake, so there were also times that I would cry in the middle of the night, sobbing silently, when I should have been getting those precious few hours of sleep. I just couldn't.

  19. Tiffany & Co Out says:

    A sad thing about life is that when you meet someone who means a lot to you only to find out in the end that it was never bound to be and you just have to let go.

  20. Tiffany & Co Outlet says:

    A sad thing about life is that when you meet someone who means a lot to you only to find out in the end that it was never bound to be and you just have to let go.

  21. christy says:

    I have been trying to find support and other moms who have ppd. But haven’t had much luck… till I came across this website and couldn’t belive I wasnt the only one who’d go to the bathroom or cry in the shower I really just sobbed…I too really felt like I wanted to say I can’t I can’t I could feel it at the tip of my tongue from down in my heart but wouldn’t allow myself to say that.I don’t know why…. I think I’ve slipped once or twice when I was just so deep into my tears and hurt. But thanks so much for who posted this it really felt good to know!!

  22. This is a great post, such a relief to compare notes with other mothers. I did all of the above, often, including the sobbing silently in the night because all I wanted was the blessed escape of sleep and it often eluded me.

    I was definitely a busy bee. I would arrange something for as many days as possible just so that I was out of the house and not alone, which made things a little more bearable. The friends who knew about the PPD were like “Wow, you’re coping so well to get out and about every day!” I would just smile weakly and nod, too afraid to say “Actually the fact that I’ve dragged myself here just for some peace from my own thoughts only shows how unwell I am.” On days without plans I panicked. I still like to go out but my best days now are when it’s just me and my son alone in the house all day and I actually COPE.

    I’m still in recovery and I still cry often but the majority of the tears now are either residual anger at what I’ve lost or, very recently, pure relief as I’m slowly falling deeply in love with my son.

  23. Endless routine planning, searching searching for the schedule or tip or magic something that would make sure the children were fed healthy food, nurtured, stimulated, loved, well slept, socialised… but a routine that was also do-able day in day out despite feeling perpetually bone tired, regularly DEEPLY emotionally drained, frequently frustrated angry and irritable. I have spent 4.5 years going from spurts of elated success (few days to a week) where the house is reasonably tidy, clean and I feel like I am just keeping “on top” of things. Then I get exhausted and let it slide, take a nap when my current routine says I should be doing laundry, grocery shopping, vacuming etc; I read a book instead of cooking more than eggs on toast for dinner; or we socialise for a few days in a row because I am sick of being a housewife and NEED to get out, or because my preschooler boys are have run out of games to play at home while Mummy naps or cleans the house again! And of course then here comes the sneaky, quiet, debilitating, gut-wrenching, soul-eroding guilt. Another failed routine. Is it me? Is it the routine? I can do better I will do better….. what if I try this new routine next week…..