Janice Croze: On Surviving Despite the Madness

postpartum depression mother's day rallyDear Mom,

If there is one thing every new mom needs to know it is, “You will survive.”

The baby will eventually sleep. She will learn how to feed – whether it is from your breast or a bottle. You will get used to her cries and one day they will no longer flood you with helpless terror. She will be happy and laugh – and you will too.

For some mothers, it may all fall in to place quite easily. The new routines, the sleeplessness, the worries – they may be able to take them in stride.

But for many of us, it is hard, staggeringly hard.

The time between feeds is so short – how can we shower, eat and sleep in one hour?!? The nights are so lonely, with exhaustion stirring fears. The depression is so relentless, crushing us as we try to crawl out of bed each morning.

It isn’t our fault. The chemicals in our brains just aren’t working as they need to be. The hormones washing through our bodies left us unbalanced and broken.

We are not bad mothers; we are not weak people. We need medical help just as if we had lost too much blood during birth or as if cancer cells had started multiplying in our organs.

There should be no shame. NO shame.

But as it all swirls around you and you wonder if you really will lose your mind, let me tell you, “You will survive.”

It might not be pretty. The laundry might pile up. The dishes may not get done. You might survive oncereal and hotdogs.

But it is ok. And you will be ok. And, yes, your baby will be ok.

My depression and anxiety didn’t end with onesies and dirty diapers. No, it is ten years since it began during my first pregnancy and I still struggle.

Some days, like today, I have to go back to bed and sleep to find enough strength to stand up under the weight of it.

But it is so much better than those early, black hole days when I sincerely felt my mind slipping out of my control, when the panic and depression was unbearable and I couldn’t bear to be left alone with my baby.

I got medical help. And I got physical help. My husband did a night feed. I hired babysitters when I had no one else. I called my sister just to say, “I am so depressed — I can’t bear it.”

Do what you have to do to make it through the days and nights. If you don’t have family and friends to help, try to hire help. If one day you will hire a babysitter so you can go on a date night, do it now! Get help and sleep.

And, repeat it every ten seconds if you have to. Believe it because we have lived it. You will survive. You WILL survive.

Janice Croze and her identical twin, Susan Carraretto, are the bloggers behind 5 MInutes for Mom. Both Janice and Susan struggle with depression and anxiety, but they prove that life can be lived successfully and fabulously even whilebattling mental illness.You can talk with the twins on Twitter at @5minutesformom and on their Facebook page.


Donations to Postpartum Progress can be made here: http://postpartumprogress.org/donate-postpartum-depression-2/

About Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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Comments

  1. no shame. thank you for validating how difficult it is to admit, to reach out, and to get past the stigma. thank you for sharing your story.

  2. MamaRobinJ says:

    Janice, I know 5 Minutes for Mom but I didn't realize you struggled with this. 10 years?! I'm 3 in and it feels like an eternity and that it will never end.
    I find the "you will survive" message a tough one. I know I will, but will I get to where I want to be? Where I can take care of my son instead of my husband having to do it because I get angry?
    We're getting so much help right now and I'm just having faith we'll figure it out.

  3. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I only found out I had always been suffering from OCD and anxiety AFTER I experienced postpartum OCD. Even though the postpartum OCD is gone, I still have anxiety, although it is well-treated so I don't generally suffer from it. I understand what it is like to have lifelong mental illness. Solidarity, sister. We are still living amazing lives, IN SPITE OF it all. šŸ˜‰ Thank you so much for being a part of today!
    – K

  4. I can identify with your story because I still deal with ppd/ppa 2 years after giving birth to my last son and sometimes I feel like "WHEN will I be able to get off my meds"….I have tried on several occasions and it was a nightmare all over again. I try to come to terms with it but sometimes I just want to deal with life "unmedicated". Thank you for your story….it helps me feel like I'm not alone!

  5. The "cereal and hotdogs" line made me laugh. Our first child was adopted and came to us at 5 months of age, I did not have depression and she was already sleeping through the night at that point, but the physical work of caring this beautiful little girl was still so far beyond what I had anticipated. I remember falling onto the couch after her 11 p.m. bottle with a cold can of tuna thinking it was the Best Meal Ever. Even "normal" moms have those experiences and survive on a lot less than we would have imagined or expected pre-baby.

  6. Thank you for telling it like it is and not sugar coating it. You will survive!

  7. I loved this. I can relate so much to the part where, even after getting help, you still struggle. It's important for moms to know that it's okay to still have rough days and YES, you WILL survive.

  8. This:
    "We are not bad mothers; we are not weak people. We need medical help just as if we had lost too much blood during birth or as if cancer cells had started multiplying in our organs."
    That is the way my doc put it to me too. It was the only way it seemed I would accept that it wasn't me, it was a sickness. I couldn't will myself better.
    Thank you.