Postpartum Depression: The Fight Isn’t Always Pretty

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fighting postpartum depressionI saw a mom with postpartum depress tweet: “Today I am not winning.”

I know at Postpartum Progress we use a lot of battle imagery. We have the Warrior Mom. We talk about fighting back, not giving up and “kicking PPD’s ass”. This imagery has a purpose: I believe it helps us reframe ourselves and feel more empowered, recognizing that we have a say in what happens to us and we can get the help we need and triumph over our illnesses.

At the same time, I want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be a hero during postpartum depression. You don’t have to “win” every day by doing all the right things to help yourself, or taking each hit with a smile. You don’t have to be Wonder Woman, with bulletproof bracelets and an invisible plane.

It’s easy to forget that. I forget that all the time.

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to be mad or disappointed that you’re going through this.

It’s okay to have five great days in a row and then two horrible ones. (Or seven bad days in a row and one good one.)

I fought postpartum OCD and in the end I won, but the battle wasn’t pretty. I didn’t always handle it well. I wasn’t always good at telling people what I needed, or explaining what I was going through, or being patient with those who were trying to help me. I didn’t face every single day with courage. Initially I didn’t always follow my treatment plan as I should have. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch a videotape of me during that time, as I imagine it’s very wince-worthy.

I wouldn’t have won any Medal of Valor, because I wasn’t always valiant. Some days I won. Some days I succumbed. That’s okay.

It’s not about how you look or behave every day of the fight during postpartum depression, it’s that you make it through to the end the best you can that matters.

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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. MamaRobinJ says:

    Ahem. I think that was me, yes? ;)
    You're so right, of course. I'm at the stage where I know a bad day can just be a bad day but new and different things keep throwing me, and it feels like it's always going to be that way. And maybe it will be. My son is 3, and this has been a really long road. If this is my new normal I'd rather just know that and figure out how to deal with it.
    Sorry. End of rant :)

  2. Thank you so much. I really needed this today. I have been struggling with PPA and PPD since my daughter was born in October. I finally got treatment in May right around Mother's Day. I started on medication in combination with my therapy. I was having some really great days, and the past two days have been just bad days.

  3. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    You're welcome to rant here any time you like!

  4. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Happy to be of service Jenny! I hope they turn right back around to good days very soon. In the meantime, just hang on and don't give up.

  5. Love this Katherine! Thank you. :)

  6. :) We ALL have bad days my friend. And new things throw me all the time. It might just be the new me. I'm her for you.

  7. Kate Torres says:

    Yes! I tell my clients all the time that I would be more worried about them if they didn't have some bad days and that they need to look at those bad days as an opportunity to practice all the great skills that they've been learning. I also warn families and support networks that these days will come and not to back off in their helping until we ALL decide that it is time.

  8. Such a good reminder. I remember when I was in the thick of things, I would forget that one bad day did not mean I was worse. That is was OK to not win everyday day. Thanks!

  9. This is really refreshing to read at the end of my super-stressful day. Just a question though, I don't hear much about it but is it possible to lose your mind with ppd? I don't mean in a going crazy sort of way, but more of a lack of memories and being unable to think or recall things that happened less than an hour ago? I'm not able to take meds at the moment and am really afraid I am going crazy!

  10. I remember waking up and saying "ok am I ok today" "will this be a good day" most of the time the answer was no. Then I would have a few good and a few bad. Thank GOD for this blog and medication. I tried it all…medication last. I was one of "those" people who said I would "never" take it. Well, I am so thankful I did. It was such a tremendous part of my recovery. You will have bad days, I had MANY. But, just know this WILL get better. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you will be yourself again real soon. YOU WILL WIN THIS FIGHT!!!!

  11. Yup it is tough and yes you will feel at the end of the day you lost but the thing to remember is that no matter how tattered our souls may feel at the end of the day, we still made it there. We win every day no matter how crappy the day is because we try. Our efforts big or small are still efforts…and we always try again re next day. ALWAYS

  12. I have struggled with depression since I was twelve years old and having a baby dropped me into a deep post-partum depression. I found that many did not understand what I was going through. It has been many years since that time, but I remember the battle and feel for those going through it. As the post stated: it is okay to "not win" some days. One reminder: make sure to take time for self-care and an occasional break! I know that in the throes of child-care and depression oftentimes "you" are last on the list. Take care of you too!

  13. I can't help but think of Dori from "Finding Nemo."
    Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.

  14. With my life being as it is 4 years postpartum, I often think about the way it WAS so early on. I still have my PPA days. And a dive into a depressive mentality, but it is so true, we are often least forgiving of ourselves, so it takes a reminder like this to see what we do to ourselves that was. If someone else said this we'd forgive them, we'd encourage them to forgive themselves. We need to treat US with that same respect. Power to the mamas! On the good AND bad days!

  15. Gretchen Johnson says:

    Well said, Katherine.

  16. I can really feel the essence of your blog and how you feel while writing these. It's okay, sometimes we feel so sad due to some cases we don't want. But think of those people who are in poverty, there were millions of them. So there are people struggling or having bigger problems than yours. It's very normal to feel that way, but just to let you know everything will be fine. Just think happy thoughts. Smile Kathie! :D

  17. MamaRobinJ says:

    Amanda, I don't know the clinical answer to that but I feel like that a lot. I does make me feel like I'm going crazy.