To The Postpartum Depression Moms Suffering In Silence

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postpartum depressionToo often lately, I have had moms calling my office in desperate need of postpartum depression support ten or 12 months after giving birth to their little ones.  This is not at all uncommon, but I have been introduced to an increasing number of these women in the last few weeks, and so I am drawn to tell you about them today.

These are not the moms who felt good for the first seven or eight months only to be hit full force with symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety upon weaning or when menstruating for the first time.  These are the moms who have been struggling on and off for months and who have waited until a breaking point to reach out.  What all these moms tell me is this: “I am so ashamed to be needing help like this, but I just can’t take it any more.”

These are the moms who, to the outside world, seem to be doing just fine. They pull themselves out of bed in the morning, have their showers, and pull on a clean set of clothes in order to impress others in their lives while, inside, they feel like complete impostors.  They feel good enough to hold conversations, smile at the check-out clerk, and return emails but find themselves in the fetal position when no one is looking.  These are the moms who feel terrible for several days and then feel better the next and so they tell themselves that they must be fine until they are hit, again, by several days of near intolerable suffering (once again, behind closed doors).  These are the moms who are afraid to let their partners know the depths of their despair for fear of judgment by the people who are supposed to know them the best. Yes. I worry about these moms. A lot.

What we know is that women who struggle postpartum anywhere along the spectrum from very mild postpartum adjustment to very severe postpartum psychosis, who reach out for support from an appropriately trained mental health provider, and who follow treatment recommendations get well.  Thankfully, many of the moms who are in severe crises will get help sooner rather than later because friends, family members, or their health providers will be able to tell from the outside that something is drastically wrong.  So, while I don’t at all like the fact that women who fall into the more extreme end of the spectrum suffer, I do know that the impetus for reaching out is often shared by others around them because there is simply no hiding their illness.  The responsibility does not lie solely on them.

And the women on the other far end of the spectrum — those who feel ill-at-ease in their new roles, whose biochemistry is off enough to increase their feelings of vulnerability but resilient enough to balance itself out on its own over a fairly short period of time — these moms with mild symptoms I don’t worry so much about either because they are usually the moms who will find a community, pick up mom-baby yoga, or openly discuss their challenges with others.

It’s the moms in the middle — the ones who seem to get lost in the crowd of postpartum women — these moms have me in a real fluster.

It’s not that I can’t help them to recover, because I can.  Those of us who work in the field of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders like postpartum depression know what to do to help these moms feel better.  We know what questions to ask in taking a full history and inventory of symptoms, risk factors, and internal and external conflicts that may be interfering in their ability to feel the way that they want to.  We know how to partner with these moms and how to advise them toward recovery. But what we can’t do is take away the months of suffering that took place before they decided to pick up the phone.  We can certainly help to strengthen attachments between these moms and their babies and support the relationships that have been troubled by the months before their desperate calls, but we can’t take away the lost moments. And this can be heart breaking.

So, this post today goes out to all of you who may be, right at this moment, in that middle zone. To those of you who are reading this blog in secret when the lights are out because you don’t want anyone else to know that you might not be feeling so well. To those of you who have worked so hard over the last number of months to will this depression or anxiety away only to find it still cuddling up with you at night.  To those of you who are so ashamed by how you feel that you would sacrifice your own well being for secrecy.  To those of you who are fantasizing of running away, who are having scary thoughts, or who have thought quietly about how much easier it would be if you simply weren’t here but who have not told a soul about any of this.

If this is you, please reach out.  For you, for your babies, for your partners, for your family and friends, and for those of us on the receiving end of the phone line who are here to help you to feel better.  You matter.

~ Kate Kripke, LCSW

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About Kate Kripke

Kate Kripke is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) specializing in the prevention and treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She is also a Colorado state coordinator for Postpartum Support International. Kate lives in Boulder with her husband and two daughters and writes an eponymous blog.

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  1. I. Am. Speechless.

    I read this with my mouth literally hanging open, tears in my eyes, shaking my head. Why do we always feel like we are the only one in the world who feel the way we do? Why am I as shocked as i am to read a description of the EXACT way i spent the first 12 months of my son's life?? As i was reading, I said "that's me! But I'm sure it's just a coincedence. The next paragraph is going to be way off base…" and then I got to the next paragraph and it rang even truer than the previous.

    You hit the nail ont he head so perfectly throughout this entire post (as usual) but what struck the deepest chord, to me, was the part about the responsibility of getting help lying solely on our shoulders. I cried so much, silently BEGGING for my husband to help me. I think i must have begged him every day, in my head, to please call someone for me, please help me help myself, but he never did, because i coped well enough to meet my responsibilities, to go to work and get food on the table. I remember actually wishing that my depression was debilitating and I could be like one of the sufferers in the commercials for anti-depressants who were physically unable to get out of bed…how great it must be to lay in bed all day. It felt like being disabled by a mental illness was a small price to pay for being able to stay in bed….I wished for that, but am too much of a control freak to have allowed it. So i begged for help in silence. For 12 months. Untill I had a weeklong meltdown that ended in a car accident because I was so distracted and anxious I couldn't pay attention. Even after all of that, i STILL had to make the call myself. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

    Thank you for this blog. Thank you for everything you do, all of the resources you provide and just for a place to come where I know I won't feel alienated.

    • I also silently begged my husband to help me help me. I cried and cried and cried…and prayed that he would somehow be able to read my mind.

      • And how badly we want those who are close to us to understand… so often, the need to inform, teach, and communicate feels like too much. I hope that he was ultimately able to support you in this…

      • I hid my pain behind make up, nice clothes, and a forced smile on my face, hoping that no one could tell that anything was wrong, yet at the same time wishing so baddly that someone would know the truth.

    • We are very, very glad that you are here, Rachel…

    • Hugs and more hugs Rachel. You are SO not alone in this. Please know that.

      - K

    • Rachel- I have been meaning to write you a response for days and am sorry that I am now just getting to this. You describe a feeling that many others hold- that wish for others to notice when, for a multitude of reasons, you feel to exhausted or scared or unsure to reach out to others who seem to not notice. The truth is that this responsibility should NOT be just yours, and ideally family, friends, and providers are aware and informed enough to know what to look for and what questions to ask. We are working on that. Thanks for being here…

  2. This is exactly how I felt for years before picking up the phone to begin recovering. I knew I didn't want to live like that anymore. I'm so glad there are so many of us willing to share our stories, these stories are what saved me. No one should be suffering in silence.

  3. That was me. I suffered for two years before I got help and it was only because my husband left me and I finally lost it and everyone could see for the first time.

    • I am so sorry to hear how much you needed to suffer before being noticed, Amanda. And also hopeful that the support you finally received has been helpful to you.

  4. This was me after I had my first daughter. I was one of those middle moms. Thank you for writing this, you've described so perfectly how I felt.

  5. This is me, well, was me I guess. I suffered severely with depression from the very beginning, and I was so ashamed and thought no one would understand. I didn’t want to be judged or labeled. My husband knew, but no one else knew—no one. We kept it a complete secret. Now that I am feeling 99% better (at almost 2 years postpartum) I still have not told anyone else besides 2 of my best friends. I have suffered in complete silence and shame, trying so hard to get myself out of the depression on my own. In hindsight, I can see how stupid that was, but when in the throes of PPD you’re not thinking clearly you don’t see things that way—you literally can’t. All you see is the guilt and shame.

    • Linda-

      I completely understand how debilitating depression, guilt, and shame can be… and am also moved by how hard you must have worked (on your own) to get through this. There are many of us out there who are working very hard to reduce the stigma around these illnesses in an effort to lessen the guilt and shame that women, like you, feel- when I hear that shame has played a role in a mom's silent suffering and challenges in reaching out for the support that she needs, I simply feel disappointed that we have not yet done enough. I am sorry that you have gone through this..

      With warmth-

      Kate

    • Be kind to yourself, Linda. So many of us have had the same exact experience with shame. We understand.

      - K

  6. How do you know about me? you are describing what I have been doing I do it so well even my husband just thinks its pregnancy hormones & I'll be right after the babys born. Especially as I can have a couple of good days or pick up when I go out with him.

  7. This paticular posts really strikes home for me. I personally waited and waited to get help until it nearly killed me. I did experience guilt and shame around what I was going through, but I wanted to chime in because those feelings were not the biggest reason why I waited so long to reach out.

    I burdened my suffering for so long because I thought it was part of my new identity as a mother and that it was something only I could navigate. My life had shifted so dramatically after becoming a mother, I just thought my suffering was part of that change. I had no distinction between what was within the realm of normal.

    I felt lost and confused, but never felt like I needed to hide that. I had no clue that I was experiencing symptoms and neither did the people in my life at that time who I shared my pain and confusion with. I didn't know what I was struggling with for so long had a name. In my mind, the problem was me. I honestly did not know what was happening.

    Looking back, it would have been helpful to have some more awareness around what PPD and the symptoms are. It's so important to spread awareness of PPD to people everywhere. Let's do what we can to educate ourselves and our children so no one has to suffer longer than necessary.

    • Gina- Thank you so much for sharing this important perspective. You are right, there is NOT enough awareness out there and so many many women are told that their struggles (and suffering?) are normal. It is absolutely normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, isolated, and frustrated/irritable at times in motherhood. Being a mom is bloody hard work. But it is NOT normal to feel these ways more times than not. And when this is the case, there is most usually something else (more clinical that basic adjustment) going on…

      My guess is that there are many many women who share your same story…

    • "I burdened my suffering for so long because I thought it was part of my new identity as a mother and that it was something only I could navigate." I hear this so often, Gina. Many moms with PPD are convinced that their symptoms are just "what it must be like as a mom" and not something that is a treatable condition.

      - K

      • I too felt exactly this way — "this must be what it feels like to be a mom." Now that I am well, I can think clearly — but at the time my thinking was so confused that I didn't understand that it was depression/anxiety and not motherhood that was causing me to feel this way.

  8. At my six-week appointment, my practitioner asked how I was doing emotionally. I was too afraid and ashamed to tell her how I was really feeing, so I just told her that my emotions were a little crazy right now, and I hoped that she would in turn show some concern and pursue the topic a little further, sort of pull more information out of me. But instead, she made light of it and merely assured me that all knew mothers feel this way for a little while and it was no big deal. Her indifference towards it made me feel like she would not have taken me seriously if I had said anything more about depression, and so I digressed. Even my baby’s pediatrician had a questionnaire for me to fill out. It was simply two questions to be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” (I don’t remember exactly what the two questions were, but they were something like “are you feeling sad or feeling more irritable than usual?”, or something along those lines.) The nurse handed it to me and asked me to fill it out, and I avoided it as long as I possibly could, hoping it would be forgotten about and I’d get out of there without having to answer the questions, but before we left, my husband, who had accompanied me, said, very quietly to me, as if he was ashamed as well, “don’t you need to answer those two questions?” So I picked up the pen, and barely gripping it in my hand I scribbled, in tiny handwriting, my answers to the questions. You could barely make out my two “yes” answers, and I flipped the paper upside-down in shame, my heart pounding, and left it there on the counter. I had no idea where this little questionnaire was going to lead. I thought perhaps they would follow up with me on it, maybe address it at our next appointment, and maybe try to get some help for me. But, actually, it led nowhere. It was never brought up again. And I was kind of ticked off. I thought, “what—was that just a survey so I could be added to some statistic?”

    • Linda, please see reply to "Gina" above.. that was meant for you…

      • Linda- sorry… that post was meant for Gina. But this is what I want to say to you…

        Stories like yours literally make me grumble with frustration and anger (that is what I just did sitting here at my office). It is absolutely NOT okay for a survey like yours to be disregarded. I applaud you for being honest in your two answers, and am so sorry that this wasn't taken seriously enough for a follow up. We are doing what we can to change this….. thank you for sharing.

    • Oh honey, I'm so sorry to hear of your experience. We're working hard to change that so that no one is ignored or slips through the cracks.

  9. Phoenix Fourleaf says:

    This is me, finally diagnosed after 11 months of misery. I didn't expect it to be easy to add a 2nd child. I was in deep denial. How could I be depressed when I have to beautiful kids and a great life. I gutted my way through, like I always do, until I bottomed out and just couldn't function any more. I am sure that my recovery will be more difficult because I completely depleted myself.

  10. Yes, oh my goodness…please reach out. You don't have to suffer in silence. There is so much help for you. xoox

  11. I'm not sure I can spell out my story because I'm too busy sobbing over here, but this was me too. It was obvious to anyone around me that I had PPD the first few months, but even after things were "better" I was still struggling. I held it together pretty well, despite still feeling "off" about motherhood, but about a month after my daughter turned 1 year old, my grandmother passed away and family drama that accompanied it was like the straw that broke the camel's back. I started getting severe anxiety attacks, and was barely able to function. I think it was exactly this. I didn't know if it was any more fair to call it PPD than it was to call the weight I still haven't lost "baby weight". But it was real.

    It's been 2 years… it's getting better. But I still feel haunted by what I went through. My less-than-stellar birth experience [feeling like a failure when I couldn't push her out], the agony over breastfeeding [feeling like a failure AND a bad mom for quitting when it just wasn't happening], and the guilt over the feelings I felt and the time I spent wallowing in self-pity instead of being an attentive momma to my baby girl. I still worry sometimes that I messed her up, but I know how much she loves me and I think I'm still doing more right than wrong even if I'm not the 'perfect mom'

    • What your post tells me, Heather, is that you are a mom who loves her baby deeply. I know that the suffering can feel debilitating and that the remorse over the suffering can sometimes feel even more debilitating than that. recently, I have been suggesting to Moms in my practice that they consider writing a letter to their little ones not only about the struggle, but also about their efforts to get well and the "guilt" that remains when they realize that they could not be there the way that they had hoped. When moms are in this they feel deep sadness which is understandable. What I see are moms who want nothing more than their babies to have their best.

      And, you are still here. And so she has you.

      Just food for thought ;-)

  12. My family and husband stressed that I needed to get help. I'm on Wellbutrin now as I had issues with depression before, and my pregnancy was the icing on the cake.

    Even though I use my blog as a way to talk about my PTSD I do try to talk about my PPD… I haven't exactly tackled it yet. I'm working up to posting about it. I have family members who read my posts and frankly I'm afraid of them knowing. I hate that I'm on medicine now. I hate that the only way I can somewhat function without having a total meltdown is with medicine.

    No one should suffer in silence. I'm surviving my life with PPD. If I can do it then anyone can.

  13. Rebecca Mabanglo-May says:

    Thank you for this post!

    Reading this and listening to Brene Brown's TEDTalks, I realized this: PPD robbed me of the grace, joy, and gratitude that I could have experienced as a new mom. I was so frightened of my vulnerability, my daughter's vulnerability, I catastrophized every moment and consistently disconnected myself because I thought I needed to be clinical and precise to keep everyone safe. That, at it's core, was The Big Lie.

    I've survived PPD not once, but twice, and the shame remains, even 14 and 10 years later. But tonight I'm angry – not at myself, but at this disease and the social pressure to keep silent about it. The silence of shame is wrong, because if we can't tell our stories, we'll never get a chance to find the joy, gratitude, and grace that comes from being a new mom.

    I'm writing my story now, finally, and I have this glimmer of hope that it's not too late to feel connected and wholehearted again.

    • Rebecca, I was delayed too in writing my story, finding hope and feeling like myself again. My daughter was 5 or 6 when I was watching Oprah talking with Marie Osmond about her experience with some thing called postpartum depression. The more they talked, the more I nodded my head. Then I had something I could look up on the internet–probably by using "Ask Jeeves" (2001). I did, and I found women on discussion boards who had it too. It was such a relief talking with them. I talked and talked and talked with them, learning so much in doing so. Reclaiming my former competent self along the way. Keep writing, keep talking, find a group and talk some more. Even when your kids are no longer babies, it helps to look other women in the eyes and hear their stories and share yours with them. My kids are now 18 & 23. Still talking about it! <3 to you!

      <3 to all you lovely moms in this thread, and Katie and Kathryn.

      • Rebecca Mabanglo-May says:

        Thank you, Diane. Your post means a lot to me, not just because you're a PPD survivor whose kids are much older, but because of your encouraging words about my writing. Sometimes I wonder if my story is relevant now that I'm not a 'new mom' in the grips of PPD, or a 'just-recovered.' But like you said, you keep talking and reaching out, and that's what we should do, because PPD strips us of our ability to find community easily. <3 to you and everyone too!

    • I'm glad to hear you are angry at the illness and not yourself. I'm angry too, at the stigma, the lack of services and support. We have to take our anger and use it for good. We have to make our voices loud so we can't be ignored.

  14. Joanna Crump says:

    I was, maybe still am, one of these women. I had a hard time believing that the man who lived with me never noticed by increasingly erratic behavior, the amounts that I was drinking (I never tried to hide it), or even the piles of books on postpartum depression that I would pile onto his desk. He pushed me to see a counselor when I'd complain of having a hard time, but the only one we could afford was a recently graduated student in training who was 10-15 years younger than me and had no children. My daughter is 4.5 now and being depressed in the postpartum way has become such an ingrained feature of my personality that antidepressants don't really help. They keep the trapdoor from opening beneath me, but I rarely feel very happy. I'm tired all the time. I still don't have the practical support I need to raise my child properly (the father is long gone now). And reaching out is still the hardest thing. Particularly now, when one would expect I'd finally be over this.

    • Joanna,

      Email me if you can. Maybe we can find some local support and service that can help. I know reaching out is hard, but perhaps we can assist you. You deserve support.

      - K

  15. So this was me, years have been lost that I can't get back. How I wish that have gotten help earlier.

    So, Yes..Don't wait. Get help!

  16. This was me after my daughter was born. I could pull myself together enough to get through the day and get showered, dressed, and as long as I didn't have to deal with my daughter all day, I was fine. I was lucky in that my husband had previously fought depression, and recognized the signs in me – in all of the PPD information we were given, no one told us that anger was a sign. I resisted getting help because of the shame, even though I knew I needed help. A lucky coincidence of my entire family sharing a primary care physician is what got me help. My husband mentioned it to our GP when he took my daughter for an appointment, and our GP found a local psychiatrist and helped me get an appointment. I was 6 months postpartum before getting help. If it weren't for my husband and GP, I probably still would be suffering in silence.

    • Joanna Crump says:

      Yes! The anger! I felt that there was just a column of pure rage at my core, and I fought every day to keep it contained. I am a big pet lover, but I remember freaking out one day and chasing my dogs out of the house and across the yard, screaming and furiously waving a broom at them. Luckily they were faster than me. I was really intent upon hurting them. It was the anger that caused my daughter's father to shut down and turn away. Neither of us understood it. I don't feel angry anymore, but I still have a lot of resentment towards him and loathing towards myself from that time. It does, however, make me angry that no one talks about this!

      • Wow. I'm so amazed to see I'm not alone in what I've been going through. Anger is a big part of it for sure. I get angry with my dog for needing more of my attention when I don't have any left to give, and for making more work for me to do. I am also feeling angry at certain friends and loved ones who saw me going off the rails, and didn't say anything or try to get me some help. I guess they were afraid I might get angry at them for making the suggestion. I just can't understand why I couldn't see what was happening for myself.

  17. I remember "going through the motions" of work, home, and back again…all while my thoughts were swirling, I could not concentrate, and actually lost my ability to focus enough to read or comprehend information. I forgot things that I previously knew by heart…phone numbers, security codes..etc. I pray that anyone who is suffering, realizes that asking for help is NOT admitting defeat nor does it mean you are weak! You, your baby, and your family are worth getting better for, and you CAN and WILL get better with professional help!!! Hang in there! God Bless your healing.

    • Yes. Asking for help is not admitting defeat! Instead it's giving a gift to yourself and your baby. You both deserve it!

    • Joanna Crump says:

      The focus and memory I still struggle with. I am continually forgetting things, and I feel like my mind is constantly in a hundred different places at once and it's so difficult to concentrate! A few months after my daughter was born, I remember taping a piece of paper to the bathroom wall that read: 1. Brush teeth. 2. Wash face. 3. Get dressed. If I didn't take that to heart, I'd never get around to doing even those basic things to take care of myself. I feel like the constant interruptions of having a small child in the house have really affected my brain!

  18. This is me. I was 15 months postpartum, before things were bad enough that I couldn't pretend it wasn't happening anymore. The nighttime panic attacks, crying in the shower, crippling anxiety, and utter loss of Joy. Slipped through the cracks and still dragging myself out, it took until baby was 18 months to get into a Dr who could help, GP was useless. I can say that when I finally did get the right help, things got better, but it was not easy to get the right help. My little baby is 3 now and I am mostly better, still some setbacks going on, but it is a tough road to walk when you wait so long to get help. I have found that there seems to be irreparable damage done to my relationship with my husband and my credibility with him. We are still working on things and seeking counselling for our communication issues which seem to stem from this as well. Sigh. Please reach out don't wait it isn't worth it, the fight back seems to take so long.

  19. this is me, it seems so overwhelming to reach out, I keep trying but it hard when sometimes your concerns are dismissed instead of pointing me in the right direction towards more help. I have reached out some by opening up on my blog somehow the web makes it easier but doesn't give the deeper relationships that I need to thrive.

  20. I have an almost 9 month old and a 5 year old and a husband in the military who is gone for several weeks every few months. I went to the doctor last week to see about getting help for how I am feeling: sad, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious. She said to me "I gotta tell you, you seem fine to me just from looking at you, but I want to have you talk to someone anyway". It was all I could do to keep myself from bursting into tears. I kept a smile on my face and was agreeable to whatever she was telling me because that's what I do to keep the appearance of not showing how crazy I feel on the inside. I think she needs to be schooled on postpartum disorders. It's hard enough for women to ask for help without feeling dismissed by someone they go to for treatment.

  21. Oh my goodness. That describes exactly how I felt! Thank you so much Kate for writing this article! I will be sharing it on Facebook. We can only hope greater awareness of PPD can help the women who are suffering in SILENCE, like I was…Thank you, Thank you!

  22. Robin | Farewell, St says:

    Kate, thank you. This is just perfect and something so many moms need to hear. That was me – for nearly 18 months, I was the one who suffered and didn't say anything, who didn't get the help I needed. I thought I was the only one but, sadly, I now know there are so very many women in that middle group who need to hear "please reach out."

  23. Kate, thank you for this. This describes me to a tee. I suffered with PPD and PPA for 7 months before I finally realized that I was not getting better. I realized that I needed to make that phone call for help and reach out. I had no idea how many other women struggled like I did.

  24. Linda,

    The exact same thing happened to me both at my 6 week PP visit and also with a questionare i filled out at the pediatrician's office. both times, i too was silently begging for them to go deeper, to investigate, hoping something i said was a red flag, but nope….just like your doctors, it got ignored or made light of….

    i still have so much anger about that.

  25. I read this, and as Rachel says it so well, could not believe how much this applies to me… More and more as I was reading on… All the time hoping to find some big discrepancy that would allow me to say I didn't belong to this group… I can't even say it… the group that suffers from postpartum depression…

    I was always the cheerful person, the positive thinker, the always optimistic and lively girl. I can't even put my mind around allowing myself to get depressed! It's so not like me, and it makes me feel like I'm not even related to the person I used to be, that the happy part of me was lost along the road. And I feel terrible for even feeling that way. We were blessed with a healthy happy baby girl, who slept through the night at 2 months of age, who should make motherhood look like a piece of cake! And yet, here I am, with no fundamental struggles, with no major baby sicknesses, trying to keep a normal happy face ("because I have no reason to feel like I do"), and struggling to get my former self back… I can't concentrate on work, all I want to do is crawl into my rec room couch and watch endless episodes of meaningless TV shows… And just sleep it off… But I can't…

    Having long term guests at my house doesn't help, I guess, I even thought of spending a day at a hotel, alone, without telling anyone…

    And the weird thing is, I didn't really think I was depressed… It didn't even cross my mind… I just thought I was tired… It wasn't until I decided to chop off my hair that I stared to think that it might be a bit more than tiredness… My baby was 7 months old when I went to my hairdresser's and had her cut 12 inches off… Then it hit me: this is not my normal self…

    That was 2 weeks ago. I have an appointment with my primary care next week, and am planning on contacting a counseling professional to just talk… I just want to talk about it now. I guess that's a step in the right direction.

    Kate, thanks for this great article, it makes me feel less alone in this.

    I'm no super mom. I'm just a regular person that needs a listening ear sometimes… Thanks for allowing me to reach out to people who I know understand me, and won't judge me…

    • Jenna, So many times we feel like we have to “have a reason” for feeling the way we do, like having a traumatic delivery, failing to be able to nurse, having a sick baby, etc. But, although these things are a reality for a lot of moms, these things are NOT the CAUSE of Postpartum Depression. I think they can possibly trigger PPD and can definitely exacerbate PPD, but they are not the actual cause of it. Having PPD is not our fault, nor the fault of our circumstances either. It is an illness that we cannot control. This is something I have to remind myself of all the time. Best wishes to you, and all the other wonderful moms here!! <3 ~Linda

      • Thank you Linda, it feels so much better already just opening up about it… Reading the messages makes me see how slow of a recovery it is, and that it won't be normal again overnight… But I'm willing to fight this battle, I have too much to loose with not being happy…

        Thanks again…

        Jenna

  26. I very sadly learned I was a good actor following the birth of my daughter as I held on day after day. One of the hardest calls I had to make was to the intake person for the psych dept at my HMO (self-referral for ppd treatment), and I'll never forget how kind he was and how I cried and cried on that call. My daughter was 10 months old and I had hit a wall and knew I could not take care of her any longer if I didn't get help. To the outside world, including my husband, I seemed fine or at least fine enough, but every day felt dark and desperate to me. It was a multi-year recovery (my daughter is 5 now) and I often didn't believe I could feel like myself again. I wish there had been a support group that I could attend but both the HMO and local groups were only for new moms with PPD (so with a 10 month old, I didn't fit the profile). I think that community would have made a difference and given me something I didn't get from medication and individual therapy. In the end, I found that support here and am ever grateful for it.

    • Susan- you may already know this, but I am going to take this opportunity to comment on your sentence: "I wish there had been a support group that I could attend but both the HMO and local groups were only for new moms with PPD (so with a 10 month old, I didn’t fit the profile)"- -It is a myth that PPD only exists in the first several months postpartum, and any depressive or anxiety symptoms in the first 12 months postpartum can be considered "Postpartum Depression/Anxiety"- I mention this only because so many women are told what you were, and this is neither true nor fair to those women who suffer. Thanks for sharing…

  27. Thank you for this post. I was diagnosed wtihin weeks of having my daughter yet, 8 months later, I still struggle with explaining the depths of my emotions to anyone. Especially on the bad days. My most recent breakdown I was awake for over 24 hours and just cried and cried and cried after 3 hours of wondering how long it would take my partner to wake up after the baby started crying if i went and slit my wrists. I have read multiple posts from your website and I have to say that they all have made me feel better. I'm the youngest of 7 and no one else in my family suffered from PPD. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone.

    • Oh Tabatha, I'm sorry to hear of your struggle. Please know that we want you here and your baby does too. You are the best mother for your child, even if it doesn't feel like it. I know it's very hard to explain how it feels to others — many people really can't understand unless they've been in the depths of anxiety or depression, too. Just know that we understand. You are NOT alone.
      ~ Katherine

    • Hang in there Tabatha, you will be well again, even though you probably don’t feel that way right now. I remember what it was like when I was in a place where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and truly believed that that light did not exist. but sure enough, even though it took a long time and was so painful to endure, I eventually saw that light, and you will too! Finding this web page has been a huge help to me…being able to speak openly about my depression with others who understand, and to hear other people’s stories. Hang in there—you and your baby and your partner deserve it!!

  28. I am many years past my postpartum depression and PMDD. Thankfully, I had a doctor who immediately understood when I finally figured out how messed up things were in my head. I wrote her a fevered letter and she saw me right away, confirming all my concerns. But this WAS ME at the time.

    I put on a good front – I'm even a counselor by trade! – and did just enough to appear functional. Talk about feeling like a fraud. I'd cry by myself when my daughters napped trying to *make* it go away and stop tormenting me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not push it away. I went through two postpartum periods and two PMDD nightmares before this all came together.

    I wouldn't have been in the extreme category or the mild category – right smack in the middle. It took a couple of years of medication and a mom support group before I really felt *reliably* like myself. I felt joyous at the first time I didn't hit rock-bottom again with my PMDD, but I knew I was still just getting used to balanced life at that point and wasn't sure if it would always be that way.

    My last month of untreated PMDD was in April or May of 2003, and I'm happy to say I had a really good third pregnancy and postpartum time because I was under the right care.

    But you spoke to me here and I thank you for recognizing the "moms in the middle".

  29. I am so very thankful that I found this website a few months ago. This post in particular really spoke to me. Today, with a churning stomach, nausea, and spiked blood pressure, I went to see my PCP and confessed my four year battle with trying to push away this depression. She couldn't believe I had waited so long. I start meds tomorrow and have an appointment with a counselor in a few weeks. I feel so relieved! Finally! I'm going to get better! Thanks to all of you who are contributors to this site. You just helped save me from myself.

  30. kris mortensen says:

    Kate, do you take clients by phone?

  31. My son is now 17 months old (well, in 2 days). I had a relatively smooth and good delivery. We went home 24 hours after he was born and other than being exhausted, I was fine. I chose to breastfeed and surprisingly, that was going well too. When he turned 3 days old, "IT" hit me like a ton of bricks. The overwhelming sadness, the crying that never stopped, the lonliness, the anger (At hubby and son), terrified of everything, scared to be alone, scared to go anywhere. At my 5 week postpartum check-up, I lied on the questionare bc my husband said that he thought it was normal (Even tho its our first child). This went on for 2 1/2 months before I called the OBGYN. The nurse said "oh it's just the baby blues. We will call you in something." They did..awful side effects. Zoned out completely, didn't want to eat, be with anyone, couldn't concentrate on anything, headaches…ect. Took this for 8 weeks. When he was 4 1/2 months old, I had already been thinking about killing myself. I told my husband that I wanted to die and tried to take all my anti-depressants. Luckily he took them from me in time. My sister took me and my child to the ER. The ER doctor on-call said there was really nothing they could do for me, give me a prescription for 2 different meds, give me a 1-800 number to a mental health facility and sent me home. Okay…thought this is normal…maybe I should deal with it. Went to the MH facility the next day…wow was that a joke! Didn't go back. Seen the OBGYN and received some samples of a different medicine and started taking it. Seen a 10% inprovemen in about a month. So thought that was the answer. Well, it was for a while anyways. Struggled with feeling suicidal, the sadness, anger, overwhelming anxiety, horrible nightmares, son having colic and sleep problems, being by myself bc my husband worked nights and slept days so didn't have much help. This went on until he was about 11 months. Then the homicidal thoughts started. I had had enough of life, of my marriage, of my son. I wanted to kill us both and thought of ways to do it. I was to chicken to follow through with the thoughts. Soon he turned 1, then when he was almost 15 months, I had the most powerful feeling of wanting to hurt him that it scared the crap out of me. I was alone at home (hubby at work) and had just given him a bath, and he was screaming like always (not a happy baby) and I started to just put the towel over his face and end it. But I didn't. I got up, walked away and left him screaming in the living room floor for I don't know how long. When I calmed down, I went back in there and got him to sleep. I had this in my head for 3 more days before I told anyone. This friend I told works at our local health department and told me I had to get help or she was calling DFACS. I told her I would. I drove to my OB's office who in turn called the ER, and they said I should not be driving, so the nurse drove me to the ER. Sat in the waiting room for 45 mins, then anotehr 45m ins in the triage room. They took blood, asked questions, and left me there. I was told that a mental health counselor would see me. Waited over 2 hours and nobody ever came. I was given a number to a counseling service and sent home. Two days later went to Greenleaf (not sure how many ppl are familiar with that) and talked with a dr. I was told that I needed to be inpatient because of my symptoms. I was breastfeeding my son and they would make no accomodations for that. We had also never been away from each other for more than kabout 30 mins and they would only let me see him every other day. I felt like it would have been worse for us if I went. I went the following Monday back to Greenleaf to talk to someone about Partial Hospitilazation(a few hours a day for a few weeks). I got everything set up and started the next day . I was so scared because I thought that the people in group would think I was crazy. Turns out, they didn't. They were alot more supportive than my husband. I might add that nobody else knew except my husband about me. I went for 18 days and was discharged. I loved going to group and felt like I was getting better. Now been out of group for a month and don't feel so good. I went to see a therapist (love her) and a nurse practitioner for my meds 4 times so far in the last month. But it doesn't feel as good as group. I feel myself isolating again and I can't sleep for anything but I stay so exhausted you would think I could just fall out at night. I have tried 2 other meds in the last month and had some bad side effects but trying to deal. In the last 17 months..had to deal with all this plus switching pediatricians twice for my son, him having health problems, problems in marriage, health problems myself, family issues, and weaned from brestfeeding (hands-down one of the hardest decisions of my life). I just feel like there is no end in sight. I am meeting with a psychologist (who is also a family member) in just a few hours. I hope that goes well. I too am angry like another lady posted.. I am angry at myself, angry at this awful thing that has taken away my life almost for the last 17 months, angry at the hospital and dr's bc they sent me away thinking I was okay when clearly I was not. I feel robbed of my son's first year bc I was in such a bad place it all seems like a blur to me. I also want to add that I was told at GL that it was postpartum psychosis..not ppd…not much information on the internet…so still struggling with that diagnosis. Thanks for posting this and sorry mine was so long.

    • I kind of got lost in me emotions and reading some other stories brought back things. I wanted to add too. I also couldn't remeber nursing him at night, changing him,doing simple things. I was like a robot who had no emotions..just simply did it. Sometimes I would have to ask myself, did I eat, drink,ect. DId I bathe him today? I have just recently found 2 ladies on FB who are suffering, not to the same degree according to them, but the same nonetheless. It really stinks because I live in a really small town (About 4000 people) and I have to drive over an hour just to see a therapist. There is literally nothing around here and no on ever told me about PPD or PPP. They never warned me to watch out for signs in the hospital after I had my son. I feel like I was cheated for some reason, even though that might not make sense to anyone else.

    • Lacey, I'm so sorry to read that you are struggling. You should feel good that you've continued to reach out for help and not give up. Getting help is a gift to you and your baby. I'm not sure where you live, but I'd like to suggest that if you let me know I can put you in contact with whatever resources may be available in your area that are for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. If you are in Georgia, you can reach out to:

      Joanne Patterson, RN, MSN

      Project Healthy Moms Warmline Facilitator, Mental Health America of Georgia

      Georgia State Co-Coordinator, Postpartum Support International

      404-849-5466

      Email: joannemcdougal@msn.com

  32. “To those of you who are reading this blog in secret when the lights are out because you don’t want anyone else to know that you might not be feeling so well”

    This is me, right at this moment. I am reading this in the darkness of my 4 week old daughter’s room. She is my 2nd child, I’m sure I had some PPD with my first, but like so many others I skirted around the issue hoping someone would notice and help me. My dr asked once if I ever felt like harming myself or child and my answer was no. I thought to myself, who would ever admit to wanting to harm their child? I’m not sure if I ever felt that, but my feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and anxiety clouded my brain.

    Right now the feelings of guilt have doubled. I feel guilty for not bonding with my newborn, I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my older child. I am anxious every night and every morning. I worry about everything with both kids.

    I know I need help, but I am scared to talk to my doctor about it. I feel ashamed and daily I thank my husband for not thinking I’m crazy although deep down I think he does. This blog has given me hope and I appreciate being able to share my thoughts knowing you will not judge me. Thank you.

    • Rebecca S says:

      Maria, Please know you are not crazy first off. Your body is still undergoing a tremendous transformation. I urge you not to be afraid to tell your doctor so that you find appropriate care quickly. I suffered through depression during my pregnancy and then 10 months postpartum before I really admitted I needed help…too long! And then it took longer to find the right care! (I did a guest post here on part of my struggle) I believe the hurting your baby is a general symptom which I never felt either…I think doctors still need a updated questionnaire to really tell if a mom needs help. Sending you strength, love and encouragement! You are not alone as you sit in the dark.

  33. I am also very glad to have read this. I feel so alone all the time, and I feel my husband growing more and more weary of my sad moods. I have a 17 month old daughter who is amazing. I felt great and even secure in my mothering abilities and bond with my daughter for about the first month. After that, the awful shameful thoughts began, and I began to question myself in every way. I began to feel detached and numb. I became so sad all the time, but I too have put on a happy face for family, friends, and work. There aren’t many people who know how badly I have suffered. Originally, I had thought that my feelings were based on a childhood memory that somehow surfaced after my daughter was born. I had done something inappropriate with another child when I was about 10, and I have felt that incident made me undeserving of being a mother. The feelings of self hate and guilt and just sheer fear that if anyone knew about what I had done, I’d lose everything. I think that not remembering this incident until I was already an adult made me judge myself as an adult. It took until my daughter was about 7 months before I sought counseling. I found a great counselor who has been so wonderful to me, but I have been reluctant to take medication because I was breastfeeding until my daughter was a year. Now, I would like to try for another baby. Also, I didn’t feel that the medication I did try for about 4 months made any improvements for me. The counselor and the psychiatrist she referred me to both assured me that this childhood incident was a common occurrence for children, and that things like that happen when children are left unsupervised for long periods of time. I finally opened up to my husband about it who assured me that he did not think I was some kind of pervert, which is literally how I felt and how i had been judging myself for so long after remembering this. I thought after we had talked about it, I would start feeling better. I did for a while, and I really thought things were going to start improving a lot more. To some extent they have. I feel my bond with my daughter has strengthened so much. I rarely thing about how much she must hate me, and how much she’d rather be with my husband than me. I have had some great moment of such security in my mothering. BUT I still have long periods, like a week or two at a time, of extreme sadness and insecurity. I am also taking Clomid in trying for our second baby which I feel could have an effect on my mood, but I have to take it since I don’t ovulate regularly and have to have a planned pregnancy because of the two miscarriage I had before my daughter. I’m just looking for some support, I’m so tired of feeling so awful and feeling so alone. I feel like my husband isn’t as happy as he could be because of me. I have everything, and I want to feel that joy.

  34. melanie says:

    1 year and 1 month after this blog was written I found my way to it. I am right at this second sitting in a office cubical, with my desk turned around weirdly and a second program open that I can click over to if someone walks in because I am ashamed of how I feel. I am only 6 weeks postpartum and have been back to work for 2weeks because, well, my boss demanded that I come back and made me feel guilty for needing time off, and well my household needs my support. I work 55 hour work weeks, not to mention the responsibility that comes with having a newborn. And the doc appts. It seems like we always have an appt. And the older daughter who is almost 5 and is needing more and more of my attention now that the baby is here. And then the husband. Who seems to think that I am just being “dramatic” when I start crying and begging him for a good night of sleep. Or his response is ” how do you think I feel, everytime you get up it wakes me up”. I cant tell him how I am truly feeling. He will not understand. My doctor is also a man. he is just going to think im crazy or making it up. I don’t want to be looked at that way. with those eyes. The look of disgust from someone who thinks your feelings are stupid. I need some rest. I need my mind to stop. It is turning and turning and turning. It wont stop. Even when im sleeping I feel as if im working on something so hard that I when I wake up I am more exhausted then when I went to sleep. I feel as if I would only be happy if I got in my car right now and just started to drive. drive until I have no more gas, no more money and no option but stop. far away from everything here. and then just sit. sit and be still and quiet. no thinking. no talking. no movements. just sit. But I cant. I cant. because I have two daughters depending on me. Because I don’t want to seen as crazy. Because my whole life I have been a very successful career woman. Because my whole life I have been the person everyone comes to when they have a problem. Because as long as I can remember, I have never had to ask for help. And because I have no one to ask for help from. Because these girls depend on me and if I cant take care of them then who will. And when I have a couple hours sleep or time alone I realize this and it makes me feel ok for a day or so. I will get extremely motivated and clean my house and take the kids to the park and seem excited to come to work the next day because remember, I love my job. I keep telling myself how much I have always loved it. Then the next day comes around. I don’t love it anymore. I hate this place. I hate my life. I hate who I am. I hate that because of financial situations I have no choice but come back here everyday. forever. god forever is a long time right? And this situation is horrible for my daughter. She is almost 5 years old. and I find myself so mad at her when she does things that all normal kids do. I yelled at her the other day and yelled so harishly that I just cried and cried afterwards because I realized how mean I was being when she is truly a good kid. a wonderful kid at that. I was so mad. Why? because she accidently spilled washable paint on the table while painting. Its just paint. but I yelled and yelled and yelled. Its crazy but she knows. no one else can seem to tell what is happening inside me. but she knows. she just hugs me and tells me she loves me and everythings ok. and that I need a tea party. she thinks tea parties fix everything. The little baby is in no danger of me being mad at her. she is perfect. she never sleeps though. but it isn’t her fault. she is so little and perfect. That is one way I keep convincing myself that I am ok. if I was suffering from PDD I would be resentful towards her right? well Im not. so I must be fine. then I have a bad day again. I just wish my husbad could understand. I wish he could tell me it was ok. and that I didn’t have to work right now. and that I did not have to do the dishes. and that I could just rest for a hwile until I felt better. I wish it could happen before I become the woman in this article. before I wake up in twelve months to realize that I finally feel better all on my own but my anger and exhaustion has hurt my daughters feelings too many times to take back. Im so lost. I have no clue what to do.

    • You’re not crazy Melanie. All of the feelings you describe are common to women with postpartum depression and related illnesses. You’re not a bad person and you haven’t done anything wrong. You probably have what is a very common illness. If you let me know where you live, even if you just tell me the state, I will put you in touch with people who won’t give you that look that you’re worried about. There are people who understand this completely and know how to help. You need help and you deserve help and we’re happy to help you get it. Email me (Katherine) at postpartumprogress@gmail.com.

  35. Thank you for this post. Do you have a camera in my house ;-)? I just finally decided to reach out for help about three weeks ago, at about 6.5 months post partum. My daughter is 7 months now, and I still have yet to receive any help. I have called my OBGYN multiple times. I have called about six different psychiatrists/counselors. Not ONE psychiatrist/counselor has called me back. My OBGYN said they couldn’t help me but referred me to a DR. The doctor’s office can’t get me in for over a month. I let my OB know, and they told me they called the DRs office and asked them to call me and get me in this week… here were are 24 hours later, and the Dr. office hasn’t called still.

    It’s so disheartening to feel like I finally got up the courage to seek help, but because I’m “capable” of “getting by”, I can’t get help. Sure, I can suffer for another month or two. I’ll survive, because I have solidly engraved in my mind that suicidal thoughts are not an option. Luckily I have our Lord and Savior, and prayer to get me through, but I feel so badly for all of the mom’s out there who have been faced with the same “inability to get help” even when they try!

    Any suggestions? I feel like I have to tell them it’s an “emergency” in order to actually get a response from anyone (which isn’t true, so I won’t).

    • Rebecca - Warrior Mom says:

      To be honest with you, I wasn’t taken serious until I begged for someone to end my misery after months of searching for help and meeting with quacks. I’m not sure where you’re located, but there is a list of specialized providers abd programs listed on the website by city. I wish I would have known or actually been able to research for myself at that time. Don’t give up!

  36. You write about the mums that look for help. But there are others that don’t, and they don’t realize anything is wrong until they have a broken marriage and things are worse. No one understands. Not husbands, not family nor friends. It is a horrible illness that still affects me greatly and my children are now 3 and 5. I have no one and I’m living on my own in a foreign country with no support.

  37. I am this mom. We had two more children who are now 2 and 3. I have been suffering since the birth of my older son. I have been BEGGING for help, a break, a counseling appointment. unfortunately it has fallen on deaf ears. Not one person in our life is willing to say, “I ll watch the boys so you can get help”. My partner, I found out was cheating on my throughout both pregnancies for 2 years. This didn’t help my condition. If I could be painfully honest, I have no drive to be in this relationship and have stuck it through because of our children. I am so unhappy that my unhappiness has carried over to the boys. The relationship is nonexistent, and I am fine with that. I NEED help with the boys. I can t take a #2 without one on my lap and one on my shoulders. I work pt 3rd shift weekends only and have a full time class schedule online. I have begged and begged to get help. I went to the counseling office, unfortunately I cannot afford daycare so they had to come. This was not allowed- understandable. I used to love being a mother, but now I dread everyday. My kids walk all over me, I have given up on cleaning the house and I only shower on the weekends. My legs have forgotten what a razor is, I would give anything to be allowed to go alone to the grocery store. Whenever their father gets home from work I secretly hate him. I envision throwing things at him. I am envious that he gets to not only shower alone, but daily. I hate that he has relax time, and adult interaction. He makes me utterly sick to look at. My boys sleep with me, eat with me and when I shower (so they don’t get in the way of their father) are also in the bathroom when I shower ( usually jumping in and out of the shower). I know I must sound crazy. I hate my life, I need help. I need to get past this hatred towards their dad, and I need counseling. Maybe just typing this and sending it out into the air helps.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through Salena. I think you recognize that you need and deserve help, and counseling could have a very positive impact. You don’t sound crazy, you just sound like someone who has a lot of stress and little to no social support. Have you looked into counseling services locally that allow children? I’m not sure where you live but if you let me know I can try to see if there are any in your area.

  38. I cannot believe how you described me spot on even down to the reading this blog in the dark, for months I’ve been feeling like having a baby is the worst thing that ever happened to me & I hate myself for it because I know there are women out their who’d give anything to have a baby & I just happen to be a lucky one who got pregnant after a condom mishap but I can’t help how I feel, I’ve tried to make myself happy & it just doesn’t work. I think the absolute worst part is when everyone asks “isn’t being a mom the best/most rewarding thing?” & I have to fake a smile & say yes (I’ve answered no to this a couple times & never have I felt so judged)

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  2. [...] what troubles social worker Kate Kripke about these “middle women” on the PPD spectrum, the ones who tend to slip through the diagnostic net because of their outward patina of [...]