Understanding postpartum depression

I've been fairly open about my postpartum depression (PPD). Some people shake their heads at this, and sometimes I get disapproving phone calls or messages, telling me that perhaps I should deal with things in a more private manner.

I absolutely disagree. Before I had Timmy, I read a story about a mother from Utah that suffered from PPD after her 5th child. She had never experienced PPD before, and the effects of the disease crippled her in the most tragic way. She died as a result of PPD, and she was seeking professional help and had the support of her family and friends. 

I remember aching for her young family and grieving husband, and I remember hoping I would not suffer from the disease after Timmy's birth; I felt, perhaps foolishly, that I had already been through so much during my pregnancy that I might sail through postpartum easily. Within weeks, I realized this would not be the case. Because I had been diagnosed with PPD before, I recognized the signs. I expressed concern to Tim and my closest family and friends and immediately received love and support. 

The thing about PPD is that it's never the same. It changes from woman to woman, and baby to baby. My experience with it after my miscarriage was much darker than what I currently feel (so much so that I even wondered if there was a God). I received an email a week ago asking me if I was not connecting with Timmy, and although it is a valid question (because most people associate PPD with not connecting with children or wanting to hurt oneself or the baby), this has not been my experience with Timmy. In fact, he and I have a very special bond. His smile feels like sunshine; it hits me with such a wave of warmth that I truly feel special everyday. So for those of you wondering how I'm doing with Timmy, the answer is remarkably well.

So if that is not my problem, what is? I feel I am in a constant state of spinning, like I'm standing in the middle of a tornado, and I can't quite grasp solid ground. I reach out, but things and people slip through my fingers. It is exhausting and overwhelming. I continuously feel like I'm letting people down, and I apologize so much that I'm tired of apologizing. I feel like wearing a shirt that reads: I'm sorry. It's probably my fault. Obviously I'm not always at fault, but my brain refuses to process that fact so I just feel a lot of exhaustion and guilt, which leads me to feel sad and angry a lot. More than a lot. I have a difficult time enjoying myself because I never get to relax. Every moment of life is calculated; I am excellent at multitasking, which is great, but it also means I don't rest. I'm always doing 3 things at once, and I almost feel like I'm failing at 1 or more thing. 

So that's where I am. I want you to know I have superb help, and I do feel a lot of love. After having a severe panic attack on Sunday, I have been the recipient of so much goodness. A friend took my kids to church, fed them dinner, and let them play so I could rest. My neighbor helped me pick everything off the ground so I could sweep and vacuum any potential fleas. On Monday, a friend helped me fold 10 loads of laundry and she took Elle home with her to give me an afternoon break, another friend took over my duty at carpool this morning, and another friend watched Timmy and Felicity while I went grocery shopping this morning. 

My world often feels crazy, but even with the constant crazy, there is so much goodness. So much kindness. I am undeserving of much of it, but I am grateful for all of it. I hope I grow out of PPD as time goes on, but while I'm experiencing it, I'm learning to do less.

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley