PPD: It Can Look Like This Too...

Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com

Today I’m talking about Postpartum Depression and sharing a bit of my story with you. Discussing the highs and lows of being a mom helps us to rejoice in the happy moments and know we are not alone when we’re in the trenches, especially when we share and normalize symptoms that are often overlooked on this topic.

My first baby, my helpful and kind Brooke, I had textbook postpartum depression. I didn’t bond with her right away. For 6 months, feelings of depression lingered that included sadness and loss of interest in doing the things I loved. When she was born, five years ago, I didn’t know much about postpartum depression. My doctor never brought it up, but I did make an attempt to try to explain how I was feeling. There wasn’t much of response on her end other than, if I thought I would hurt myself or my baby, to call them. (In my best Brooklyn 99 Jake Peralta voice) Cool Cool Cool. I didn't have any harmful feelings so, well, I assumed all the sadness and loss of interest was normal and something everyone must experience after childbirth. My only option was to attempt to just get over it and come up with creative ways I could bond with her. I continued to do the things I loved doing out of sheer will and eventually, the feelings faded, and I did bond with Brooke, but it was a long, challenging journey.

With James, my pregnancy was blissful, my delivery was fantastic, I instantly felt overwhelmingly in love with him. When he was first born, I remember thinking back to the first 6 months with Brooke. I wondered if the feelings of sadness and inability to bond right away was a natural reaction to being a first-time mom or maybe this wasn’t something ALL moms go through at all. Did I really experience PPD because this feeling with James, the feelings of euphoria and love I was having with him, was surely what I was ‘supposed to feel’ when having a baby or at least how I’d always pictured it before having children? There was no denying the stark contrast between my two postpartum experiences.

So here we are on the brink of 20-19, I’m in a couple of mom groups, I’ve done many women's studies, and talked with various women who’ve experienced what I experienced with Brooke. I have a much better understanding of how common PPD is and the symptoms associated with it…at least I thought so until I began experiencing extreme feelings of anger over the past two weeks.

I don’t know quite the best way to describe it. It’s like you’re watching a movie of yourself. You feel the tension rising for no good reason, and you’re yelling at the screen to calm down, that it’s not a big deal, but you can’t change what the character in the movie is doing. I had a friend text me something delightful the other day, and it aggravated me. Like what? Why in the world would that provoke me? I love my friend and her kind words. I couldn’t tell you why it annoyed me so, but it did. I can wake up like that and then randomly, hours into the day, it’s like a switch is flipped and the Incredible Hulk is back to being David Banner. Even though it ‘s been manifesting by being short with my husband or my kids the past two weeks, inside, it feels much more intense. I’m fighting not to let it out.

Hormonal maybe or something else? I’m not sad. Overall I feel happy. I've bonded so well with Emma-Rose. I’m pretty driven and energetic so what is this? When you look up symptoms of PPD anger is NOT on most list. It wasn’t until I googled ‘anger after childbirth’ that a series of articles came up about the topic. It’s one of the most missed symptoms of PPD, and those articles go on to say how PPD isn’t always textbook like it was with my first. It can show itself in many different forms and to many different degrees.

So where do I go from here? Some women may need to talk to their doctors about prescription options that will help, and some women will talk to their doctors about trying to manage it naturally. Because it varies so much from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy, some women can cope with it on their own and some can't, and that’s okay. You have to do what is best for you and those around you. Because I know what’s going on with me and I’ve experienced it before, I feel like I have power over it to a certain extent. At least enough to attempt to take it on naturally. That does not mean that I’m just waiting it out and sitting idly by allowing my feelings and anger to overwhelm me. Instead, I’m choosing to slow down and take everything a bit more moment by moment. I’m journalling through my feelings. I'm praying, and I'm talking with my support team and family. I'm continuing to take small moments to care for myself. I'm being very purposeful in my nutrition specifically focusing on postpartum foods and beverage like some of the items I’ve been using from Freshly Moms. Well, besides that total loss in will power the other day when I ended up in the Chick-fil-a line, and honestly it was probably the worst chick-fil-a I’ve ever had so it wasn’t even worth it. But hey, it's not about being perfect right?

Take the victories when you can mama and don't be afraid to talk about how you're feeling. Never believe the lie that you have to work this all out on your own. You just created a human, birthed it, and are now responsible for nurturing and caring for your new little one along with all of your other responsibilities in your life. Give yourself grace because you flippin rock! Talk with your doctor too and determine what’s the best path to take...and if they act like your feelings aren't valid, as my first experience went, well guess what? There are plenty of other doctors in the sea and plenty of other moms to come alongside you who will share their own struggles to let you know you are not alone and give you helpful advice along the way. You might just end up being the light for someone else one day when you get through this because you will!