A new baby brings immense joy to the family, no matter how challenging life can get, both physically and mentally. However, new mothers are always at a risk to develop the baby blues – postpartum depression.
I am not a medical professional. None of what I’m writing here is to be perceived as medical advice. Postpartum depression is a reality affecting thousands of new mothers and most of the time these women don’t speak up in fear of being ridiculed or scoffed at. Having faced the baby blues myself and failing to receive help from even medical professionals has prompted me to write this down today.
What is Postpartum Depression?
It is a type of clinical depression, a real disease. You will find many articles online which explains postpartum depression (PPD) but it’s noteworthy that while risk factors are known, its causes are still not understood. It may affect new mothers right after childbirth and can last upto a year, or more if it’s a severe form.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, crying episodes, irregular sleeping and eating habits, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, even guilt. My symptoms also included frustration over loss of control on life as I knew it. I hated that I couldn’t work anymore. I hated that I couldn’t come and go as I pleased. And mostly I hated not being in control of household functions like planning the menu, eating what I wanted (not what was right for me) and so on. Frequent anxiety frustrated me even more and a sense of doom would always accompany me. However, no matter what I felt, I always forgot about it when my baby was awake. From that I can tell you that my PPD was clearly a moderate one.
In severe cases of PPD, new mothers can completely lose interest in their babies and feel unable to connect with them. And that would spiral them into more of the above symptoms.
How to get help?
Getting help is quite frustrating. Even though my husband supported me throughout this ordeal, he and I were unable to find anyone who could help us. We even reached out to my gynaecologist and she told us to stop wasting our money and instead concentrate more on the baby. She even suggested we try for Baby no. 2 if current baby is not keeping me busy at all times! And worse comes to worst, she prescribed me sleeping tablets to help me sleep better. That was quite a blow.
Back home, my own mother wouldn’t hear me out when I said I might need a therapist. She yelled at me that I couldn’t appreciate the wonderful gift God has bestowed upon me and instead I was letting my imagination run amok. She finally calmly suggested me to get a job after I hire a nanny for the baby.
I did none.
In such a huge city like Delhi, we couldn’t find a therapist. There is such a stigma associated with psychiatry that therapists are hard to come by. So, my husband and I did a lot of research online to help us through. Trust me, reading about it helps. Knowing you are not the only one feeling like this helps. And my husband turned therapist for me. He would listen to me for hours while I rambled through my episodes. There were good days and there were some particularly bad days. I must have scared the poor darling so many times but he was a rock. And I held on.
My baby will be turning 2 in a couple of months now, and I’m finally realizing my baby blues are going away. Now as I look back, I realize how numb I had become. But I am getting back to the old me. There are still instances of worthlessness, but with everlasting support from a loving husband and non-stop antics of a naughty baby, I’m ready to believe the worst is over. Life goes on..
If you feel like this, even for a little bit, then speak up. I can’t give you medical references, but I know (and hope) having a supportive partner or friend can tide you over the worst. Good luck :)
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