Perinatal Mood Disorder: MORE than JUST a Term
Perinatal Mood Disorder… sounds like a ten dollar general medical term right? Some disorder that other people get. Other people but not you. Not ever. I thought the same thing prior to entering motherhood. I could not have been MORE wrong.
Society tells mothers they will be overjoyed to have entered motherhood. What they don’t say is: “Yes, you have a beautiful baby BUT you also may be overtired, stressed out, anxious, terrified, depressed, etc.” And that it is OK to feel this way. These feeling during the newborn phase is referred to as “baby blues.” The medical term is Perinatal Mood Disorder ($10 well spent).
Up to 22% of women face a perinatal mood disorder in the US. That number reflects self-reported or diagnosed cases. Is this accurate? I do not know, I never reported my experience… the scary part is a lot of women are afraid to ask if what they are experiencing is more than the typical “baby blues”.
This socially accepted term generally gets the response “Oh you just have the baby blues, it’ll go away on it’s own.” Which requires enough courage to actually tell people how you feel. As if that will help. It is just another way to ignore and discourage mothers from wanting to tell anyone when something is wrong. I know. That’s how I felt.
EVERYONE can suffer from a perinatal mood disorder. It’s not selective and is very random, JUST like a chronic illness or cancer. It shouldn’t be dismissed or discounted and has been present in our history for centuries.
My Experience with Postpartum Depression
Hello. My name is Christina and I suffered from Postpartum Depression for SIX months. I didn’t realize it until it was over. That’s right, for the first six months of my oldest son’s life I felt anxious, depressed and restlessness. I wasn’t over joyed to be a mother. I felt trapped and overwhelmed. I resented being a mother. I felt like I couldn’t talk about it because everyone told me I should be so happy.
THANKFULLY I did not want to harm him or myself during that period. I felt he could be easily broken and was scared to hold him half of the time. I thought he would ruin my nipples if he latched while breastfeeding, so I exclusively pumped for the month I was on leave before returning to work.
Honestly, I don’t think it was just one thing that caused my depression to last as long as it did. I was a first time mom. I was working 11 hour days to make ends meat while supporting a drunken deadbeat, my oldest’s biological father. It got better after I left when my oldest was 5 1/2 months old. By the time he was 6 months old I felt like I could finally breathe.
The rocky start to our relationship still has an impact. It is something I work on every day. Some days are great, some are not. He is a wonderful and smart little boy, I am so thankful to be his mother. I am now happy being a mom, but the memory of my PPD feels like an awful and haunting nightmare.
I hope that sharing my story and inner-most feelings will help some of you out there who are feeling sad, mad, upset, trapped, etc. Motherhood is many things. Good. Bad. Ugly. Wonderful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Things can and will get better. That if you do feel a bit off you should see a doctor or take a postpartum quiz to see if you need help. IT IS OK TO GET HELP. You aren’t a broken and terrible mother. Motherhood is a journey. All journeys have bumps, twists and turns, but they also bring sunshine and lasting memories.
-The Mother Haunted by her Postpartum Depression