It took one day for Postpartum Depression to hit me.
It took 10 deeply miserable, lonely, scary months for me to ask for the professional help I needed.
It took almost another three years to feel like myself again. To feel like I could be an alive and present partner, mom, daughter, sister and friend. To feel like I am a person and not just a facade trying to make it through each day.
I hid. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was lonely. I didn’t talk about it with people who I know love me. I downplayed it when I did talk about it. I put all my acting skills to poor use in hiding myself. I know why; in addition to the fear and shame, most days, getting through the day took all the energy I had.
I have loved my daughter deeply through all of this. She is my heart’s delight. During those 10 long undiagnosed months, while I didn’t take much care of myself, I put everything I had into caring for her. I only asked for help when I realized I could not take care of her anymore if I didn’t start taking care of myself.
I have worried about the impact of my PPD on my girl. I have clung to the belief I have in play as a way to bond with, nurture and mother her. I believe that my ability to play, even when my heart and soul was not playful, has helped us through these early years. I wish things had been different. I feel sad about all that I missed out on as a mom and we missed out on as a family because of my PPD.
In my road to recovery, there has been one constant source of support, helpful information and inspiration — Katherine Stone and Postpartum Progress. Katherine is an amazing advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She writes openly and honestly about her own experiences and has built a powerhouse of support for women and their families. Postpartum Progress gives accessible information, real stories of suffering and coping, connections to resources and a community that understands and supports each other.
Today is an opportunity for me to give something back. In addition to telling my story here, I’ve made a donation to Postpartum Progress to help in the support of developing a compelling national awareness campaign for postpartum depression, as well as new and improved patient education materials (the kind new moms won’t throw away!), and new uses of technology to reach suffering moms no matter where they are. Postpartum Progress reached me when I needed more help than I was finding on my own.
If you or someone you love has or is currently suffering from PPD, please check out Postpartum Progress. If you are in a position to make a donation, you can learn more about Strong Start Day and make a donation here.