Quick Facts: Postpartum Depression

When speaking to my family and friends about postpartum depression (PPD) I realized that not only did I put on a great facade, but many of them had no idea how to truly recognize something wasn’t quite right with me. I’ve decided to share what I’ve found on Mayo Clinic regarding the matter so that it can help all who are interested. In my own experience, it is very scary and embarrassing admitting to having postpartum depression. Especially if it’s not your first baby. I personally felt that people may have felt like I was being dramatic and claiming depression simply because I was a little stressed.

If you are a mother or the loved one of a mother who has had a baby within 0-2 years, I advise you to take her symptoms and cries serious. She may not experience each symptom so you have to be aware of them all. Support her, love her, listen to her, help her. Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 12.41.48 AM

There are many factors that play into a mother experiencing postpartum depression, but the most common are the physical changes that take place after the birth of her child and emotional issues. On the physical spectrum, when a mother gives birth, there is an extreme drop in her hormones that can lead to PPD. Emotionally; “sleep deprivation, feeling overwhelmed, less attractive, struggling with sense of identity or feeling like she’s lost control of her life can all contribute to postpartum depression.”

Per Mayo Clinic:

“Any new mom can experience postpartum depression and it can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. Her risk increases if:

  • She has a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times.
  • She has bipolar disorder.
  • She had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy.
  • She has family members who’ve had depression or other mood disorders.
  • She’s experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss.
  • Her baby has health problems or other special needs.
  • She has twins, triplets or other multiple births.
  • She has difficulty breast-feeding.
  • She’s having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
  • She has a weak support system.
  • She has financial problems.
  • The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.

I Am Not A Burden

When I think of the meaning of burden, I find it to be a very heavy and powerful word. According to the dictionary, its definition is “load, usually a heavy one.” It’s also described as a problem or trouble. I’ve of course heard the word burden used in a context where it refers to a person. For example, the longer someone stays in an unhealthy relationship, they become a burden. Having to care for someone who is addicted to a substance can be a burden. However, I hadn’t heard it used in first person much until it was one of the superior thoughts lingering in my mind… I don’t want to be a burden.

I started this blog when I was two months postpartum after giving birth to Jayla. I remember one of my first posts being Postpartum Depression or Bad Week? and I was fresh off of a hard week of emotions and motherhood. I was so confused with what I had experienced and what I was feeling. I didn’t understand how everything was getting on top of me as a mother when it wasn’t my first time being a mother. Postpartum depression crossed my mind, but I erased it as an option because I believed I was only having a rough week and suffering from sleep deprivation.

Time went on and then again, I began to feel like an emotional wreck. I felt like I was getting a good beating from life. My life was getting the best of me. I ended up writing Emotional Trip when I finally began to approach the end of that emotional wave. I was constantly worrying if my daughter was growing properly, and I spent a week continuously crying and not able to speak. I didn’t want to be alone. I tried to see if there was a way my baby and I could ride in my husband’s truck with him while he worked. When he reminded me how that wouldn’t work, I would go to my daughter’s school early and wait until it was time to pick her up. Every time I tried to utter a word to express what I was feeling, my eyes would fill with tears and my throat would seize. I couldn’t get the words out. I ended up saying something minor to my family and friends to reassure them I was ok and to move past it all. It was at that point where I knew things weren’t right, but I felt like things would eventually be ok. It was just hormones… Nothing more, nothing less. I believed there was no room to focus on how I was really feeling at that time. I foolishly told myself I needed to focus on my husband and children’s well-being instead of mine.

For months I would blame my irritability, feelings of anxiety, feelings of loneliness, feelings of just wanting to run away from life on lack of sleep, lack of time to myself, and hormones. I believed it to be true because I didn’t feel sad every day, all day. It would come in waves. I remember several times my mother would be over to relieve me of my girls. I would get a rush of emotions and feel extremely lonely, sad and uneasy. I would immediately tell my mother because I would be on the verge of crying and didn’t understand why since nothing happened to trigger those feelings. As a mother, she could always sense when something was wrong, and still does. However, I figured since my daughter had finally turned one, I was in the safe zone and clear of postpartum depression. My baby was now a toddler and I was free of infancy emotions… Boy was I wrong.

Right after her birthday, I began packing up my entire household to prepare for our move to South Carolina. It was in the mist of me homeschooling my high-energy, attention seeking 7-year-old, and caring for a new mobile toddler who still heavily breastfed. I was busy all day, and hardly slept at night. As you can see, I’m not one who does well with asking for help. I was able to coast through the days. In my mind, I was being dramatic. There were people out there who was experiencing real trauma. After the move, there was the adjustment phase. Trying to figure out my next steps. I knew things were getting bad when my hair began to thin… Then of course, the thinning turned into hair loss. Unfortunately, I’m very skilled with covering things up. I can quickly turn the attention off of me and put it onto someone else. I’m excellent with smiling while I’m losing it inside. I was a pro at focusing on helping others while throwing my problems to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them. Even if I slipped a little, my clean up game was top-notch. I would reassure those close to me that it was just a weak moment.

January hit… That month hit me hard. And now February… I’m truly struggling. Struggling to write, struggling to be excited about things I normally would be jumping for joy about. I’ll get a few good laughs in here and there. Holding back tears often, crying to myself and hiding the tears from my daughters. I have some good days, but as usual it’s all in waves. I finally told my family and close friends that I wasn’t okay. I didn’t feel okay and I needed help. My thoughts weren’t okay and the feelings I felt on a regular were not me. Not Tiana at all. I was so embarrassed. The embarrassment made me cry more. I didn’t want people to question my ability to be a good mother to my children. I wanted someone to come and get them all while still wanting them close to me. Sleep became even harder to acquire. My insomnia peaked. When I finally fell asleep, I would jump reaching for my daughter believing she was hurt or had fallen out of bed. I feared that if my children hurt themselves, would I be questioned because I finally came clean about what I was experiencing. I just didn’t feel good. I’m holding back tears while writing this.

I know this isn’t the most exciting or incredible blog post to read, but I needed to write this. It’s been a month since I last blogged, and it’s because I couldn’t write about anything else. While I’m working daily to get to back to my normal self, it definitely feels better going through these emotions with my loved ones being aware. Before I didn’t want to be a burden to people, but I realized that I am not one. I’m not a burden, and I’ve never been one. I’ll eventually seek professional help, but that’s costly at this time. For now, I have daily check-ins with friends, and my mother calls me on FaceTime me every single day to actually see my face (to see if I’m lying to her or not).  I’m trying to be more intentional about expressing how I’m feeling instead of holding it all in. I’ve connected more with the new moms I’ve met here in South Carolina as well. They have been amazing and supportive. Sometimes all of the support is a little difficult to receive when I just want to be to myself and not speak to anyone at all. There are moments where I want people to be around but no conversation. Just their presence.

Honestly, I wrote all of this to simply get it off my chest. In the mist of my struggle, I hope it encourages another mom to seek help if she has an inkling that she may have postpartum depression. I also hope it helps someone who is close to a new mom who may be showing signs of it. Every time I say it… that I have postpartum depression… I’m still very embarrassed. Not because I think it makes women weak or incapable of surviving motherhood. But because it forces me to talk about things I would normally keep to myself.

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I post my honest thoughts each time. I’m pretty sure I over-share, but oh well! This post is a reminder that motherhood is one of the most beautiful things in this world, but it is not for the weak.

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Trip

It’s been weeks… one week shy of a month since I last blogged. I had (still have) so many things I’ve wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t. I honestly didn’t have the time. For three weeks, I haven’t had time for myself emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually. I was staying strong for the duration of those weeks, but as each day passed by I began to slowly fall apart. So no, this post isn’t upbeat mommy post or a relationship conversation starter. It’s what I originally started this blog for. A space to be transparent, and release what I’m feeling. While I hope that someone is able to relate, it’s not a necessity. It is vital that I write this post before I move forward with the exciting posts that I hope will follow.

I’ve mentioned before that although I’ve grown immensely and am far more secure with myself, I still struggle with “what will people think of me?” from time to time. My husband goes to work for 14 hours each day, what will he think of me when he comes home to takeout once again rather than a home cooked meal? Piles of clothes unwashed? Dishes piled in the sink? Will my daughter wish she had a better mommy because she came home from school, yet again, to a mother who is short-tempered, tired and doesn’t really want to be bothered? I’ve told everyone, even my social media following that I love being a stay-at-home mom/wife. What would they think of me if they saw what was going on in my life right now? Would they understand? Clearly, this can’t be as hard as I make it seem, right?

But like women, mothers, wives do each and everyday, I sucked it up and put a smile on face saying, “I’m doing just fine” to everyone who asked. I nearly chopped my finger off rushing trying to make a home cooked meal in enough time before it was too late to eat at all. Thank God I stopped the knife before getting deeper than my nail.  I almost broke my toe on a bouncer rushing through the house because I’m always on the move. I think at some point I actually convinced myself I was okay. My schedule was nothing new, it just intensified. I had been trying to embrace change, but change was getting the best of me. Sometimes we convince ourselves that slight changes only need small adjustments, not realizing the willpower it takes to accommodate yourself when change has occurred. For example, if you work in an open cubicle work space, what can be viewed as a simple cube mate change, could change your work life. It takes pure strength not to slap the phone out of your new neighbors hand each time they speak at the top of their lungs. It takes strength not to throw up when you hate the smell of the food your new teammate brings for lunch.

My “slight” change came from a change in my husband’s parking space for his work truck. We only have one car, so I’m the family Uber service. When taking  my husband to and from his truck, it used to take (on a good, no traffic kind of day) approximately 15 minutes from home,  and maybe the same amount of time from our daughter’s school. When there was traffic, let’s say it may have taken 30-40 minutes. You know what, here’s a break down of what my day looks like:

*All night, wake up every 2-2.5 hrs to nurse on demand because my child has a surge of hunger or need for comfort at night.

  • Prayerfully wake up at 6am to get oldest daughter ready for school. But this never happens because I’m either finishing up nursing my youngest OR exhausted from the night. So the time looks more like 7am.
  • Between 8am-8:15am, we must be out of the house to have a chance at getting my daughter to school on time. (She has breakfast on the go). Sometimes my husband is ready, others he’s not so I have to leave him.
  • What should normally take 25 minutes of transit time, takes over 40 minutes due to morning traffic. SO my baby is late again for school.
  • At this point in life, my husband is never ready in time because his sleep is interrupted at night as well, so I make my way back home. The time is now approx. 9:30am.
  • Because my husband takes 2hr long poops and moves at the speed of slug, we aren’t leaving the house for another hour and 45 minutes to two hours. In this time, I’ve had a chance to nurse my youngest child again.
  • Now we’ve made it to my husband’s truck by approx. noon. I immediately turn back around to head home. Once I get there, I have approx. one hour to nurse baby again, eat and then head to my daughter’s school to pick her up by 3:15pm.
  • The girls and I make it home by 4pm. (If my husband is done with work early, it takes an entire hour because of traffic to go straight to him. We get in, oldest child immediately begins homework, gets a snack, and then we check her homework. Usually I’m nursing when I check her homework.
  • I send the oldest child off to take her shower, because it is now a little after 6pm and dinner/bedtime is quickly approaching.
  • This is where it gets tricky. I may give my oldest kid dinner and put her to bed by 8pm, but we’ll most likely be heading back out by 10pm to go pick up my husband. OR as soon as she’s done with her shower, there’s no time for dinner in the house, we leave to go pick up my husband.
  • Come home, of course it’s time to nurse baby again and then proceed to go to bed for the night.

This is my schedule everyday until Saturday when I don’t have to rush to my daughter’s school, but I still have to take my husband to work and pick him up. Sunday is our only off day.  Last week, I remember being in the car on Wednesday from 8am until 8pm. I nursed and ate in the car all day. But this week, my body had enough. Mentally I checked out, my emotions were on level 10, and I cried all day. I felt weak. I felt drained. I felt hopeless and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Every time I thought about my feelings I cried. Every time I tried to talk, I cried. Yesterday, I was able to share a few smiles and hold conversations without crying. But my emotions were still on a constant rollercoaster. I could feel myself being ok and moving in a positive direction, and then immediately feeling a drastic drop in my body. My thinking, my feelings, they all shutdown. While I didn’t cry nonstop, it still didn’t take me but a second to cry when I felt the urge. I talked to my best friend who isn’t a mother and she really helped me to get some things of my chest, while reassuring me that I’m okay. I started to vent a little, and she then went on to add some encouraging words that she got from Jada Pinkett’s “Red Table Talk.” She continued to hear me say, I don’t regret having children or getting married, but I’m tired. I just need a break from it all.

She said, “people shouldn’t make mother’s feel inclined to say, “they don’t regret becoming a mother” just to be honest about how they are feeling. Just because you say you’re tired or don’t feel like doing anything mom-like today doesn’t mean you don’t want to be a mother. It just means you need a break.” She was so right and I REALLYYYY needed to hear those words. (Thank you) I didn’t know how to reach out to my loved ones and say I need help, I need a break, I’m struggling, I’m tired without thinking I was complaining. I didn’t know how to express my need for time by myself with no one around without sounding selfish or irresponsible because I was the one who decided to get married and have children young.

Today, thank God I’m no longer crying nonstop like I was on Monday, however there is still a disconnect. I still feel myself getting extremely irritable and then feeling nothing because I’ve shutdown. When I take time to sort through my thoughts, sometimes I cry. I don’t have the urge to create conversation, but I’m able to have one. It’s been a few days since I’ve had a good laugh. But I’m working on it. This week my mother-in-love has been helping out with taking my oldest baby to school and picking her up for me. Yesterday I drove, but today I let my husband drive himself to work. It’s helping.

I haven’t opened up to my mother about how I’ve been feeling lately because I don’t want to worry her, but I know she knows. A mom knows when something isn’t right with her baby. She’ll be over to stay this weekend. I need it. Hopefully my husband and I can have some alone time this weekend as well. We need it.

I’m in that strange place of “do I have postpartum depression?” again. A part of me thinks I do (the other part thinks I’ve just been overwhelmed and need sleep). For so long, I kept saying, “But I love my baby, I don’t feel distant from her or think of harming her or myself.” I had to remind myself that’s only one symptom. There are others and I don’t have to have each one.

The rest I’ve been able to get from the “slight” changes and help I’ve been receiving has really been refreshing and helping so much.

Keep me in your prayers though.