The Dark Side of Motherhood (When PPD Takes Over)
Becoming a parent is hard. It’s a life transition that cannot be truly explained, it needs to be experienced. It affects people differently but it’s still the biggest transition a person experiences in their life, especially a woman. Nothing so fundamentally changes your priorities, interests and well, YOU.
I remember becoming a mom the first time. It was surreal and not at all how I imagined it to be. Nothing was going right. I felt physically depleted, in constant pain, not bonding with my child. It was a giant mess. I felt like I was drowning and there was no one to help me.
I’d say I hated it in the beginning, but I felt too exhausted to experience anything besides exhaustion. Once a little bit of time passed and I more or less recovered physically, I became determined to get back into the swing of things. To me, that meant carrying on as I always have: taking care of my house, hanging out with friends, taking care of my pets, going back to work, once I secured child care. Except, things were no longer like always. There was a new status quo and it wasn’t sitting well with me.
Having a baby made getting out of the house with the dog more time consuming. Hanging out with friends became difficult, since I was tired and also nursing around the clock. Leaving the house to hang out was out of the question. And housework? Forget about it. Who has time when you have a creature hanging from your boob 24/7? Did I mention the drowning feeling? Well, it started to feel that not only was I drowning, but somebody tied a giant boulder to my feet to ensure that I, indeed, sunk to the bottom. And feeling better physically than I did initially postpartum, did not mean that I felt physically well. My emotional and mental state also started deteriorating as the weeks and months piled on.
And let’s be clear, I’m not writing this in order to say that motherhood is so horrible and terrible. But motherhood is a dark place when it’s accompanied by PPD. Even though I never got an official diagnosis, I know I had it. I know the signs and I had many of them. But like any good mother, I pushed it to the side and pretended that other people go through more difficulties than me and survive. I just needed to toughen up and get over myself.
I really do wish, I made it more evident that I needed help. And I wish that those close to me saw that I needed help and actually did something about it. Alas, that did not happen. All they saw was my anger. And no one wants to help an angry person. But one thing most people don’t know is that anger is a secondary emotion. It is always covering something up. More often than not, it covers up someone’s sadness and helplessness. Oftentimes, it’s a cry for help.
Unfortunately, no one heard my cry. And so I kept trying to live my life the same way I did before motherhood and it wasn’t working. It was just creating more resentment and anger in me. I hated my husband most of all, mainly because he was right under my nose. In my eyes, parenthood didn’t change his life all that much and it felt so unfair to me. He still got to go to work, sleep in on the weekends, not have to get up at night with the baby and enjoy hobbies. It just felt like life was trying to rub it in by having him under my nose.
My life on the other hand became solitary confinement. I was with our son all the time. It started to create a vicious cycle. I wanted to separate from him and be able to have alone time but the more time I spent with him, the less I knew how to separate. It felt so cumbersome to plan around nursing, so it became easier to not go anywhere. We invited people to our house to keep a semblance of a social life, but eventually people got bored and stopped coming. I just felt more and more isolated and my depression became more severe. Anger and sadness consumed my whole being.
When I spoke to friends, I rarely had anything positive to say about motherhood. Yes, I loved my son. He is hard not to love, my sweet ginger boy. But I hated being a mother. It just didn’t feel right to me. I kept thinking that something was wrong with me. How could a wanted pregnancy result in so much anguish postpartum? It absolutely can, when you have PPD.
I’m sharing this story with you to show the many faces PPD can take. Anger and rage are often present but not as often talked about (although more women are starting to share that they have felt this way). I urge you to not be like me and not deny your symptoms. If you are feeling off, your energy is nonexistent and you’re not bonding with your child, please, seek help. Tell your OB about it, tell your partner, your family, your friends. Someone in your circle will help you find a qualified therapist. And if not, click here to access my Resource Library.
I really wish I did. I often wonder how life would have been different had I gotten help. Would I have been a more engaged mother? Would I have found life more bearable and dare I say, enjoyable? I’m glad my depression passed on it’s own but it took almost 2 years. However, it doesn’t pass on its own for everyone, so don’t count on that as a solution.
Please, feel free to share your PPD experience in the comments section. I would love a chance to talk to you about what you went through. Talking to each other can help us heal.