Today I received a call from a friend who had recently given birth to her first child. The voice I heard was tense, terrified, upset, and scared. I immediately got in the car and drove to her home only to find her in an agitated state. The baby was sleeping peacefully in the crib but the mother was anything but. I was witnessing the descent into depression for this young mother.
We talked and talked and I listened as she stated her fears, her concerns, her agitation, her feelings of being overwhelmed, her inability to sleep. It was a difficult three hours as we waited for her ride to the doctor’s office.
Post partum depression is not fun. Right when you want to enjoy your infant, you are struck down with being unable to laugh at the baby’s antics, to actively take part in the day to day schedule or feeling that you are not part of the action unfolding around you every day.
Luck was with this young mother. First, hospitals have begun screening for post partum depression and she had her test and it was quite clear that she was a candidate for the illness. Right away she made an appointment with her psychiatrist. She knew she couldn’t fool around with what was happening. Having struggled with depression in the past, she knew that if she didn’t act soon, things would spiral out of control.
Her depression is not solved. There will be bumps on the road but I have to give my friend enormous kudos for being proactive, for being strong enough to say that something was not right, that something needed to be addressed. She will be faced with hard decisions – breast feed or bottle feed so medication can be taken – dealing with the guilt she will feel for not breast feeding and for not, in her eyes, being the good mom who breast feeds for the good of the baby – being comfortable with decisions that will impact both the baby and her and making those decisions for health and not from pressure from family and friends about how a mom is supposed to be.
These are just some of the bumps she will face but she will do okay because she is not afraid to ask for help, not afraid to make the decisions that will spell health for her own family, and not afraid to say no to all the others who say she should be doing things differently.
Post partum depression strikes when the happiness quotient is supposed to be high. How we respond to that first hit will go a long way in determining how we ride out that depression.
Filed under: antidepressants, anxiety disorder, Clinical depression, health, Mental health, mental illness, panic disorder, Parenting Tagged: | asking for help, new mothers, newborns, post partum depression, support for new parents