5 Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Nobody Talks About
When most people think of postpartum depression (PPD), they think of a sad new mom, sitting on the side of the bed with frazzled hair and spit up on her shirt. But, there is a dark and rarely talked about side of PPD a new mother can experience, and it’s time to shed light on that darkness. These five scary, surprising symptoms of PPD are unknown to most, and unknown to the new mothers who could possibly experience them. I was a victim of the darkness of PPD, and I experienced these five symptoms without knowing about them, and without know how to get better.
The two days we spent in the hospital together were blissful, lovely. The first few days at home together were happy and filled with love. But within a week or two, that love turned into something else I didn’t understand. I knew it wasn’t right, but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling hate. Hate for myself and for my daughter. I hated being a new mother, and hated my postpartum body with such utter disgust I couldn’t look at myself. I blamed my daughter for my body being different, and couldn’t look at her either. I would shudder when she cried, and found it difficult to respond to her needs without feeling complete abhorrence for her. I knew it wasn’t right, and I didn’t understand, but the hate inside me was hard to fight.
It started as annoyance at the baby when she cried. It started as irritability toward my family. It slowly turned into anger, and then uncharted rage. Everything brought it out, even little things like my cat getting in my way or the baby spitting up. I would scream when the baby screamed and throw bottles when I felt to overwhelmed to wash them. I ripped laundry, pushed my cat out of the way and screamed at my daughter to keep quiet. I screamed at my daughter. She was 5 months old, screaming because she was sick, and I screamed at her. To this day, I don’t know who I was, and I haven’t forgiven myself.
Again, I knew what I was feeling wasn’t right. I was ashamed of the hate and the rage I was feeling, and I was afraid to tell anyone. I felt guilty for thinking I was strong, and guilty for feeling weak. I thought all of the hate and the rage were my fault, and that my baby deserved better. I felt guilty for my rapid changing moods and the way I was treating those around me. I was feeling guilty for the housework I hadn’t completed because I took a nap instead. I felt guilty for feeling no joy when I held my baby, and guilty for not wanting to play with her more. The guilt was so intense it amplified the hate I had for myself.
Many times, I felt like I was having a heart attack. My heart would race and my chest would hurt every time I was left alone with the baby. I would hyperventilate for no reason at all, and feel a numbness in my fingers as I shook. I was afraid to leave the house, to drive and visit family. I would panic at the scary thoughts I would have about myself, and feared I would start having them about my daughter. I was having panic attacks, but I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think and couldn’t spend time alone with my daughter. I would pass her off to my mom or grandma and hide in my room shaking and crying. I felt such intense panic I wouldn’t take care of myself or my daughter, and had no desire to do anything but hide.
Sleep deprivation was a big causing factor for my utter confusion. I hadn’t had more than four hours of sleep in days because the baby wasn’t sleeping well, and because I couldn’t sleep either. I was confused about why I couldn’t sleep, and why I wasn’t tired. I was confused about what was happening to me. I was confused by time and the time of day, wondering why time seemed to go too fast or too slow. I was confused about why others were concerned about me, because I didn’t see that anything was wrong. I was on the edge of not knowing who I was, and had no idea that something much worse could happen.
New moms deserve to know these symptoms, and the risks, so they can get better for themselves and most importantly, their new babies.
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