'When the Bough Breaks' and My Journey Through Postpartum Depression
“Who are you and what did you do to my wife?”
That is what I remember my husband saying to me after I gave birth to my son nine years ago. That was also when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD) postpartum anxiety and postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). My answer was, “I don’t know, but please someone help me.”
Postpartum depression is a real and life-threatening illness. I remember in 2006 when Brooke Shields came out with her book “Down Came the Rain,” about her story and journey through postpartum depression. It was then that Tom Cruise publicly spoke out against Brooke taking antidepressants to help her recover. He strongly believed that PPD could be cured by taking vitamins. I wish Tom was right, but sadly he was not and was certainly not right for my case.
After struggling with antepartum depression (depression during pregnancy), I knew I would struggle with postpartum depression. What I did not know was how bad it would be. There I was — a new mom — and I could not eat, sleep, take care of myself or my new baby. I tried many different therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), acupuncture, oxygen chambers and so much more. I know some of that must have helped, but I also know I would not be alive today without antidepressants.
I remember many days when I was alone with my baby, and I would look at him and think, “I do not know how to take care of you. I do not know how to feed you or change your diaper.” I was so disconnected and in such physical and emotional pain. How will I keep him alive? When he was asleep, I would obsess over everything. Is he breathing? What will I do with him when he wakes up? Does he know I’m his mother? Will he love me? Do I love him? Wait, can we turn back time? I’m not ready to be a mother yet!
I’m not the only new mother to feel this way. Up to 1 in 5 women struggle with a perinatal mood disorder. Everyone will know someone who has experienced or who will experience it. It is sadly not spoken about enough because of the stigma attached to it. Why would we want to share our story and be seen as “crazy?”
When my son was about 2 years old, I met two women — Jamielyn Lippman and Tanya Newbould. They interviewed me for a documentary they were making about postpartum depression. I was so happy to share my story, but something strange happened after I was interviewed — I realized I was not better and I still had a long road ahead of me in order to recover. The three of us decided to finish making this documentary together, and we would share my story and journey to recovery. The film is called “When The Bough Breaks” and it is narrated and executive produced by Brooke Shields, who so many years ago shared her own story with postpartum depression.
In the film, we share stories from mothers, fathers and children who have been affected by postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. We hear from experts about what PPD is, what the signs are and the many different treatment options. The film also features some celebrities including Brooke Shields and Carnie Wilson. It will not only educate but also break the stigma attached to mental illness and help our moms feel less alone. Depression is the loneliness illness and I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I’ve been there and we interviewed many others who have been there too.
Making this documentary helped me recover. Speaking out and sharing my story played a big part in my recovery. Being honest and speaking the truth felt powerful. I learned that when you open up and share your darkest battles, others will open up too.
“Who are you and what did you do to my wife?” I’m Lindsay, I’m the girl you married and I’m finally back — just a little wiser and stronger now.
If you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression or other postpartum disorders and need help, you can call Postpartum Support International‘s hotline at 1-800-944-4773.
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