The Solitary Reaper or How it Feels When you Have Postnatal Depression

Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain; …
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
                                                   — William Wordsworth


If you are following this blog, you would have read my previous post on My journey with Postnatal depression. In this post, I am going to talk about how I felt while I was suffering from Postnatal depression and anxiety. Yes, I was suffering…

I would cry almost all the time…

I had such uncontrollable crying spells. If the baby was crying, I would start crying too, while rocking her back to sleep. When my husband came back home in the evening, I would choke and the only voice that escaped me were sobs. And when anyone asked me what was wrong, I would always say, ‘I don’t know’ sobbing. And it was the truth. I just didn’t have any reason and yet I felt sad to the depths of my soul.

I had lost all my confidence…

It was like, there was nothing I could do, with surety. I had lost all my confidence and worried that I wasn’t doing things right, including changing diapers. I read so many books on baby care and googled almost everything under the sun. As if that was not enough, I called up every other mom I knew and crossed checked everything I read. It was, as if, my mind was not able to….

My judgment became cloudy but my mind was racing ALL the time. I was doing so much thinking that my head used to feel heavy and achy so often.

I became compulsive…

I just COULD NOT sit idle. Not just my mind, but my body went overactive too. At the time when I should have focused on resting and recuperation, I was busy cleaning drawers, arranging baby’s clothes, ordering groceries for home, doing up the house, looking after the guests and so on. And even when I was on my bed I was either reading something, checking on baby, ordering stuff on Amazon, making a to-do list or asking people for advice on baby care in online forums and whatsapp groups.

I had panic attacks…

I used to feel hot and sweaty several times a day. I would have palpitations and felt like panting. It was difficult to stay still at such times and pacing down the room or stepping outside for a quick stroll helped. Meditating or repeating a mantra again and again helped. And definitely, deep breathing. Perhaps that last bit helped the most. Because its totally possible to forget to breathe in the middle of a panic attack.

I felt like my life had changed forever…

There were days when I felt better but again there were days when things got back even worse. One day I felt fine, the next day I felt happy that yesterday was good but the very next day would turn out to be a bad day. I just didn’t think I could recover. I thought THIS is my new reality.

To be continued…

This is second of the many posts I am planning to write about my postnatal depression/anxiety and recovery from it. Apart from being cathartic, I hope it is of some help to any Indian mother having postnatal depression.

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