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.

My journey with Postpartum Depression Part 1: The Elephant in The Room

Looking back, I can say, yes it was THAT. Most definitely, I had postpartum depression. Even though it was not easy at the moment, admitting that what I felt was beyond the usual baby blues new moms face, was a vital part in my recovery.

A lot of people don’t want to admit, even to themselves. After all, the birth of the baby is the moment you have been planning for, for so long. Everyone around you is in celebration mode but you don’t feel up for it. You say, its fatigue. After all, your body has gone through a lot. And, in around 8 out of 10 cases, you just might be right. Many people experience baby blues because of fatigue and the mammoth hormonal shift that a new mother goes through.

However, if you don’t feel too good after 1-2 weeks post-delivery, it might be time to discuss this with your gynecologist. Don’t wait for your 6 weeks appointment. If, however, stepping out of home seems like a big deal, give your doctor a call and tell her how you feel. She might be able to make a quick assessment of your situation and ask you to come in or give it some time.

As a society, we have a lot of stigma attached t mental disorders and we are asked to keep it under wraps by well-meaning family and friends. But the result of this is that, we often don’t get timely help and the path to recovery is slow, painful and miserably alone.

If I were to share only one advice with any other mother suffering from postpartum depression, it is this. If you don’t want to share it to the word, fine, but do not hide your condition from your family, friends and neighbours. These were the three pillars of strength in my case. Now I think breaking down in front of my neighbour wasn’t bad after all. It ensured that I had pleasant surprises (read: piping hot food) and good company in those long afternoons when I was alone at home with a newborn. Family, well, that’s a different level of support altogether. My parents, siblings, in-laws don’t stay in the same city as us, but man, they made themselves available at all hours of the day and night and were willing to hear me ramble about the same non-existent problems day after day. That was more helpful than any counselling sessions that I took. Not that counselling didn’t help. But more about it in another post.

This is first 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.

Mommies on a mission…

 

Well, here I am, with a brand new blog, where I am going to weave some magic… Naah! Let’s have another go at it.

Here I am, with this new blog, all doubtful and hopeful, trying to make sense of my world, which has changed quite a bit, ever since I had a baby.

The idea for this blog came up over one of the many calls that I have with friends and family; talks that help me retain my sanity, on the way back from work and sometimes at 2 AM in the morning. Because often, all we mommies need is a cup of *hot* coffee and some heart-talk to cheer us up.

To cut a long story short, this is me—mother of a little 7 month old baby, survivor of post-natal anxiety and a full-time working professional—I have the right to be less than perfect.

What’s your story mommy? Share in comments below.