I Hid My Post-Partum Depression

Written by Lisa Carmody Doiron

We live close to the airport. This is an important detail in how I imagined my postpartum escape.

Every day I held my crying baby and watched the planes fly out. I wanted to be on one of those planes in the most desperate way. I didn’t want to be on some sort of family vacation; I wanted to be alone. I would imagine the plane dropping me by parachute into a huge city. No one would know me and I could just disappear. Other times I imagined landing somewhere hot. I’d lie on a beach and drink too much while ripping up my return ticket.

At the worst of times I’d imagine the plane crashing and taking me with it.

It wasn’t long after my beautiful baby was born that I realized that I wasn’t okay. I cried continuously for days (or maybe weeks). The crying was actually quite cathartic, but at one point I began to wonder if I was perhaps a tiny bit unstable.

The crying was often accompanied with phrases like, “I can’t do this.”  “I’m trapped.”  “It’s never going to end.”  “I’m sinking.”  “I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”  “I’m not good at this.”

I felt desperate and isolated, sure no one had ever felt this way before. The desperation was always followed by guilt and then the cycle would begin again.

I was exhausted not only because of sleep deprivation and a baby with acid reflux, but also from pretending to be happy. I lied to everyone—my family, friends, husband, doctor. I lied to myself.017

I remember running into someone in the grocery store parking lot and lying so enthusiastically about how I felt. “Oh the baby’s great! I couldn’t be happier!” I walked away feeling guilty for lying and guilty for feeling the way I did. But most of all, I felt totally helpless.

Here I was with everything I’d ever longed for and I was so unhappy.

Even though I lied to my doctor about the gravity of my situation, I did tell him I felt off. I told him how much I hated nursing. I told him I felt trapped and anxious. He called me regularly under the guise of checking on my baby’s reflux. Then he’d skillfully turn the conversation to me and how I was doing.

In hindsight, I know he was calling specifically to check on me, knowing my baby’s reflux would eventually work itself out. My doctor repeatedly asked me if I was depressed and I repeatedly said I was not. I admitted to being anxious, but I just couldn’t admit I was depressed.

If I did, I knew I’d feel even more guilty because wasn’t I was supposed to be happy?

I now realize that I’ve grappled with mental illness my entire adult life. I am a highly anxious person. I feel like the world buzzes inside my chest, back, and brain all the time.

At one point in my young adulthood I quit my job, packed up my car, left my entire life, and moved home to live in my dad’s basement. I was 27 and so embarrassed.

In that season of life, slowing down helped the insomnia and anxiety. But they were still there, bubbling under the surface andwaiting to come out again. They showed back up with a vengeance when I had my son.

I can honestly say I didn’t have the kind of postpartum depression where I wanted to hurt my baby. All my negativity was geared towards myself. I wanted to make sure my baby was cared for in the most loving way. It was me I hated, not him.

I felt like I could do nothing right. Especially breastfeed.

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I thought I was responsible for his reflux pain, and it made me feel completely inadequate. I thought he deserved a better mother— someone who could feed him properly and comfort him when he didn’t feel good. I couldn’t do either of those things. He cried after almost every meal he ate, and I would just hand him to my husband.

My husband and son formed a beautiful, nurturing bond. I was just the milk machine that made him sick.

Near the end of the summer, my husband approached me and asked me about my darkest thoughts. He nailed everything.

He knew exactly what I was feeling. I told him I was not doing well and I was definitely depressed and anxious. We both cried. It was terrible.

It was also hopeful. I knew I couldn’t hide anymore. I knew I needed help. The next day I went to my doctor and told him everything. I started medication and counseling and stopped nursing.

Within a few weeks, I started feeling better. I knew I wasn’t all better, but getting better. I was finally able to comfort my baby when he was in digestive pain, and he and I could begin to bond. I also started opening up to close family and friends. My husband and I told our parents and siblings what was happening and they all swooped in and took care of us.

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Now my little guy is old enough to notice the planes as they fly out from the airport. He is mesmerized by them! He climbs the couch in front of the window and bangs his little fist against the pane while squeaking with excitement.

And I would not want to be anywhere else.

Mental health is still misunderstood and stigmatized, but I also know there are other women who feel the way I did. If my story can make one woman feel like she is not alone, then it is worth it. If it encourages one person to seek help, then it is worth it. If it forces us to talk about our mental health in an open and caring way, then it is worth it.

We are worth it.

030Lisa lives in PEI, Canada with her husband and two boys. She blogs regularly at Momologues-Soliloquies on poop, barf and postpartum depression. When she’s not blogging and mothering, she teaches music at a local public school. Lisa is also part of a group of women lobbying government for better resources for women suffering from postpartum depression in her province. You can find her blog at: elsiekarmadi.wordpress.com and on twitter: @elsiekarmadi.

About The Author


MomBabble

Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.

8 Comments

  1. Lisa, your brave account of PPD and your factual postings on your blog, with wonderful humour and accuracy, concerning being a new mother have impressed me through the birth and infancy of both your young sons. Congratulations to you and thank you for posting informative and enjoyable posts for any young mother to follow; as well as we old gramma’s who have been there and done that, but still have vivid memories of the feelings you describe so well THANK YOU.

  2. Thanks, Deryl. It is something I KNOW needs to be talked about. And we need resources for women and families so they don’t feel desperate and alone.

  3. And Gloria, I’ve so appreciated your support along the way. I know you get parenting and I know you also get mental health. It’s so nice to have you in my corner 🙂

  4. And Gloria, I’ve so appreciated your support along the way. I know you get parenting and I know you also get mental health. It’s so nice to have you in my corner 🙂 Thank you!

  5. Sarah & Mo,
    Thank you for reading and taking the time to write. I’m a pretty enthusiastic person about life and what it takes to make it flow. But I have never felt as strongly about an issue as I do mental health (PPD in particular) and the need for more resource/support for women.

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