Hi, my name is Ellen. I am a volunteer on this site and I am also a woman who has been through postpartum depression. This is my story.
After my first son, Noah, was born I experienced some postpartum moodiness. I remember crying a lot but attributed it to the physical pain I was experiencing from a combination third degree tear and episiotomy. By the time Noah was 4-6 weeks old I felt fine both mentally and physically. I loved my child, I loved being a mother and I was very happy.
While pregnant with my second son I started to experience anxiety in certain situations. I did my best to ignore it. After he was born, I began to go through some of the same moodiness I went through the first time with the addition of the anxiety. I figured it was just the "baby blues" and would go away. During Isaac's second week I realized something was different. I was often gripped by hopelessness and despair. I felt completely overwhelmed. If I wasn't crying or just going through the motions I was yelling at my then 2 1/2 year old. I felt on the verge of losing control and really hurting him. I remember forgetting to feed him until noon when he would mention he was hungry. I didn't feel close to my baby. I didn't love him. He was an easy baby, very different from my demanding first child, so why couldn't I love him? During this whole time I was obsessed with my labor and delivery. I wanted to know every detail. I made a special appointment with my midwife to go over the hospital records which I had applied for at the hospital. I was hyperfocused on everything that went "wrong" during my labor. I felt intensely that I had failed in delivering this child even though the event was less physically demanding than my first birth (after which I felt incredibly strong and proud). I felt incredibly ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like a horrible mother and I also believed I had to hide this fact from everyone, even my husband. He works long hours so by the time he got home I'd just hand him the baby and go upstairs to lay in bed. I became resentful each time he'd bring Isaac to me to nurse. One night I asked my husband if he loved Isaac as much as Noah. He said that yes, of course he did. I questioned him again and again. Was he sure? He loved them both the same amount? After a few rounds of this he asked me, "Why don't you believe me?" That's when I broke down sobbing, "It's not that I don't believe you. I just don't understand why I don't love him." Then the rest came spilling out. My six-week check up was just a week and a half away so I decided to wait until then to bring this up. I guess I was hoping I would miraculously feel better before then. When my six week check-up arrived I was so nervous. I didn't want to admit that I was having problems. I still believed this was all my fault, that I was somehow weak and bad. When my midwife asked me if I had any concerns I froze. For a few seconds I couldn't respond and then I said, "Well, actually, I'm not doing that well." I told her some of what was going on although not all. It was enough to get me started on the path to recovery. She told me about a support group in my area. The support group facilitator referred me to a therapist and later the therapist referred me to a psychiatrist. With the help of the support group, the individual therapy and medication I was able to see the joy in life again and begin to put my life back together. It took many months but I did bond with my baby. He's now two and I love him tremendously. I am involved in many activities and enjoy life!
I continue to take medication. I had been through depressions before, although none as bad and never before taken medication, and I think this postpartum episode really walloped me. I'm not sure how long I'll be on medication. Twice I've tried to get off and not had success. I'll try again one day when I feel ready. I may need to take it for a very long time though and I want to be at peace with that if that's what happens. Whether or not I'm on medication isn't the important thing. What's important is the quality of my life. I want to let every woman going through a postpartum mood and/or anxiety disorder that there is hope and there is an end to the suffering.