Family, Parenting, Wellness

Postpartum Depression and My Cry for Help

Bonjour!

October is Depression Awareness Month. While I typically focus on food, fun, and family on Joie de Vivre, I also like to write about self-care and wellness.

As I’ve learned over the years dealing with my own anxiety, and especially after pregnancy and giving birth, caring for mental health is just as important and diet and exercise. This special limited series of posts shares my experience with the baby blues and postpartum depression and anxiety.

Recognizing Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

I recently wrote about my baby blues right after Le Bébé was born. The baby blues are not uncommon for new moms. Per an article on Healthline, “[a]bout 80 percent of postpartum mothers have the baby blues” for a few weeks after giving birth. Symptoms can include “bouts of sadness, anxiety, stress, and mood swings.”

But after a few weeks, a touch of the blues and lightly crying on a whimsical whim segued into something more serious and debilitating. I felt exhausted and started crying more out of frustration and fear.

I did not notice the change at first, so subtle was the transition from simple irritability and stress to full-blown depression and anxiety. So depleted were my energy and emotional resources.

I knew I was recuperating from pregnancy and childbirth, but I really was just tired, not sad. Feeling spread thin and forgetful and weepy and all the things came with the territory, non?

But as I entered the fifth week of new motherhood, I became fretful, panicky. I dreamed I forgot to feed Le Bébé. I dreamed I fell down the stairs. I dreamed I died.

So I had trouble relaxing and sleeping. (The cruel irony of being sleep-deprived due to caring for a newborn but being unable to sleep! Le sigh.) I was also crying a lot more.

Nightmares and insomnia compounded other postpartum issues:

  • Healing from tears and stitches, my souvenirs from labor and delivery;
  • The unwelcome surprise of excruciating breast discomfort and pain, my souvenir from not breastfeeding;
  • Ongoing skin and stomach issues, my souvenirs from pregnancy;
  • Accumulated fatigue and anxiety, my souvenirs from the pandemic; and
  • The news. All of it.

I could not handle anything anymore. I was trying to do too much and not taking care of myself. I was about to flippé.

My Cry for Help

Let’s be very clear: I am a walking, talking, twenty-four-hour-a-day status update. (Surprised?) L’Husband always knows what’s going on with me, like how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling about what I’m thinking, et cetera.

But as much as I love to communicate (le wink), I had trouble acknowledging and admitting my baby blues had crossed the bridge to the depression and anxiety shore.

Ever the good student, I did a little reading about postpartum mental-health care. My cry for help was very on the nose: I casually emailed my own Maman an article about postpartum depression around nine o’clock one night.

Her immediate reply was, “Do you think you have postpartum depression?”

And my answer: Yes, I do.

Or, more accurately, I have postpartum anxiety. The tender-hearted worrier in me had come home to roost. I could no longer manage my anxiety on my own. Cue more waterworks.

Real Talk about Mental Health

Just acknowledging my feelings was overwhelming but also such a relief. Saying out loud – or rather via email – that I was struggling and did not feel well lifted part of the burden and allowed me to initiate a dialogue about what I needed and how to proceed.

Next steps: Time for some real talk about mental health. I spoke with (and cried at) my spouse and mother. I spoke with (and cried at) a trusted friend who is also a young mom. She reminded me that this whole motherhood thing is really hard and that I was not alone, and to take it one hour at a time.

I spoke with (and cried at) with a nurse on the hospital’s patient advisory line. And another at my obstetrician’s office. And so on. I cried at a lot of people (le sigh).

Bottom line: Anxiety is not a failure. Anxiety is not a shortcoming. And I need – and deserve – to get help.

So I got it. Caring for your mental health may be hard but is also nonnegotiable. People will support you and there are resources available online and in your community. Do not give up on yourself!

What will you do to love and support yourself this month?

Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!

À votre santé,

Katie

Disclaimer: The posts and information on Joie de Vivre are not intended to and do not constitute medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. Please consult a qualified physician or healthcare professional regarding your health.

4 thoughts on “Postpartum Depression and My Cry for Help”

  1. This was a wonderful blog, honey. And I’m so proud of you for reaching out and doing what you need to do in order to be happy and healthy❤️

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    Liked by 1 person

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