For a moment, try to imagine feeling nothing.
You may ask yourself what nothing feels like. Well, nothing feels like the greatest pain you’ve ever experienced. It is an overwhelming lack of connection or attachment to anything or anyone, especially the people who you’re closest to. You can’t feel joy, happiness, anger, frustration, or even love.
Now, imagine feeling nothing during a time in your life when everyone who has already experienced that momentous life passage tells you that you should be feeling the greatest joy ever known, and they remind you of it often. In fact, you have an eight-pound reminder to look at and care for all day, every day.
Imagine feeling your heart break every morning when you wake up just as it broke when you laid down to sleep a few hours earlier. Imagine the inability to cry or scream or express anything that you’re going through. Imagine not feeling the profound love that you so desperately want to feel for your newborn baby girl.
Imagine feeling nothing when you look at the little being you dreamed of for ten months and loved desperately from the second you saw that tiny plus sign on the white plastic stick. Imagine being utterly and devastatingly emotionally numb.
I’m asking you to try to feel this- to feel nothing- because I want to adequately illustrate how I felt suffering from postpartum depression. If what I’m asking you to imagine feeling sounds impossible, know that it isn’t impossible and it’s very far from rare.
Roughly one out of ten childbearing mothers experience some form of postpartum depression, ranging from mild to severe. I am only one of thousands upon thousands of women who suffer from postpartum depression every year. Sadly, there are far more who suffer in silence and never seek help because of lack of emotional support. Can you imagine?
I wish that I could tell you that I recognized my symptoms for what they were and quickly faced the problem head on with my doctor. I want to tell you that I found a treatment plan immediately and it worked on the first attempt. I want to tell you that everything is completely fine now and I feel like my old, pre-baby self.
I don’t want to tell you that I still see a therapist every week and am still struggling with the deep hole that postpartum depression left in its’ wake. I don’t want to tell you that I occasionally find myself unable to move because I am absolutely paralyzed by my feelings of nothing and the resulting anxiety.
But the truth is that I can’t tell you those things. I can’t tell you those things because even twenty months after her birth, postpartum depression is a large part of my family’s daily life. What I will tell you, however, is that postpartum depression is never something to be ashamed of and I believe this with my entire being.
Many people have a misguided idea of what postpartum depression is. Here are five damaging myths that every person should read.
I have never been afraid to share what I’ve experienced, and for the upcoming week I’m going to be discussing different aspects of my personal struggle with postpartum depression with the hope that it may inspire others to seek help or, at the very least, help them feel a little less alone. The only way to dispose of the stigma that tags along with this debilitating mental illness is to have open and honest discussions so that mothers feel comfortable and emotionally supported so that they may reach out when they are suffering. For more information on PPD you can visit WhatToExpect.com.
Have you suffered from postpartum depression? What did your postpartum depression feel like? I, and I’m sure many others, would love to hear your story.