The Daunting Challenges of PPD Recovery
HERE ARE THE CHALLENGES I FACED DURING MY HEALING PROCESS
The Logistical Challenges of Recovery:
· Finding out that what I was going through had a label and was a “real thing” was helpful, but then, I didn’t know what to do. Website listed a lot of options, but did I start with the medical tests, the counseling, the support groups, reading, journaling? I just needed someone to tell me ONE place to start. The thing that would help me feel best the fastest.
· I found a lot of websites that dealt with PPD, but I didn’t know where to go after that. They all had phone numbers to call and emails addresses to use, but most were impersonal and intimidating. It’s very hard to pick up the phone and call when you’re not sure who you’ll talk to, or how they’ll respond (or if you’ve got a cranky baby in your arms all the time).
· There was nothing in my new town/area… and most things were in Boston/Brookline/Cambridge, which seemed way too far away. I wanted/needed a community in my area. I'm still trying to find this community.
· After breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and having your entire life rocked, it was really hard to find the energy and motivation to actually focus on my own health.
· I still had to do everything – make the appointments, do the research, find a babysitter so I could go, figure out how to “fix everything.” I didn’t have the strength or motivation to do so… it’s hard to allow yourself to spend money and time on yourself when you’re not working and bringing in money.
· There was no one who could holistically help me. Meaning, I could go to an acupuncturist OR a shiatsu practitioner OR a psychologist OR a doctor OR an herbalist. But these folks were only looking at pieces of me… and if I wanted the whole of me addressed, I’d have to go to several different people and go through my entire story again and again. That kind of care is expensive, and it’s also way too complicated for a mom who’s depressed. It’s hard enough to take vitamins, much less figure out all of those support systems for yourself. I actually had to have a friend sit down with me, so I could tell her all the options running around in my head, and have her help me figure them out. It was just too much for me at that point. I dream of a place where a woman can go to have all of her postpartum care taken care of... under one roof... with no stress or responsibility placed on her to manage her own care.
The Emotional Challenges of Recovery:
· It’s almost like a cancer diagnosis would be easier, because then at least you get sympathy, and you don’t get blamed for being sad or scared. Many people – especially those who I would normally turn to for support - didn’t take me seriously. My PPD was dismissed/trivialized/ignored.
· I kept thinking I’d get better – but a week turned into a month, turned into a year. Pretty soon, it’s been a long time.
· It’s cyclical, so you think you’re doing OK, then wham, it hits you again… and people get sick of hearing you talk about it. They expect that after a month you’re all better, and they don’t know that you’re still hurting. You get sick of feeling awful, too, and just want it to go away.
The Financial Challenges of Recovery:
· I wasn’t working on my business very much, because I simply couldn’t. Since I wasn’t making a lot of money, it was stressful for me to think about investing in my own health.
· Most of the practitioners who could help me the most were expensive.
The Communication Challenges of Recovery:
· My husband didn’t want to participate in any of my healing journey. He wanted things to get back to normal, but he wasn’t really willing/able to help me or to assume responsibility for it. It was MY problem. He didn’t come to any of the sessions with me, or talk with me about them. I felt very alone, and like it was my problem – and my problem only. I felt extremely alienated from my husband. It was hard living in the house with someone who used to be my strength and support… and then not being able to talk with him about it, because he didn’t want to hear about it. husbands need to be educated on what their wives need from them – they can’t “FIX IT” – they need to listen and be supportive in other ways. They need to help out even more normal.
· When people ask you how they’re doing (if they even do, most of the time, they’re focused on the baby), they don’t really seem like they want to hear about it.
· Care providers dismissed my feelings and concerns. For example, when I went to see the Nurse Practitioner at my new PCP’s office for my physical, I told her that I’d had a traumatic C-section. Her response? “Well, at least you have a healthy baby.” When I expressed concern over the fact that it had been almost a year since my C-section, and I still couldn’t have sex because it was so painful, she responded, “Well, I hate to say this, but some husbands are rough and that doesn’t help.” Then she referred me to a sexual abuse counselor.
· I never knew how someone would respond – people in my inner circle judged me (or that’s how it felt to me). Or if I tried to tell them what was going on, they told me all new moms had postpartum depression, or that my mom cried after I was born, too. They also told me I was wasting my time with my son by being sad.
· I didn’t have a PCP (I’d always taken care of myself). I couldn’t get into one for 3-4 months (which is a LIFETIME for a depressed mom). I didn’t know who to call… did I call my midwife (who’d dumped me)? My OB-Gyn (who’d cut me) and who had only known me for a month? My old OB-Gyn (who I hadn’t seen for a few years and didn’t even know I’d been pregnant)? I didn’t have a care provider to turn to… especially one that would help me figure out natural ways of healing myself.
· It’s hard feeling like you need to pretend like you’re fine when you’re not. I tried telling people the truth, but most people either didn’t want to hear it… or they simply downplayed it and so I simply stopped saying the truth after a while. That made me want to withdraw, which only made it worse.
· The simple fact of the matter is this: most people forget about you after the baby comes. They focus all attention, presents, and energy on the baby. They assume you’re fine and you don’t need help when in reality, you need help well through the entire first year.
· Other moms didn’t talk about PPD – they put up a front like everything’s OK, even if it’s not. It’s hard to know who you can trust, if you want to talk about it.