Day 23 – Stages of Postpartum Depression

This is Day 22 of the 30 day writing challenge. This challenge has forced me to look inwards and reflect on the journey that has been. Looking through the archives, I came across a post on Postpartum Progress, one of my top five favorite blogs mentioned in this post. The content on this site was both relatable and resourceful, something which kept me going at a time when motherhood was both frustrating and overwhelming.

In the post, the author likens recovery of Postpartum Depression (PPD) to a journey of healing after the loss of a loved one. The thing about PPD is that you can’t just take medication and expect it to die down after a fortnight. The process starts from recognizing the condition to seeking help and finally recovery, all of which can take up to a couple of years.

For those with friends and loved ones who have suffered from PPD, it may help to look at this mental health condition through the ‘5 distinct stages of grieving’, namely Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Originally developed for people with terminal diseases, the system was later made to include the stages for any significant loss, and PPD is one such loss.

The Six Stages of my PPD Journey

Denial – Motherhood has taken a toll on me, I can’t believe this is what it is like. I need sleep for my sanity, I just can’t seem to get any rest. I will be okay. It will improve as baby gets older.

Anger – No one seems to relate to what I am going through. What did I get myself into? Life is not fair. I struggle as a single parent, he is probably enjoying a Manchester United Game at a pub, totally oblivious to how much goes into raising a boy single-handedly. What the hell is wrong with me? This is meant to be a joyous occurrence; it just isn’t, and I can’t seem to help myself or my baby. 🙁

Bargaining – Maybe if I get more sleep it will ease. Or perhaps I need to exercise and get rid of this sagging post-pregnancy belly. I can’t wait for the day baby sleeps through the night, I will be much better. Or perhaps if I shared this with another mom it will ease the burden. I just need to improve on my motherhood style.

Depression – This is not working out. I am not good enough a mom, seems like I am a let-down to everyone. My son does not deserve a mom like me; he deserves so much better, someone who will love him for the innocent child he is. It’s very bleak, I have no hopes it will get better. Maybe suicide is the solution, this is unbearable.

Acceptance – I don’t have the courage to live a lie anymore. I must accept help. It is okay to admit I am not okay. It is okay to be an imperfect mom. It is okay to look for support groups for moms who have conquered PPD. I will trudge on for my sake and my baby’s.

While these are the 5 notable stages of Grief, and can be related to PPD, there is a unique stage that comes after treatment and recovery. Think of it as the place where doubtful thoughts plague your mind, always on the lookout for triggers that make it easy to slip back into depression. This stage is characterized by good days and bad days; with the latter, it’s typical to feel like strength is wavering. You are unsure whether you will ever recover fully, yet on the good days, you experience the thrill and joy of motherhood.

Once this stage is over, there’s total healing. You know deep down that you are doing an amazing job as a mom, only that it was made foggy by the haze of PPD.

NB: The journey with PPD, as with any other mental condition, is as personal as it gets. As such, it ought not be hurried, or compared to another’s. Moms with PPD, hang in there. I cannot promise it will get better in a day, or a week. But you cannot afford to give up on you. You are not alone in this, I have survived PPD, you too can.

Featured Image Photo credits: RC Psyche

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