When I used to think of post partum depression, the image that would come to mind was a new mother crying in bed, unable to get out of her pajamas, and thinking of hurting the baby. I think this is what most people think of when they think of the face of post partum depression.
So after Will was born, when I stopped being able to sleep, obsessively folded laundry, and couldn't leave Will with anyone (not even his father) for more than just a few minutes, I didn't think I had post postum depression. I wasn't crying, I wasn't unable to get dressed, I just didn't want to leave my baby. Even taking a shower, I would start to feel guilty that I wasn't with him and anxious that he would start crying and that the person caring for him wouldn't know the "right" way to calm him. He would look at me with his helpless newborn eyes, and I would feel a tightness in my chest and not be able to breathe normally, so overcome with anxiety at properly caring for this tiny human. The anxiety wasn't so bad in the morning but as the day would go on and I would face the evening, it would mushroom until it threatened to choke me.
I did cry at night, but they were anxious tears, not sad ones. I would beg tiny Will to please sleep longer than an hour or two at a time and wonder what kind of mother couldn't get her baby to sleep.
At the time, I knew something didn't feel right, but I also thought perhaps all new moms felt like this. I also chalked my anxiety up to just wanting to do everything "right," and to truly deserve the miracle we had been blessed with.
Over time, as Will slept better and I started meeting new friends, the anxiety lessened. I never went on any medications, but I think it would have been better if I had, just for those few months.
One of my fears going into having Emma was that I would experience these feelings again. Now, post partum issues can appear anytime up to a year after giving birth, so I am not "in the clear," BUT I have to tell you, I feel completely NORMAL this time. And while this is wonderful, it makes me realize how bad off I was when I had Will.
I am still keeping an eye on myself, as are my close family and friends, but I really feel so different, so "okay," this time. Now, this is not to say that I don't have moments where I want to cry, times that I feel overwhelmed, and moments of anxiety. That would probably be equally abnormal. But when the hard times come, they are transient. I never feel the dark sense of doom or crushing anxiety. And I feel so happy sometimes, too. Not that I didn't feel joy at having my sweet baby boy, but it was overwhelmed by the anxiety and I couldn't really feel it.
The reason that I keep hammering away at this issue is because it wasn't fun to go through what I did and I think a lot of women do. And I think a lot of us don't even know we are suffering and what "normal" is. There are many faces of post partum depression, and I am one of them. If just one woman reading this thinks, "Hey, I think that's me" and talks to their doctor and gets some help, then my experience will have some sort of purpose.