Saturday, June 19, 2010

Post-Partum Depression Is More than A Bad F**king Day

Apparently there's this big conversation going on in the blogosphere about postpartum depression. A couple bloggers have taken it upon themselves to tell everyone else what PPD is, how we must feel, and why we should just man up and forget about it. Oh, and we should not post about any bad days because we might offend some special snowflake who thinks all women experience motherhood as sunshine and roses by implying that her "bad days" may not be quite as bad as those times you're thankful you can't drag your ass out of bed because you're debating harming yourself or your child if you had the energy too.

Of course, that's the problem with the internet. Too many people think they're experts on things they know nothing about, and love to tell those who are experiencing or living something that they don't really know what they're going through. I really feel sorry for the mothers who may read some of this debate, decide they should just "man up and deal with it", and fail. There are times that mind over matter doesn't work too well, and when your mind is what's broken, it's pretty hard for it to fix itself. It'd be one thing it this was some little petty issue, but ignoring PPD or failing to fix it in your own can just make you feel even more inadequate and even further depressed, and could feed the voices that say the best way out is to remove yourself or the baby from the picture. It's just another thing to add to the list of failures and "not good enoughs" that constantly run through your head.

Oh, we also don't need people with no fracking clue telling us how we must feel, or what must be wrong with us. I don't know what particular blend of ignorance and asshatery it took to come up with the theory that we feel like this because we don't have a bond with our babies, but the opposite is true for many of us. There are a lot of moments I'm reminded how much I love my son, and how sweet & wonderful & perfect he is, and then I feel sorry because he has such a screw-up for a mother. We're not sitting around saying "OMG, I hate my baby,". Yes, many of us our honest about frustration and needing a break at times, but even the worst of the scary thought are often because we are so attached and love them so damn much. It's not "oh, life would be so convenient if I drowned my kid, shot myself in the head, or ran away from everything". It's more like "I'm a horrible mother, and he deserves so much better, so maybe I should find a way to stop it all before I totally screw him up" - not all that hard to imagine when you're feeling both incompetent as a parent and human being and totally batshit insane at the same time.

It's also a whole lot more than just frustration and being overwhelmed with parenthood; it's pretty much everything in  life. For me, it's being sad and crying over nothing, constantly being edgy and pissed off over nothing, and having very few emotions in between. It's also about staying up unable to sleep even when there's a chance to, then fighting to stay awake even though you're nodding in and out because it's the middle of the day, you're home alone with the baby, and you're scared to death something bad will happen to him if you go to sleep (but also scared you'll be the "something bad" if you don't get some rest). It's about feeling guilty about everything, and totally inept, crying so hard you get dizzy because you're stuck in the bathroom and he's crying and you can't get to him. It's going days without a shower because you can't leave him long enough to take one and you don't have the energy or motivation to once your husband gets home, or passing out during the day because you're not eating at all. Not being able to concentrate or hold a conversation. Having problems breastfeeding because your body is not making enough milk while stressed out, sleep deprived, and underfed, yet resisting going on medications because you don't want to taint the small amount of milk you are able to feed your baby.

It's also about the "rest" of your life. Losing your job because you can't concentrate and cry all day long worrying about your child being out of your sight. Killing your relationship with your husband because you have no sex drive, are emotional and irritable all the time, and you feel like it's pissing him off when you need a break and ask him to hold the baby for more than an hour, but you can't tell him why because he'd have you committed himself if he knew half the shit that was going through your head. And that's the worst part - you keep it to yourself. You don't tell people because you're afraid of what they'll think, afraid you'll end up in a mental hospital, afraid you'll lose your kids. You can't even talk about it with other moms, because you're all trying to wear the perfectly happy mommy face and you don't want to be the one to break the facade. Apparently, you have to even watch where you blog about it. And all this time, it just keeps getting worse, you keep trying to pull yourself together and get over it on your own, and you find yourself slipping further into the darkness and hope you're not dragging the rest of your family with you

4 comments:

  1. That is me. You just wrote a post about about my life and you don't even know me. Wow. To say that I know how you feel would be a understatement.

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  2. I totally get how you feel, and I blogged about this debate as a mother with PPD. However, I do think that two of the non-PPD moms who posted their feelings are getting a bad rap in this debate and didn't intend to start the shitstorm that has not descended upon the entire Mommy blogger internet. But that's just my .02 as someone trying to maintain objectivity in light of my obviously non-objective, unable to "man up" make-up.

    Basically, you described my life in this post.

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  3. Oh, Raine, I'm so so so sorry. So sorry that you're feeling all of this. So sorry that other bloggers' posts have brought this up again...just so sorry. Thank you for your courage and your honesty in sharing.

    By the way, I remember feeling so much like you do about meds and milk. it's a heart-rending decision. It saved my life and made me a much much better mama to get on those meds. If you want to chat at all about meds and breast-milk and my experiences, feel free to email me (musings.musings.musings@gmail.com). Regardless, though, I am thinking of you often. I remember being where you are, remember how God-awful it was. I am hoping and praying that you're able to find the support you need so that you can really begin to recover. Hang in there, brave mama! Sending you love and love and love.

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  4. It is important to be honest about how it isn't always easy to slip into mom-hood. I'm reading "Misconceptions" by Naomi Wolf right now and just finished her chapter about PPD. She explains that all of the hormones that have been skyrocketing during pregnancy, especially the euphoric, feel-good ones, plummet to zero right after the baby is born. Couple this with the way America treats new moms (by expecting them to get right back to managing all the details of life without a break and without any help), it's almost a shock that MORE mothers don't experience PPD.

    She points out that in nearly every other country/culture in the entire world, all the women in the family/community live-in and help out the new mom for a minimum of 40 days!!!!! They treat the mom as if she is in a delicate state for awhile, and help with the cooking, cleaning, and baby.

    In America, we like to pretend we are all superwomen. We can't stand the idea of saying out loud that we may be in a "delicate" state. But the sudden drop in hormones DOES put us in a delicate state. Then the new mother becomes sleep deprived (which by itself can precipitate depression) and may have trouble producing milk and breast-feeding, which contribute to her feelings of failure. And if the woman has also had a cesarean (which we like to pretend isn't MAJOR surgery) she is undergoing a very stressful physical recovery as well.

    So, though it is a living-hell, and feels hopeless and never ending, take heart that there are very good and logical reasons for the way you feel, and that there is also an end to it.

    There is nothing WRONG with you!!!!!!! You are having a very legitimate response to this extremely exhausting situation.

    You are most certainly not a bad mother! The worst myth that we perpetuate is that motherhood comes naturally and easily to all women. It is a complicated and emotional adjustment that sometimes has very low points in which the mother suffers from physical and mental stress, may not always feel a bond with her baby, and may face fearful uncertainty about her future, and problems with her spouse.

    We as a society don't like to think about the low points in life. We want to believe that having a baby is all "sunshine and roses." The world benefits from honest bloggers who tell it like it is.

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