Readers Share Their Postpartum Mental Health Struggles

If you want to join the conversation, click here and share your story. If you prefer to discuss your experience, please call 617-849-7301 and leave us a voicemail.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most powerful responses we’ve received so far:

“I have had ‘high functioning’ depression since childhood and have a family history of depression, including severe postpartum depression. I felt the specter of postpartum depression hang over me during both of my pregnancies and the months after delivery, and I feel incredibly lucky to have avoided the impacts I feared so much. I credit my amazing therapist, my depression medication, and my support system for getting me through those periods. But it still mostly feels like luck. In my opinion, being a mother is living on a razor’s edge. We are pushed past the breaking point at all times, buoyed by beautiful moments and, if we are lucky, supportive partners and peoples. But this tragic story feels like a reminder of that constant vulnerability.” Caitlin M.

After my daughter was born in 2016, I struggled for 11 months before I was diagnosed and treated for DPP. I was on active duty at the time and had a normal pregnancy and delivery. After her birth, I was unable to connect with my daughter in any way and felt extreme anxiety and depression regarding any aspect of motherhood. My husband was very supportive and connected with our daughter, but I felt nothing except anxiety. When she slept or closed her eyes, she watched her suffer damage in every way imaginable. I vividly remember a case where she was mowing the lawn and she was in the house. It crossed my mind that her hand was going to somehow get caught in the mower blades. This was completely unreasonable, as she was safely inside with my husband. She dreamed of her death every night. At 11 months postpartum I was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression. On the surface, at work, she was a top performer, but that facade fell apart as soon as she returned home and she didn’t have the mental energy to maintain that illusion any longer. Prior to that time, I had routinely mentioned my struggles to healthcare professionals who brushed me off as “baby blues”. This was especially troubling in retrospect, since many of these doctors were part of the military health care system and I was an officer who had two combat tours in Afghanistan. It took my husband to help advocate for me with a new civilian primary care doctor to get a diagnosis and medication. It was only after that moment that I began to connect with my daughter. I lost my first 11 months with her because of depression.”-Jessica M.

I suffered from PPD with my two children, now adults. After the euphoria of their births, I was hit with such a deep feeling of depression that I thought I would go crazy. This was during the 1980s, when no one had any idea what was wrong with me. I would leave the baby with my husband and drive anywhere to get away. I packed a suitcase and planned to run away forever. My poor husband was shocked by my behaviour, as were my relatives. I mechanically took care of the baby, but there was no joy in it. The depression went away, but it took almost a year. Everyone in my family recognized that I had a difficult time, but assured me that I would never experience that again! After a few years, I had my second child, and again, bad postpartum depression, but this time they sent me to a psychiatrist and put me on medication, which helped tremendously. I still cry about it, after 35 years. I feel cheated by the early bond with my babies.” –john k

I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety during the first year of my son’s life. I think there is a misconception that this only lasts for the first 8-12 weeks postpartum, but it really lasts much longer for some reason. For me, it manifested as a constant fear that the worst would happen to my son, that I was always doing something wrong, and that I was having a hard time finding joy in new parenthood while missing my old life.” ebony c

Postpartum depression and anxiety don’t always look like what they describe in baby books. Just because you can get up and go about your day doesn’t mean you’re “okay” or that you’re not having a hard time. You can have PPD or PPA even if you can get up and out of bed; they need to be recognized on the spectrums rather than the extremes of “you’ve got it” or “you’re fine.” Also, a lot of people know about PPD, PPA gets less attention, but it exists and it’s just as real, painful, and difficult as PPD. Therapy helps, and medication too.”-lindsay s.

I experienced postpartum depression after the birth of each of my 3 children. It got progressively worse with each birth. This was in the early to mid 90’s (1990, 92 and 96). There was no help. The OB/GYN was not interested in helping because I had already given birth (go figure), I had just moved to a different state, so I didn’t have a primary care doctor, the OB said I should talk to a pediatrician. The pediatrician did not know what to do. He left the room and told me that he could use his phone to call my insurance company. The darkest darkest moment of my life. The wound is still there below the surface. My husband at the time, ever since he got divorced, had no idea that PPD was a real thing. The friends in the apartment complex we lived in at the time were my lifeline, I’m not sure they realized it.” maura d

“You have to be your own advocate in our healthcare system. It’s exhausting, difficult, and unfair, but if you don’t push for help, you’ll be ignored and you won’t get better. Be clear with your doctor that something is not right. Don’t let them ignore you and tell you that depression is normal. Tell them you need help. Don’t ask them, tell them. You don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s not your fault that you feel this way and it doesn’t make you less of a person or a mother. It makes you a better mother to get the help you need.”- mallory g

“I gave birth to my twins in 2018 and immediately fell into a deep depression. I was giving my all to take care of them and I had no space to take care of myself. Unfortunately, my husband was also dealing with his own PPD and was unable to support me in any meaningful way. I felt very isolated when I was on maternity leave. It felt like a crushing weight to be alone with them for hours and tied to the house. Everyone says that it’s supposed to be the most magical time when you have a new baby (or in my case, babies). But it was the darkest moment of my life.” kate r

“Tell someone at the moment when you don’t feel yourself. I did online therapy and talked a lot with my husband and sister. I also talked to them before I had the baby, basically to make sure they knew I wanted them to intervene if I was acting differently than myself.” emma v.

“I had postpartum depression after one of my children. I am usually a very optimistic person and I felt incredibly depressed. I was able to access treatment which was very helpful. I am also a psychotherapist and have worked with many women with postpartum depression. As a society, I feel we are led down a path of high expectations in terms of what motherhood will look like and when it doesn’t turn out that way (think colicky baby, going back to work, etc.) women are told to be grateful and happy. and move on with life. I was lucky with my background and career, but many women are not and are the subject of well meaning but insensitive comments. I also feel that older generations sometimes think ‘we fight. Why shouldn’t you?’” Liz P.

It was like being at the bottom of a well: I could see the light (the wonderful things about having a baby) coming in from above, but I couldn’t access it. I felt like I was watching the world go by, but I couldn’t fully participate. I was so excited, tearful, unable to focus on anything. Isolation from early COVID-19 aggravated my symptoms. About 6 weeks postpartum, I asked my doctor to put me back on the antidepressants that I had so thoroughly taken off before I got pregnant. Restarting the meds, plus getting support through Postpartum Support International, got me through it. Very grateful for these resources, as I did not feel comfortable sharing how I felt with my immediate and extended family.”-ana r

It’s the depression, it’s NOT you. The person inside of you, who had the power to create a life, is still there. And you are able to get through this, but you can’t do it alone. You need help and there are people who want to help you. Take a step, call a doctor. You don’t have to suffer alone.”alexis h.

I had postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my second and third children. I didn’t expect it with my second, and it was horrible. I felt overwhelmed and unable to connect with the baby, as if there was an invisible barrier separating us. I also had overwhelming and intrusive thoughts that something horrible was going to happen to my two children. My OB completely missed it, but luckily our pediatrician also evaluated and basically forced me to get help and medication. With the third, I talked to my new OB about it before I had the baby and we were set up with a treatment plan from the beginning when the symptoms returned.”Anonymous

“I suffered from PPD&A after the birth of my son in July 2020, during the height of the pandemic. They took him through lockdown, where my husband was not allowed to have visitors. When he was born, we found out that he had a rare disease. He also had extreme cramps, which inflamed my PPD&A.”- kristin n

Tell a friend how you feel. Many people have been through this but kept it a secret out of shame. You’re not alone. There is help and it will improve.”- Shannon B.

For more information on resources available to those with postpartum mood disorder, click here.

Jenna Reyes can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jennaelaney and Instagram @jennaelaney.

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