Motherhood is perhaps the most beautiful and blissful journey in the lifetime of a woman. At least that is what I’d heard from everyone. Hence, when I got pregnant I knew I was going to be ushered into moments of sheer bliss and joy that would be difficult to describe in words. However, to my utter dismay and shock, I failed to feel happy despite stepping into the shoes of a newbie mommy.
In fact, hardly a few days into motherhood and I was literally all tears, while holding my newborn in my arms, dwelling in a feeling of inadequacy, self-doubt and an endless vacuum or rather a feeling of hopelessness. My first thought was, “What did I get myself into?”
Shameful, isn’t it? Well, I too felt like that, and hence hushed it all up in the fear of being judged, questioned or worse, being labelled as a bad mother! ‘Zip it’, was the first thought that crossed my mind, post every thought that made me feel angry or overwhelmed with my baby. I kept cursing myself as to why I wasn’t able to feel that mythical motherhood bliss and enjoy the journey, which I’d read and heard so much about. I had consciously wanted to enjoy the process of parenthood, so why now was I now questioning or rather finding the journey repulsive?
I cried without any good reason, felt inadequate and blamed myself for everything that went wrong, got into uncontrollable rage, remained scared and paranoid about everything that the baby did or didn’t. In short, I was a restless, manic depressive, who was tethered to a life of restlessness, with racing thoughts in the head, void of focus and concentration and worse of all, a feeling of being inadequate and inefficient as a mother.
When I told my mother, she ignored it saying it was nothing but baby blues, which tend to pass away after a month. Here I was, six months post-delivery and still I wasn’t feeling any better. It was then that I knew it wasn’t baby blues. I read about it and nailed it right there. To confirm my doubts about my mental state, I called up my gynecologist and she confirmed. I was battling full blown ‘Post-partum depression”!
Although, I was advised to consult a doctor, but again with the fear of me being labelled as a bad mother, I skipped and completely ignored the advice. I thought that if I could identify my problem through “Google”, then I might also successfully find one probable solution there, online. If only I knew, I would be delaying the process and would be making things all the more difficult for myself, I would have rushed to a suitable help.
Things worsened and without a supportive eco-system, my life slowly and successfully tumbled into abysmal despondency. This continued for a good period of time( more than a year), till finally I realized that it wasn’t shameful or a sign of weakness to ask for help. The first thing I did was to get out of home and away from the cycle of parental duties and spend time with self! It didn’t work, but slowly helped me see things from a bird eye’s view and I could focus on my problematic areas with probable solutions. I consciously started doing things for self, brought help to myself from every possible direction, but still never talked about my issue with anybody as I felt I might not be understood completely and would be labelled as an ‘emotionally vulnerable or worse a challenged’ mother or human being. I still dwell in this fear and hence, shun the idea of talking about it, unless asked!
I wish I had somebody to talk to or ask for help, but I guess I had to learn the hard way, without anyone willing to hear me. However, my heart goes out to women, who might be in a state like me and are confused about their mental issue or worse lack the right support system for help. With my blog, I wish to provide information to such women, and request them to gather help.
Look out for these symptoms post baby birth or right when you are into your pregnancy. It’s not ‘one-size-fits-all’. You may have all or a set of some of these symptoms. In whichever way, go out and reach out for help. Here’s your checklist to be sure!
- You feel overwhelmed and persistently feel as if you will not be able to handle things as a mother. In fact, sometimes you wonder if you did a wise thing to become a mother.
- You constantly feel guilty for feeling the way you do. You are unable to connect to your child and feel your baby deserves better or maybe is better off without you.
- You can’t understand the reason behind the feeling, feel ashamed, confused, emotional (cry at the drop of a hat) and even scared.
- You feel irritable and angry and there is unexplained resentment towards everything, including your baby. In fact, you feel annoyed, emotionally hollow, sad, weak, tired, sometimes empty with a feeling of numbness or rather nothing.
- You have lost appetite or perhaps are eating all the time, in the hope of feeling better.
- You are unable to sleep and it has nothing to do whether your child sleeps or doesn’t. You are tired, yet unable to hit the pillow and stay up, with racing thoughts in your mind.
- Lack of focus or concentration. You are unable to explain what and how you feel. You are not able to localize that emotional problem in you or can’t take a decision. You can’t remember the basics of tasks. “Did I lock the door?”, “Did I turn off the gas?” etc. are basic questions that are constantly causing a ruckus in your head.
- Your thoughts are literally racing and you are unable to finish a thought, before another one comes in randomly and at lightning speed. You just can’t relax.
- You are worried about everything that baby does or doesn’t. Right from why he doesn’t eat properly, to why he doesn’t sleep or will he wake up or not, everything is frightening and scaring the hell out of you.
- You constantly feel the urge or rather an obsessive compulsion to work. Be it baby’s work, or other household work, you feel you have to do it all and all the time!
- You are disconnected and don’t feel connected to anything or anybody. Sometimes you might not be even paying attention or hearing to what someone is saying.
- You are afraid that if you reach out for help, you will be judged or your baby will be taken away!
- Physical symptoms range from headache, stomach cramps, lethargy and even nausea. All these are signs of panic attacks.
- Thoughts of escaping from the humdrum, meeting with an accident, self-harm to the tune of harming yourself via popping pills or inflicting pain to self often cross your mind. Some women even inflict self-harm, so this thought is the nail in the coffin, so watch out for this one seriously.
This is how exactly one feels in ‘PPD’ and often confuses with anxiety or baby blues. Although, it’s said they tend to disappear after a month, but if they persist, you have to reach out to someone. If you continue to feel at your worse best, then high time you understand and accept your mental condition and seek help. These are perinatal mood disorders and are treatable with professional medical help. You can bring help and solution to your problem faster, provided you decide to act faster. The delay can worsen things.
Although, I’ve felt emotionally turbulent in that most crucial and critical period of motherhood (sometimes still do) and lost and suffered in unexplained ways, I now wish to extend help through my blog to all those mothers, who don’t have a suitable support system, or a shoulder to cry upon! Get out and get help! Getting a support system, is important for you and your child’s mental and emotional well-being. It’s not a sign of weakness, shame or failure as a mother. There’s more to a mother than what people say!