By Meghan Miller
Postpartum depression supposedly effects one out of every five women. For real? Well, that’s what my doctor told me when I finally dragged my sorry behind in to see her about eight weeks after my son’s birth.
In the following years I have become more outspoken about the fact I had PPD. And I had it bad. It wasn’t just feeling a bit down about the changes in my life. It was something else, something that was so unlike who I normally am that it needed medication to fix.
When I talk about my experience I usually use a bit of forced humor. Not because the situation is funny, or even that I am embarrassed. It’s that it was so darn hard that even talking about it can upset me. Humor helps me diffuse a little and put some more space between me–who I actually am–and who I was when I was struggling during the summer of 2008.
I don’t know why it surprised me that I a few weeks after my son was born I felt like I was living in a hole. I had all of the “risk factors” for having PPD. I had a sudden pre-term birth, I was a young mother, this was my first child, and I had used fertility drugs to conceive after an early miscarriage. Those things taken alone are all rough and they did not cause the PPD as far as I know. My understanding was that it is a chemical thing. The mother doesn’t cause or prevent it, it just happens.
I realized something was wrong when I would wake up after, oh, two restless hours of being unable to sleep and mentally run through my day: nurse my son, do some laundry, drive off a cliff, make lunch, move the laundry over, stab myself, start dinner, pump, pump again, wash the pump parts, cut my wrists, iron some clothes, and repeat.
It took a while. Then I realized that crap, some of those thoughts aren’t normal. And my brain was processing them as totally regular thoughts. Doesn’t everyone plan their drive-off-a-cliff fest after breakfast? That is just not right.
And I realized the first step is to accept that something is wrong. And I needed help. I am lucky to have an absolutely fantastic husband who helped.
This is Part One of Meghan’s story. For Part Two, check back next week.
Meghan Miller moved to Champaign for school and never left. She is a special education teacher who spends most of her free time taking photos, drawing or gardening. When she’s not at the park chasing butterflies with her son, she is blogging at http://halfayard.blogspot.com/ or taking pictures of children.