With the untimely tragedy that has plastered our news these past few days speculations of Postpartum Depression (PPD) have been bounced around the air waves.
You never hear about such tragedies this close to home. Tales and stories float up from the States about Mother’s who has gone off the rails, and we all brush it off because it never happens here, it’ll never happen to me. Depression is a taboo only whispered in dark corners where no one is listening because of the stigma attached with mental disorder, but it’s really more common than we think with 15 -20 percent of mothers suffering in silence.
We as women and Mothers need to bring down the walls and educate ourselves and others on the many faces of PPD. Recognize the symptoms and put politeness aside if we suspect someone is suffering (and most don’t even realize it). They may hate you for it but if another story like Lisa Gibson could be prevented where some hurt feelings is a risk worth taking when given the alternative.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression taken from Today’s Parent:
• major, prolonged unhappiness
• feeling of complete exhaustion
• anxiety — a pounding heart, tight chest or difficulty breathing
• lack of interest in the baby
• sleeping or eating disturbances
• inability to concentrate
• feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, loneliness or guilt
• thoughts of suicide
PPD is different from the “baby blues” since the blues last a couple days after giving birth , while PPD is a prolonged experience of the above symptoms that can develop up to a year after baby is born.
Here is the letter in the Winnipeg Free Press that a mother sent in to share her experience with PPD.
As I have been reading the stories over past two days about Lisa Gibson and the death of her two precious children, I feel such sorrow and grief over what has transpired.
For me, postpartum depression was a never-ending pit of despair, one I thought I couldn’t ever bring myself out of.
My daughter was born in July of 2006, and by September I felt like I was living in a prison that no one could see but me. Everyone around me was thrilled about the baby and kept saying “you are so lucky, you must be so excited, isn’t it wonderful….” But I dreaded every moment that I had to spend alone with my baby.
I couldn’t sleep, no matter what. And many doctors will say that lack of sleep is one of the first signs of depression. If I tried to sleep, my mind would keep saying “the baby will wake up, you’re going to have to wake up, you need to take care of her first.” I would beg my husband not to go to work, but I couldn’t even explain why I didn’t want to be with the baby.
I didn’t want to take care of her, I just wanted to lay down and die. The very idea of having to move through my days made me physically ill. I thought it would be better if I was dead. I never wanted to hurt her, but I thought everyone would be better off if I died. No matter how hard I tried, I could not express the joy and happiness everyone so desperately thought I should be feeling. The guilt of not being in love with your child is overwhelming.
When I did get to go out on my own, I would drive to parking lots or empty streets and cry in my car – I literally could not see a way out. The thought that I would have to take care of this baby every day, not matter what, scared me more than death.
I finally went to my doctor for help. At that point I hadn’t slept in almost a month and there are weeks in the fall of 2006 that I don’t remember. I was prescribed medication, however, it takes six weeks for it to take effect.
One Saturday morning, my husband was supposed to leave to play baseball, and I would NOT get out of my bed. I would not feed the baby – I wouldn’t even speak to him. I lay in the bed crying and moaning, completely out of my mind. That was my breaking point. I was only a few days into the anti-depressants, but my mind and my body couldn’t function anymore.
Fortunately, I was rescued – by my husband and my family. The baby and I went to live with my in-laws for over a month, round-the-clock care until the medication started working and I felt human again. I also joined a support group through the Women’s Health Clinic. However, it took close to six months before I could honestly say I was “better.”
Postpartum depression is not simply crying over little things, or being a little sad. It consumes your whole life and can cause tragic consequences.
I am lucky, but not everyone is.
Where to get help (Free or low-cost):
- Women’s Health Clinic
- Aurora Counselling Centre: 204-786-9251
- Aulneau Renewal Centre: 204-987-7090
- Family Centre: 204-947-1401
- Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre: 204-477-1123
- Jewish Child and Family Counselling Services: 204-477-7430 (open to all faiths and cultural groups)
- Klinic Community Health Centre: 204-784-4059
- Ma Mawi wi Chi Itata Centre (Aboriginal): 204-925-0300
- Mount Carmel Clinic: 204-589-9419
- North End Women’s Centre: 204-589-7374
- Pluri-elles (French Language): 204-233-1735
If it is an EMERGANCY call Klinic Crisis Line: 204-786-8686 or visit the NEW Crisis Response Centre at 817 Bannatyne Avenue.