I first met Kirsten and her babies last spring time for their family session, and upon first impression, she looks like a momma with all of her ish together. Not that Kirsten doesn’t have her “ish” together, but I never would have thought she felt the way she does. And that’s kind of the point of all this. PPD and PPA does not present itself on the outside. Oftentimes, it’s those mommas who look together who are struggling internally. Because PPD/PPA manifests itself differently, a lot of us who have it often don’t realize we have it until we become more knowledgeable. Sometimes you feel the overwhelming urge to understand what’s happening, to figure out how to “fix” things, and sometimes you’re just super mad or anxious and you don’t know why. Kirsten’s words resonated with me a lot, and I’m sure a lot of you ladies reading this will connect with her too. If you’re a mother (or a person in general) who downplays your feelings or feels the need to control your problems by constantly searching for the answer, you’ll connect with Kirsten’s motherhood. In speaking with her, I felt a sense of peace knowing that it doesn’t matter how bad you are. If it’s affecting you, it matters. Read on for this amazing lady and her truth!
Kirsten’s Story • Possible Trigger Warning //
I have struggled with depression and anxiety since high school/college, so I’m sure I was predisposed and more susceptible when my hormones were all jacked up from pregnancy and delivery. After my first child over 3.5 years ago, I was hard on myself with the way my body now looked and was exhausted from having and taking care of a new baby. I didn’t tell many people about my feelings because I was convinced this was normal and every woman has these feelings. Yes, they do but that shouldn’t dismiss the feelings or thoughts that I had. After having my second child, almost 19 months ago, the feelings of depression and anxiety hit me hard. I, again, thought it was normal and every woman feels this way, so I buried it and just gave it time for them to go away. I felt incredibly anxious all the time with everything. I felt anxious to go back to work, about my body/weight, my marriage after having 2 kids, no sex drive, etc. I wasn’t sleeping the best, felt on edge most of the time, but also felt exhausted at the same time. I was always trying to “figure out” the kids. If they slept one night and didn’t the other, it rattled me and I was fixated on “fixing” the issue. I would lay awake at night staring at the monitor. I would turn it off somerimes to try and get some sleep but would be anxious it was off and couldn’t tell what they were doing. It felt like a lose-lose situation.
About 9 months postpartum, I had multiple conversations with my husband about not feeling like myself. It wasn’t fair to him or the kids, but most importantly, feeling this way wasn’t fair to myself. I decided to go and talk with our family doctor but in the back of my head still had thoughts of “this isn’t that bad” or “everyone feels this way”. She ran blood work for my thyroid and hemoglobin to rule those out. I think deep down, I knew what the issue was but hoping it was something else. She wanted me to try a medication for my hormones to level out. Calling it postpartum depression/anxiety. I have been on it since Feb. and have felt much better. At that same time, I joined a moms small group at my church. It has truly turned my life around! Meeting and chatting with these women every week has helped me tremendously with working through my feelings but also realize that motherhood takes a village! Its hard and never easy. It is so worth it and I absolutely love my kids but somedays; I don’t want to parent. Somedays, I don’t feel like i can parent or I’m doing nothing right or riding the struggle bus but at the end of the day, I know I’m never alone! God has blessed me to be a mom to my two kids! Through this whole process, my husband has been very supportive. He could tell I wasn’t myself but never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do. If I needed space, he did. If I needed to talk, we did. I don’t think he fully understood what I was feeling but how could he?! Dads don’t have the same feelings as moms do. They haven’t gone through everything we have. But still, he wanted to understand and more importantly, wanted me to feel better and be myself again!
There is a definite stigma out there with ppd or ppa, that the mom is weak or just can’t handle the feelings. SO UNTRUE! It is very common and to a certain degree normal, but the spectrum of thoughts and feelings that go along with ppd or ppa is huge. Nothing should be dismissed as too small or not important. If it matters to the mom, then its important to be talked about! The one thing I would recommend to a mom in this situation would be to act on it sooner rather than later! That may mean medication, talking to a therapist, small group, close friend, etc. Talking about it is just so important! Getting those thoughts and feelings out there helps more than I ever realized. Present day…….it’s still a work in a progress. Every day can be challenging. I’m still a little anxious about certain things and I’m hard on myself about other things but overall a lot better than I was at the beginning of the year. At some point in the next couple months, I would like to try and wean off the medication, but see how my body handles it as well. Motherhood is challenging and can be dark at times, but so rewarding and is a blessing as well! It’s a journey, that’s for sure!