Post Partum Depression

Hello Loves,

I originally wrote this post for Mental Health Week on my first blog. Then I re-shared it on my previous website in honour of Bell "Let's Talk" Day. And now I am sharing it here because it is one of the most important things I've ever written and I believe so much in the importance of sharing the shit out of it!

So, without further ado, I would like to share what I have learned through my own journey with post partum depression.

1. Depression struck me with literally no warning.

I took B in for his two month check up and had to fill in a little questionnaire that was blatantly screening for post partum blues/depression. I can distinctly remember feeling proud as I cheerfully rolled through each often do you cry? Never. Do you feel supported at home? Absolutely. how often do you feel overwhelmed? Never.

And on and on.

I aced that questionnaire.

But if I had been asked the same set of questions that evening? I swear to god they would have checked me in somewhere.

It was that quick. Like a light switch was simply flicked off; Kael in the light, Kael in the dark.

2. "Depression" is an absolute misnomer.

If someone had asked me to describe a depressed person before my own experience, I would have used words like "sad" or "unhappy".

And now? Well, those words would describe my depression on one of its cheerful days!

For me, depression showed up as the most intense, dark, internal anger. It showed up as a complete disconnect from anything and everything in my life; a disconnect from my own soul. It showed up as self-loathing, shame and a blinding sense of failure. It showed up as things so suppressed and emotions so foreign and feral that I still don't even know what words to put to them. It showed up as the most malignant, all consuming, darkness I have ever witnessed.

So, yeah, people suffering depression are far more than just sad. Lesson learned!

3. Depression, and all forms of mental illness, must be normalized and accepted.

When B was six months, four months into my fight with depression, I finally went and saw my doctor. And, with the biggest lump in my throat ever, I confessed that I thought I might be struggling with depression.

I confessed.

Like a child who had been caught doing something wrong.

I mean, what the hell?

If I had gone to the doctor because I thought I had cancer, it would have been all out in the open. Probably my mom or sister or husband would have accompanied me to the appointment. For sure I would have already discussed my concerns with everyone in my tribe. And I know that in no way would I have felt ashamed of myself for getting sick.

But, no. Not with mental illness.

Mental illness still carries a stigma. A sense of shame.

Mental illness is still thought of as something that we have chosen.

All of this is messed up and needs to change.

4. Acknowledgement and acceptance were key to my healing.

When I confessed my fears to my doctor, do you know what she did?

She smiled at me and said "ok". She told me that one in seven women struggle with post partum depression and that she thought the statistic was probably much higher but that a lot of women don't come forward. She told me that it was an illness; that I was sick and not just a spectacularly horrible human being {which was what I had been telling myself}.

And just like that I could feel this weight lifted off of my shoulders.

I still had another couple of months of extreme lows ahead of me, but I was also starting to see a few normal days because I was a normal person with a normal illness.

5. Healing took a looooooooong time and a lot of work.

I can honestly say that  it took three full years to finally be able to say that I was well and truly free of depression.

Sure, my actual depression only lasted 6 months. But what I like to call my "depression hangover" lasted another two and a half years.

For two and a half years I raked myself over the coals, even with my knowledge that I hadn't chosen to get sick. I beat myself up with guilt and shame. I lived in absolute fear that I had ruined my kids.

All I can say about this, and to anyone else who is there themselves, is don't do this.

6. Post partum depression, three years after the fact, turned out to be an absolute gift.

Yes, it took some major time to pass and the gift of hindsight, but post partum depression is indeed one of the best things that has happened to me.

First of all, I survived it.

I hit my absolute rock bottom and lived to tell.

Second of all, it broke every single wall that I had spent the last thirty-ish years of my life building up around my heart and left me with this beautiful, all-encompassing, compassionate, heart that rules every aspect of my life.

It gave me my second chance.

I sincerely hope that this little glimpse will help even just one of you beautiful souls; regardless if it is you or a loved one who is tangled up with depression.