How A Diagnosis Of Postpartum Depression Changed My Life
I didn’t plan on being diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. It wasn’t part of my birth prep list or on my radar in a significant way. It was something that happened to other people, not something that I should worry about. And yet.
Our second daughter (dubbed Littlewoods) was born in February 2018 and the birth itself was amazing. Perfection. Ideal. Longtime readers know that our first daughter (Babywoods, who is now almost three!!!!) was born via emergency c-section following a terrifying discovery of cord prolapse during labor. I was whisked into the operating room and Babywoods was out in under seven minutes. Thanks to the fast response of our nurses and doctors, our daughter was born perfectly healthy and, after a week-long stay in the NICU, came home with us and a clean bill of health. After this first birth experience, and the incredible pain and difficulty I experienced in recovering from the c-section, I had high hopes for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) for baby #2.
Our homestead is 50 minutes from the hospital and I was petrified of going into labor at home, not making it to the hospital in time, and experiencing a repeat cord prolapse (which wasn’t likely, but which I still feared). Given this, my OB recommended we induce baby #2, which I readily agreed to. Scheduling an induction meant that Mr. Frugalwoods and I were able to say goodbye to our first daughter–who was staying at home with my mother-in-law–and enjoy a calm (50 minute) drive to the hospital for the induction. My fears thawed as we checked in, met our nurse, and started Pitocin (a drug administered to induce labor). I could finally unclench my jaw and exhale. This baby would be born in the hospital of my choice and not on the side of the road during an ice storm with no one to help us (worst fear).
However, the Pitocin did not, in fact, induce labor. It caused tiny reverberations as opposed to full blown contractions. After almost 24 hours, I was still decidedly not in labor. We debated what to do. I didn’t want to go back home and wait for spontaneous labor, but I also harbored a deep fear of having my water broken since this can cause cord prolapse. I panicked. Thankfully, my husband was there and able to weed through our doctor’s advice and my largely irrational fear of having my water broken. I came around to identifying that my goal was for a healthy baby and a healthy mom and that the best way to get there was to continue with the induction, which would entail breaking my water.
Five minutes after breaking my water, hard labor started. It was the rush of pain I’d been waiting for and I cried with relief. Finally, we were getting somewhere. After a mere (hah!) two hours of pushing, Littlewoods was born via VBAC. A robust, healthy, screaming person weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces joined our family and made it complete. Elation is too tepid a word to encapsulate what I felt. Relief, profound joy, and acute happiness washed over me. I cradled that baby against my body, nursed her, and sighed the deepest exhalations of gratitude. I also devoured a cold cheeseburger that Mr. FW had the foresight to order from the cafeteria before I started pushing (smart man). But this bliss and this relief didn’t stick.
As we drove home from the hospital, guilt and fear started to snake through my brain. A cascade of worries descended on me. I worried about how Babywoods would receive her baby sister, I fretted about the baby’s sleep schedule, I was anxious at the prospect of no sleep for me or Mr. FW, I panicked about the baby’s health, about my recovery, about our family’s future.
Anything that assuaged one of these fears–such as the smoothest possible big sister/baby sister introduction or a successful visit to the pediatrician–would only prompt my brain to latch onto a new fear. With pernicious tentacles, anxiety overtook everything I did. If I spent time alone with my older daughter, I worried that the baby would feel left out. If it snowed, I feared we’d lose power and the apocalypse would descend.
When Mr. FW went to the grocery store, I worried he’d be killed in a car crash and would never come home. When the baby slept for long periods of time, I worried that she’d somehow suffocated in her sleep. When the baby didn’t sleep for long periods of time, I worried that my life was over and that I’d never get sufficient rest again ever in my life.
This spiral of disquiet mounted with each passing week after Littlewoods’ birth. My addled brain short-circuited into a continuous loop of panic. When I managed to lift my head out of the fog I felt like I was enveloped in, I could see my life for what it was: perfect. I had a loving husband, two healthy kids, the home of my dreams, and the career I’d always wanted. But I couldn’t hold onto this intellectual understanding of my life. It was divorced from this new depressive reality shrouding me. I knew that everything was all right, but I couldn’t translate that knowledge into how I felt.
I started to hate where we live–our 66 acres of paradise. I worried about our choice to move to this homestead. I questioned every single decision I’d ever made. I lacked confidence. I was so overcome with the idea that everything I did was wrong, wrong, wrong that I could barely pick out clothes for my kids to wear. I was apoplectic about my parenting skills. I no longer embodied the assured calm, firm approach we’d raised Babywoods with up to this point. Getting out of bed every morning (after nursing the baby several times during the night) was tantamount to torture. My head ached endlessly.
I had nightmares that people were going to come to our house and steal our children. It was arduous to go anywhere and I’d come home deflated and dizzy with exhaustion. But it was awful to stay home too. I gained weight because I kept thinking I had low blood sugar and just needed to eat more in order to stabilize my mood.
Somewhere in this litany of apprehension, I stopped wanting to write. And this, of all the things I felt, was the scariest. When I found that I didn’t want to write and couldn’t put words on the page, my fears elevated to existential. Had I ever enjoyed writing? Did I understand my purpose and place in this world? I’d just (and I mean JUST) published a book about how I’d found my calling and immersed myself in my passions and here I was, fearing it all. Hating it all. I considered giving up Frugalwoods. Closing shop and retreating into my dark cloud of anxiety. I couldn’t help other people with their money if I couldn’t even organize my own brain.
Trying To Fix It On My Own
I was hungry and exhausted all the time. So, I kept trying different remedies to feel better. To feel like myself. I went on hikes in our woods, which usually lift my mood. I started to eat more protein. I gobbled almonds and cheese sticks. I made massive salads of organic kale, sweet potato, cucumber, green pepper, onion, tomato (I threw in every vegetable I could find in the hopes they might alchemize into a cure).
I did a lot of yoga. I kept going to church every week. I spent time with friends. I went to baby-and-me group. I went on dates with my husband (without our kids!). I even got a massage thinking I just needed some relaxing time alone. I tried everything I could think of to lift myself out of this funk. Nothing helped.
My wonderful in-laws came to visit and to help us with the kids. My wonderful parents came to visit and to help us with the kids. I could barely even register gratitude. I felt angry, defensive, exhausted beyond reason, and fearful. I started to resent everyone around me. I nursed an internal monologue of “no one is helping me enough with the kids and I am over-burdened, exhausted, and starving. No one understands me.” The truth is that I was getting a lot of help with the kids–from my husband, my in-laws and parents, from friends and neighbors. Surrounded by a community of love and warmth, all I felt was alone and desperate. I lost my ability to feel empathy and compassion. I turned bitter.
The scary part is that I couldn’t see the truth in any of this. I thought this was simply how you felt after having a baby: exhausted, ruined, hopeless. It was the lack of sleep, right? It was a lack of protein in my diet, right? It was some combination of organic produce that I needed to consume, right? It was the absence of vigorous exercise, right? It was something I had DONE WRONG. It was my fault. All my fault.
Recognizing The Problem
I wish I could tell you that this was a brief phase. That I figured out what was wrong within a week. A month. Two months. Three months. But I didn’t. I’m a person who pushes through and carries on. I’m a stiff-upper-lip-I-can-HANDLE-this person. In truth, I’m stubborn. I believe too deeply in my own infallibility. In my own power to change things I don’t like about my life. In my own ability to make positive adjustments. In my own advice and knowledge.
After all, that’s kind of WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING, RIGHT?!? But I could NOT see the black spiral I was sliding down. I did NOT recognize it as depression and anxiety. I saw it as a weakness on my part. A failure to live up to my own expectations. After all, I WANTED this second baby. Wanted her DESPERATELY and with every fiber of my being. I wanted this life. In fact, I’d worked doggedly to achieve it, to orchestrate it. Nothing I do is on accident. What right did I have to hate this bespoke existence? I didn’t think I was allowed to be depressed amid such bounty.
I repeatedly told myself that this heaviness would evaporate once the baby was older. Once she started sleeping in her own room. When that didn’t change how I felt, I moved the goal post. I decided I’d feel better once she only got up once or twice a night to nurse. When that didn’t deliver relief, I moved the goal post again. It would all magically transform once she slept through the night. I settled in with grim determination. I just had to keep making it through each day. Everything was a slog and I lost the ability to enjoy my children. They grated on my nerves. Every scream, every cry was amplified in this echo chamber of depression.
Mr. FW and I maintain a calm, harmonious household. We operate on a schedule, we have clear divisions of labor and responsibilities, and a firm, but calm, discipline style (I highly recommend this Simplicity Parenting book on the topic).
But I couldn’t take control of my half of the household like I usually do. I didn’t have the energy, and more pointedly, I didn’t have the confidence. I was no longer resilient and capable. Mr. FW picked up every inch of slack. He cuddled and nurtured the children, cooked and prepared all of our meals (not that he doesn’t do this anyway, but you know what I mean), and desperately tried to help me.
I started yelling at my husband every night after we put the kids to bed. We are not a yelling family. We don’t even like loud noises and can’t handle background TV or radio. The vacuum grates on everyone’s nerves (I usually just sweep). But here I was, yelling! I’d start in on a litany of complaints every evening, always devolving into tears. Saturating, despondent tears. Mr. FW finally said enough. He is the one who pulled me out of this hole and said that I needed help. I scoffed at him and said, “I can handle this! I can handle anything!” And he disagreed. He quietly explained that I was clearly not ok and clearly not happy and clearly not handling anything very well at all. He did so with compassion and insistence. I resisted. “Resisted” is too weak a word. I argued vehemently. He was steadfast. He said I didn’t have a choice anymore, that I had to seek help.
Encouraged/forced by Mr. FW, I found a therapist who almost immediately diagnosed me with postpartum depression and anxiety. She also wasted no time in encouraging me to visit my primary care physician and get a prescription for an SSRI. Medication, I thought? Isn’t that, like, for really depressed people? But I was entering a level of desperation I’ve never experienced before. I could not make it through a day without dissolving into tears. I harbored intense guilt over everything. I couldn’t relish the simplest moments with my kids. So I went to my doctor, who confirmed a diagnosis of postpartum depression and prescribed a low dose of an SSRI (a class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). Specifically, Zoloft as it’s compatible with breastfeeding, since Littlewoods is only six months old and I plan to breastfeed her for at least her first year.
I researched side effects and was skeptical at best. But I was also weary of feeling terrible every hour of every day. So I started taking the medication. And as soon as it took effect, it was like being pulled out of a river of panic I hadn’t even realized I was drowning in. I could stop thrashing, stop fearing, stop clawing at solutions. I could breath without struggle. I was me and I was going to be all right. It was like flipping a switch. I went from gnawing fear and sadness to feeling, well, completely fine. I wondered if I’d feel weirdly elated or drunk on medication and I can tell you that I don’t. I just feel like I did before having my children. I feel normal. I feel calm. I still get upset and frustrated with the daily minutiae of raising two tiny people (and the endless dirt and laundry), but I am resilient again. I have a sense of humor. I am optimistic and hopeful. I’m back to loving where I live, to loving my family, to loving to write. I am back to being me.
Now that I’m on the other side, I’m amazed it took me so long to see the truth of my situation. And I’m embarrassed to say that I was ashamed to label myself as “depressed.” I wouldn’t even call it depression for the first month or so. I called it “postpartum anxiety” because somehow that carried less stigma for me. Now I fully own the label of postpartum depression.
In reflecting on my intense resistance to seeking treatment for four months and my shame over starting therapy and medication, I’ve landed on a few revelations:
- I had a skewed perception of what depression looks like
- Mental health is still wildly stigmatized in our culture
My (Previous) Conception Of Depression
Despite how well-read I am, despite how much news I consume, despite how literate I consider myself to be in health-related matters, my own depression fell into a complete and utter blind spot. I’d always thought that in order to be depressed, and certainly in order to require medication to treat depression, a person had to be in a REALLY bad way. I thought you had to be suicidal, to never get out of bed, to stop bathing, to essentially stop functioning.
This misconception is precisely why it took me so long to accept my own circumstances. I wasn’t suicidal, I bathed daily, and I proceeded with normal life–mostly because I had to. With two little kids, there are no sick days. There are no opportunities to stay in bed. There’s no chance to lie around and do nothing. So I slogged through each day, riddled with grief and terror. And sometimes, I felt fine. It’s not like I didn’t laugh or smile or do fun things for four months. It’s that everything I did was punctuated by an undercurrent of sadness.
The Stigma of Mental Health
I am a lucky person. I am lucky to be college educated and to have a master’s degree. I am beyond fortunate that I’m financially independent and able to easily manage crises from a financial perspective. I am blessed to have a loving and supportive husband, children, and extended family. I am privileged in so many, many ways–from the circumstances of my birth and my parents, to the country I live in. I have access to world-class health care and am an enfranchised person. And yet, it took me months and months to admit that I needed help and to seek treatment.
I wouldn’t have let a broken arm linger for that long. I won’t let a weird rash or a cough linger in my kids for more than a few days. Yet I suffered through this mental health issue for months. I’m still coming to terms with this diagnosis and still trying to find the words to describe how I feel now and how I felt. What this tells me is that anyone can suffer from depression. Anyone can have anxiety. It doesn’t matter how successful you are; how wonderful your life appears to others; how good you are at baking a cake or writing a book. This stuff has nothing to do with whether or not you have depression. The sooner we, as a culture, can accept this and promote this worldview, the sooner people can get the help and the treatment they need.
Money and Other Stuff
I want to point out that you might need to pause other goals in your life in order to treat your mental health condition. If you’re paying off debt right now and don’t want to spend money on therapy and medication, please reframe your thinking. Your health is paramount and without it, you can’t function to your full potential. Pause your financial goals. Pause your career goals. Focus on what you need to do to heal.
I’m not advocating you go on a shopping spree to boost your mood, but rather to judiciously allocate your resources in service of your health. Cut back in other areas or simply acknowledge that you’re pressing pause until you’re better. It’s OK to do that. It’s important to do that.
Everything Is Better Now
I’m still in the early stages of treating my postpartum depression and I’m still keeping tabs on how I feel each day. I now have the awareness of what I feel like when I’m depressed versus when I’m in my normal frame of mind. I refuse to let myself spiral down again and I vow to be proactive in making sure I’m okay.
Right now, I’m grateful that everything is better in my life. I no longer feel lonely. I no longer feel uninspired. I no longer dread each day. I’m again filled with enthusiasm for my life and I WANT to live it. I want to experience the challenges of kid-rearing and the delights of finding a frog outside with Babywoods (and telling her not to lick it… ). Of watching Littlewoods sit up on her own for the first time (and fall over on her own for the first time… ).
Being in treatment helps my entire family. Now that I’m healthy, I can be the mama, the wife, the homesteader, and the writer I want to be. It feels like my time and my energy has expanded and multiplied. My head isn’t populated with clouds of self-doubt and loathing. I can enjoy picking blackberries with Babywoods, and harvesting the garden, and learning new things–I even learned how to make pickles last week! For someone who could barely get the kids dressed and fed a few months ago, I’m amazed and thankful.
Seek Help If You Even THINK You Need It
What I hope is that through sharing my story, a few people–or even just one person–will be motivated to seek help. If you recognize any of the symptoms I’ve described in yourself or in someone you know, please take action. If you’re a new parent struggling to enjoy your child, struggling to comprehend your new role as a parent, struggling to see the point of life, please get help. Today. Now. Close your computer and call your doctor. I had a degrading interior monologue about how my conversations with my doctors would go. They wouldn’t believe me. They would think I was whiny. They would laugh at me. But none of that came to pass. And it won’t come to pass. All of those negative, ridiculous thoughts were the lies of depression.
My friend Melanie Lockert recently told me that “depression lies to you.” It tells you that you’re worthless, it tells you that you’re hopeless and stupid. But this isn’t true. You can be pulled out of this heavy fog. Please allow yourself to be helped. Yeah, sure, there might be a stigma out there around mental health, but you know what? I don’t care. I needed help and I got it. For that, I refuse to be ashamed. And you should too.
I also want to note that I have a relatively mild/moderate case of postpartum depression. The symptoms can manifest much more severely and the treatment can entail greater interventions. I recognize how fortunate I am that my depression is being treated and managed through low levels of medication and therapy. But if your depression requires more? Then get it. Get the help you need and get it now. If you’re not sure if you’re depressed? Make an appointment with your doctor anyway to discuss how you’re feeling and what treatment options are available. If you’d rather not go see a doctor at this point, refer to the list of resources below.
Please be aware that postpartum depression can affect any type of parent. Fathers can experience Paternal Postnatal Depression. Adoptive parents can suffer from a form of postpartum depression. Kids with two moms, kids with two dads, kids with one mom, kids with one dad–any of these caregivers can experience postpartum depression and all deserve compassionate, immediate care. Additionally, the onset of postpartum depression can occur after your first baby, or your second, or your fifth (source: Postpartum Depression Can Happen to Any Parent, The Atlantic Magazine).
Mental Health Resources
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and something I’ve learned through the financial blogging community is that debt, and financial crisis, are reasons some people cite for committing suicide. In light of this, I want to help raise awareness about mental health by participating in the Third Annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour. I’ll also be discussing my experience, along with Melanie Lockert and Tonya Stumphauzer, in the September 28th episode of the Martinis and Your Money Podcast, hosted by Shannon McLay of the Financial Gym. I’m a guest on this podcast every month and this month we’ll be addressing mental health.
If you think you might be depressed or are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help right away. Here’s a list of resources on postpartum depression and mental health in general that can get you started:
- Information on Postpartum Depression from the National Institute Of Mental Health
- Postpartum Support International: call 800-944-4773 (please note this is not a crisis hotline)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Project Semicolon
- Open Path Collective: Contains information about affordable therapy options. You can also check with your local college or university to see if their graduate program in counseling offers discounted sessions.
- Debtors Anonymous
Have you ever experienced depression? What helped you to heal?
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Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story so candidly. You will help many people today!
I’ve loved your writing for awhile but have never felt compelled to comment until today. So glad you are getting better and that you are sharing with the world to help others.
Hi Mrs FW,
My name is Tracy and I’m a GP (local doctor) in Australia. Thank you so much for sharing your story about postnatal depression and anxiety which is so much more common than many are aware of. Your honesty, bravery and ability to describe your feelings as you struggled through the stages of recognising the issues and seeking treatment will be invaluable to many new parents. Having perfectionist tendencies and setting ourselves high standards can be risk factors for anxiety and depression and can lead to delayed diagnosis. A huge well done to Mr FW for “strongly encouraging” you to seek help. Parents often feel they need to be seen as not only “coping” but feel pressure to be a “perfect” parent. I’m so glad you are feeling better now and wish you all the very best for your own well being and happiness. You continue to assist and inspire others (including myself) in striving for financial “well being” and independence.
Thank you, Tracy!!
Tracy, I love how you pointed out that kudos that also belongs to Mr FW. It’s so important for those around us to provide this insight and support, but it can be so difficult for others to know how. I’ve suffered from clinical depression on and off since I was a child. You are absolutely right that perfection is the enemy. I am a regular with both psychologists and psychiatrists, and I’ve taken medication to help during five or six of my really down times, although I’m not on it at the moment. The medication is supposed to make things better, and it does help, but it always comes with an added layer that we’ve failed at living because our brain can’t balance itself, leading to additional difficulties overcoming the added feeling of defeat in addition to working through everything else. The worst part for those of us battling serious clinical depression is that after the first episode, the next comes sooner, and the even next sooner, and it can be extremely difficult to maintain the balance. It’s so important to focus on healthy eating, healthy living, gratitude, and thankfulness, but it’s okay to admit that sometimes it really isn’t enough.
Kudos for being so open and honest, Mrs FW. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Know that you are not alone!
Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you suffered in this way.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really appreciate the honesty and vulnerability you display here. I’m pregnant with my first, and knowing that I’m prone to anxiety has been something that worries me about postnatal life. Reading your post made me feel better and more equipped to recognize any symptoms and treat them if the need arises. Thank you again for all of the great work you do with your blog. It is one of my favorite corners of the internet.
Congratulations! As someone who also suffered from undiagnosed post-partum depression, it couldn’t hurt to talk to your doctor about getting some therapy sessions or something scheduled in advance before you’re potentially in the thick of it–one of the reasons I didn’t seek treatment when I probably should have is that I was just really mired down and didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. For future hypothetical baby #2 one of my goals is to get some therapy sessions set up in advance and be way more proactive in advance. I bet you’ll be a wonderful parent. 🙂
I second the comment to get a therapist now. I knew I was at high risk for post-part because of pregnancy complications and a Long NICU stay, so I tried to find a therapist 3 weeks after they were born. She told me I was fine because I wasn’t presenting as severe enough, and I never had the strength to find another, so I just suffered for months. Find someone you are comfortable with now so you have it lined up (and because pregnancy can be a very anxiety-inducing time as well)
You shouldn’t have to even seek out a therapist. No amount of talking about your situation and how you feel will pull you out of postpartum depression. A single call to your OB’s office to talk with the nurse and explain your symptoms should be enough to have them call in a prescription for medication. ” Therapy” does not help the chemical imbalance in your brain that has occurred. Really, help is just a call away. The thought of going to a mental health clinic of any sort is too much for many women to even follow through with when they are suffering from PPD.
I wish I had read this post and your comment when I had my first child. Looking back, I had almost every single symptom described by Mrs. FW. But I was also stubborn and didn’t seek help. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t depressed, but I resented everyone and everything around me for a long time. I finally got out of it all after returning to work.
I just had my 2nd baby a couple of weeks ago. This time things are better since we are more financially stable, and I don’t have to deal with any pressure from the parents.
Postpartum depression is real.
I work in the mental health field and research has shown that therapy and medications together work very well. Some people are licenced to prescribe medication and do therapy at the same time. The two go hand and hand. True therapy can not help the chemical imbalance in your brain, however therapy does provide an opportunity to talk to a non biased source. People find the opportunity to be completely honest with someone in a non-judgmental place helpful.
As a trained counselor, I will say that it is scientifically proven that BOTH medication and therapy work better combined than either piece on their own, so while a chemical imbalance won’t be “fixed” by therapy, therapy provides the individual with a tool box of emotional coping skills that will help them heal faster and better.
I suffered from postpartum depression with my first daughter for several months and vehemently resisted medication. I initially saw a therapist who basically told me I should get a divorce. Needless to say, I quit seeing that therapist. However, I did find that my health care plan offered appointments with a “behaviorist.” I found this to be so helpful. He provided me with the skills I needed to learn how to cope with my immense feelings of pending doom. I probably would have improved much more quickly had I opted for medication along with the therapy, but this did help me turn the corner and begin to climb out from under the chronic anxiety riddled and tearful state that I was constantly in. The bottom line is recognizing the depression, listening to family and friends urging you to seek help, and seeking it. The “help” may look a little different for everyone. Thank you so much Liz for being so candid about your experience. Your honesty will help so many others. Kudos to you. Wishing you and your beautiful family the best!
Thank you, Lisa! And yes, speak with your OB/GYN ahead of time about your concerns as they might want to prescribe something for you before you give birth. Wishing you all the best!
I just had my first baby four weeks ago. All anyone ever told me is that being a mom is hard and life will change and you won’t get any sleep. So I was like, “Ok, it’ll be hard; I know that ahead of time and I’ll be prepared.” What no one told me about (and I really wished someone had!) was to be prepared for the “baby blues”, the first two weeks postpartum. I cried everyday, stayed up all hours to make sure my baby was breathing as he slept, doubted myself, snapped at my husband, wondered what the heck we had gotten ourselves into (even though we desperately wanted and tried for a baby). Then, right at two weeks, I woke up after finally getting a good night’s sleep and all of the anxiety and self-doubt melted away.
I still have anxiety (is the baby gaining weight? what if I drop or hurt the baby by accident? why isn’t he smiling yet?) and it’s enough that I sometimes wonder if I need to get treatment, but like Liz, I keep trying to power through it.
Hi, First Time Mom. Please go talk to your doctor. I desperately wish I’d taken action sooner (like three years ago after my first baby was born… ). There’s no harm in talking things over with your doctor and determining if therapy or medication might help. Please do it :)!
Our OB gave me a copy of the PPD checklist questions and then when my husband came in, gave a copy to him as well. His message to the husband was that you are the first defense for seeing the signs. Kudos to Mr. Frugalwoods for helping you through it but not enabling you to avoid treatment.
Wow, what an inspiring essay, and whilst I never got to *quite* your depths, that awful anxiety and anger and misery / exhaustion is a killer, isn’t it? Just ruins everything. Unable to sleep, resentful of anyone who can, not much fun as a mom…
Awful. I did actually eventually come right on my own over time, partly because I had a very mild case (which was GHASTLY and I wish I’d done things differently, why suffer?). Then when surprise baby 3 was imminent I spoke honestly to my gynae and he immediately prescribed me something that A/ boosts milk supply and B/ is a very mild anti-anxiety / mood stabiliser, WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE GET GIVEN THIS AS A MATTER OF COURSE? I can say it was my best ”new baby period” and by far my best breastfeeding experience… I was just… calm and generally in a decent mood. Of course normal worries and concerns were there, I wasn’t in a silly mood or oblivious, but I was able to relax enough to actually sleep properly (in bursts, because baby), but what a major difference.
So glad your husband is the resilient sort who knows when you need to be dragooned! He needs you and you need him, so just stick with it and all will be well.
What is this magical thing? I will ask for it if/when I have another baby. Postpartum is awful and I wouldn’t want to go through it again.
In South Africa it’s called Eglonyl. Not sure if it goes by another name elsewhere, but that’s what it’s called here. It is genuinely very mild, so the idea is to start taking it the very day you have the baby. If nothing else, you’ll have milk for days hehe, but it’s a gentle mood stabiliser that is of course safe for breastfeeding and all that. I asked my gynae why he never suggested it and he said that unless someone asks, you cannot just foist psychiatric meds onto people, which is fair I suppose, but I do believe that for many of us who fall in that grey area of not full-blown in the depths of misery BUT also really quite down and anxious and fretful, not sleeping properly (when we are allowed to, that is!), this is good stuff!
For those wondering, the generic name is sulpiride and it is not approved for use in the U.S., Canada, or Australia. I am a lactation consultant (IBCLC) and the South African IBCLCs in the professional Facebook groups I’m in love it for increasing milk supply. I had never heard of it as a mood stabilizer per se, I’d always heard it called an antipsychotic; but either way, it is not available to us here in the States.
Nutritional brewers yeast from a health store gives some of the same help…..good for nervous system with its high Vit B and also increases breast milk supply.
I would like to know the name of that medication, please.
She said in the article is was zoloft
Eglonyl – it’s not quite the same as Zoloft apparently (Disclaimer, I am NOT by any remote stretch a doctor!), but is a very gentle anti-anxiety / milk-enhancing mood stabiliser.
Thank you, Caroline. As an OB nurse, I knew you must be talking about something other than Zoloft. I will check more into Eglonyl and see if we have something similar in the US.
What medication were you put on?!? 😊
Eglonyl – that’s what it’s called in South Africa. It might be called something else in other countries.
Thank you, thank you for telling your story. I am so glad you sought treatment and are feeling better. Know that what you have shared will help people. I wish you all well.
Hey mama, thank you for sharing this. I see myself in this story, I nearly cried! I am glad you got help! So many people go through this. Modern motherhood is so so hard. Getting involved with Postpartum Support International has helped me a lot.
Brave post on a tough issue, which I reckon will help many, many people. Glad you’re feeling so much better.
I may well attract criticism for this comment, but I find the very fact that so many of you descrbe being honest about psychological ill health as “brave”, hugely telling that it is a stigma…including in your own minds. It becomes, unintentionally, self-reinforcing that there is something to be brave about. I’m not sure that I’m explaining this very well, but we wouldn’t tell someone who broke a limb that they are “brave” for acknowledging it. Part of truly normalising mental health challenges is to excise that sort of language: the thought follows the word.
To Liz: I hope that you continue to heal and to grow from this experience. I highly recommend the writing of Matthew Ratcliffe, an Existential Philosopher and academic currently working at an Austrian university, who “gets” depression brilliantly.
I think we can recognize the prejudices in our culture without holding those prejudices ourselves. As, say, a certain Berkley prof was brave for coming forward with her story very recently.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve had the same experience with Zoloft – once I started taking it, I felt like myself again, without the anxiety induced panic swirls. I was hesitant to take medication for a long time as well, particularly as we were building our family. But what a difference this pregnancy (on meds) has been compared to my first pregnancy (without meds)! Even with a toddler to take care of! I encourage anyone who feels anxious thoughts start to take over their day to day lives, particularly those with little ones, to seek treatment. A parent’s mental health is so so important and the best thing you can do for your kids’ wellbeing. Again, thanks for sharing. I wish you the best for your family and future.
Hi Mrs. FW,
What a courageous and generous act to share your personal story. It was familiar as I went through a similar experience with the birth of our third child. I am sure your post will reach many who may be struggling silently. Thank you for claiming your experience and offering your wisdom. It could make a life-giving difference to someone out there. 🙂
Thank you for writing about your experience so frankly. I’m a resident in mental health counseling, and I want to echo that if you’re not feeling the way you’d like to be feeling, tell a professional! It doesn’t make you “whiny” or “crazy” or “needy” or any of the things your brain may be calling you- if you’re not feeling like things are okay, I want to know and want to help you.
There are so many barriers to adequate mental health care in this country, but one of the biggest is the shame we’re taught to heap on ourselves for “having a problem.” No. Suffering affects every human, and if it’s affecting you in a way you don’t like, you have the right to do something about it.
So happy to hear you are feeling better! Thank you for this post! You will be helping many moms reach out for help!
Thanks for sharing your story. I am due with my first baby in December and will be on the lookout for postpartum depression/anxiety.
So well said. You describe the loop of depression/anxiety so accurately. I applaud your efforts and your husband for insisting on being your best self! Blessings to you as you continue your journey!! You are a ROCK STAR!! xoxo
Thank you. I too experienced post partum after bringing home our 2 wonderful boys from Russia. It wasn’t until I researched my anger and depression that I learned adoptive parents can go through post partum depression too. It has been 8 years and I’m still on the antidepressants because I learned I am prone to depression. Many if not all women in my family experience depression and we are all blessed- loving, caring spouses, great kids, careers, financial strength… depression can sneak up on anyone. Get help.
This is lovely. Thank you. My third baby is seven months old today and I have finally started taking steps to acknowledge my ppd and seek help. This affirms that choice.
Good, Beth! I’m so glad you’re seeking help!
I have a question hiw long was you on the medicine for?
It took courage to write all of this down. You worded everything so well too. I’m happy for you and your family that you’re in a better place now. I wish you continued strenght and happiness!
Thank you for posting this. I see so many similarities in your story and mine. It took me a while to seek help. I was more anxious than depressed, and I did not realize that was part of PPD as well. I refused to drive anywhere unless we were almost totally out of food, I was afraid we would get in an accident. I did not want to put my baby down for a minute or let anyone else help, but would secretly hate everyone for not helping because I was so tired. Looking back, those first few months were so much more difficult than they should have been. Thankfully I learned my lesson, and with the second I started taking my meds as soon as the anxiety started creeping around.
The meds are not a miracle cure for me, but I can function again. I can enjoy my family again. There are still bad days, but the meds help me remember that it is temporary and if I slog through this day, the next might be better, or the next, but eventually.
Hopefully if enough of us share our stories, more women will recognize that they might need help, and the stigma will lessen.
I’m so glad you’re doing better now! And yes, I hope that more people will recognize their depression and seek help!
Oh boy, bringing up little people is a slog isn’t it. And then into the mix, you’re tired and breastfeeding and pushed to the limit. I think for super capable and conscientious people like you (and me) it can be difficult to accept that you’re not quite coping and you’re not enjoying the kid wrangling and you’re not liking the weird angry stresshead you’ve turned into. I understand completely. Glad you got help and are feeling better. Sending lots of love and energy all the way from Australia).
(ps Loved your book!)
Thank you, Tash!
So so brave! 👍
I sailed through my first 4 pregnancies and births, and afterwards. When I had my fifth ten years later, she had a tongue tie, my milk didn’t come in, I ended up bottle feeding and felt like a failure. I crashed into the depths of depression immediately and luckily my midwife spotted it and the doctor had me on anti-depressants within the day. Thank you for talking about this. It can happen to anyone, as you said, it doesn’t have to be your first or second child and it can hit you out of the blue.
Thank you for sharing, Laura! It’s so important for people to realize that it can happen in subsequent babies even if it didn’t happen with the first!!
Big hugs and thank you for sharing! It’s so important that we take the stigma off mental health issues. I’m suffering from adrenal fatigue/burnout and haven’t been able to work for 3,5 years. It’s been a lot of anxiety, fear, tears and a zillion physical symptoms as well. I’ve put my whole life on hold now, because nothing is more important than getting well again. It took me at least 3 years to realise that unfortunately… Once again, thank you for sharing.
Big hugs to you, Maria! I hope you can heal soon.
Thanks for sharing. While I too did not have quite your depths of depression, it still affected me. I “endured” through it with my first child. Living in a new town, leaving work and all my friends to care for my child and having a (extremely supportive like your DH) husband who worked long hours enhanced the loneliness and anxiety issues. While I should have reached out more instead I stayed home and it got worse…and then finally better. Good news for me and others though is that even if you get it once it does not mean that you will definitely get it again. I had it with my first, but did not get it with my 2nd child, or my 3rd or my 4th! (yes though you could be at an increased risk though)
Unfortunately some of the anxiety still lingers but I think that is an integral part of being a parent! (Obviously not diminishing the real anxiety issues of PPD – I want to put that disclaimer in there in case anyone thinks I am)
Noone’s too strong to need a little help once in awhile. Good on you, its so important to have key public figures be open about struggling with mental health issues that are all too often swept under the carpet. You’ll help a lot of people with your bravery <3 And good job Mr FW!
Liz, what a gift this post is. I’m so glad that you were able to start on SSRIs and are now feeling more like your old self. My husband and two boys struggle with anxiety and I fought against using medication. Until a wise pediatrician told me, “You’re not the one suffering from anxiety. You have no idea how it feels.” Thanks to the SSRIs, our house is a completely different place and Mr. ThreeYear and Junior ThreeYear don’t fight that clawing panic every day. We do seem to think that just by adjusting diet, sleep schedule, exercise, we mamas can fix it all (especially ourselves). Why do we tell ourselves that lie? I do it all the time. Hope things continue to get better and better, little by little. I have a feeling you helped so many people today with this post.
Thank you, Laurie!! Yes, it is so tempting to think we can fix it by adjusting our environment in some way, but in some cases, medication is truly the answer. So glad to hear your husband and son are doing better!!
Thank you Liz, as always, for speaking your truth and being so open about something which, despite much effort to bring mental health into the public eye, still carries stigma and elements of shame in our society. As a regular reader, I had sensed something was “off” in your last couple of posts and started to wonder (worry!) that you were going to stop writing FW altogether. I am so so glad to hear you are feeling well and being proactive in taking care of yourself. Keep writing, keep sharing for as long as it feels good to you – FW is without doubt my favourite website! x
Thank you so much :)!! I’m so grateful that I’m back to being me!
Long time reader, but I’ve never commented. Thank you being so open and honest! Happy to hear you’re feeling better & hope you feel supported as you share your story!
Wow. This is the first time I’ve seen postpartum depression and anxiety described in a way that reflects my experience. Thank you. And so grateful you’re well!
I have struggled with depression off and on my whole life, but postpartum really did me in. For me, it’s the feeling of guilt about everything and the feeling that I am completely and utterly worthless. Yes, I still get up and do stuff, because – there’s no option to not. But through it all, I doubt every single decision I make, I make all the wrong decisions because – I don’t know why because. It is embarrassing. You don’t want to tell anyone because you don’t want them to feel obligated to help you. You don’t want to be the burden. I crave food because it’s the one thing I can control that gives a moment of “feel good.” Although, I admit, after you eat, then the guilt piles on even higher. Crazy cycle. I take medicine. It helped for probably 3 glorious years, and now I am having to look again for a tweak in the treatment.
J, I had to tweak my meds and they now work fine. Don’t wait!
Well, bless your heart. You have really, really had a hard time. But, thank you so much for being vulnerable. I truly believe explaining this is a “gift” to your readers. I had a brief episode of depression, our adult daughter had something similar and believe me, it was truly educational. It also revealed negative prejudices I had held about depression/mental slumps, etc. Life can be quite a teacher. I am a better, more empathetic person for it.
May the Lord bless you with continuing improvement and may He use this article you have written to bring others to seek and find help for a more enjoyable life.
Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your honesty and courage. As a mother and FI wanna-be, I have always felt inspired by you. I hope you continue to be gentle with yourself as you heal, not only because you deserve it, but because you have so much to offer.
Wonderful piece. The level of detail is way more than most articles about depression contain, and will help people a lot. Sometimes it isn’t enough to just know that depression is feeling lousy.
Thank you for this very brave story.
You are an inspiration to so many people and have had such a good influence in the society these last few years. Always remember that. I know very well how the mind can play tricks on us, and make us see everything in a negative light. Unfortunately, manic depression runs in my family and my adult son and I have both struggled with depression for years. The SSRIs really help take the edge off it. Some people say it is just a placebo effect, but I don’t believe that. Without the one I take (Celexa) I would be crying all the time at the least little thing. If there is a choice between breast feeding and taking the anti-depressant, I would say take the drug.
Yes, I was at the same place with breastfeeding vs. medication, but fortunately I can keep breastfeeding on Zoloft. But I agree, I was at the point where I needed the medication badly enough that I would’ve stopped nursing if I’d had to. Glad to hear you are doing well on medication! And I agree, it is NOT a placebo effect!!!
I just want to add a note here to say that the placebo effect can be a wonderful thing. I mean really, who cares if what is making you feel better is a biochemical reaction or an emotional response of hope at putting something in your mouth? You’re feeling better, and that’s what counts, right? Medical researchers are studying the placebo effect as a positive benefit in patient care, and that’s a good thing.
There have actually been studies that show the placebo effect working, even when the patient is told that they are taking a placebo! Brains are funny things.
Now called the “nocebo effect” by researchers!
Thank you so so much for writing this. For a long time, I shared your view of depression as meaning “can’t get out of bed and shower.” I didn’t realize for awhile that I was depressed and going through the motions–staying in bed wasn’t an option because I had dependents to care for (in my case, furry ones…still pretty needy though). My therapist calls it the curse of the high-functioning individual. It took longer than it should have to recognize that this was depression and not just normal stress/exhaustion.
The more we share our stories, the more others understand that this is okay to deal with and that it doesn’t deserve the stigma. I wish you the absolute best of luck with your treatment and recovery, and I’m so glad that you’re feeling better and can once again clearly see the bounty you have to be thankful for.
This is so perfect: “the curse of the high-functioning individual.” 100% yes!!!! Glad to hear you’re doing better now :)!
What a brave and amazing post! After having my first baby I am so passionate about talking more openly about the postpartum period which is SO challenging. I was completely devastated and blindsided by the difficulty of breastfeeding due to a very low milk supply. As someone with perfectionist tendencies I think this ‘failure’ hit me particularly hard and I blamed myself despite trying very hard to boost supply. I very easily could have slid down the hole of postpartum depression and looking back, probably could have used some therapy around that time! I had good support and was open about my feelings with my husband and support system. This helped me feel the loss and move forward. Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic!!!
Good for you, Liz. You so eloquently put into words the feelings and emotions of what true depression and anxiety is. It’s hard to comprehend unless you’ve been there, and you did an amazing job of pulling back the curtain of that dark world so everyone could understand.
I had something similar happen to me last year, and I could never find the words to explain what I was feeling. My husband thought I was crazy, I thought I was crazy, and my doctor must have thought I was crazy when I sat there crying because I was convinced the constant knot of pain in my stomach was cancer. It was anxiety.
The same medication has worked wonders for me as well, and I wish you continued success with overcoming this horrible condition. 🙂
Love your blog, your honesty, and your family stories/pictures!
Thank you, Vanessa! And I can so relate to the thought that “it must be cancer”!!! Your brain just spirals out of control (at least, mine sure did). I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling better now with Zoloft!!
So many of us mom’s have gone through this. Me for one. Thanks for eloquently sharing your journey. ALL of it. Much 💕.
Yes, definitely happened to me. Spent a day or two nonstop crying and Anxiety was so bad one night I was literally sick. I demanded the very next morning that my husband take me to the doctor. I was immediately put on Zoloft. It really all boils down to hormones changing the chemicals in your brain. So, when I had baby # 2 I opted to start Zoloft again right away. So glad I did!!
Oh,, I feel so terribly sorry you had to go through all this, and so glad you found the way out of the depression ! I had thought to notice you didn’t write much, but with a new baby, that seemed only natural … darker and tougher truth.
But well, you surely know you have built a powerful and nice virtual community beside your real life one, and we’ll be there also anytime you need us.
Take care, and keep up the good job !
Thank you for sharing this! I struggled with depression for a full year without realizing it. I was in complete denial and I had so many of the same thoughts and anxieties as you. I was so fearful to take antidepressants and see a therapist, but they’ve both helped me so much. To anyone else who is struggling: please call a doctor ASAP. You will get through this!
Just read your new book, The Frugalwoods, which I commend for its honesty, sense of gratitude, and awareness of real world conditions affecting the “haves” versus the “have-nots”. Your suggestions to others about lessening the grip of consumerism via frugality and ties to community are spot on. Nothing worthwhile comes easily and, realizing this, you’ve shared your struggles and triumphs over them with us so we might find our way as well.
Thank you so much for sharing. I recently realized I need counseling and my first appointment is Monday. There is a relatively significant cost per visit but I’m not going to let that deter me at all. I’ve never gone before and am really really (really) looking forward to it.
Good, Emily! I’m glad to hear it!!! You must take care of your health above all else!
Went, loved it, set up weekly appointments. 🙂
Hooray! I’m so glad to hear that, Emily!
I am 72. Always the “force” behind the family. I also have a mild case of allergy-induced asthma. Two years ago I started having a “feeling” in my chest. I thought at first it was asthma, but my meds did nothing. Then I thought it was my heart. After 3 trips to the GP , much heart talk, and several EKG’s, He suggested we try an anti-anxiety med. I was resistant. I had a terrific husband, great kids and grandchildren, a wonderful social life and the best friends. He finally convinced me to try Alprazolam, and I felt better almost immediately. For those of us who are known to help others solve problems , it’s especially difficult to consider depression and anxiety. Give your husband an extra hug every day for pushing you to get better.
I’m so glad to hear you’re doing better, Cindy! That is wonderful!
THANK YOU for writing about this difficult topic. My PPD with first child went undiagnosed. My doc asked if I had the Baby Blues, I had no idea what that was and of course I wasn’t going to admit anything was wrong. Only after my second child (no PPD) could I look back and see what it was and how bad it was. SO GLAD you were able to to get diagnosed, get help, and spread the word!!
Yes! I think it’s especially pernicious with the first baby because you just don’t know how you should feel! I think that’s partly why I was able to eventually recognize it as PPD with my second. And in retrospect, I think I had a more mild version of PPD after my first baby too!
You just… basically described my life. My baby was born last fall. I’ve been slowly drowning and didn’t even realize it, really… wow.
Zennia, please go see your doctor now! I can’t tell you how much better I feel with therapy and medication. Help is out there. You don’t have to feel this way! Please, please, please take care of yourself.
I am so sorry you have had to go through this experience, but I love and admire how you have used your voice to tell your story. It takes courage and character to resist the temptation (esp as a perfectionist) to hide the less-than-perfect aspects of life and instead choose to detail a hard experience in order to help others. I know you’ve saved someone suffering through your words. What better way to use your gifts as a writer? I wish you and your family every happiness.
Thank you for sharing! God bless you, and speedy recovery!
You should be proud of the wonderful person you are. I think it is absolutely great that you shared this story with us, because it is important. We can all be proud of the fact that we are human, and this means we get happy, sad, angry, jealous, tired… You are a brave and inspiring woman!
It was really brave of you to share your journey. The way people who have never experienced depression think its just someone not being able to do every day tasks or stays in bed all day. Depression has a lot of levels. I have been through them all and been functioning the whole time. I am on Zoloft and have been for many years. I tried to come off of it (wean) when I started fertility treatments 2 years ago. but the ups and downs of the two week wait and all the mis diagnosis I went back on it. I also have a lot of anxiety that blows everything out of proportion in my head..like you were experiencing worse case scenario to everyone doesnt like me to I didnt hear back from my husband right away when I texted he must be talking to someone else. yeah..i go there. However, the medicine isnt a cure all. it helps, but I have found I will probably never be “cured” and the diagnosis that I possibly cant have my own biological child I am still coming to terms with how to proceed next. Everyones struggle is different. You are not alone and I applaud you for sharing your story! the stigma is very real with mental health.
I am sending you love Clarissa and am glad to hear that Zoloft is helping you too. I am wishing you all the very best on your journey to parenthood!!
Thank you so much for sharing – sending love your way xx
Depression and anxiety have been on and off for my since I was a teenager and I can confirm, they lie to you. Once you recongize the symptoms and realize you need help, that’s usually the hardest part. Thank you for sharing your story.
Mrs. Frugalwoods, I want to thank you so much for sharing your story and offering insights into what must have been and may still be a terrifying time. I myself struggled for years in therapy, refusing medication because of the stigma of mental illness. I refused to use the words depressed or anxious to describe myself because I was ‘not that bad’ although I was barely making it through each day. Seeking help saved my life and I am so thankful that you are out there using your platform to shed light on this very serious issue. I am sorry you had to go through this, but you are far from being alone! I love your blog and read it regularly. I can’t express how much your blog has helped me, providing me with the encouragement and the tools I’ve needed to work through very difficult financial situations. You have helped me re-frame my view of money and organize my spending completely. I’m so thankful for that but reading your story today makes me even more grateful as a reader. You’re not just a financial guru, you’re a person with a human experience and the courage and capacity to share. Keep sharing please! 🙂
Thank you, Katie! I really want to be able to help others and I’m glad to hear this is resonating.
Thank you so much for sharing. I would like to have kids in the near future, and this is so helpful to read. I can really keep an eye out for this happening, and seek help asap when it happens! I sometimes struggle with anxiety and perfectionism, so it seems very wise to be alert of this. Again, thank you so so much for sharing this very relatable story.
I have never experienced depression but I grew up with a mom who suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I am the youngest and was the only one still at home when my mom went through menopause, instead of postpartum psychosis, which I believe (in retrospect now that I’m an adult) triggered all these symptoms. This was a very long time ago and there was less research then so the doctors tried to tweak my mom’s diet and took her off caffeine, basically doing what you had tried also. She cried all the time and couldn’t make it through even running errands without having to come home She was just miserable.. I became a very adult 9 year old and started taking care of my mom. while my dad was working 60 hour weeks. Finally, years later, she was put on Zoloft which helped immensely. Unfortunately, she had to be put on a blood thinner many years after that and her body couldn’t do the Zoloft and blood thinner together. So the last 10 years have been a bit difficult again though she now takes Xanax to deal with her anxiety Actually,. I have been in counseling for the last 2 years so I can figure out how to cope with her anxiety better myself. When she starts to panic and be anxious, it is always about the future – the what if’s. She gets herself so far into the future she can’t come back and I have to pull her back to the “logic” of the present (as I call it)
I’m so glad that you were able to receive help and a diagnosis. And that the medication is working for you. Blessings to you now and in the future!
This sounds a lot like my life, and my mother’s life, except for the improvement and recovery parts. Sure wish we had known or understood what went wrong for her and been able to help or change things! The repercussions of growing up with a mother like this (who often turned to alcohol) are still with me, although I have had help and am doing much better. Several of my sibs haven’t/won’t, and I see them suffering and struggling, and worse, my sister’s daughter seems to have the same- but everyone refuses to see or intervene… I applaud you…
Thank you so much for sharing this story — it takes courage to accept that one needs help, to get the help one needs, and to share the story so that others might also benefit. Please keep being so thoroughly who you are and caring for yourself — you are the best possible gift you can bring to this world. Kudos to Mr. Frugalwoods for recognizing what was happening, and to you for being willing to listen.
Thank you so much for this. I’m sitting here fighting tears. My youngest turned 10 on Wednesday, but I remember this like it was yesterday. Zoloft saved my sanity. I waited WAY too long. I’m sure I had PPD from when I had my oldest on, but it got unbearable when I weaned DD2 at almost age 3 (yes, she nursed that long). The part when you said you were “questioning every decision” you ever made hit me so hard. I remember that. It was AWFUL!! For me, it was the worst part by far. My female OB/GYN told me I was depressed because I wasn’t having any more babies. Seriously. My male GP saved me. He told me babies should come with a warning label, it’s all hormonal, and put me on Zoloft. I love that man.
FWIW, a year ago I started having the worst panic over nothing. I wasted not even one day in calling my saint of a GP. They got me in same day, and needless to say, I’m back on a low dose of Zoloft and at this point I am secure in never going off of it. I’m so glad you got help and that you wrote this so others will hopefully seek help too. My perception of depression and anxiety totally changed after this too. It gave me more compassion and empathy I think.
Yes! So true on all levels! I cannot believe your OB/GYN said that–how awful. But I’m glad you found another doctor who was sane! Babies really should come with all sorts of warning labels ;). Glad to hear you’re doing well now!
Hello, I am an RN here in NY for 27 years. I am so glad you sought help and laid bare your story here on your financial wellness blog for your worldwide readers. The stigma of otherness and not me or my sister, brother, mother, etc, attached to any level of mental illness remains deeply attached and the needle of acceptance has moved slowly despite a widespread need. Thank you for this deep, thorough document of your journey. It will help others in acceptance and recognition. Many blessings to you and family.
Thank you, Lois! I really hope that this will help others.
Thank you so much for having shared your experience in such eloguent and honest terms. I am so happy you are feeling better and as others have expressed, this post will help others immensely: perhaps a parent, family member, friend or mentor will recognize themselves or a loved one as struggling with this mental health illness and will seek help. Please give me a shout if you visit Montreal. xox
Thanks for this post and the adorable photos. It looks like Babywoods has really taken to being a big sister.
I’m so happy you sought treatment and that you’re feeling better. Thank you for posting these resources.
Thank you for sharing your story… Now go enjoy that life, those beautiful kids, that land, that supportive hubby of yours!
I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I had postpartum depression as well and its still an ongoing battle for me 6 years later. I remember the only thing going through my head was – I’m a bad mom. And all I ever wanted was to be a good mom and to enjoy my family. I got medication, but with the stigma, I tried multiple times to stop the medication, telling myself I was better. But I needed it. I found a therapist that helped me, but when I was doing better I stopped visiting, thinking I could do it on my own. It didn’t go well, I even contemplated suicide. Fast forward, I’m meeting with an amazing therapist regularly and I plan to continue, she is a huge support system for me. And my husband is all for spending money on this. We’ve also increased my medication dose and that improved my life so much – I’m so much more calm and steady. I enjoy life more and can process life with a clearer head. I agree that depression, anxiety, therapy, and medication shouldn’t be a stigma. Thank you for sharing your story. You will forever be in my prayers and if there is anything I can do to be of support, let me know. Its always good to have another friend who understands what you’ve gone through.
Oh Jaime, I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well! I also felt like SUCH a bad mom. It’s amazing the change that the right medication and therapy can bring. Solidarity and best wishes!
I had “pre-partum” depression, it took me 3 months, being really tired of crying all the time, and a push from my mom to talk to someone, to talk to someone. I was prescribed Zoloft as well, it made a huge difference. It didn’t completely fix it, my third trimester was a bear, I had to keep upping my dose and there were lots of cryfests. My problems went away the minute my kid was born, but I still had to remain vigilant so that I didn’t relapse with the added stress and lack of sleep. I’m glad you got help. It’s a big relief.
So glad you’re feeling better! Thank you for sharing your experience.
I also suffer depression while pregnant. For me therapy was enough and my second pregnancy when I was doing therapy I felt so much better and could even enjoy parts of it. The first one I was just told to be happy because everything was normal when for some reason didn’t feel normal at all. To me the confirmation that I was not crazy, it is the pregnancy that is doing it me helped so much. Once the baby is out I feel fine. I also had a stress-related anxiety spell when my daughter was about 1,5 and I don’t know how many people have assumed it was post-partum depression but it wasn’t. During this time I was not given optimal treatment only enough to get me to a semi-working state so the therapy my second pregnancy also helped resolve some of those issues too. It was my decision to not use medicine and I don’t regret it, it was right for me, not necessarily for everyone some respond very well to it.
thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate this must have been hard for a recovering perfectionist. I don’t have kids, but I also resisted help for a long time with what felt like horrible, pervasive sadness because I was to a degree “functioning”. I do think Zoloft saved me.
Yes! It’s that idea that you’re “functioning,” so you must be fine and yet, you’re not! I can so relate to that and I’m so glad you got help.
Thank you for putting this into words. I am on my fourth experience with postpartum depression and as a non-writer struggle to make a coherent analysis of it all. Your ability to put it into words helps me to put a name to the challenge and the challenge loses some of its power. Like a good session with the therapist your documenting your own journey lifts your fellow ppd parents up!
As for how I cope, our local hospital has a PPD specific parents support group led by a talented and very supportive therapist. I pray others will find the support they need as well.
Jessie–thank YOU for sharing your experience! I’m glad you’re getting help and I’m glad I can help put into words what you’re feeling.
Bravo for how brave you are to share this!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I experienced PPD/PPA after the birth of my son, and it took me 3 months to get diagnosed and treated (also with a low dose of Zoloft). I was at the point where I couldn’t even let my husband drive in the car with my son because I was terrified of him being forgotten in a hot car. It was a horrible way to live. I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling healthy now!
I’m so glad you’re feeling better now too! I can completely relate to your hot car fear–it’s such an awful spiral to be in.
You have, no doubt, helped many people today (and in the future) with this post. Thank you for having the grits and gut to share your personal experience with depression and anxiety. I am thankful you are on the recovery path.
I follow your blog but have never posted before. Although I’m not a mother, my 23 year old niece suffers from anxiety and it is VERY real and quite frankly… dangerous if left untreated! Post partum depression is not a “weakness” but in fact, a chemical change within the brain. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story….. their is no shame in admitting that we ALL struggle with mental illness at some point in our lives. Just some people more than others. I wish to GOD that people would advocate more for mental illness health! And finally to your wonderful husband who was your lifeline to help, thank you for caring about a woman who loved her family but who’s brain was temporarily sick from a chemical change. All women should be so lucky to have such an advocate even when he was the target of her pain for a while. You did GREAT!
Depression can be the most sneaky killer of all. Luring and telling you you are worthless and everyone would be better if you are not there. I am still in treatment for my depression and know all of your symptoms. Thank you so much for sharing. I didn’t take action until the dark shadow almost devoured me, then I, alone, made the call to a doctor. I did not have any support from my family. Everyone just told me to cheer up and not be so angry, irritated and ungrateful. So does depression and other related issues need to surface? Oh yes indeed, public education is what is needed!
Thank you so much for being courageous and sharing. This is the number one way we can change the stigma around mental illness. I am so glad you are healing.
I also want to say, as a social worker, if anyone reaches out for help and doesn’t receive it, please reach out again. I know depression and anxiety makes it hard to ask for help, but please don’t give up if you don’t get what you need the first time. Sadly, it happens. But help is out there, and you deserve it. It can get better.
Wow, I could have written that word for word. I took Zoloft after my first baby also. Then I stupidly thought I could do it without meds after my second child because I was “aware”. Ha! By my 3rd child, I was begging for it as soon as she came out.
So very proud of you! As women we often put ourselves last or try to live the I can do it all lifestyle. We need to take care of ourselves first because we take care of a village. Thank you for speaking up! We have your back!!!! Hugs from the outer world.
I had a baby a few months before you and suffered quietly with PPA (and to my husband sometimes not so quietly.)
Thank you for so eloquently describing the gripping anxiety that plagued me for months. I told myself this was “normal new mom stuff” while i drowned in a sea of worry every day, my mind spiraling out of control and into dark corners, new lows. I was fearful of being perceived as a crazy first time mom.
I’m a faithful reader and so I’m sad to hear of your struggles, but grateful for your strength and bravery in sharing your story.
You’re a good mother. You’re doing a great job.
Terrific post, Liz! I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I have no children but did fall into a depression after my younger sister passed away suddenly. I went from ok to the depths of despair in a matter of days – it’s unreal how fast a person can spiral down. My family reached out to me, I did one round of mild antidepressants and have been fine ever since. I am thankful for the wonders of science, free health care (hello from Canada!), and courageous loved ones who can tell us when we are on the rocks. Your article was very inspiring and I thank you so much for sharing.
Bravo, Liz….bless you for sharing. I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right based on your writing this spring, and this explains it all. So many of us have experienced this, or some variant of it, at some point in our lives, and are often afraid and/or ashamed to admit that it might be something for which we need chemical help (especially if we are the non-medication I AM TOUGH types!). I have recently come to realize anew that regardless of our health, lifestyle, strength, convictions, etc. we are still, at the base body level, chemically oriented and sometimes those chemical components can get out of balance. The correct medication can make all the difference in the world, as you have so expressively revealed.
I hope you can realize the depths of empathy that are coming your way today from LOTS of us. We get it. We understand. There’s no judgment. We want you to be the best you can be. I’m so glad you’ve gotten the help that you need!
I was so happy to read this article. Thanks for articulating the same difficult journey that many, many mothers go through. Many never seek treatment and suffer years or decades of pain because they think they shouldn’t need help. I did seek medical and therapy treatment as well, and though anti depressants only helped short term due to unfortunate side effects, high doses of vitamin D (10000 IU) per day put me on the true road to recovery. Everyone is different and different treatments work for different people.
Thank you so much for your vulnerability and honesty! I’m sincerely glad that you were able to get the help that you need and urge other women to get help. I’m not a mom, but reading your story is so helpful for me in knowing how to love the people in my life well. Hearing and understanding one person’s story with depression can certainly open my eyes to see when other people may be struggling with it. And bravo to Mr. Frugalwoods for his support and wisdom. You snagged yourself quite a man 😉
Thank you! I agree 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. Your story will encourage many to get help, and that’s a gift. In a way, your diagnosis is a gift, too, in that it allows you to understand mental health in a way you didn’t before. I never understood anxiety until I had it. And while I prefer not to feel anxious, I also have a new level of compassion and understanding in my life that did not exist before.
Very true and very well said!
I am so sorry to hear what you have gone through. You are so brave to share you experience so openly and honestly with your readers and the world. One of my close family members is working through depression And I found it is very difficult to recognize depression from the outside looking in, as well. I believe that the stigma will slowly be erased the more openly we discuss and treat mental illness. Thank you for sharing your story and taking such a big, brave step. I wish you much luck and good health as you continue on your journey.
I am a longtime fan (love your book)! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with postpartum depression and anxiety. I cried as I read it because your experience so closely mirrored my own. I try to be as open as possible with people about my own experience in hopes that it will reduce the stigma and encourage others to get help. By sharing your story here you have helped many, many others!
Thank you so much for posting this. It just goes to show how much of each of us is hidden behind what we post publicly, and that the picture you see from one post to another is not a full one.
My son is almost three and when you describe your symptoms after Littlewoods’ birth, it confirms for me that I should have sought help after his birth then. I didn’t – because like you I stubbornly believed I could handle it, it would get better, it was part of adjusting to life with a newborn who was allergic to sleep – but in hindsight, I know it was much, much more than that. I even quit writing because everything sounded so dark and dreary, and I didn’t want my son to look back at anything I published and think that he was the cause of anything but joy.
Now, I’m set to have our second child in two months, and I know I need to be more aware of these symptoms if they creep up again. In my head, I hope it will come a little easier this time, but this serves as a great reminder that it may not, and that there’s no need to suffer through. So thank you for that reminder; it’s one I will be mentioning to my husband in the hopes that if I can’t recognize the signs, he will.
Thank you again. I’m glad you got the care you needed and can be back to your old self.
You are amazing. Thank you for sharing this and helping so many people understand.
I’m so sorry you had to go through this but I am glad you sought help. I struggled with PPD for the entire first *year* of my now 17 yr old daughter’s life. Tried to tell myself it would get better, this was a phase… PPD can be crippling and make you question every single aspect of your life. Thankfully, you have a supportive husband and extended family and I am glad to know you are on the mend. Wishing you all the best.
Thank you so, so much for being brave enough to share your story and help reduce stigma. The “I’m not ALLOWED to be depressed!” lie is what also prevented me from seeking treatment as well. But I am so happy for you and wishing your family the best in your continued recovery.
Liz, this is a courageous and beautifully written post. I applaud your dear husband, who persisted in getting you help! Mental health has such a stigma that many, including myself, tried to “push through” as you wrote. When I finally sought help, my Internist used the words “disease of the brain” to describe my postpartum depression which I still find useful. Like you, an SSRI and counseling helped me enormously.
My counselor suggested I try a Mindfulness Meditation course by Jon Kabat-Zinn to teach my brain to
‘come back to the present moment.’ It is still very useful and a part of my day, even though my kids are now adults! Be gentle with yourself in these days with little ones that are so labor intensive. Sounds to me like you’re doing all the right things.
Yes. I did the mindfulness based stress reduction course about 7 months postpartum and it was one of the things that saved my life.
Yours in such an important and brave story because depression as you said is so often missed by ourselves. We think it happens to anyone other than ourselves. We think if we are out of bed, if we have great lives, it’s somehow our bad if we are “unhappy.” Your story is mine and I’m sure others as well. It took me much much longer to get help. Of all the advice you’ve shared on your blog – and I’m a longtime reader – this is by far the most important. You’ve helped a lot of people today. Well done.
I have never posted a comment before, but I did want to write something. I am a rural grad student of counselling psychology in Canada, and it has been my distinct pleasure to provide no-cost counselling for the last 4 months with 4 more to go. Sometimes money is an actual barrier to help (especially in Canada where counselling is rarely provided by health authorities unless you are in emergent crisis). I strongly urge folks to see out the counselling students out there; often they work for their supervisors on sliding-scale or a no-cost basis. You have to get creative, but students can be found. I also wanted to note that some counsellors are willing to meet folks over the phone especially if travel is not feasible. Location is not the barrier it used to be.
I have no words for what you have just shared with your readers. You truly are an inspiration on so many levels and I’m so glad to hear you found the strength to seek help. Keep doing what you do. The world is a better place for it!
Hi Mrs FW,
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety earlier this year, and while I was quick to accept therapy and other forms of treatment, I too was hesitant to accept SSRIs. Your description of your misconception of when SSRIs are warranted was like a mirror into my own mind. The stigma is real. Massive kudos for sharing your story (something that is a goal for me but that I have yet to get up the courage to do). It made me feel a little bit less like an alien.
Thank you for posting
Thank you for your honesty I went thru the same thing 18 years ago
Loved my children but cried and insane anxiety
Also ate healthy exercised etc still a mess
Finally also was prescribed Zoloft when baby was 5 months old
It was great like a reset button for my tired brain and emotional overload
I stayed on it while nursing too
She turned out brilliant
Blessings to u
This is the best description of post-partum depression I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you SO much for writing this. I started medication last fall. I’m a first time grandma, my daughter had a baby in February as well, and I’ve actually experienced the same kind of thing with the baby…”is the baby still breathing?” Or if they are travelling and I haven’t heard from them in a few hours, my mind goes to “they’re all dead”. So I might need to adjust my medication a bit, or start therapy, to help cope when my mind goes to these dark places. I know my daughter is fully capable, but the anxiety & worry sometimes takes over, and I’m not even the mom, I’m the grandma!
First time commenter, long time reader. Just wanted to say, thanks. This is the best post you’ve ever written! I’m specifically grateful that you included the “Money and Other Stuff” section. So, thank you again!! 🙂
Thank you! I just now realized that “Money And Other Stuff” was my placeholder until I came up with a better section title, but looks like I forgot. Hah!
Thanks so much for sharing this Liz! And for selling treatment. I’ve struggled with depression since high school and try to talk candidly about it to help break the strong stigma, but it’s so hard to do it when I’m in the midst of a depressed wave. We run a very frugal household (fortunately by choice), but definitely spend money on therapy each month. It’s an easy expense to mentally justify as “not worth it,” but mental health is totally worth it. Thanks for encouraging others to get help.
Thank you for using this platform to share this experience. It is brave and wonderful of you to do so, and I know it will help many people. I’m very sorry you went through this, but sooo happy you got some help and are feeling better!
Thank you for your willingness to share. Too often we stubbborn types think we can fix everything. 🙂 I am so glad you found a solution to a very real mental health issue.
Love to you and your family.
Thanks so much for sharing!! The more people share mental health struggles (which we all have at varying points in our lives) the better off we all are. I’m a psychologist and the people I see are all very normal individuals who have been hit with terrible medical issues. Life happens to us all. I’m so glad you got good help! xoxo
Massive props to you for writing about this. Depression is so hard, and it takes such bravery even to seek treatment, let alone to share your experience. Thanks for telling your story so honestly and spreading awareness, and congrats on your progress!
Thank you, buddy!
This was such a great post and wonderful for Suicide Awareness Month. I don’t have kids and therefore, never had Post Partum Depression, but I did have depression once. And like you, I was depressed for months, years really before I ever realized that I was actually depressed. I was in a horrible marriage, which was combined with my father’s death where I suffered anger in my grief and guilt for things left unsaid before his departure. My ex husband (who I now realize was controlling and a narcissist) sucked the life out of me, but we owned a business with all of our friends around. I was drunk a lot and put on a smiling face, because quite honestly, I didn’t know I was depressed. It masked itself in control of my life, because (like you said) get up, shower, go to work, hang out with my friends, skydive which always made me smile, train with my skydiving teammates, etc. etc. etc.
It wasn’t until I read Eat, Pray, Love where the first chapter or two was about her depression in an unhappy marriage. I was basically reading my life and how I felt daily. I sometimes cried in the bathroom for no reason. I didn’t know why. But I still got up to shower, go to work, skydive, hang out with people, etc. etc. etc. I decided to see a therapist, which I told my ex husband that it was more about my father’s death thinking that people (him) would only really understand that instead of just feeling depressed. It was my first time ever going to one and I’m grateful to her. I just babbled for an hour without judgement. The next time, she started to see patterns and things. By third time, I realized that I was unhappy with my marriage. I wanted to leave him. So, eventually I did. It wasn’t a great exit, but there you have it. I didn’t get on medication, because once I started to talk to someone and eventually leave my husband, it was like the cloud lifted. I stopped envisioning death as sooner rather than later. I stopped envisioning the negative of everything. I felt like my old self again before I met my husband.
I am a much happier and positive person now. I stopped holding in my feelings, which is great. But your post is right, depression hides in so many ways and it definitely lies to you.
I am so glad you shared this very personal story with us. I could feel myself on your words, not because I have had post partum depression but because I am also that stiff upper lip person who thinks she can handle everything on her own. “I am not THAT bad” doesn’t mean I don’t need any help or I am not on the way to feel that bad. So glad you talked openly about this. All my love and support <3 And an award to your husband for being brave and putting a stop to a sad road. 🙂
Like many others (hi, other commenters!) I really appreciate your honesty on this subject and I know where you’re coming from. I had a nasty bout of PPD with my first child and didn’t see it for what it was until after I started feeling better on my own; after that I was like “I never want to feel this way again, why did I let it get so bad?” Then it happened again with my second child, but it felt different – round 1 was sleepless nights, frequent tears, inability to do anything beyond survive and watch TV when the baby was sleeping, the constant anger and frustration, round 1 was feeling like I couldn’t love my daughter as much as I loved my son, getting irritated or angry when she was crying, being tired and unable to connect with her. After this passed I was once again told “Hey, you were probably depressed. You don’t have to feel that way.” Baby #3 – I didn’t recognize any signs of immediate post-partum depression but developed depression symptoms after diagnosis with a chronic condition (T1 diabetes) and, honestly, I am not managing the depression well at this point and it’s impacting my 4th pregnancy 2 years later. 2 years is a long time to feel like this and to be a jerk of a parent..
Thank you for the kick in the shins to get my shit together and take depression seriously again instead of just tolerating it like an unwelcome houseguest.
For anyone out there who has been through depression, post-partum or otherwise, please be aware that it can take many different forms and it is persistent. You may beat one mode of depression but that doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen again – and YOU have the upper hand if you have support and resources to help diagnose and treat depression appropriately! You don’t deserve to feel crappy in that way, ever.
Hi, Dani! Please, please, please do seek help and treatment. You are so right that life can feel better. I am wishing you all the very best!
I have never related to anything you’ve ever written so much as this. Honestly, and this sounds weird, but I feel SEEN reading this post. I don’t have any children, so I don’t know how PPD may differ, but they way you’ve described the way you felt is spot on, particularly, “I questioned every single decision I’d ever made. I lacked confidence. I was so overcome with the idea that everything I did was wrong, wrong, wrong.” Basically this is my daily state of being. So much so that I’ve just come to consider it part of my personality. I’ve struggled with chronic depression since I was about 11 or 12 (long enough that I can’t identify a trigger or a “beginning” – I’ll be 37 in October). In the last few years, I’ve come to realize that crippling anxiety has been intertwined with this depression the whole time, and I have really never gotten the help I need despite trying several different medications. Sometimes it’s a big challenge to find a way to come back to “normal” – especially when you really have no frame of reference for what normal is. I’m pretty sure I’m still not there yet, despite being a relatively functional human being by all accounts. I don’t think most people would look at me or my life (especially since I don’t have kids – apparently the childless are perceived as free of all responsibilities or stress, living it up on endless bloody mary brunches and wild orgies? – I can assure you, not the case!) and think I have any “right” to have depression or anxiety and I feel judged for being medicated, EVEN BY MY OWN JUDGY SELF.
Thank you so much for writing this, and having the courage to post it. Much love to you and your beautiful family! I’m so glad you’re feeling better!
Thank you for sharing your story!! I am wishing you health and healing.
I’ve been there. It’s bloody awful. Without my husband’s intervention, I don’t think I’d still be alive today. From one mother of small kids to another – you are doing really well, even on days you don’t feel like it. The recovery journey can have its own ups and downs, so try not to be too hard on yourself if you still have bad days. Thank you for sharing your experience, the more of us who speak openly, the better for future sufferers.
Oh Liz, I wouldn’t wish PPD on my worst enemy. As a confident, secure person, PPD was the last thing I expected after having my daughter. I’m so glad Mr. Frugalwoods coaxed (forced) you to seek help. Thank you for sharing your experience! I have no doubt this post will encourage someone with PPD to also seek help. Best wishes!
Thank you times a million for this incredible post. This happened to me too with my first and it was really hard (an understatement). My son is 15 now but I remember it like it was yesterday and learned so much about myself from it. Thank you for writing this. As so many have already said, you will help so many people with the power of your words and your honesty and compassion.
Thank you for sharing your story. I also had postpartum depression but didn’t seek help until my daughter was 6 months old. I so related to your description of feeling that “if X happens, THEN I’ll be happy.” My husband was also the one to say, enough is enough, you need help! We are so lucky to have such supportive partners. It wasn’t until my daughter was 8 months old that I finally felt bonded to her. I felt horrible those 8 months, like I was the worst mother in the world. I am glad those days are over. They will be for you, too, and you will once again feel like a normal human being!
Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods,
I’m not surprised you already have so many comments on this post. This may be the most important post you’ve ever written, at least to me. I have PPD too, and it took me 6 months to get help. The thing that stands out most about the experience is that I, too, thought I could handle it on my own, if I just ate better, exercised more and generally tried harder. No matter how many articles I read (sought out!) about PPD on social media, and cried through, I still thought I can handle this myself. This isn’t PPD. I’ll always remember what my doctor said in response to that: “If you could fix this yourself, you would have already.” When I described to her what I was going through, she said, “I want you to start on medication TODAY.” I was finally convinced!
Thank you so much for sharing this, it takes so much courage and is so so important for us to feel like we’re not alone. I love how you say, “I wouldn’t let a broken arm go this long…” yet we let depression cripple us for months! I can’t thank you enough for sharing this story.
So, so true!! I went and picked up my prescription and immediately and started taking it that night! I am so glad that you got help and are doing well.
The postpartum period was exhausting. I’m so glad you sought help. I was home raising my kids for 16 years without pay. Let me tell you, it was the most challenging job I’ve ever had. Now that I have an outside job, I think to myself “I’m actually getting paid to do THIS?” My job today is way easier, but no where near as gratifying. Reflecting back on all those years at home with my kids brings an overwhelming feeling of contentment and pride.
I want to thank you for sharing such a courageous post. It’s your widom you share about navigating your most challenging moments that really resonates with me. Your self reflection and thoughts on gratitude are very thought provoking.
Thank you SO much for sharing your story. It echoes what I felt when my babies were born – they just turned 10 years old (!) but I cried reading this, because the experience is still so clear in my mind. I had dealt with depression/anxiety before, so it wasn’t really new to me, but the experience with 2 babies to take care of was just so different that somehow I STILL didn’t fully recognize the PPD for what it was at first. Medication and therapy helped so much. It made me resilient again, as you said. When something went wrong, or I felt down about something, I could come back from it, instead of entering a horrible downward spiral of negative emotion and feeling.
Love and positive thoughts to you and yours.
You were so brave to write this, Liz.Thank you for being brave enough to wade through and recount your experience for us. You are a wonderful writer and I’m glad that you use this blog to tackle all kinds of topics yet still manage to tie it back to the role finances play in our big, complicated lives. Thank you, Liz.
Thank you for reading, Brooke! I really appreciate it and I love that I CAN write and that I WANT to write again 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story!! I had depression after my first child, so I was proactive even before the birth of my second child to make sure the doctor had medicine ready to go for me. I received patches for the first three weeks and then a prescription pill for a few months after that. What a difference it made!! Sadly, there’s a stigma attached to taking medicine for depression; I so appreciate how open you are about taking medicine along with therapy! I love following your blog; thank you for how authentic you are with your audience!
I very much appreciate the realness here. It’s so hard on social media bc it always seems like everyone’s lives are perfect, so thank you for sharing that it isn’t always what it seems. I just started to go to therapy a few months ago. I am very happy I’m going, although I have still been afraid of going on an anti-depressant due to side effects and stigma. I think I was always anxious but having two kids and a husband who travels, and no family nearby really elevated it. I often feel like my confidence is so easily shaken. Anyways, thank you again.
I relate to this in many ways (2 kids, husband with a work schedule that often takes him away from home and not much family support locally). It’s tough! I do make a point to foster friendships that will help to serve as a safety net. In case of a true emergency I know of at least 2-3 other local mom friends who I could call on that would help me – perhaps it would help you to do the same if you can do that? It does give some peace of mind to know there’s a backup plan in case I should need it while he is away.
Julia–I am so glad you’re in therapy! If your doctor has recommended medication, you might give it a try and see. I did about a month of therapy before starting Zoloft and, while the therapy is an integral part of my recovery, the Zoloft is what flipped the switch and made me feel whole again. Please don’t let stigma hold you back! And hey, you don’t even have to tell anyone you’re taking it if you’d rather not. I am wishing you health and healing.
I’m so grateful to you for sharing this story—interestingly, I’ve been on just about the same timeline as you. My daughter is 2.5 yrs old, and my son was born in Feb. My daughter was born prematurely, had a significant NICU stay, and then came home and we were elated about our new life with our beautiful healthy little girl. We were so excited when we learned of our pregnancy with our son. I, too, have an incredibly supportive husband, and Baby #2 was born right on time—what reasons in the world would I have to be unhappy or anxious? Still, by end of March/mid-April after my son’s birth this year, it was clear that I had postpartum anxiety and depression. Treatment has helped immensely, and it’s still an ongoing journey of learning and discovery, of ups and downs. I can honestly say now that I am grateful for this experience because it has pushed me to make some important changes in my life and prioritize my health much more than I was doing. I share this in the same spirit that you shared your story—I know it takes courage because of the unfortunate stigma. Again, thank you.
SO glad to hear you’re doing well! And thank you for sharing your experience as well!
I hear you and I’ve been there, too. (I’m also a mom of 2 and my kids are barely 25 months apart. The early months of adapting to a toddler and a newborn were so very challenging but throw PPA/D on top of it and well, it can get ugly). A big giant KUDOS to you for talking about your personal struggle and overcoming this – it is so, so, so important that we continue this dialogue and help break the stigma. My kids are older now but I still live with (managed) anxiety and I’m still afraid to talk about it with people I don’t know very well – and even with my closest friends, sometimes. So thank you for talking about it using your own personal platform and I am so glad to hear you are doing better now. And what a wonderful partner you have in your husband – my husband is also my rock and stands by me with support no matter what. Such a crucial element in 2 people who are also parents. <3 What lucky girls to have such committed, loving parents. Wishing you continued healing.
I think it’s worthwhile to mention that if Zoloft or a breastfeeding friendly ssri doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to formula feed & find the right drug for your mental health.
Yes, yes, yes!!! 100%!
I have to apologize, first of all. Because when you wrote about feeling like you were slogging through peanut butter in your days of motherhood, I wondered. I thought, “Does she have PPD?” And I’m sorry that I didn’t ask, didn’t question it in the comments, even though I wanted to. I got distracted by my own little 18-month-old son, who is the most amazing thing in my life. Yet, when he was born, I spiraled down in the same way. I read your essay knowing that we’ve walked the same path, and like you, I found my way out through medication and support of family. It’s an awful introduction to motherhood, especially long-awaited, much-wanted motherhood. You’re not alone.
Thank you!!! Yeah, writing that post was kind of a wake-up call to me–I was like, wow, I am not doing well here…
Thank you so much for sharing this, Liz. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years, and it took me entirely too long to accept both that fact (“I can/HAVE TO get out of bed to go to work, therefore I’m not truly depressed, even if it’s currently impossible to care much about anything at all, right?”) and that I needed to get outside help. Going to therapy and getting on medication has made this last year so much better. Not perfect by any means, but it’s easier to get through hard days when I can, yes, lift myself out of the fog like you described. I’m so happy you’re doing better now!
My best friend lost her birth mother to post partum depression when she was 3 months old. Thank you thank you thank you for shedding a light on this and using your stage to share.
I have been toying with the idea of going back to counseling myself and I just called to schedule an appointment. <3
I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s mother–how awful. And, I’m so glad to hear you scheduled a counseling appointment :)!
THANK YOU. I do not have children, therefore cannot have PPD, but I have had struggles of depression throughout my life. Your bravery is profound here. Each time we talk about it, the stigma has less strength and power preventing others to also seek help. You are absolutely right when you say we wouldn’t let broken arms sit without treatment that long, so why is it okay as a society for us to let our minds fester with such illnesses? Because that’s what they are, illnesses, yet coupled with the power of deception. Thank you for helping fight the stigma. Thank you for still sharing your light with us even when it was most difficult. Thank you for being vulnerable with us because in your vulnerability, we see strength. My prayer for you is that obviously you continue to climb out of the river as you’ve described, but also to know that you are accepted no matter what you’re feeling and to keep speaking your truth to kill stigma.
Thank you for sharing this: “Each time we talk about it, the stigma has less strength and power preventing others to also seek help.” So well said!
It took me three years to get help. I feel like a new person. After I got help I was able to help another friend in a similar situation. I talk about depression and anxiety all the time to everyone. It needs to be destigmatized. I’m so glad you’re feeling better.
Thank you for sharing your journey. Your honesty regarding your struggle is very touching and I am sure it will minister to many hearts.
Wow. Thank you for being brave and sharing this story. As I started reading it, I kind of giggled. Yeah, welcome to my life. And I was thinking it was mostly normal, seriously. I’m just high strung. I’ve been so resistant to medication but think about it weekly. I have one child and help from nanny but a husband that travels (but great when home) and no family nearby. The anxiety…..so thank you for this. I think you just tipped the scale for me to go to doctor. We did years of infertility treatments before adopting. So imagine the guilt when I feel so incompetent and not able to be happy and patient for my daughter. So truly, thank you for this post. And all your others too! You are helping me change my lifestyle so that I can model a better life for my daughter and live it too! Wishing you the best and when you still have moments of doubt and feel overwhelmed, know that the next hour, next day, next week, and next month will bring change. This usually helps me breathe and keep going.
Thank you for reading, Karen! And yes, please do go talk to your doctor! Can’t hurt to have a chat and there very well might be a treatment/therapy out there that will be helpful for you. Do it :)!
I never comment online about anything-ever. But this was so accurate, important, and honestly written- what a gift this article is and will be to those who read it. Like you, anxiety touched our family and we feel exactly how you describe it – our loved one didn’t have to suffer so long, medication CAN make a person feel like themselves again. I tried every natural treatment for them out there, I wish we had just gone and got the right help we needed earlier. So thankful our experience mirrors your own, life can be good again! I hope others see the same truth. Thank you for going against the grain of only showing “faked perfection” online. That doesn’t help anyone.
You are welcome! I hope that this post is helpful to people and I’m grateful to you for commenting and sharing your experience.
Thank You for sharing and glad you are on the mend and enjoying your family again!!
Sending you so much love. You have a big platform and it is so wonderful that you shared here – perhaps you will change a few minds when it comes to PPD and other mental illnesses ❤️
I am a therapist who after the birth of my first child struggled with postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. Even I didn’t recognize initially what was happening to me. You are so brave in sharing your story. I am happy you are healing. For me, I didn’t know what was normal and what was not as a first time mother. I sought out a cognitive behavioral therapist (the type of therapy I practice which is about giving skills to people to learn how to cope and eventually end the intrusive thoughts and physical symptoms) and attended weekly therapy for 6 months. It changed my life. With each week my symptoms decreased and I slowly regained back my life after about a year of struggle.
I want people to know there is hope. I did not have postpartum mental health issues after the birth of my second or third child. I want women to know that 91% of women have intrusive thoughts after birth. I want women to know therapy works and there should be no shame in seeking therapy.
On another note, there is new research out there connecting the use of pitocin in labor with postpartum mental health issues as extended use of pitocin can interfere with the production of oxytocin (the hormone we receive when we nurse and bond with our babies). I was administered pitocin for a lengthy period during labor with my first daughter as well. Regardless, it took me a couple of years before I could talk about what I endured postpartum. You are surely helping other women by sharing your story. Take care. Thank you for sharing your truth!
Thank you. I’m not a mama, but I’ve suffered from chronic depression since high school…I didn’t understand what it was, but I had picked out the tree to drive my car into. Only the thought that it would be my mom who found me kept me on the road. Prozac had just come on the market and the words I heard at home were “who needs a pill to make them happy?”. I was in my mid-thirties before I finally sought therapy; after 6 months of talk therapy, I went on Zoloft. I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want to be perceived as needing a pill to be happy. In the winter things are even worse because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD. Yes it’s a real thing) and have to take an additional medication. But you know what – the pills don’t make me happy – they just bring me to a level playing field.
I describe my depression like this: when I’m not on meds its as if I’m standing in the bottom of a pit. I look up to where everyone else is standing, enjoying their lives. I look around and all I see is dark muck – which reaches out to cover me and hold me in place. No matter how hard I try to climb out of the pit, no matter what tools I try to use (usually bad tools like shopping) to climb up – I just can’t do it. Meds get me to the top of the pit, so I can stand next to everyone else. I will never have the euphoric happiness that some people experience and that’s okay. I’m so happy and blessed to be able to experience the everyday happiness of a hug from a child or sharing a funny email with my family.
I’ve opened up about my need for medications with close friends and my family. They seem to understand and even if they don’t, they love me enough to want me to be well, so they don’t say anything negative.
I hope even the non-mamas who read this blog understand that depression is not restricted to postpartum depression. That you can seem to have everything, and still feel like it’s not enough, that YOU’RE not enough. But as said in the blog “Depression Lies to You”. You are enough and you can get help. Please get help, life is so much nicer outside the pit. hugs to all who have joined this conversation.
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experience. Your description of depression is so spot on. I hope that anyone reading this who feels that way will seek help. I’m so glad you’re doing well now and so grateful to you for sharing your insights.
I know there are so many replies already that say the same thing, but I just want to say thank you, thank you for sharing this. 22 years ago, I developed what I know now was post-partum depression & anxiety after my third child. I felt exactly the same as you, and was in deep denial about my own mental health disorders. I too thought I couldn’t be depressed, since I had everything I wanted, and also I could “function” (instead of staying in bed all day which is what my mom used to do). I know now that there are different ways depression presents, and mine was the angry, irritable, exhausted, negative kind. Unfortunately I did not get help. Instead I found self-medication via alcohol, which combined with the gene for addiction, produced 10 horrible years of alcoholic motherhood and deep suicidal ideation at the end. I FINALLY got into recovery and on anti-depressant medication and it was miraculously healing.
I’m SO happy for you that you don’t have to go through what I did. I’m much much better now and my family also survived this. My girls and I are very close now and we have repaired (to the extent we can) the damage I did to our lives together in my drinking years. In fact, in their teens each of my girls suffered from mental health problems, with one of them requiring extensive hospitalization, and I’m glad to say I was able to be a sober mom with an understanding of depression and anxiety, so I could be helpful to them.
I wish you and your family all the best. You’re a wonderful writer, and an amazingly creative person. I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better! Keep doing everything the doc and therapist tells you, and I strongly recommend not taking any medical/mental health advice from well-meaning strangers. I was once convinced by the Internet to go off my anti-depressants, with disastrous results.
Martha, amazing and honest sharing here. So helpful. Twelve-Step recovery worked amazingly well along with therapy and meds. We can use many tools and routes on our journeys and then help others sometimes, and you have helped me today
Been there, lady. I’d been wondering about how you were really doing ever since Littlewoods was born. For me I had postpartum depression with my first, and experienced pretty much the exact same story as the one you described. I coped with depression for months before allowing myself to do anything about it.
For my second, I was prepared–got my Zoloft prescription before I even gave birth, bought the pills, and was armed and ready because there was no way in hell I was going through that again.
So weird…it never happened. I was elated (though sleep deprived) for the first year of my second baby’s life and never went through that horrible anxiety and depression you so eloquently described here. I never took the Zoloft.
To me it just confirmed the randomness/lack of control we have over our mental health. I don’t mean it’s impossible to help, because of course there are lots of strategies that can do wonders, but more that it wasn’t my fault. Thanks for posting this…I have found, to my surprise, that people are shocked and horrified when I say that the first six months after my first child was born were the worst six months of my life. I’ve learned not to mention it. It makes no sense to me–I’m not saying I don’t love my child! Just that PPD is real.
PPD is real! I am so hoping to help other parents and let them know that it doesn’t have to be so awful after a baby is born :)! I only wish I’d known this sooner!!!!!
Thank you so much for your story, for your willingness to be vulnerable. I too experienced post partum depression and anxiety. I’m a mental health therapist and thought I could handle it on my own. I was so embarrassed. Lexapro and therapy and lots of love and support were necessary for me. I was extremely resistant to medication but my OBGYN was quite insistent since I sobbed through every one of our appointments 😬 I’m telling you, after one week on medication, it was like someone turned the lights back on. I could actually feel the sun on my face, feel love for my baby. I’m so glad you’re feeling better.
I’m so glad to hear this!! And YES, it is exactly like someone turning the lights back on!!!!
You are so brave, honest and encouraging to share this very real story with all of us! Stay strong. You’re doing all the right things by seeking help and my sharing your journey! Thank you!!!
Thanks for sharing Liz. Another good resource is NAMI – National Association of Mental Illness. They can point people in the right direction.
Also money should never be a burden to getting help. There are subsidies out there to help people if they are poor or do not have insurance. There are multiple groups out there who are trying to decrease the stigma mental illness has. I hate when people say “oh your depressed, just think happier thoughts”. That is like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound.
My experience mirrors yours very closely (even down to the VBAC)! I struggled acknowledging that I needed help even though I had been through the same after my first born. My c-section with my first pushed me into a very dark place of feeling like a failure (which I wasn’t!!) and when I explained it to my OB, she thought I would just get over it with time. Since she dismissed my feelings, I didn’t seek help until two years later when I was expecting my second child. It was very healing but I somehow expected my VBAC to magically make the postpartum period so much easier the second time around. Physically it was easier, but mentally it was not. Like you, I sought help (after my husband insisted upon it) and a low dose of meds made all the difference.
Thank you for your honesty and sharing your story. The more we talk about it, the more we can raise awareness. I have no doubt that this post will help many people take that critical first step of calling their doctor.
Also, in case your doctor hasn’t mentioned it (mine failed to), when/if it comes to get off the meds you need to slowly taper off. No one told me this and I decided to take myself completely off the meds after accidentally missing a few doses (not advised). Mentally I was good and ready to be off the meds, but stopping even a low dose cold turkey can have some physical side effects (short-term but why deal with that if you don’t have to!). Just thought I would mention in case you doctor hadn’t shared that with you.
I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well and so glad that you sought treatment!
Thank you for being brave and writing about your story. I am so happy that you are doing better. As I read your story and the comments, they sound familiar and back when my kids were small, I thought I was the only one who felt that way. I wish that I could have gotten help much earlier than I did and that my primary care or my OB were proactive to investigate if I was silently suffering. I now have a lot of guilt for not having patience with my kids, for the yelling, and not being a very nice wife. I am currently on an antidepressant and after a short time, I feel astonished to feel so ‘normal’ after all these years. I have more patience for my kids, my spouse, I feel appreciative for the little things.
I’m so sorry you went through this and am happy you are on the mend. I had PPA with my second child as well. It’s so, so terrible and happy for you that your health care provider was able to properly diagnose. Kudos to your husband for being a great partner through the worst. Hugs to everyone and be well!
Thank you for having the courage to write this. I don’t have kids and don’t plan to, but the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety is there no matter why you are suffering it (though frankly I can’t imagine dealing with it while also parenting young children and being severely sleep deprived). I was suffering from anxiety as well, something that I always had to a degree, but it started to really affect me after my father and several pets passed away suddenly. I immediately sought out a therapist, who helped immensely, but the anxiety was always still there, though I now had ways to cope with it. We talked about medication on and off, but I resisted for so long, mostly I think because I thought there should be something I could do to fix this. That by taking medication I was admitting I was a failure because I couldn’t take care of myself well enough. I eventually gave in and saw my PCP, who prescribed Zoloft. To ally my fears about taking it, we agreed that I would start on what was basically the lowest dose possible. The minute the first dose kicked in my life changed for the better and a month or so later we increased my dose, which is what I’ve stayed on. It’s not a magic cure, but my life is so much better now. I hope others will read your post and seek help in whatever form they need.
Thank you so much for being candid about your experiences with depression and anxiety. Postpartum is a common trigger, and there are so many others. You’re right, depression lies to you. It saps away the color from your life and makes you think that black-and-white is normal.
Liz, thank you so much for being authentic and real. Often, it feels like financial independence sites focus on how perfect life is now that the author is retired. I really appreciate how openly you shared your story today. I think so many mothers suffer from silent anxiety and depression in one form or another, yet we all want to appear perfect and put together… because so many of the images we see of motherhood show perfection. I have struggled with my own form of anxiety and depression, not postpartum per se, but perhaps I should call it delayed onset. My youngest is now two and I’ve tried to deal with it by achieving more and pushing myself toward success. I think it’s time for me to start paying real attention to my feelings rather than try to mask them. Your story reminded me of so many emotions and feelings I have experienced. I also think it is so important for all of us mamas to remember that there is no perfect. There will never be. All we can do is to keep learning, keep trying, and make our own self-care a priority as we travel this journey of motherhood and life.
Elizabeth, Thank you for sharing your story. I experienced this with both of my children and once I sought treatment, it really changed life for me. I think it is so hard to unlearn that we don’t have to be perfect and do it all – all the time. So, I hope you continue your healing journey of caring for yourself. You are good and you are worthy!
This is very touching. Depression in any form is enveloping and suffocating. Hormones and chemical imbalances are often the culprit. If you haven’t been in such a depression, then you don’t get it; when you have been, you learn how insidious it is. I am really glad your husband kicked your butt, and you followed up. Post partum depression can ruin lives and marriages.
Wow such an eye opener! Thank you for writing this and I truly respect your courage and ability to be transparent.
Such an important post and I’m sorry that you have been feeling this way. I’ve never had PPD but have had severe depression since I was a child and anxiety in the last decade or so. A couple of things I wanted to say, not just for you but for others reading…
It’s ok if Zoloft doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t make you a failure even if it worked for other people. Work with your GP to try a different drug.
Very rarely there can be side effects on some anti-depressants that increase depression and suicidal thoughts. This is rare but worth having your family/partner aware of as you may not recognise it (new meds last year saw me almost hospitalised and I didn’t even realise anything was wrong because my brain said that my dangerous behaviours were ‘good’).
Look into Moodscope. It’s a quick way of measuring your mood each day and provides an easily viewable record of your levels of mood. It can be especially useful for you and/or family and friends to see small changes in mood that you might not recognise day to day but can be identified through the graphs. It can also help identify whether mode is affected hormonally or by particular triggers.
I have a chronic physical condition as well as mental health conditions (and of course they play off each other). Even in the UK with universal healthcare I pay £700-1k per month on treatments not covered by the NHS. I know that the money is well spent in keeping me as healthy as I can be, but it’s so awful to see all that money disappearing and feel like it’s my fault for being ill.
Illness has such an impact on budget for things you don’t even realise. I can’t use budget airlines because the stress involved in the way they run things is too much. I have to have a relatively good seat for the theatre or cinema as I can’t sit with my neck cricked and need to be on an aisle. Food and supplements and OTC meds add up. So many hidden costs.
I definitely resonated with part of your message. Only part, because my problem isn’t depression, but I still had to overcome a fear of medication.
I am a generation older than you, and I had spent pretty much my entire adult life never going to doctors. I had had a couple of bad experiences with doctors in my youth, and I was generally healthy and did not experience pregnancy and/or birth, so I decided to wait until something was wrong before I would seek medical help. Then I reached my fifties, and little things started happening that I knew were the natural result of aging, so I didn’t really worry about them either. It wasn’t until last summer, when I noticed strange things happening to my breast, that I started thinking about it and googled my symptoms. Even after I discovered that my symptoms aligned perfectly with the descriptions of Inflammatory Breast Cancer – and learned that by the time any symptoms of that particular type of cancer show up, the patient is generally at least at Stage 3 – I still wanted to avoid doctors and medication. After a few months went by, and my half-hearted attempts to change my diet and try natural remedies weren’t working, I confessed to my siblings what was going on. They all encouraged me (yelled at me) to go to a doctor, and that’s why in December I was finally diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
I decided against intravenous chemotherapy and radiation treatments due to what I had learned and seen of other people’s experiences with those. But eventually I somewhat reluctantly agreed to take chemo drugs orally in the form of a daily pill. Part of me still rebelled. When, at the same time, the oncologist prescribed an antidepressant, I thought she was crazy. I had read so much about the negative effects of antidepressants, but finally, again reluctantly, I agreed to take them too.
Eight months later I am still enjoying life. I get tired easily and need to nap in the middle of the day; but my employer has been extremely cooperative and helpful, and I am still able to work full time at my desk job. I realize now that sometimes medication really does improve quality of life. There has been some progression to my cancer, and I know that it is terminal. It helps that I have put my trust in Jesus Christ and know that I am prepared to meet God, but I do believe the medication is helping me to enjoy the final period of my life more than I ever would have expected. I still understand the desire to avoid medication by using other therapies, but I believe now that total opposition to all medication is not an ideal way to live.
Keep up the good work, and thank you for your willingness to be transparent about what you considered a somewhat shameful problem. I hope everybody will realize now that no illness, including mental illness, is something to try to hide.
Donna, thank you for sharing this. I too am a believer, and fighting postpartum depression for 18 months on my own, hanging on by my faith yet still, I know I am doing damage daily to my family. I have been anti-meds, thinking surely God can just zap away my anger/rage/hopelessness/resentment and make me a happy mommy and wife any day now. And He can, and He would if it were His will. I was encouraged by your comment and others to make an appointment. I am desperate for meds if it will finally change my life for the better. I hope I am doing the right thing.
Dear Mrs. Frugalwoods,
I was both heartbroken and relieved as I read your post (and you were missed!). Bravo to you for resisting the stigma attached to mental health. It’s alive and all too true. My own story has to do with my sister who suffered from horrible postpartum depression. Her symptoms were the same as the ones you experienced: anxiety, low-self esteem, yelling, etc. The sad part is that my sister was an active member, President, of La Leche League, and she refused any medication lest it harm her infant (Zoloft is fine!). And her husband did not insist on treatment. Instead he had an affair and they eventually divorced. Because my sister was not medicated properly…….well, I can’t even write the words, let’s just say, I am grateful every day that she is still alive. Twenty years later she still struggles but thankfully is now on medication and working with a therapist. Thank you for sharing honestly your story. Sometimes we can feel alone when facing mental health issues. Sincerely, Lisa
Thanks for sharing your situation and a big shout out to Mr. Frugalwoods for a) picking up the slack at the beginning and b) in the end suggesting that you needed some professional help. There is nothing better than a supportive spouse to stand back and insist that things are not right. Glad you are on a better path.
What a wonderful post. As someone who has lived with and through depression, including postpartum depression all my life this is a brave thing to do. Thanks so very muchm
Liz, you could have been describing me right after my daughter’s birth 27 years ago. Sadly, Dh wasn’t the tower of strength Mr. FW is because he had just started his own business. It took a year or more for me to get help & the specter of losing my kids to social services. But I finally got the help I deserved. Now at 62, I am happier than ever and I have a good relationship with my now-adult kids.
Best thing I’ve read in a long time. I like real, and THIS is real life. Not perfect and not neat. Motherhood is humbling. And it continues to be. I’m an older mom -if you ever need an ear, email me 🙂
Such an important post, thank you so much for using your platform to write about this instead of keeping it to yourself! I’m glad you’re doing better and sorry you had to have the experience of postpartum depression. I’m a nurse midwife and I’m frequently educating my patients that increased irritability and anxiety are hallmark symptoms of postpartum mood disorders, but most people (as you described) still have a warped view of depression. I can promise you that this post will help a lot of women! Best wishes to you and your family.
Wow, this is such a brave and powerful post, with a message that so many people need to hear. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. Really glad to hear you found the help you needed and are doing better now!
As a partner to a new mom, I’m wondering if you could talk more about what Mr FW did or said (or what you wish he could have done/said) that resonated with you and led you to seek help.
Hi Keith! Thank you for asking. Mr. FW was (and always is) very supportive and loving. He listened to my fears without judgement and he eventually came to the realization that I was suffering from PPD. He was sincere, firm, and calm in insisting that I get help. He researched therapists for me and offered to set up the appointments. He was deeply compassionate but also very firm in saying that I needed to get help. If you have an inkling that your partner might need help with PPD, please relay to her that you love her and that it’s time for her to seek help. Offer to go to the appointment with her (or to keep the baby while she goes–whichever she’s most comfortable with). I am wishing you and your partner (and baby) all the very best!!! And please don’t be hesitant to encourage your partner to seek help.
Well done. This could not have been easy at all (going through it, writing the post), and I commend your courage in working through it and sharing.
Thank you for sharing your story! We don’t like to think depression can happen to “us” — it happens to other people! My daughter had her 1st baby at 39–he arrived 5 weeks early and is now 3 months, and is exceeding expectations! My daughter is struggling w/ lack of sleep and…possibly depression. I drive 45 minutes one way to her house, at least 1X/week, just to hold her baby! (she takes a shower, runs the vacuum, etc!) He has to be held upright for the 1st 1/2 hour after he eats…I’m retired and am thankful I am available to do help her! She & her very helpful husband are still trying to figure out his eating schedule (he just had another growth spurt!) and her hubs has been taking the night “shift” His mother lives out of state, but has been a big help also, making trips to their house! One day at a time! THANKS again for sharing….I enjoy your blogs! 🙂
❤️ Thank you.
Hi there! I just found you this week and am so excited to start simplifying my life based on your insights! I am so sorry that you were suffering for so long…I went through the exact same thing..except I suppose you would call it “Post Menopause Depression”! I had the same progression of feeling like I could NOT handle day to day life anymore and was going to jump out of my skin! It took me a very long time to get over the fear of being stigmatized and seek treatment. After all, haven’t we all joked about the person who apparently didn’t take their “meds” today? I tried everything I could think of to handle it on my own as I always had in the past..but something had changed….I just couldn’t get a handle on the anxiety this time. So, I finally went to my primary care doctor and sure enough, she didn’t bat an eyelash! She told me that I was obviously suffering and it is no different than diabetes or any other chemical imbalance. I am just grateful that there was a treatment that helped me immediately. I was on an SSRI for three years and finally weaned myself off of it. It’s hard to remember how hopeless and afraid I felt about even leaving my home back then. Anyway, enough about me! I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, not by a long shot. Thank you for all you do and for sharing your journey. Be well and Frugal ON!
Brave and generous post. No doubt you’ve helped more moms (and dads) today than you could have imagined. What a gift your words are to anyone who can relate in even the slightest way, and even to those who cannot.
Thank you for posting. I’ve returned this month (after a three year hiatus) to working the suicide lines as my “side hustle” in the language of financial bloggers. More inspirational, positive people sharing their honest experiences helps so many reach out. Much love to you and your fam. Glad you’re benefiting from your treatment and bravely sharing your story.
Thank you so much for writing this. I have horrible anxiety during my pregnancy with my twins and was diagnosed with PPD/PPA 4 months after they were born. Having a doctor tell me that I had PPD was the most freeing moment – I wasn’t crazy. You perfectly articulated what it felt like and I wish I had known earlier to get help. It was through urging of my husband that I finally did. Almost 2 years later, I can honestly say I feel better than I did before I got pregnant.
Thank you for sharing so openly. I’m currently walking through the same stage of life as you are, with a 1 month old baby and a 2.5 year old little girl, working from home and my husband is away at the family farm most of the time right now as we are knee-deep in harvest. My little boy ended up being an unexpected emergency c-section and had to spend a couple days in the NICU after his lung collapsed. We are very lucky that he recovered incredibly quickly and is absolutely thriving. I struggled with so much guilt at first due to the c-section and how it affected my ability to be a mom to my little girl – not being able to play, pick her up (still), etc but have been able to come to terms with it now. I’m lucky that I wasn’t affected by PPD with either child and can’t even imagine how hard your struggle must have been dealing with those demons on top of the usual new baby struggles. I’m very glad your husband helped you realize what was happening and that you were able to seek treatment to help you!
Also, I just want to let you know that I routinely tell myself to ‘lean into the season of life I’m in’ after seeing your comments to that several times on the blog – I find that always helps me in whatever aspect of life I’m dealing with, whether it be toddler tantrums, newborn sleep deprivation or juggling work & motherhood at the same time. It is such a helpful mantra to me.
Wishing you strength and love! You will eventually heal from the c-section, I promise! It really took me some time though, so be easy on yourself. I made the mistake of doing too much physical activity too soon. Take care of yourself and know that you’re not alone!
Every single time someone shares a story about mental health the stigma is chipped away just a little more. Thanks for getting out there and shining a light on this massively important and common topic.
How incredibly brave of you to share. As the partner of someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety for years, descriptions of how it actually *feels* to be depressed are so helpful to me in understanding my partner’s experience and making a path forward. Thank you for sharing
I have followed your writing since before your homesteading experience and have always loved how down to earth you are. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for helping to take away the stigma of having a mental health issue. I had postpartum depression after my first child. But because it was 33 years ago, the doctor told me I should be ashamed of myself for complaining since I had a beautiful baby boy, a great husband, relatively new cars…the list went on. I made it through, but how much better it would have been to have someone understand!
I have never commented on anything before but felt compelled. As others have said this post is a gift!
I have 6 month old and 2.5yr old daughters. I have definitely been struggling this time around with my mood, and I feel exactly like you described (even the daily yelling at the husband bit…). I, too, thought it was just a phase and that I just needed to make changes to my diet or lifestyle to help, but… Nothing has helped. I’m going to call my doctor now. I even remember looking at your Instagram posts sometimes and think, “wow, she’s got it all together. What am I doing wrong.” Just goes to show that you never quite know from the outside looking in. I’m so glad you’re feeling better. 🙂
Marie! Thank you for reading! and thank you for calling your doctor! Please, please, please seek help! I am excited for you that you’re taking this step in the right direction. I am wishing you peace and healing.
Very much appreciate your sharing this story. I think it’s immensely helpful for all parents to hear more stories of how this happens and that it’s no one’s fault. You’re incredibly brave for sharing, and I hope others reading this can see it as a lifeline if needed.
Really glad you wrote this. There is such a stigma about depression that we feel “successful” people won’t succumb to it. I’m happy you’re doing better and wish the best to your whole family.
Thanks for sharing this part of your life with your readers. I have a family member who has been depressed for years, and very recently started therapy and taking Zoloft. She has shown a big change in just a week. I’m so glad you did not isolate yourself, but kept going to church, mom group, etc. That is so important for you to keep in contact with your groups of friends. VBAC is something else many women yearn for, but after a c section their doctors never want them to try again. I’m glad you got to have it with your second little one. It’s important for readers to see you don’t have a “perfect” life, but that you manage, and cope, and that your husband took charge and made sure you got the help you needed. Your story will help a lot of people going through similar things in their life. Prayers for you and your family as you continue on life’s journey.
Thank you for sharing your story. As a mama to 3 little people of my own, I find this eye-opening and inspiring.
What a beautiful post. So eloquently shared. Like you I was diagnosed after baby #2 but in hindsight I believe I also had ppd after baby #1. DH also suffered after baby #2. We were both helped immensely with citalopram and counselling. I can still vividly remember pre diagnoses how impossible it felt to get two kids ready and out the door, like climbing the tallest peak. Thank goodness for our wonderful doctor and supportive friends and family.
Help is there and it gets better.
Thanks so much for writing this Liz.
It was very courageous of you to post this. I too suffered from depression about 20 years ago. It was not a post partum situation but being the self sufficient person that I am …went through many months of believing that if “I could just pull myself up by my bootstraps” everything would be fine. Also, I had the mindset that if I just read enough self help books I would be able to “fix” myself. I too was fortunate to find my way out of the darkness with a mild dose of antidepressant and are larger dose of therapy. I’m so glad to your husband is the supportive considerate man that he is. Best Wishes to you and your family.
How unbearable that must have been. The people who mentioned hormone imbalance are correct. There’s good information on bioidentical hormone therapy (either with progesterone which drops precipitously with the placenta https://www.hotzehwc.com/2015/11/postpartum-depression-get-the-right-treatment/, or with estradiolhttp://www.drdach.com/BioIdenticals_For_Anxiety.html) or another hormone depending on tests) for PPD.
I’m glad you got relief and hormone balancing might be much longer lasting.
Just another option for you –no criticism.
Without a doubt this is the most important thing you have likely ever written….and that is saying something! I commend you in your bravery and your willingness to share what has had to have been a very difficult time in your life. As a long time reader of the blog, I’d just like you to know that I’m rooting for you and your family. ❤️
Thank you so much!!!
Thank you for writing this! I experienced post partum depression after the birth of my daughter, but like you, it took me a while to realize what it was and how to deal with it. I told my OB I was fine and she told me if anything changed to call her. I think I called her a week later to tell her I was having bad thoughts and her response was, “you know, when I was reviewing your file something didn’t seem right.” I also had a pretty awful end to my pregnancy, with hospital bed rest and a 32 weeker in the NICU because of a complication. I’m thankful to my OB and my husband for being supportive but you are so right that mental health issues are still not talked about enough. I haven’t told many people that I was on Zoloft and in therapy and not for shame but it’s just not a topic that comes up. I hope people reading this will find hope and know they are not alone!
I’m so glad you are feeling better. I have suffered with anxiety for the past 10 years. The worst of it was after the birth of my second daughter. I probably also had a mild case of post partum depression but was never diagnosed. I understand feeling anxious over everything. I still struggle some with that. I have to force myself to stop thinking the fearful thoughts. I am much more capable of managing my anxiety now but it still crops up once in a while. Check out the website anxietycentre.com there is a wealth of information on anxiety. There is a small cost to access some of it ( you must purchase a membership) but it is well worth it. One interesting thing I have learned about anxiety is that it can take a very long time to fully recover. I am sure it is the same with depression. So give yourself time. I feel like I am a different person than I was pre-anxiety. It has taken me some time ime to accept that because I did see it as a weakness. Now, I know that it is just part of me. And that’s ok. Thanks for sharing your story!
I suffered post partum depression after the birth of my daughter 40 years ago. I wanted a baby so much but when she was born and the doctor said it’s a girl my world cracked in half! I had a terrible relationship with my mother and I did not want a girl, I felt nothing – I would stand in front of a mirror and push the corners of my mouth up because I could not smile! I turned to my husband for help but he wanted nothing to do with my problems! I went to my PCP who sent me to a psychiatrist – he recommended that I be put in the hospital – I envisioned much needed rest – imagine my surprise when it was a mental health facility!! I stayed for 30 days and had 8 EST treatments – I forgot how to multiply numbers but I was still depressed. I was prescribed Elavil and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. After a few years I was just sick of being sick! I stopped the medication and the therapy and looked for a new counselor.
I’m glad you shared this; I guess I never realized before I too have some erroneous beliefs about depression and anxiety, and I’m now realizing I almost certainly should have sought help last year after we had a brutally tough start to 2017 and I experienced pretty extreme anxiety for months (though because I was still ‘functioning’ day to day, I didn’t think it was severe enough to get checked out). It was enlightening to read very specific things that you felt and thoughts that you had because so often people just say they suffered from PPD/A and just say that it was “hard.” It’s good that more people are acknowledging it, but it’s even more helpful to know some of the very specific ways it can manifest itself. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Best wishes brave women, tend yourself so that you can tend your children. As I childless women I don’t get what your are saying, but as a women I embrace your experience, resolution and bravery. Your husband is also to be be commended for his inclination to seek help for you. Enjoy your girls and your husband.
Thank you for writing this. I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression, and refusing to get help for at least 10 years. I even went to the doctor asking for help (which I very clearly needed) and was only referred for therapy. 6 months later I was pregnant with our second. It had been hard to get pregnant and we tried for over a year. Even though we wanted the baby desperately, I had no connection to the baby for months. I could have cared less about the life inside me. I went to the doctor again and was immediately put on the same low dosage of Zoloft. It was like a light switch. I am so very grateful that I’m living with my head above water again. Now I’m a happy, fully functioning mother two our two beautiful children, which is exactly what they deserve.
I’m so glad to hear that, Alyssa! It is exactly like a light switch. So happy to hear you are doing well!
Thank you for sharing your story. Looking back, I am certain I had PPD with my first son, but was so stuck in it that I didn’t know to seek help. Moreover, at the time I was not aware that there’s such a broad range of symptoms. After reading a list of symptoms posted by a friend, I wished my Dr’s office had provided that type of list rather than dumbing it down to “come see us if you’re sadder than usual”.
More recently, a friend and colleague of mine suffered from Post Partum Depression and OCD. She was able to receive help snd support snd since then she has done amazing awareness work in the Denver, CO area, as well as writing a string quartet reflecting on her experience. If you are interested, check out String Quartet OCD by Loretta Notareschi
I so agree with you!! I think I had it after my first as well, but just didn’t recognize it. And I agree, none of the standard screening questions adequately addressed my symptoms or led me to treatment. I will check out that link!
Such a well written and heartfelt post on an important subject! Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is the kind of post that will help a lot of people!
This is such an interesting and important post. It really got me thinking. We’re expecting our first in November, and people always tell me horror stories about having a newborn. They say things like, “A bomb is going to go off in your life,” or “Get ready to no longer have time to eat.” That, combined with reading blog posts and books like “How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids” (which is about an apparently nation-wide phenomenon where couples fight terribly after they have children) have set a really terrible expectation about what parenthood is like for me.
I don’t want to discount how hard parenting is. I haven’t been there yet, so I can’t speak to it. But I wonder how much of this is related to postpartum depression being undiagnosed and untreated? And further, when the societal expectation is that parenting will nearly kill you, how are you supposed to recognize a mental health problem vs. just the normal difficulties of caring for a child? It’s no wonder people feel uncomfortable seeking help. I also wonder if it’s part of how the United States is set up–I’d be really interested to look at stats about postpartum depression around the world. I’d bet that our insularity and relative isolation, lack of affordable childcare, and high insurance premiums contribute!
Like many of your commenters, I’m also someone who has struggled with anxiety. I’ll definitely be on the look out for postpartum depression in myself! (Also, side note–have you tried meditation? It has improved my anxiety by leaps and bounds by training my brain to recognize anxiety spirals, label them without judgement, and then redirect myself to being in the moment. Not to say I’m against medication or anything, because I’m definitely not! But I think meditation can be a super useful tool in addition to other types of therapy. I used the app Headspace daily for three years–I liked the scientific approach and organized packs–but finally have cancelled my subscription, because I can meditate just as well on my own now, for free!).
Parenting is very hard even without PPD and much harder than I even imagined it to be so I don’t think it is wrong that people point that out. Yes, having fight is also very common and being prepared for this and have ways to try to minimize this is also important. I did not have PPD but both of us did fall into depression for other reasons when our child was around 1,5 years old. Parenting is hard in general, doing so while depressed is a new level of hard. The difference is that when you are not depressed all of this hard work that you do will always feel worth it and you will also see all those sunshine moments and for that matter the times when it is generally OK. When you are depressed however you tend to see all of what happens in black even when you are happy, then you feel depressed because you are not always happy.
Be on the look out for symptoms of PPD for sure but do not assume that all the hard parts of parenthood are due to it. Also, when the baby is just born everyone can feel a little low or have varied moods from superhappy to supersad but this should pass quite fast. I am just saying this so that you are not alarmed if you feel bad say during the first weeks. I have had crying fits the first couple of days but then they disappeared after about 2 weeks or so.
Having the ability to meditate is probably going to help you a lot. Some days can be very rough with a baby and allowing yourself 20 mins or so where you can think and be something outside being a parent helps a lot. I took hot showers and meditated while in the shower a lot and this made me re-charge very well. The showers helped me to calm down another level but that might not be your thing but I am sure you can find your thing if necessary. I sometimes showered in the dark to further help me focus.
I hope your baby time will be fine and you will enjoy parenting. If you do struggle I want to point out that a childhood is much more than the first year and you have plenty of time to be a parent later on if babies are not your thing. It just isn’t for everyone, I like 2-3 year olds much more than I ever do babies.
Thank you for sharing your story. I too am recovering from PPD. I can wholeheartedly relate to everything you wrote. I wish I sought help sooner too. I’m still in a bit of shock that it happened me too. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery.
So glad to hear you are recovering. Take care of yourself and know that you are not alone!
I’m not a mom, but I have anxiety. Twice in the past 5 years, I’ve been put on an SSRI. I’ve also done therapy. Both have been extremely helpful. I would recommend doing both medication and therapy. Therapy provided me with a safe space to openly talk about and explore what was making me anxious, as well as figure out ways I could cope in the moment. I’ve reached a place now where I am okay anxiety wise and have stopped medication and therapy, but I still use the skills I learned in therapy to help.
Thanks for this article. I am a mental health professional, and it’s great to see people share their stories. I bet someone reading this will think “This is me!” and be encouraged to seek help.
Thank you for sharing this story Liz. I’m three kids in and can absolutely relate to so much of what you felt over the past months.
Our friend died by suicide two weeks ago. A father of three, 38 years old, married, financially secure and had so much to live for. My heart breaks for his wife and kids. Thank you for helping to break the stigma of mental illness.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I particularly appreciate how you describe the anxiety you felt because sometimes people (including me) think that anxiety isn’t “real” mental illness or depression when it truly can be. I struggle with similar catastrophic thoughts at times (your fear of Mr. Frugalwoods getting in a car accident rang true for me) and it’s a good reminder that I need to take my mental health seriously. Thanks again and best wishes for you going forward.
Thank you for reading! And please do consider talking to your doctor! There are so many treatment options available and you might find something that will alleviate your anxiety and let you live a more free life. Wishing you all the best!!
Thanks so much for telling your story. What can I do to help my mother? She suffers from depression since so many years but does not want to take medicaments.. it’s an endless story of pain. She is now 85 years old..
Talk to her doctor, and let the doctor make the suggestion to help, whether by medication or therapy? Or, if she has a sibling, enlist them to talk to her about seeing a doctor.
Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. Also thanks for pointing out that PPD can happen to dads and moms who adopt. I am a mom by adoption and felt because I didn’t go through pregnancy and all the hormones, that I couldn’t say I was struggling or out of sorts. Luckily I have a great doctor who validated my struggles and I always remember her telling me, “Don’t underestimate what sleep deprivation can do to anyone.” While I didn’t have PPD it was helpful to hear that it wasn’t me not being a good mom for not being 100% happy for my son. Kudos to doing something to help destigmatize mental health issues!
I’ve been reading your articles since your Cambridge days (my old neighborhood – remember Ryle’s and the S&S bagel?), but not until today have I felt the urge to write.
As a PMHNP, there is a major point you made that I want to congratulate you for writing about, and hope that it inspires others to take the action you have. You wrote “I wouldn’t have let a broken arm linger for that long. I won’t let a weird rash or a cough linger in my kids for more than a few days. Yet I suffered through this mental health issue for months”. I hear about this very exact issue over and over and it is heartbreaking.
When I speak out and advocate for mental health I typically ask how long it would take for someone to go to the ER for a sprained ankle. Or for a non-stop bloody nose? Or for a nasty gash across your fingers from a knife while cutting vegetables? Or after a sports accident? Everyone seems to intuitively know to get help after any of those physical incidences pretty quickly, but we need to instill intuitive reactions to also seek help for any mental health issues as well.
I also strive to point out that no one seems to have a second thought when taking an antacid for an upset stomach. Or a second thought when taking daily vitamins, or statins, or an aspirin or a variety of creams and lotions. Taking medication that helps with correcting and maintaining a balance in your brain is no different than taking medication that helps correcting and maintaining the acid in your stomach, maintaining your electrolytes, or maintaining your cholesterol level.
While I do understand the “stigma” of seeking help for mental health issues, thankfully, I don’t believe that it is as prevalent now as it had been in the past. Mercifully, in 2018, there is considerably less likelihood of family, neighbors, friends, work peers and the general public attaching a stigma, or label, to someone getting psychiatric help. Just look in your comment section to see how quickly others have opened up with similar stories.
Wonderfully written entry – bravo, and continued recovery!
Thank you so much, Jimmy! And you must be quite close to where we were in Cambridge–right down the road from S&S and Ryle’s!
Thank you so much for your beautiful post!! As an adoptive mom to 3, I couldn’t entirely relate to your experience, but when you stated that this can also impact adoptive parents, I felt somewhat validated. I experienced depression/anxiety at a low level with my 3rd adoptive daughter. I struggled with bonding, which only made me feel worse since I had planned this adoption, how could I not immediately bond as I did with my other two (in fact, I bonded with them through pictures). Your message is not only important, it is helpful to try to reduce embarrassment and shame….I never told anyone (I adopted as a single parent) what I was going through as I was much too shamed. Luckily it was only minor depression, while it took over a year to get back to normal, if only I had read a post like yours and maybe I would have sought help, reducing that year of hell. Thank you!!
Oh Brenda, I’m so sorry to hear that you went through this! Your kids are lucky to have you and I’m glad you’re feeling better now.
My kids are 28 (adopted at 7 – foster adopt), 16 (9 months – China), and 13 (19 months – China)….so long ago. What I take from your post is that we need to somehow take away the shame and embarrassment, because that is really the limiting factor. I am looking for my purpose as my girls start heading out on their own. You’ve given me an idea….the idea of an adoptive parent going through this is really taboo, because of course you have planned for years ,and your body is not going through changes (pregnancies). Women need to support women (and men). Love your blog, been following it since we lived in NH, we have since moved home to Seattle. I am so glad all is well with you and I appreciate your honesty and candor!
Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is very common, and yet does not get much public acknowledgement. I had really bad PP anxiety after my first son was born, and it took me a long time to get care. My PP set in at the hospital immediately after giving birth, and I was unable to sleep then, and for weeks after. Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, and I would just go to bed and cry, and not sleep at all. Going on medication helped me tremendously, and I stayed on it, until he was almost sleeping through the night, and I finally was feeling caught up and somewhat coherent. I was so worried about experiencing it again with my 2nd son, that my doctor actually put me on medication before he was born. I feel like the entire birth/newborn experience was night and day with #2, and I only wished I had sought help sooner with #1 to enjoy that time more.
LiZ, for all the “realness” you have shared about your life through the years this post has taken it to a whole new level. Thank you for your courage and honesty. It’s great to see you have your writing mojo back!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. My sister in law suffered from postpartum depression, and she told me she felt a lot of shame because nobody ever talked about it—like she was a bad mother because everyone expected her to be overwhelmed with joy. Your writing is so powerful because you help us see the humanity underneath the norms and expectations that so often separate us from each other. Whether sharing your own experience or offering advice to others through your case studies, you take us beyond social facades and show us the real beating heart of compassion. Lots of love and gratitude for you, my dear.
Thank you, Megan! That’s so wonderful for me to hear!
This is a wonderful post. Thank you for being another voice in the chorus that sings the stigma-destroying song. There’s still far too many myths out there about depression and anxiety, and the more people who speak out about it, the better.
I suffered from horrific depression from about age 13 until almost 24. I wouldn’t repeat my teenage years or early 20’s for all the money in the world, it was that bad. I finally spoke with a nurse practitioner, who listened to my symptoms, thought for a moment, and then explained what was going on in what parts of my brain and then named the drug that worked most effectively on those parts. Six weeks is what you hear about depression meds; it’ll be six weeks before you start feeling a difference. I woke up four days after I took the first pill and wandered around the house, absolutely aghast and going, “People FEEL like this? This is how normal people FEEL every day of their lives???” It was like I’d been wearing a backpack full of bricks for the past ten years of my life, and suddenly that backpack had disappeared. At 38, I’m still amazed by how good ‘normal’ feels. My depression is gone. The anxiety is still there, unfortunately; some days, it’s better than others, and some days I cope with it better than others. It’s a constant battle, but it’s not like it was before, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
Thank you again. Thank you for sharing your story, for speaking up that you’re one of us. I’m sorry that you’re in this club, but you’re welcome and loved and supported and never alone, and if you think you’re alone, that’s the depression lying to you (and that goes to Elizabeth and everyone reading this). Thank you for your voice.
Gorgeous kiddos, too!!!
Liz, thank you for sharing such a frank account of your experience. It stunned me because it was so honest and raw. I am childfree however have recently been diagnosed with depression. Like you, it has taken me time to get to grips with the diagnosis. I too had to confront my own perception of what depression was. I am now on medication and cannot believe I lived with the demon of depression for so long. I forgot who I was and am now in a period of rediscovery. I am not ashamed and wholly agree that we must openly talk about mental health and deal with it head on.
Thank you for writing this wonderful piece. It will help so many – of that I have no doubt.
Best wishes for continued health and happiness.
Way to go with being willing to be vulnerable and real. I so appreciate you sharing your story. I am sure that it will help many. 😀
I am so happy to hear that you are feeling better and things are easier now.
Also want to put a plug in for reaching out to alternate/non-western medicine practitioners. Any number of modalities can help ( TCM, herbs, Ayurvedic medicine etc…), it is just a matter of working with one that you are comfortable with ( and possibly more than one, as you give yourself space to figure out what works for you. )
Midwives, post-partum doulas can be a great help in identifying resources in your community.
Hi, Liz. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that you are feeling better. I’m a long-time reader and fan of your blog (and now book), and also someone who lives with anxiety and depression. Like you, I had an amazing, near-perfect VBAC birth with my second child. Eleven years later, I still relive the miracle of that birth often. Also like you, I experienced debilitating postpartum depression after my VBAC. My second baby had reflux and cried constantly for her first four months of life unless she was nursing. The stress of an inconsolable baby, sleep deprivation, and the demands of caring for a newborn and a three-year-old, even with the support of an extremely compassionate and helpful husband, led to PPD and anxiety. It was both a wonderful time (much-wanted new baby, two healthy, beautiful children) and a very dark, stressful and sad time for our family. I did not experience PPD after my first birth, but had been treated for depression in the past. Even still, it took me three months of misery before I called my midwife to ask for a prescription for Zoloft. It is difficult to admit that we need help, especially when one is a person who usually manages to multitask and juggle life with relative ease. My VBAC baby is now in middle school, but I have realized that ongoing mental health awareness is a vital personal responsibility for me (and for all of us). At various points in time, I have chosen to go back on Zoloft in order to be the healthiest, most whole and functional parent, spouse and employee that I can be. If I need medical help to keep my serotonin levels consistent and healthy, I am absolutely fine with that, even if it means daily medication for the rest of my life. As the mother of two daughters, I also talk about the importance of mental health care and awareness with my children, as the tendency to experience depression and anxiety often has a genetic component. It is ok to struggle with mental health, but no one should have to struggle in silence or alone. Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience. I wish you and your family nothing but the best.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your experience! I am so glad to hear that you and your family are doing well.
Oh Liz, huge hugs. I didn’t realize I had had some kind of PPD until it passed (about 6 months pp). I know you know this, but postpartum depression is not a choice and that took a while for me to accept. I have this healthy amazing baby that I thought I would never be blessed with so I felt incredibly guilty when I was depressed – like i didn’t deserve him. I am so grateful you wrote this blog and that your husband supported you. Sending you so much love!
I totally understand you. You are not alone
I had such a similar experience after my second birth and it honestly didn’t go away and became even worse after my third birth. Turns out I had undiagnosed celiac disease, which can cause massive anxiety and depression. I believe that my celiac gene “turned on” during my second pregnancy. Now that I’ve been properly diagnosed and am on a strict gluten-free diet, I cannot believe the difference it has made with my mental heath. I’m like a completely different person now. I wanted to share this here because there is a possibility (though a slight one) that some PPD is caused by celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Pregnancy is one of the triggers that can switch on this autoimmune disease.
I do not have celiac, but I did develop severe anemia after the birth of my second son. Anemia is fairly common after childbirth, but for whatever reason, no one checked. Anemia can also present similarly to depression and the doctor kept trying to convince me I had PPD. I insisted on getting blood work done before taking meds. I’m glad I did bc all I needed was iron. And I really really needed a lot of it.
Anyhow, absolutely be proactive in treating PPD! But also do rule out other possibilities.
Yes! My doctor did a full round of bloodwork as well to ensure there weren’t any other underlying issues. Thank you for pointing this out, Tarynkay!
You are brave and strong and you will get better day by day. God Bless you and yours.
I can relate to your story. I had suffered PPD 17 years ago and I am glad my husband and in laws encouraged me to seek medical treatment. Your story will help many women to seek help if they are suffering from depression.
Thank you very much for sharing this story. I admire your openness and transparency. Kudos to you for getting help and unto your husband for insisting on it. I wish you well!
Thank you so much for the level of detail you were willing to share in this post. I’m a longtime reader who also happens to be a psychologist. It can be so hard for people to recognize when the type A thoughts that have served them well professionally have crossed the line into a clinical level of worry. Hearing your experience, and those in the comments, will absolutely help others. (And if anyone is reading this and on the fence about treatment, give a few therapists a call! We’re generally really nice people, we see this all of the time, and we really can help!)
Hello Mrs FW,
Thank you for sharing your story gritty and honest experience of PND. I fully resonate with your journey through this illness. I am a psychiatrist and despite my professional experience I did exactly what you did…struggle through months and months of worsening depression unable to see the wood for the trees so to speak! It was only with the urgings of my wonderful partner and when things got dire that I sort help and to great effect.
PND is unfortunately a very common diagnosis and is often mistaken for imperfection and lack of resilience by sufferers. As you have so aptly described, however, it is both incredibly debilitating, incredibly real (not a figment of your imagination) and incredibly treatable. Medications are a wonderful option and very effective along with a good supportive home environment and psychotherapy.
I sincerely hope that others who are also struggling with PND and anxiety take heed of your story and seek help. It is never too early to ask for help from your primary care provider and conversely, it is never too late either.
I love your blog too and am happy to say that I too am a frugal weirdo!!
We were calling post-partum depression PPD for short, and now I see “PND”. I work in the field but haven’t heard that acronym. All I can think of is “perinatal”- is that it? Thanks!
Thank you for sharing this story! I don’t have kids, so postpartum depression doesn’t apply to me specifically, but I can relate to the depression in general parts having suffered periods my entire life. I was so glad to see your list of resources at the bottom, especially the link to Debtors Anonymous, because there is a whole subset of the population that cannot hope to afford mental health care (and in many states, mental health care for free is not an option) and this is where 12-step programs can be such a valuable resource. I went through a very serious bout of depression just after grad school, broke and without healthcare resources – I was seriously in debt (and still am) from student loans, unable to afford to see any sort of doctor, and suffering from the incapacitating mental fog. DA saved my life. The members selflessly helped me find solutions, helped me navigate through the troubled waters, helped me get the help I needed (and how to deal with the financial aspects of getting help), and gave me the support to do so and stick with it. Gratefully, I passed through that period and decided to stay in the program which has been a boon to not only my financial prosperity, but my spiritual prosperity. I am certain I will go through another bout at some time in the future, but with my DA support system, I know I’ll be able to get the help and support I need when I do.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Andrea! I’m so glad to hear that Debtors Anonymous has been helpful for you!
Mrs Frugalwoods, thank you for your very candid telling of your experience. I didn’t realize how very real feelings like this were until I went through panic attacks with baby #7 pregnancy. I am a very faith-filled person and sadly, up until my own experience, I had the opinion that anyone who had panic attacks needed to trust God more. Now, I can offer comfort to those suffering from very real feelings of panic. Also, after the loss of baby #8 (miscarriage), I suffered a mild form of Post Partum Depression. Seeing how you have just released this newsletter and counting all the responses, it is obvious you have hit the nail on the head with bringing to light a very common yet stigmatized condition. Thank you for being so open and honest. Blessings to your family (especially Mr. FW) for all their understanding.
Thank you Liz! Tears came to my eyes as I read this because it brought back memories of my own depression 30 years ago and because I felt your struggle. In a three month period I lost my job, my apartment, a dear friend died unexpectedly and my best friend moved far away. I found an apartment on a very loud corner with the constant sound of traffic. I did not know why I was drowning in sadness. I had no money or other resources but I found a scripture I could relate to. In the book of Isaiah chapter 53 I read , “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief….Surely He has borne our our griefs And carried our sorrows… ” Just knowing that what I was going through was nothing new and that the God I believed in had already triumphed over it was something to hang on to. I am so happy you got the help you needed! What you have written will help others.
Hi Mrs Frugalwoods, I have read your blog for a long time and I want to thank you for writing this article. My mom had untreated PND after the birth of my younger brother. I was Babywoods age when he was born so your article deeply resonated with me. My moms illness persisted for much of our childhoods and had a significant impact on my life. It took me many years and the birth of my own two kids to understand why my mom was so very different to other peoples.
I absolutely applaud Mr FW and you for getting help. You have done a very wonderful thing for your kids by accessing help and you should be extremely proud of yourself. Thank you too, for being so honest; sharing your story is a very brave and selfless act.
One large, heartfelt hug to you, for writing such a poignant post, and to Mr. F, for seeing you spiraling down and being there to catch you. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of my second son, though I felt completely blessed to have two remarkable and healthy (and adorable) boys, and a life without complaints. It threw me a huge curveball, and I sank deeper and deeper. There are, sadly, moments of his infancy that I cannot remember, while I battled this and a husband who believed that I simply needed to ‘snap out of it’. It was my OB/GYN doctor and her nurse who helped me with treatment, and a college roommate from years ago who recognized the signs and continually checked in on me. To all your readers, and you, this is not a weakness or your fault; it’s a treatable, chemical imbalance that doesn’t discriminate. Talk to others, as you have done here, and you’ll be surprised how many of us have gone through a similar place. That gave me the confidence to seek help and become a strong, happy Mom again (to boys who are now 22 and 19). Good thoughts to you and your family!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said and this must have been challenging for you to put yourself out there and write about your experience.
I also have struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression. I slowly found myself going from a blissful, confident person to second guessing all of my choices. Blaming lack of sleep or getting angry with others. Each time once I take Zoloft and speak with a therapist I am suddenly not so upset and worried and angry. It makes such a wonderful difference and I resisted both times because it was something that happened to others and I could deal. The stigma is so real. I nodded along to a lot of what you wrote. Especially saying I had postpartum anxiety because having anxiety felt lighter than the litany of what I was truly experiencing. Thanks again for sharing this and be well!
Hi Mrs. Frugalwood!
I only recently discovered your blog-and I hope that this does not sound patronizing in any way, but I am so proud of you for this post today. I am a clinical social worker and it has always amazed me how much shame and stigma is associated to mental illness-when what we are really talking about is some chemicals in your body that are not at the right levels.. that’s it! Nobody would feel the same way talking about their blood sugar or blood pressure-but some some reason when we talk about mental illness the feelings around that topic profoundly change. You articulated the problem so well here-and I hope other aspiring frugal weirdos like himself take notice.
Also-you really hit the nail on the head with the stigma associated with mental illness and women you have it ‘together’. As in adult women with careers, good jobs, advance degrees who are dealing with real problems, in real time and with real pressures, no matter how skilled they are at glossing it over-something women in particular and very good at doing.
So, from a total stranger who doesn’t know you from Adam, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! Huzzah.
Thank you, Jill!!! You’re making me tear up 🙂
We love you!
Thank you for showing your scars to everyone. It is a great way to heal and forgive yourself. You will never know all the lives you have touched with your brave, honest words. I hope you know how important this post is. I am so happy you got the help you needed. Best wishes for you and your family.
Thank you so much for addressing this issue. Depression and anxiety run rampant throughout my family and I wish I had gotten my adult children and myself treatment earlier in our lives. I look forward to the day that we can talk about mental health the same way we talk about diabetes or arthritis for example.
I and my oldest son have bipolar disorder. Maybe because of this, I’ve wanted to ask you the last couple of months, “are you ok?” I even told my husband about this vague concern. Thank you so much for sharing with us your story. I’m so relieved that now you will be OK and am reminded to keep working my own path to being OK. You and your family feel very much like family to us after years of following your blog and reading your book. I’m sure most your readers feel the same. You are cared for very much, by many. Lots of love and prayers for each of you.
Thank you, Maureen!! I appreciate it!
Liz, thank you for your vulnerability. I am a young woman who is excited to have a family someday, and I can’t tell you how much it means to see you share your story like this – I promise to advocate for myself and other mothers if I notice symptoms that you (and your amazing readers) have described. It makes such a difference to hear about these issues from real women. You probably won’t ever know just how many people this piece will help, but I hope you understand that writing about this absolutely makes a difference, and we’re all so grateful. Hugs to you and your family.
Wow. I have read this story three times. I am so happy that you have sought help and are healing! Brave woman you are and a wonderful support system you have found. I am grateful that you have written and shared about your life. I Love reading your stuff. Keep living your life and teaching. I really enjoy following. Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for sharing in such a detailed, descriptive, honest way. I have read few descriptions of postpartum depression and anxiety that mirror my own so well, especially if attempts to fix it yourself and deny that you need help. I had a lot of self forgiveness that I needed to work on when I realized how long I’d kept myself away from needed help. Good for you for getting there, my husband also had to encourage/force me, many times over. I am hopeful that I won’t have a repeat experience with my second baby, but also Will be in familiar territory if I do, and hope that I would not hesitate to seek help. My family member who has had repeated instances of this after many children has finally found that her doctor giving her progesterone (low dose) after giving birth really made a big difference. I agree that mental health is not discussed openly and comfortably enough, by any stretch of the imagination. Thanks for adding to the solution! Be well and enjoy your sweet daughters!
I am Mum to a adorable (near) teenager now so over 12 years in and ended up a single parent not really by choice so I have to budget hard and I find your posts about transformative frugality inspiring because every financial choice I make has a big impact. They do really grow up so quickly but as he grows and can be more independent now I find I have started to worry less about my role as a parent-I can take walks and just be a lot more. I don’t like to micro manage people but when they are little you feel like so much is relying on you & you feel like you don’t want to mess up and I don’t think the chronic tiredness helps as I have lived on power naps for years now as kids tend to wake up early and I am not really a morning person left to my own devices. Also I can be quite empathic which channelled into caring can leave you quite drained as I like to call it. There are brighter days but try to create pockets of you. I got piano lessons 5 years ago to sing and play. Maybe a luxury spend but it created spaciousness in my being to have moments I can be free to be creative and feel that joy of life. Love and blessings and power naps to you <3
Thanks SO MUCH for “coming out of the closet” with this. I’m a 27 -year old woman on disability because of multiple mental – and physical – health issues. Luckily here in Finland we have great healthcare and I’m probably gonna end up on disability for the rest of my life (which the state provides for me).
So I won’t be pursuing FIRE anytime soon, but I do have debt and I do have a dream of owning a tiny house one day (if it wasn’t for my illnesses I, too, would relocate to the woods).
I just wanted to tell you that I find your blog INCREDIBLY inspiring, and it has made me realize that even on disability I CAN and I SHOULD save and maybe even invest. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this! I’m currently doing an UFM in order to pay my debt (all of it other than student loans), and will likely be debt free at the start of next year!
So, again, THANK YOU! For before I came across your blog I thought I was destined to be poor for the rest of my life. I no longer think that.
Wishing you all the best and healing! <3 – Nanna
Well, I’m not sure if it was Google or God but I was literally scrolling and saw your face and thought ” hmm she looks familiar” and clicked on the story… I am still crying. I suffered from extreme postpartum anxiety with my first son and almost chose not to have anymore children in fear of being sent down that black hole again. With a lot of support, prayers, and a husband who said he would walk the road with me again if it happened again we prepared for our second child. We knew the signs we were looking for. PPA grabbed me again but we managed it much quicker this time. I am 12 months out, no longer on medication, and so thankful I didn’t let fear win. Thank you for articulating this so well. I felt every word. I am so glad I clicked on your picture. We went to school together in STL. 🙂
Hey Kelly! It’s nice to see you here :). I am so glad to hear you’re doing better now and feeling well. Kudos to your husband for walking this journey with you–sounds like you’ve got a wonderful partner by your side. Much love to you!!!
Wow! Thank you for writing this. You convey post-partum depression so well – and accurately. Look at all of these responses! And they represent only a small number of the people you have helped with your transparency. Keep taking care of yourself, and may God bless you and your family.
I love to see when others open up about their experience with mental health. It’s such a profound way to help others feel less secluded and help erase the stigma attached with mental health. I too experienced ppd/a. Mildly with my daughter (1st baby and undiagnosed) and more severely with my son. It took me almost 8 months to seek help due to the fact that when somebody brought up PPD, I started having symptoms during my pregnancy, so I clearly didn’t have “postpartum” depression. I then learned there is “antepartum” depression as well which is basically the same thing. I did start feeling better during my pregnancy when I was put on Zoloft and started going to support groups. But spiraled after my son was born. I started having intrusive thoughts and suicidal thoughts. I ended up hospitalized and then in an intensive outpatient program which ended up saving my life. The doctors there put me on a SNRI instead of a SSRI which helped drastically and I was able to participate in different types of therapies. There is no shame in getting help and taking medication. There is no shame in trying to help yourself be a better mother/person. So thank you for helping erase that stigma.
Thank you for sharing. It took me a long time to admit I had a problem, and I’m still early in the process of treatment. Although I’m not diagnosed with PPD/ PPA, I had a difficult time after birth. I thought for sure I’d be diagnosed at my 6 week follow up. After going through that I would tell any woman that if you don’t feel right, reach out to your doctor right away.
Thank you for sharing this. My little man is 13 months and postpartum anxiety was very rough but is getting better. I found myself nodding along to your words.
No PPD for me after either kid. But kudos to all who have dealt with this issue (by hook or by crook!). After reading about PPD for a number of years (yes I am old lol.. just ask my kids), I am so glad to see less “my had and had no time for PPD”. All I can say is you were not there. Many women experienced PPD and sadly, too many (and one is too many IMHO) never told the true story. The Andrea Yates tragedy comes to mind – her children paid the ultimate price, she paid a very heavy price, and her husband dumped her and skated.
There is no shame in accepting and getting help. Mental health assistance is sorely lacking in the United States. May I live long enough to see the stigma of mental health issues no longer exist.
A sincere thank you. I needed this more than you could ever know tonight. My daughter is one month ahead of yours, and reading this made me just now realize that I’m going through PPD. I even knew there would be a strong chance I would end up with it and missed the signs. These last few months have been miserable and I’ve found myself doing the same “just get to the next goal”. I’ve wanted children for 10 years and its been breaking me apart that I’ve hated being a mother since becoming one. And I’ve struggled with my husband, who is literally the best. After a big stupid fight, I read this email. And I just made an appointment. Thank you for everything.
Oh Desiree! I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this! But I’m overjoyed that you’ve made an appointment. Good luck with your recovery! I am sending you love and healing thoughts.
Thank you for this 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I had Post-weaning anxiety after my first child. That was a decade ago and I still remember the misery and how I was convinced we all had cancer or MS or some other horrible disease. Meds helped immensely! The crazy part is that I’m a family doctor and deal with PPD all the time. I just wasn’t aware of anxiety being part of it. Talk about a blind spot! Glad you are doing better
Been there, done that. I’m so glad you didn’t wait any longer to get help. I’ve been worried about you!
If only people realised that antidepressants don’t turn you into a zombie-they turn you back into yourself.
Bravo to you Mrs. F for sharing your experiences; I have tons of respect for you (had it already, but even more now). I have been a mental health professional for 20 years (and have struggled with my own mental health issues as well) and I continue to be amazed at how stigmatized and misunderstood mental health still is in our culture. We all have bodies that need care and love, and we all have psyches that need care and love. Your work here expands that circle of care and love. Thank you for bringing this topic into the financial wellness conversation.
Thank you to you & your husband for this honest and brave post. Depression, for any reason, is a life destroying occurance. I wish that more people would drop the stigmas of getting medication to improve their mental health. If you have diabetes, you take insulin; if you have high blood pressure, you will be prescribed meds; if you get a bad cut, you will be taking antibiotics. Depression and all the sundry variations it can manifest, is just another health problem to be cured or controlled. And please people-don’t self medicate! I had a brilliant architect cousin, who suffered with depression all of his life. He died at 50 from alcoholism. I wish he had seen someone who could’ve helped him. This was a wonderful post that I am sure, helped many others. God Bless.
Thank you for sharing, it is an important conversation. I felt something was off with your writing lately, but thought maybe you are just busy with the little ones. Now your writing is back. You do have a talent for writing. Never doubt it if you ever happen in a dark place again. Cheers!
So glad to hear that you are better now.
In a happy-happy culture this side of life is rarely spoken of, but nevertheless present. So much so, that it is well known that major life events like birth of a child or marriage increase health issues to a similiar extend like the death of a spouse. Crazy, huh?
Thanks so much for sharing!
It’s like I’m reading my own story… I also had a postpartum depression after I had my second baby. It took me even longer to discover (9 months).
I can still remember the hopeless feelings and anger.
I’m so glad for you that you found the cause of your problems and working your way back!
I took Seroxat for a few years and also started therapy en did weekly massages to come in touch with my body again. In a few months I was back to my old self.
Please make sure your doctor checks al your vitamin levels especially vitamine B6 as this will not help your depression when levels are to low.
It’s often to low in this situation and your body will not be able to fill this up again fast.
I needed to take tablets of B6 for a period of time.
I wish you al the best!
Thank you so much for writing this. I think this piece resonates with many people’s experience. Lots of love to you and your family.
Well done, Liz. Your post brought me to tears with its sincerity and courage. I’m fortunate to never have experienced depression, but both my parents were hospitalized multiple times with it, my brother suffered from childhood depression, and my husband had depression early in our marriage–so I understand the impact it can have on individuals, families, and communities. I remember my mother crying in desperation, insisting that her life was good and there was no reason for her to feel so bad. That cycle of guilt/depression/anxiety/guilt is deadly. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a personal way. I know this will help many, many people.
So sorry you went through this-sometimes I say I’ve been too blessed because it’s so much to handle all the needs children bring to the table. While I’ve never been on an antidepressant, I’ve definitely sought counselors to help me through some dark periods of my life. Especially a miscarriage that literally took over 6 weeks to diagnose and treat. My hormonal roller coaster took me for a ride that left me unable to work, get out of the house, or do anything I used to love doing. I hadn’t had my kids at that point, so we got a puppy….who literally was the only reason I’d get up and go outside. Anyway, 11 years later we’ve got three kids and an 11 year old dog;). I am for meds when needed, but believe you get the best results using therapy in conjunction with the meds. And while other people mean well, I’ve had people say “oh this is normal just suck it up” when in reality it was not normal and nothing I tried on my own was helping. Having a baby can be wonderful and terrifying at the same time, then the baby comes and your world is turned upside down… I’m glad your husband had some sense to get you the help you needed-a lot of families suffer as a consequence of a parent not getting the help they need!
Thank you so much for posting this blog! And, kudos to your husband for being plugged in enough to insist that you get the help you needed. Having a loving supportive partner can make a huge difference and I wish that I had had that many years ago. I, too, suffered tremendously from PPD, but was not “allowed” to feel down or depressed. After all, I was told over and over that I was lucky – I had a roof over my head, food to eat, etc. So, unfortunately, I suffered in silence for many years, and even had suicidal thoughts on many occasions. Fortunately, I did not make any decisions to hurt myself and my children, which I am so thankful for. Fast forward, many years later, after finally seeking the help I desperately needed, I am in a wonderful relationship, have beautiful grandchildren, and absolutely love life! But, oh, the wasted years of not being able to embrace life to the fullest saddens me. I greatly encourage anyone who feels the “blues” to please, please, please, seek the help you need. And, furthermore, you husbands, partners, parents, etc., please be in tune to your loved ones, firmly encourage them to seek help, and don’t take no for an answer!
Thank you for bringing more awareness to postpartum anxiety and depression. I’m so glad you’re getting treatment. My daughter recently went through this as well. She had a severe case and couldn’t take care of herself or baby without a lot of family and friends helping her 24/7. None of us recognized what the problem was at first. We need more awareness of this postpartum illness. Blessings and healing to you!
When I was about 7, my mom tried to commit suicide. The proclivity for depression runs deep in my family and It’s been a lifelong shadow in my life. I thought, why have kids and pass this along? Luckily, a good friend helped me through the stigma and helped me get help and eventually, a life-saving prescription for Zoloft. I don’t say this lightly. Life-saving.
I felt like I was reading a recap of my life as a new mother and am so grateful you wrote about your PPD. Those of us who are Type A perfectionists feel like completely useless failures during PPD. Fessing up to depression – that’s a big deal in this age of perfect Facebook families and Pinterest perfect homes. Thank you for sharing the not-so-perfect side of Frugalwoods. That’s a huge gift to your readers. Thank you.
You have given so much of your helpful wisdom to us, but nothing you have ever shared has been greater than this message. God bless you. God bless Mr Frugalwoods for his support, for paying attention and for reacting appropriately. Almost everyone needs help at some point but too many are afraid to ask. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable in service to others.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Though I don’t have kids, I also just began SSRIs for anxiety and have seen SUCH a difference. Like you, a family member strongly encouraged me to get help — in my case it was my mom who also has anxiety. I have struggled with it all my life and so never even realized what it could be like to not become paralyzed with fear at the thought of all I was doing wrong, and everything on my to-do list. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to always be worried about something. But now finally at 25 my new normal is calm, even as a beginning teacher. I so appreciate your post, and I’m glad that you are feeling so much better 🙂
I wasn’t sure if I should post… But the “yelling” part hit home. See, I come from the other direction. I was depressed since I was ten years old, but between my brother’s drug Problems, my younger brother’s life threatening illness, my mother’s (in the end successful) fight for her sons despite suffering from Panic attacks and arrythmia and my Father’s struggle to Keep us afloat financially despite all of that, my Problems (Mobbing and beatings in School) never seemed to be all that bad. I wasn’t close to death. I wasn’t close to ruin. I wasn’t screwing up everything. But I yelled. I was convinced I am simply a bad Person with a weak character. I couldn’t stop the yelling. When a tick bite made everything worse due to causing chronic head aches, I became unbearable. My then Boy-friend stood with me and helped me to get help (yes, and medication doesen’t work for me because I have paradoxical reactions) helped me to apply routines and techniques until I was better.
Our romantic relationship didn’t survive, but we are still Friends and he will be my hero until the day I die.
After 20 years of chronic Depression I was free of it (for most of the time. I still get the seasonal ones from time to time, but they go away, and I treat them like the common Cold and Nothing that defines me.)
And I am free of the yelling. So when you wrote that you yelled at your husband, I had tears in my eyes – because I have an inkling of how you feel. (I can’t say “I know how you feel” since everyone is different.)
I sincerly hope you get better soon. That Kind of Desperation is something I don’t wish on my worst enemy.
You are brave and strong and I’m glad you shared your story!
I could have written this post almost word for word. A week in on Zoloft and i now realize how bad it was. my baby is 8 months old and it took that long to get help for the same reasons.
I have read your story with tears in my eyes. I recognise every single thing about your experience.
My oldest daughters is now seven and a half years old, and her little sister is four and a half. When my youngest was one year old I finally ”collapsed” at work, as my body refused to obey me. After a long time sitting frozen on my chair unable to move I finally managed to get home where I had my first (of many) panic attacks.
I finally got medical help after several years of ”smiling depression”, when you are depressed but those around don’t understand how bad you feel or the magnitude of it because you hide it behind a smiling face. Oh, the amounts of energy I put into plastering on that smile because I was so ashamed of not feeling happy, secure and grateful when I ”had it all”.
Oh, the shame…
I was diagnosed with depression and exhaustion syndrome.
When the SSRI kicked in it was like the colors suddenly coming back to a black and white TV screen.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t seek help years earlier. Then I might have been able to enjoy the years when my children were babies, and maybe I wouldn’t have developed exhaustion syndrome which still affects me to some extent.
And now you may think about me ”Oh, but SHE had a real depression, but I should just get a grip and stop whining”. Please reconsider that thought as it was exactly what I was thinking. I heartily agree with Mrs Frugalwoods: seek help! Do it today!
I thought about seeking help for so long but I refrained for the same reasons as Mrs Frugalwoods. I realise how privileged I am, and I was sure the doctor world look down on me and say ”It IS tough having small children, what did you expect?”. And I was not really sure what to say to my doctor. ”I’m feeling angry a lot” or ”I can’t sleep because I worry about global warming/ebola/my baby not wanting to eat vegetables”.
If you are thinking along those kines, please go to your doctor and say ”I read this article on a blog and somehow it spoke to me, and it says to go to a doctor even if you are not sure, so here I am.”
Please seek help!
No one will thank you for not doing so. No one will thank you for keeping a stiff upper lip.
You have EVERY right to feel good. And I mean really feeling it, not just pretendending it.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Linda! And I want to echo what you said: if you’re reading this and feel like you identify with it, please please please seek help! Thank you Linda!
Oh my gosh, how accurate is this!! I really suffered with PNA/PND after the birth of my first child. I felt angry a lot. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious about everything. But I didn’t know that this meant PND. I didn’t know how tell anyone, particularly my doctor. Like ‘hey, I have realised I am just not cut out for this…’but your suggestion of printing this article out and taking it along to your doctor is BRILLIANT.
Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better. I can identify with much of what you described from after my son was born.
It wasn’t until a low point when my son was 8 months old where I yelled at my husband (we also keep a calm house) that we finally visited a post partum counselor together at the hospital. Although I wasn’t diagnosed with post partum depression, I’ll admit it took a full two years to feel like I got my energy and life back. Even after sleeping well, I still didn’t have my energy back. High intensity exercise three days a week through CrossFit finally got me past the hump.
Our son is now 2.5 years old and I have so much energy and zest for life again. We will not be having a second child because of this experience. Although my husband didn’t experience the anxiety I did, the exhaustion and all-consuming nature of caring for an infant was very hard for us both.
I am sorry that postpartum has been so difficult. My very together sister felt the same way after giving birth to her third child. She felt like throwing her baby over the banister. Hormones are real and low progesterone can cause anxiety amidst other issues. Many doctors do not test for hormone levels and sometimes can mis diagnose someone with mental illness when the hormones are what need to be addressed. hormones in balance can help us feel good. I am now on natural hormone replacement my self after dealing with anxiety issues. For me it took a Functional Health Doctor to help along with herbs like Ashwagandha Valerian Root TRIMETHYGLYCINE and even ST . John Worth and SAM E can help. I have to many friends and relatives on Doctor prescribed antidepressants and I did not want that. Zoloft has the potential to make people feel good and the eventually just feel numb. I would encourage you to research further before you settle on this for longterm treatment. There are some good Functional Health doctors that can treat this. My husband is a College Professor and does some counseling he states often how many people in such large numbers are turning to these medications in such large number without seriously considering the side effects. I don”t usually write comments but I read this blog post yesterday and woke up with these thoughts on my mind. I just really hope you research this well.
This comment makes me angry. Doctors do not prescribe medication just for the fun of it, and people don’t usually take them lightly. I’m guessing she did do her research since she’s an admitted anxious person and a planner, not so go-with-the-flow person (no offense). When we get to the point of HAVING to take those meds it’s usually because it’s eighter this or keep going in that aweful downward spiral and ending up suicidal. Also, you are assuming that this will be a “long term treatment”, yet you don’t know. I had to be medicated after my PPD, and it lasted 1 year. I’ve been meds free for the last 7 years, feeling fine. Without those meds I would be dead (suicide), no doubt about it. So, yeah, don’t automatically put down something that can indead SAVE people’s lives juste because all you have is opinions and actually don’t have any clue about what it is to go through PPD yourself!
Thank you for sharing. Not an easy thing to do. I’m going through a menopausal bout with anxiety and depression. So many anxious thoughts swirling around that I can’t shut off. Lack of sleep, and lack of interest in things. Luckily a co-worker told me about free counseling through our employer. It was so easy to set up and completely confidential. I felt so much better after just the first session. Just the support I’m getting is so helpful. Don’t be afraid to get the help you need. So many people are going through the same thing you are.
What everyone else here has said. You are brave and amazing and wonderful, and your family is lovely. By being all these things, just who you are, you are already perfect. Not the way the world thinks perfection is supposed to be, but perfect in who you are. Thank you.
I suffered post partum depression after my second child was born. It was horrible indeed . Three months is a very long time to suffer. Did your doctor not notice anything when you went in for check ups after the birth? I thought these days that they were much more proactive in checking for it.
I’m so glad that you are doing better. Postpartum depression does not seem all that uncommon, which makes me wonder why this issue isn’t brought up with all new mothers.
I have a question for you unrelated to this post. I am interested in starting to make homemade bread. (I just made two loaves today for the first time!) However, my husband is concerned that homemade bread doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as the sandwich bread that you buy at the store with preservatives in it does, and so he thinks it would go bad before the two of us used it all, thereby creating a lot of waste and cutting into any savings we would reap by insourcing. I’m wondering how you’ve dealt with this issue?
Good question about bread! You can freeze it! Just cut the loaf in half (or in quarters or whatever) and freeze what you’re not going to eat. This is what I did before our oldest daughter became a regular bread consumer ;). Also, I wrap it in a towel in our bread basket, but if you wrap it in foil it’ll stay fresh longer. Good luck 🙂
It makes me so happy anytime someone speaks openly about depression and other mental issues. These shouldn’t be taboo. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work. We’re all in this together!
I went thru postpartum depression too ( with my 2nd child too) and you have explained in strikingly accurate detail EXACTLY how I felt. I felt like it hurt to smile. I felt like I had made a horrific mistake . ( a baby that was planned down to.the millisecond , mind you). I felt like my life had been hijacked and I was held hostage to little people, laundry, and mess….and then I got help. It took a short trip to the ER for me to get back on track, but I’m still grateful I got diagnosed. Keep talking about it, keep raising awareness.
Thank you so much for sharing. I hope it makes readers be more aware of how this is silently hit you without you knowing it.
Thank you so much for sharing this! I admire you for seeking out treatment (+ thank you to Mr. FW for his support and pressure to seek treatment), and doubly for writing about it!
I wish I’d read this 2.5 years ago before my son was born! Your description of events matches my own experience so closely. Looking back, there were signs of my postpartum anxiety and depression as early as coming home from the hospital, and especially during maternity leave and after returning to work. While I questioned the possibility, it took almost a year for me to stop blaming it on other things going on in my life (especially work stress) and recognize it and seek help, and then still another five months for me to bring myself to consider medication. A year later, it amazes me that it took me so long to get help when I think of how trivial of things (like choosing cereal at the grocery store) used to bring me to tears. Now I talk freely about it (and will definitely share this post), especially with new moms, because I’m not ashamed of it and I appreciate those who reached out to me and shared their own experiences as I was working through my own.
Thank you again for sharing this, and I’m so glad you didn’t let yourself quit the blog (I love your writing, whether financial or personal)!
Oh Lindsey! I’m so sorry you went through this too and I’m so glad that you did get help and are feeling better. I think I would still be blaming it on other things if it weren’t for my husband–it was so hard for me to see the truth while I was in the thick of it. But now, in retrospect, it’s unbelievably obvious.
It seems like I can see it in your face in the photos. Can you see the difference in your eyes? Kind of an emptiness?
Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. Kudos to your husband for encouraging you to seek help!! The best way I think to break the stigma is to share your own story. I appreciate this so much!!!
Add me to the voices supporting you and cheering your courage. 20 years ago this month, I was a new mom with PPD and it took my dear husband to search for help. I still remember vividly the sound of his voice on the phone “We’re in trouble here, we need help” and am forever grateful for him and the medical community for helping me. How was it possible to have a newborn that slept and I had insomnia??!!! The anxiety and self doubt seemed so unwarranted when I was so blessed with a healthy happy baby (while my sister couldn’t conceive)
Your talent at describing this so honestly is reaching and resonating with so many. Continued healing Liz.
I wanted to say thank you for sharing. This is a really important and honest post. We struggled for 7 years to have a baby, and when we finally did, I had so many physical complications from labor and delivery (C-section, hemorrhaging, allergic reactions, high blood pressure, hives, hemorrhoids that required surgery a month after delivery (!)) on top of the mental/emotional strain of mothers with newborns that I feel I really missed out on “enjoying the baby”. The nurse from the insurance company that evaluated me over the phone said I was “borderline” for postpartum depression and needed to see my doctor in person. But when I went to see my OB in person, I thought that if I told them how I was really feeling, they would think I was a bad mom, take my baby from me, etc. I am 3 years removed from the situation, but still can see how awful things were, and that I should have reached out more for help. Unfortunately, my husband works long hours, and travels for work, so he did not see things for what they were. My mother, a nurse, did help me though it. Like some other commenters here, the situation got better for me as I got more sleep and went back to work, and got relief from some of the physical ailments post birth. I’ve always loved your blog, and am amazed by your honesty and candidness, despite the ordeal that you have been through. Keep strong, and be well.
Thank you a thousand times for being so honest and opened about this!
I had PPD when my 1st was born (not the 2nd, thank God!) and it was aweful. I had the whole shebang, suicidal, out of body experience, no sleep for days and days and days, etc I had to be hospitalized for a month and medicated for a year (I reached out for help myself. It was that or killing myself). My baby was only 4 weeks when I got hospitalized, that was very very hard on all fronts. I am opened about my story because women need to know that it happens and it’s ok. And I am very happy to see other moms being opened about it too. My girl is now 8 and we have an amazing relationship!!
Hi-thanks for sharing! It’s so nice to hear I am not alone. Mine didn’t really hit me until about 5 months postpartum… and it was definitely way more anxiety then depression, which I didn’t even know was part of postpartum! I am also taking Zoloft, and it’s made a world of difference . You are such an encouragement, thank you!
I came here after hearing you in ChooseFI, and this was not what I expected to read but I’m so glad I did. My postpartum anxiety/despression diagnosis changed my life. Years earlier my doctor had kindly suggested I address my anxiety, and I blew it off. Anxiety? Me? No way. My denial and my ability to work around it were strong. After my second child was born, my usual defenses crumbled under a tidal wave of hormones and exhaustion. I was utterly broken, crying in a crumpled heap one minute, screaming with rage the next. My doctors words echoed back, and I realized what was happening. I called my doctor and got help right away. Zoloft and therapy allowed me to regain a normal life, actually better than my normal had been.
A few years later my world was rocked by the deaths of several friends, including my best friend, in a short period of time. I don’t know how could have survived it without the foundation that therapy had helped me build, and the medication that keeps my brain from plunging into the darkest depths. Post partum anxiety was the best thing that happened to me.
You continue to amaze me! I greatly admire you for sharing this with us. Your words will reach far and others will be helped.
Many, many thanks. I am grateful. Dianna
Hi Liz, thank you for your post. I don’t have any children but after having a sizeable breakdown (screaming incoherently for no reason at all) I have been on a low dose of Zoloft for the past four years and like you say it makes me feel “normal” again. I also found that having a designated “rest day” once a week and also cutting down on non essential activities helped as my brain had previously been overloaded from overwork and sapped of serotonin. Vitamin B complex twice a day is also a big helper for me, and yin yoga stretches/deep breathing (no active yoga as I get enough activity!). It’s hard for people to understand that it is a true illness caused by chemical depletion, but as my psychiatrist pointed out to me, you wouldn’t hesitate to take diabetic medication if you had an insulin imbalance etc. You sound like you have a great support network. Wishing you all the best.
Thank you for so openly and candidly sharing your story. I can imagine that this was a difficult post to write and to publish. Reading this actually brought me to tears, it was so beautifully and eloquently written. Also, what a special man you have in Mr. FW, it sounds like he handled the situation in the best way it could possibly have been done.
I wish you all the best for your recovery, and sending love and good health to all of your family.
Would you mind to email me? I can’t find your email address!
Yay that you’re feeling so much better! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your story. A lot of people can probably relate to the feeling that they should be able to power through too. I have loved following your story all along and am particularly grateful that you have opened up about your struggle with postpartum depression. It’s a real thing and more people need to be aware of it. Also by sharing, you are helping to remove some of the stigma that comes with depression. Thank you! And good luck!
When my late mother gave birth to her second child, (in the early 50’s’) she plunged into what we now know as PPD. In those days, she was told it had nothing to do with having a baby, and that it was just “in her mind.” The doctor finally gave her heavy meds for her “anxiety”, which caused her to pass out one day, so clearly those weren’t going to work. She struggled through on her own, and later regretted that long time of feeling unable to bond with that child. By contrast, decades later, my niece had PPD with her first child. Those first two or three weeks’ pictures show her as an unsmiling and withdrawn woman, and she rarely held her baby unless forced to by the need to feed, change or bathe him. However, she and her husband soon recognized what was going on, and quickly got help from her doctor, which did her a world of good. Soon, all her pictures showed her smiling with real joy, and lovingly holding that child.
I am so grateful that times have changed!
You are brave, strong and wonderful. Thank you.
It is so bold of you to share your experience. I am also so sorry you had to go through all that and thank heavens you are doing fine. Many women suffer in silence yet this problem can even lead to broken marriages if the spouse doesn’t understand what is actually going on.
A big hug to you and your family. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now, and it brought tears to my eyes reading about your struggles. I,m glad to hear you’re doing better now, and I hope that it keeps getting better and you can enjoy your family and continue on your homesteading adventures and write about them.
Great post! I had PPD as well and could not see it in myself. I was even told on two occasions by my midwife that I screened positive for it and that we should discuss medication options. I was in complete denial. I thought what I was going through was norma–it wasn’t. So glad you got help! It is truly a deep, dark, lonely place to be.
Thank you for sharing your story. I got hit with mild PPD after my second one as well and I just thought I was going insane, I didn’t know what hit me since I am generally a very calm and fairly cheerful person. I ended up not needing medication, but I did give up the breastfeeding/pumping in order to stabilize my hormones (the baby refused to nurse after a month and I quit pumping after 4 months) and to feel better. That did the trick for me. Like you said, depression happens to other people, and no one really knows what it feels like until they go through it. I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and now know what to look out for if it happens again. Any major change in life can trigger depression and as we go through life, we will be having many changes.
I just want to send you a big hug. I hope you are getting better and better.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve also suffered with PPD/PPA with all four of my children. With my first 3 children I muscled through and didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. With my fourth baby I made a plan while I was pregnant to try a protocol I had heard about at a health training I went to. It involves progesterone injections, with the theory being that for some women, it is the abrupt withdrawal of the progesterone hormone leaving the body via the placenta that can cause that downward spiral that some women have after birth. For me, this did end up being an effective treatment, but I was prepared to also do SSRI’s and counseling if it didn’t help. I wrote about this experience on my blog. I hope it’s ok if I share, as the blog is linked to my business. http://www.infinityfertilitycare.com/blog/in-which-i-get-personal-about-how-napro-technologys-approach-cured-me-of-postpartum-depression-and-anxiety
Thank you for writing you story. I just wanted to add that PAD is also a huge and similar problem that can take a new mother by surprise. I have given birth to 4 children without experiencing PPD, but when we adopted our 5th child I had the exact experience you just described. I think it is surprising because it was not even mentioned in any of our adoption training. I think that people assume it is the physical aspects of giving birth that throws people into depression/anxiety, but there is more to it. It is like a perfect storm of factors that cause women to experience this particular kind of depression/anxiety. I never use the word depression to describe my experience without adding the word anxiety because it was an anxious depression. Like you, I always thought depression was when you slept all the time and had no motivation. The very first symptom I experienced with my depression/anxiety was the inability to sleep at all for several day. It was like living a nightmare. I also started to take medication and I have been on it ever since. I don’t think I will try to go off it any time soon because taking care of 5 children while struggling would be almost impossible. I just don’t feel that I can risk it. I am so glad you are feeling better. Blessings!
Mrs. F, don’t be hard on yourself for not recognizing your depression sooner. In the midst of it, it can be IMPOSSIBLE to tell just how far down the road you’ve gone, because you simply have no perspective. It all seems “doable” if you just “try a little harder”. Your friend is right — depression DOES lie to you. You couldn’t recognize your condition because it messed with your perceptions from the beginning and had you, every day, in a tighter grip. You truly could not have diagnosed yourself; let that regret go. Glad you’re feeling so much better.
Dear Elizabeth, thanks a lot for your honesty, and your good message! Like you, despite having the life I dreamt of, I went through post-partum depression. It basically feels like being stuck in an abyssal, cold, dark and hopeless present. No way out: no future nor past exist anymore. Suicide would feel like the most reasonable option.
Unfortunately, my family and in-laws turned their back on me when I needed the most: they seemed to enjoy my predicament, and had a scornful and patronizing attitude. My therapist helped me to see that they were not good for me, and to protect myself. I took my distance, and became very independent (a bit lonely, but it is better to be alone than in bad company :)).
Although I don’t feel anxious anymore (my son is 2,5), I still feel empty, sad and unable to focus. Like my brain went through too much stress to somehow recover…
Take good care of you!
Kisses from Germany
I was depressed, too. I’m now over sixty and believe I was depressed for many decades. Just this year, I finally have a Dr. who asks the right questions and listens! I’m on medication and couldn’t be happier. Not sappy happy but content with my life. It sometimes takes a lot of time to find the right answers. Kudos to your husband for pushing you in the right direction.
Also, I’d recommend seeking help if someone who knows you and deeply cares asks you to. Even if that person is wrong and you don’t need it, a couple of therapy sessions with a decent therapist* probably won’t hurt even the most well-adjusted person.
I haven’t had kids, but I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. It took my husband’s loving pressure and observations that what I was experiencing wasn’t okay for me to seek counselling and eventually meds.
*Sadly, there are bad ones, thankfully I had a friend who wasn’t that close but I knew was an excellent therapist who could recommend someone for me to see.
Yes yes YES!!! Every single thing you wrote resonates with me. I have a daughter and waited for 16 months before finally accepting that it was not normal to break down crying int he middle of the sidewalk (a more extreme moment), to lose all interest in everything that previously brought me joy, to have my mind perpetually whirling around everything that has or could possibly go wrong, to feel like everything is overwhelming and therefore why even muster the energy to try…Zoloft has worked amazingly well for me. I was also afraid of how I would respond, but within a few weeks I felt my anxiety drop, then the depression. I feel SO WONDERFUL to just feel SO NORMAL. Its like I was under a spell….no other elements of my life have changed, just my perspective. I feel like I can see reality now. I wish I had spoken to someone (my ob/gyn in my case) MONTHS…a YEAR ago. Thank you for writing this!!!
Oh Jill! I’m SO GLAD to hear you are feeling better! It’s so tough to recognize that we need help and I’m so happy that you found it! And I agree–I wish I’d gone in sooner too!
Thank you for sharing your story. I was just clicking through your Instagram feed and you would never guess you were suffering based on the photos. I guess that’s how social media is, we show what we want to show. And nobody has a perfect life.
Thank you for sharing your story! It is so important for other parents to hear this. As an IBCLC who works with many postpartum families, it is not uncommon for parents to feel like they “shouldn’t” feel this way, that they just need to learn to see their blessings, that they aren’t good parents, etc etc. Depression and anxiety are sneaky and trick your brain into believing a lot of things that aren’t true, until you’re lost in the weeds. Big props to you and Mr FW for being able to get through that nasty thicket and to the truth, which is that you do not deserve to feel that way! My best hopes for continued healing!
Thank you for sharing my story. I had a similar experience and medicine was the only thing that helped. Thank goodness for medicine, and thank goodness for those who can help us when we need it most.
I had high BP and a high-stress job when pregnant with my first baby. They finally put me on bed rest, sent me home at 3 p.m. Monday, Sept 10, 2001, to wait the 4 weeks ’til my due date. You know what happened the next day. All I saw throughout most of my ‘bed rest’ was post 9/11 news coverage, all that was on the radio was the same. 5 weeks later my first sweetie got here, but it wasn’t until 3-1/2 years later that I was diagnosed with PPD. It was a rough few years. I just now, with the 2nd sweetie about to turn 14, got off my SSRI. Took over 6 years to wean off. If I ever start feeling off again? Back on it I’ll go, no argument. The hormonal roller coaster ride of motherhood is no joke.
This is my first comment ever – thank you for writing this. I also have a six month old and refused to acknowledge my PPD until about a month ago, when I got on Zoloft. I am starting to feel like more of myself again, but a lot of damage had already been done – to myself, my confidence, and to my marriage. I don’t know if my marriage will survive it. It’s a nasty beast and it needs to be part of the public discussion, so thank you for being a part of that change. Big hugs to you and your babies!
Whew. That was intense. I, too, have spiraled down that hole, and I, too, resisted for as long as I could. I, too, was made whole again with a low dose anti-anxiety meds. It isn’t a perfect fix, because I can still occasionally feel those same hopeless feelings below the surface, but the meds give me the power to acknowledge the existence of those feelings and deal with them before they become overwhelming. I do have a constant low-grade fear that I’ll spiral down the hole again, but it’s manageable. And at least I’ll know to get help sooner. Worse still, I was always one of those “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” people that might not have been as understanding with other people as I should. Hugs.
Another thank you for writing this. My mother suffered postpartum depression after my brother was born (late 1980s) — she has a baseline anxious personality and then had a difficult pregnancy including contracting chickenpox from toddler-me, then didn’t have any maternity leave protection — and she still talks about how she used to cry every day, especially if anyone asked her about the baby. I don’t think it was recognized as an entity back then, but it affects so many women!
I wish all you have is love and happiness in your life. I had suffered from depression and also had those stigmas in my head. I reached help through internet and when everybody told me I clearly need treatement I opened my eyes. We need more awareness of how mental illness can lie to you and you need to fight back. Reading you soon!!
My wife and I have a 1 year old daughter who celebrated her 1st birthday just a couple of weeks ago. We are both very thankful for her and she has brought a lot of joy to our life. But to get to this place, we both endured quite a bit. As a man, I would like to share some of my observations with you.
When my wife first told me she was pregnant with our daughter, it really hit her hard. We were both 41 years old and had two teenagers that were nearly finished with high school. This overwhelming sense of shock and bewilderment came over her. Her mind was in a million places at once and although it was a shock to me as well, I was looking at it like “ok, we will welcome this child into our lives and love her the same as our other kids.” But for her, it wasn’t so easy to process it this way.
One of the reasons that it was so difficult for my wife is that so many years had passed since our last child was born. 15 to be exact. She had started a career about 10 years ago or so and had done really well for herself. And we had gotten used to a certain way of life. So the idea of a baby coming into the picture when we were already past 40, caused a lot of fear, insecurity, and a startling realization that our life was going to change dramatically. We were already starting to picture what the second half of our lives were to look like once our two oldest were gone. Now we had to alter that vision completely.
As the months of the pregnancy passed, those feelings had to be talked about a lot so that they were understood and so that what my wife and I were feeling, could be spoken out loud and given a chance to be expressed without judgment. It was during these months that I believe I discovered something I had never known before.
For the first time, I think I may have stumbled upon what postpartum depression is. Look, I’m not a clinician and I’m not saying that the studies on postpartum depression (pd for short) are incorrect or invalid. I’m simply offering my own perspective on what I think pd is. Now, the understanding that I’ve always had about what pd is, was that it was a depression brought about by a sudden and dramatic change of hormone levels in a woman’s body during and after the pregnancy. These shift in hormones wreak havoc on a woman’s body and psycho emotional state, the effects of which can last an indeterminate amount of time. This made sense to me and somehow I came to this conclusion by simply talking to the average layperson about pd. I don’t even know if that’s accurate, it’s just what my impression was. But my understanding of pd and what women go through after a pregnancy changed when my daughter was born. I now knew that the depression may not have everything to do with hormones but with the intense emotional, economical, physical, and social changes that a baby can have upon a person’s life.
For example, if you are a career woman and you have a baby, giving up that career for a time or indefinitely can be stressful emotionally. Perhaps you really loved the work you did and the people you did it for and now suddenly your job for the near future is caring for a baby, changing diapers, feeding, etc.
The economics of having a child are significant, especially if your family goes down to one income from two. Understandably, worries about whether you will be able to pay your mortgage, bills, and have enough money to enjoy your life can mount up to an incredible about of stress.
Physically, after a woman has a child it can take months for her body to heal back to normal. Meanwhile, there’s a lack of sleep with an infant crying at all hours. There’s also a constant demand upon a woman to take care of the child, or the parents together, all while performing other life functions on limited sleep. The lack of sleep couple with a demand of time for other normal life expectations can cause a tremendous amount of physical stress.
Socially, what happens after a child is born is that you no longer have as much time to do the things you once enjoyed or see your family and friends as often. It takes months to establish a new routine with a newborn and figure out how your new life will look. Many times my wife would tell me that just simply having the freedom to drive to a friend’s house or go visit a family member was curtailed significantly because everything she and I did had to be planned out with the baby in mind. This phenomenon required to frequently accept that our lives were never going to be the same.
So in summary, it is no wonder why a woman feels a tremendous about of depression after a child is born. I think that society puts a lot of pressure on people as it relates to having children. People say “oh, you’re having a baby. Aren’t you excited?” or “kids are awesome”, things like this. I love kids. I love my kids. But what people don’t openly say is how hard it is to have a child. The demands upon your life are incredible at times. I don’t believe that as a society we have been honest about this reality and instead, when people have struggles in the process of having a child, people can be judgmental about feelings of depression in a person. But why? I know everybody else who has had children go through these intense highs and lows, so why do people pretend like they don’t?
To anyone who cared to read what I wrote, if you recently had a child, give yourself the freedom to embrace both the joy and sorrow associated with having a child. Joy, because as the child grows and becomes more a part of your life, the love that grows in your heart for that child will be inexpressible. You can’t imagine your life without her. But the sorrow is there, too. Sorrow because the life you once lived before your baby is gone. That life is forever gone. There’s a loss there that’s real and it should be understood. There’s a sorrow also that as your love for the child grows, you sometimes are gripped with a fear that if something were to ever happen to your baby, you don’t know whether you could ever handle that. As a father, it may sound strange but sometimes I wake up at night from a bad dream where I lost my daughter, and I’m overcome with sadness. I’ve woken up with tears in my eyes and I can’t explain why I’d ever dream of such a thing in the first place. But I realized that it is because my love for her is cemented now. Now I’m emotionally invested in her life and my life is bound up together with hers and the idea of losing someone you love is stressful and sorrowful. This is also a reality that nobody talks about but it’s helpful if we could do this for each other. Anyway, those are my thoughts.
This is the first time I have commented on this blog but I wanted to say thank you for sharing. I love when you read something and it’s like “Yes! That is what is in my head too”. Your words definitely made me feel that.
Mrs Frugalwoods thank you also for sharing with such honesty. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, I love your outlook and your writing. Wishing your lovely family peace and happiness for the future.
My Wife was diagnosed with post-partum after kid #1. She was prescribed Remeron. It really helped to let her sleep and removed anxiety. She was able to stop taking it without side affects.
Recognizing the problem is the biggest step to take. There’s a lot of people like you (and me) who just trudge through it thinking that we could just overcome it. But there are things that we can’t do alone and having enough courage and humility to admit that is the biggest step that you could take.
Thank you so much for sharing. Normalizing depression helps so many people- especially those who grew up thinking anything in the realm of mental illness means weakness, and that “Real” depression must look a certain way. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression when my oldest was 17 months… that was a really long time of denial, anxiety, and anger. It was a perfect storm of living away from family, having a husband working 70+ hrs. a week, living in a small town in upstate NY we had just moved to & not having any support system, living away from many modern conveniences (grocery, medical services, recreation, etc.), lack of sleep, and having a kick a$$ little girl who was one tough cookie and demanded 24/7 attention. I didn’t even know what I should do… who to go to. At doctor visits I kept hearing that yes, having a baby was a tough time, and everything looked great… and I wasn’t crying daily- oh, it must be OK.
I now have the experience and confidence to know when things are looking hairy and I am too on edge to really be myself. So glad you had some support and encouragement to ask for help.
Thank you so, so much for posting this. I’ve recently gotten married and my husband and I are talking about having children within the next two years or so. I’m *already* anxious and terrified at the prospect of being tired and depressed, and I completely saw a potential vision of the future me in what you wrote. I would be the one to have friend dates and husband dates and eat more protein and just try to be ok…so I really appreciate you writing this. It doesn’t have to be stigmatized. It might happen to me, and I can take medication and get therapy, and it can be ok. Thank you, really…otherwise future me might have tried to exercise it out and eat well enough to make it go away.
& here’s something I recall reading in an interview with Brooke Shields, who also lived with postpartum depression. She said ppd is a sneaky disease. It knows your weakness and it attacks at your weakest point–the thing that is most important to you. She had a famously difficult relationship with her mother, so ppd told her she was a terrible mother. I don’t actually know this blog that well, but I gather it’s about financial, life and household management–about strategizing and succeeding, managing your life and then enjoying the fruits of that. So it sounds like ppd attacked you there.
I am sorry to hear you had to experience this. It takes courage not only to seek treatment but to also share what you went through with others. I’ll simply say “thank you”.
I am so glad you shared this: when I came down with PPD after my first child the inter webs was just beginning blog-wise and I couldn’t find anything, just happy photos of mommas and their children. By my second I knew it was coming, I knew what it was, and by the third I was willing to get help should I need it, but of course I never felt like I actually needed help, I could handle it. But now I don’t have happy memories of their early years. It’s what it is, but had I just gotten a more compassionate response from doctors (to top everything off I’ve had awful experiences with doctors and now have the hardest time seeing one and actually telling them what’s wrong), maybe I would’ve gotten help sooner. Later, when I thought I was past the PPD with my youngest, I had a massive anxiety attack that felt like a heart attack and landed me in the ER. That was the event that finally prompted me to seek help, altho it still took me three months to pick up the phone. Now I’m seeing a therapist whom I adore, have meds, and my doctor is someone I respect, even tho I still have a hard time going in. But the more we share our stories the more we help everyone walking along behind us or alongside, and hopefully one day this won’t be such an issue because we’re all getting the help we need.
I am catching up on your blog after a few months being bogged down with work and a job search, saw this post, and just wanted to say THANK YOU. I am also a survivor of postpartum depression. It can indeed happen to anyone. YOU ARE BRAVE for coming forward with your story, seeking help, and seeking to teach others. This is a wonderful post and much appreciated. Thanks again for your informative blog and commitment to public service. Nice tie-ins to suicide prevention and financial problems/debt as a cause of many suicides/suicide attempts, it is a very important and often-overlooked topic.
I found your blog by accident back in April, when I was upset about wasting money on restaurant food, and it changed my life. So, THANK YOU! I have loved and devoured your blog. I use it as inspiration to remain on track, but this post is the most touching, most honest, and most profound yet. Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. So many women suffer from postpartum depression and never their stories, so I’m glad you did — especially in this time of social media, where everyone posts picture perfect lives. I’m so glad your husband realized you needed help and that you’ve made the necessary life changes to help yourself. Depression, regardless of its origins, is a destroyer of lives and souls. And I think so many people think there’s no way out, but that’s not true. You found a way and shared it with others. Thank you for shedding light on this very dark subject and for finding the strength to crawl out of your own depression. I wish you and your family all the best. Keep up the great work on the blog!
Kim John Payne works with a lot of Waldorf schools and often speaks to parents at these schools. He’s is an entertaining and informative speaker (on the quiet side). I don’t know if he is ever in your “neighborhood” but if he is you might want to attend his lecture. At Waldorf school most (if not all) the lectures are free.
“I knew that everything was all right, but I couldn’t translate that knowledge into how I felt.”
As a mental health professional in schools and someone who grapples with underlying feelings of anxiety and depression (the homesick blahs as I call them)– you nailed it in a way I have never been able to! Love reading your writing and hearing about your sweet family. I went to college in Vermont and miss it terribly.
Thank you for this brilliant post. I am now seeking help for having had PND with my first 3just over 3 years ago. I never got help then and feel terribly guilty about it. When I saw the psychologist and told her of my guilt and that I had had PND, she asked me if I wanted to harm my children. I was horrified. This was the exact reason I never sought help in the first place. People with PND/PNA often care TOO much about their children and doing the right thing that there’d be no way that they would ever harm their children. We need to stop this stigma. Thank you for being brave and honest.
Not sure if anyone will see this way down here, but if you don’t want to pay for therapy and you’re a traditional employee, a lot of companies have an EAP that includes at least some counseling.
Just wanted to say that I sometimes come back to reread this post to remind me that it’s OK to not be OK and it’s OK to need help. So glad it’s here 🙂
Thank you, Erin! And yes! It is definitely OK to not be OK!
Thanks for sharing. Fellow Cambridge mom here who had severe PPD when my toddler was born. I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe this was mentioned, but want to share Incase it helps someone. New moms can self-refer to Early Intervention if they are having a hard time. Insurance covers the cost. It was super helpful to me to have EI visit my home each week while I was on maternity leave. They kindly listened to me talk about my depression, helped me get more comfortable with my little one and assure me he was fine, and they even introduced me to others recovering from PPD. I also saw a therapist and was on Zoloft, and was very open with my friends. I was surprised to learn a few of my friends had suffered through varying degrees of PPD too, but kept it mostly to themselves. Lastly, don’t give up if your first therapist isn’t a good fit. Try a few to find one who works for you.
i’ve lived with this for 9 years. Having kids paralyzed my entire life and I have not been able to function since then. I don’t have parents to help or neighbors or a “support system” (whatever that is). I have no one except my spouse. Nine years of this drowning, crying, anxiety, wanting to die every minute and feeling guilty even more. But I can’t take the medications. I always react negatively to medication and it will lead me to suicide so I am stuck in this post-partum HELL.
I stumbled across your blog after spending 4 months wrestling with PPD. I have begun counseling and am prescribed a low dose of zoloft but have been to nervous to take it, but am now in a place where I believe that it is God’s means of grace for healing. I have felt nervous about side effects and coming off of it in the future. How did that process go for you? Also what time of day did you take the medicine? Thank you for sharing your gift of writing on this blog. As I read your story I literally felt like I was reading the inner parts of my soul. Everything you mentioned I have experienced and have been convinced I must be low in iron or have low blood pressure because of how bad I have felt physically from the depression. I believe after reading this that I have the courage to take the medicine just not sure if it should be in the morning or at night. Thank you! Blessings to you.
Jessica–I am so sorry to hear you’re suffering, but glad to hear that you’re considering taking your prescription. I take mine in the mornings because for some folks, it causes sleepiness and for others, alertness! I started taking it at night, but it was keeping me awake, so I just switched to mornings and it’s been great. In my experience, the side effects are NOTHING compared to living with PPD every day. You’ll have to just try it and see what’s right for you. Blessings as you navigate this journey.
Thank you for your reply! I have two more questions if you don’t mind answering. I know each person is different but how long did it take for your to see some shifts occur? What dosage did you take? Thank You!
Oh girl, I’ve been there. First two babies back to back were not too bad. Then twins and oh man. After being induced at Children’s Hospital after planning a home birth… and then two weeks in NICU (looking back, two weeks is nothing, plus they were easily the healthiest babes there!)… home was awful. Uncomfortable family visits, personal issues, one bout of mastitis, a 2 yr who relapsed on potty training and a 3 yr old who just couldn’t do everything for her self yet (imagine that!). My husband tried to help but started school with a longer commute a few weeks later. I could go on. From the “imagine if I fell down these stupid stairs with both babies” to literally throwing my three year old on her bed… to crying to screaming into the carpet. Oh, the emotional pain. Finally got on Zoloft and did a few weeks of therapy until we moved. It took around 6-10 months to feel okay. And that was only after they could finally hold their own bottles, etc. We are in the middle of a messy move further west and I’m waiting until the day after we move in to even consider tapering off it. Sorry, I didn’t mean to share so much; I really just wanted to say good job for getting help! My husband was my key, too. I didn’t even know much about depression or PPD or PPA… but I come from a conservative background and anything not Jesus is looked down upon. I’d take medicine for pneumonia and I definitely wouldn’t skip the Zoloft now! So thankful for it and while I have friends on it still, 5-10 years after their last baby, I would prefer to go off it. I had/have ZERO side effects and I felt like my old self TWENTY FOUR hours later. I was worried it would take a month! Blah blah blah. I’ll stop now. : )
Hi there, I am childless but I have struggled with severe depression my entire life and I have been on life saving meds for almost 30 years now. I just want to reiterate — depression does lie to you — it causes the brain to start believing inaccurate, sometimes bizarre things, and they SEEM SO TRUE!! For example, your brain might say to you, “You should just die. It would be better for everyone.” This is a complete lie and the exact opposite is (99.99% of the time) true. But when a person is depressed they cannot help but think in this inaccurate way. A book that saved my life is called The Feeling Good Handbook b y Dr. Burns. It is life changing. Whether it’s postpartum or another type of depression, PLEASE seek help, just in case it might help, even if you don’t believe it! Please!