On average, 15% of women that give birth in the U.S. in a year suffer from postpartum depression. Kind Kiddo’s newest guest blogger, Trish Barrett, who lives in South Ireland with her family, shares with us her struggles with depression since the birth of her son.
I have suffered with depression now for about a year and a half, total, since my son, Charlie, was born. I have recently been struggling for about two months, and I’ve seen a big change in myself. It honestly scares me sometimes.
When I first started to feel down, I put it down to baby blues. I would start crying for no apparent reason other than I felt like crying. I was sleep deprived. I was eating so unhealthily. I was kicking myself because I wanted to breast feed, but I was so exhausted I just wanted to give up. I was a first time mam, and this is all very typical of first time mams.
As the weeks went on though, I found myself getting a little bit sadder every day. It was a vicious circle. I would feel sad and then I would feel guilty and annoyed at myself for feeling sad because I had this beautiful, healthy baby boy and I was so lucky with him. He was a champion sleeper, by the time he was 6 weeks old, he was in his own cot, in his own room, sleeping through the night. I mean, properly sleeping through the night, like from 11pm till 7am! So I thought to myself ‘get over yourself Trish, you have nothing to complain about!’ That’s just not how it works though, and it took me a little while to figure that out.
By the time January came around and Charlie was almost 4 months old, I decided enough was enough. I needed to do something for me in order to be the best I could be for little Charlie. At this stage I was feeding him twice a day myself and bottle feeding him for every other feed. I came to the decision, along with my husband, and with some advice from my doctor, to stop breast feeding altogether. I was stressing myself out way too much over it which was only slowing my milk supply. Every time I fed Charlie and he was still looking for more after 45 minutes of feeding, it broke my heart a little because I felt like that was my job…to produce the food. I had a lot of breast milk frozen considering I thought I was doing so terribly. When I eventually stopped feeding him, I still had enough breast milk to give to feed him that twice a day until he was 6 months old.
After a few weeks of bottle feeding I was still feeling sad
a lot, so back to the doctor I went. I was prescribed medication, but after taking one tablet and having another panic attack, I decided no! I needed to take control of my situation myself. This isn’t to say medication is a bad thing. For me, at that moment in time I felt I had the power inside me somewhere to overcome this depression myself, with the help of a professional. And that is exactly what I did. I started seeing a counselor once a week, and after about a month, I started to feel a real difference in myself. I had a long road ahead of me but I was seeing the road ahead which had a little bit of light at the end of it!! I also started to go to a meditation group here in Cobh. I found this so beneficial. At the beginning I did find it quite difficult to relax in there. I felt like a bit of an idiot to be honest, sitting around with my eyes closed having someone talking me through each body part and then listening to soft music with waves crashing against rocks. BUT after only a few weeks, I couldn’t not go!! I fell in love with my Wednesday night sessions, and even my husband would comment that I was floating when I would get home.
For an entire 12 months I went to therapy and to meditation and every day I would see an improvement. In the midst of all this, I starting going to Slimming World and started to lose a lot of weight that I felt had been sitting on me for years. All of the sudden it was all falling off. It was funny, because my brother went to San Diego for the summer, and I took a photo of us together before he left. On his return, I took another photo of us together, and it was amazing looking at the difference in my face. I remember I kept saying “you can see my chin again”. LOL!!
Last January, I decided that I felt strong enough to stop seeing my counselor. I felt in control, happy, compassionate and loving toward myself. I continued to go to the meditation group every Wednesday night and was finally just living, which is all I ever wanted to do.
Over the last few months, I started to stop doing all the things that I knew helped me. I could hear myself coming up with random excuses to not go to Slimming World and my meditation night. “Oh I don’t have time today”, or “I don’t have the money this week”. All this crap basically. I had been doing it for 12 months. I had the time, and I had the money. I was just making excuses. Now this didn’t all happen in the space of a week. It took about 2 months for me to realise that I wasn’t okay. At first I kept telling myself I’
m fine, I just need to do this, this and this. But I didn’t do this, this and this. So at the start of June I decided to go back to my counselor. As of right now, I do feel better. I have yet to return to my meditation group and Slimming World.
About 3 weeks ago, when we had a few days of good weather, I decided to take Charlie over to Cuskinny to go swimming. My husband came over and so did my Mam, sister and her kids. By the time we got there, it was freezing so we all decided we weren’t going to go swimming. But the longer I sat there, the more I realized I did want to go in the water. My mind took control though. I just couldn’t make myself go in. The lady, Peggy, who does the meditation group I had been going to, popped into my mind. I thought to myself, she would just tell me go on, you can do it!! (SIDE NOTE: When I first started going to Slimming World, I started running, and when I felt myself struggling to run up a hill, Peggy would pop into my mind and I would hear her say ‘Go on, you can do it’!) Just then, when in my mind, I pushed her to the side and said to myself ‘don’t be mad Trish, it’s freezing, you’ll catch a cold’, then she actually appeared! She was there to go in for her own daily swim, and sure enough she said, “Go on, you can do it!” So, I did!!! It was absolutely freezing, but after about
ten minutes, I warmed up and really enjoyed it.
Since that day, I really feel like I can get back on track. I also feel like that it’s okay that I fell off track. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I just need to take it one day at a time. I know I can do it, and I also know not to beat myself up when I don’t do it. I am my own worst enemy, and owning up to that has been the best thing I could have done.
Content and images for this blog post were provided by Trish Barrett from The Blogger Mammy.
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