How I Battled With Postpartum Depression
My journey of motherhood did not start with daisies and butterflies. I did not start my motherhood journey happy and bright. It was far from that...In fact, it was dark, lonely, scary, miserable and uncertain.
I felt alienated and ashamed that I really miss my carefree life before the baby arrived. How could that be? Everybody told me how lucky I was to conceive the moment I got married while many “tried” for so long to have the baby.
I was crying on the first day after my baby was born and the nurse asked me why do I cry? I battled with the overwhelming thought of being a new mum. I felt inadequate, not good enough. I did not know how to handle this huge responsibility that suddenly put in front of me.
And the guilt! The guilt that we self-impose and that society imposes on us is overwhelming. The guilt that I might not have enough breast milk for my baby’s growth. I was exhausted and severely sleep deprived due to the night feedings. It doesn’t help that my baby had colic for 3 month while I was all alone at home dealing with her cries. It didn't help that my husband couldn't take leave to accompany me as he was new on his job and he didn't get any leave because he was a contract employee at that time.
I lashed out at my husband. I resented him for leaving me all alone at home facing crying baby. I lost temper to him over the most trivia things that other people would not even get worked out about. I harbor a lot of negative energy inside my heart and sometimes lashing it out is the only thing I can do to get it all out.
To all those mothers out there experiencing some of these same feelings: you are not alone, and you are not a bad mother. You will not be judged, only loved. It happen so much more often than we realize.
If you worry that you do not have enough breast milk, supplement with formula if needed. Your baby will be just as perfect and healthy with or without the breast milk. Having more breast milk is not worth sacrificing your mental health or possibly your life.
I canceled plans that I actually wanted to go. I felt so fearful to step out from the door with the crying baby. This is a woman who travel around the world alone on business trip. And I was crippled with the just the though of stepping out from the door. I just wanted to be alone.
I cried for no reason. Sometime I woke up with the tears rolling out on my face. And I think to myself, why am I sad? Why am I crying? I should be happy!! I just had the most adorable baby that everyone is envy about.
I make my life looks perfect from the outside. I don't want anyone to worry about me, so I tried hardest to tell them that I was fine. I post smiling and cute family and baby picture on the facebook so that I don't need to be asked "are you depressed?"
The truth can be so hard to speak, especially when you feel your truth is shameful. There is nothing shameful about Postpartum Depression. The adjustment to a new way of life as a new mother, added to the raging hormones, can be brutal weight to bear. It is a weight that never should be carried alone.
Help is out there in many forms if we just seek it: loving friends, supportive husbands, counselors, support groups, and medication. There were so much stigma about depression, whatever the cause of it. Most of us didn’t want to admit we suffered from it and seek for help. We suffered in silence.
I was lucky enough I seek help from my extremely loving and supportive husband. My sister took 2 months unpaid leave and fly over to be with me. She helped to settle many things that I couldn't even lift my finger to; such as extended my passport validity to the embassy. I told my good friend in Korea that I worried I didn't have enough breast milk and she immediately sent me a big box of korean baby milk formula and some korean ginseng for me to nourish my body. It was the most touching support that I received during those time. Thank you Eun Sook for your biggest support during my darkest period. And I have a good supportive friend who told me that her children grew up well and healthy even though she only use milk formula.
Although I still fully breastfed her till 1.5 years old. But all these comfort from friends and family help me so much to get out from the guilt and feeling ashamed that I wasn't good enough as a mother.
But how many of us suffered in silence? How many mothers lost the battled with this? And if you meet a new mother, please please make sure you ask how is the mother. Give them encouraging and comforting words. They don't need more advise. Sometime they had enough criticism from parent or in law on how should they do it better. All they need is encouraging words and support. Support them to have healthy habit, have enough sleep. Eat their breakfast and all their meals, drink enough water, think positively, go out with friends. It is not so much about the baby. It's about the mother's well being.
For any mother who suffer this devastating illness, know that you are not alone. You are stronger than you think. Please seek help and reach out to whoever who can help you. Depression is an illness. It is not your fault. IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT!