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To My Friends With Postpartum Depression, From a Mom Who Doesn't Have It

Photograph by Twenty20

I was walking my 7-day-old son around our picturesque town one autumn afternoon. It was my one-year wedding anniversary and a bit too warm to feel like fall. The leaves were dancing around me as my baby slept. We had gotten pregnant on the first try. My delivery was smooth. My baby was healthy, perfect even. I walked out of the hospital 48 hours after giving birth with everything I thought I would: a new baby boy, a mama bear instinct and a love that was all-encompassing.

So why was I longing for my life before him? Why was I so nostalgic for my wedding day? Why did I miss being pregnant? What was this angst? How could I feel all those things yet simultaneously love him with so much fierceness?

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I would lay in bed at night filled with anxiety and fear, worried someone would come in and harm him. Was this normal? It sure didn't feel like my kind of normal. Did I have postpartum depression?

I talked to my doctor who told me I had the baby blues, yes, but postpartum depression was debilitating, it was worse, it was a nightmare. And although PPD is not a "one size fits all" illness, after talking, we were both confident I was fine—as fine as you can be while feeling a bit melancholy while taking care of a helpless human being.

Everyone needs to feel worthy, to feel safe, to feel capable, and we all need to do whatever it takes to get us there.

And so, when I learned a dear friend was suffering, then another, and another, I honestly could not fathom how they were feeling. What I went through, while pretty common (approximately 70 to 80 percent of women suffer from the baby blues after giving birth according to the American Pregnancy Association) was hard enough. To go through something even more crippling was beyond anything I could imagine. I wanted to fix it for them, but I couldn't.

The only thing we can offer these amazing women who are suffering is our support, words and presence.

So if you are struggling, I want you to know you need to talk about it and keep talking about it until you get the help you need. I want you to share your suffering in places you can get support.

I know you feel like you are underwater, trying desperately to catch a breath. You need to come up for air and get behind the way you are feeling, but you can't.

Everyone needs to feel worthy, to feel safe, to feel capable, and we all need to do whatever it takes to get us there.

So call your doctor, ask someone you trust to take your kids for the day, book sometime away just for you, call a therapist, quit your job or go back to work, tell more people to fuck off, ask for more help, sob in your parked car in the driveway, write all your feelings down—just do what you need.

Because we need you to feel right again. Your family wants you to be OK, but most importantly, I know you desperately want to return to some sense of normalcy. You need to recognize yourself again.

Don't wait and see what happens. Don't keep telling yourself you don't need help or medication. Nobody should fuck around with depression or their mental well-being.

People who judge you, shame you or try tell you the problem will be fixed with yoga and better eating habits have a lack of understanding because they have never been where you are. You don't have to listen to those people.

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You listen to you. You know what is best. You know if the way you are feeling can be cured by getting a few hours of alone time, or if you are so deep in something that is scaring the shit out of you. Only you know that.

You are deserving, so keep talking and keep asking until you get what you need. And believe you are strong because you are doing the hard work to get better.

You can call Postpartum Support International to find a support group near you at 1-800-944-4773 or visit their website.

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