As I sat looking at the blank screen, the blinking cursor dared me to begin what I wanted to, I couldn’t help but feel more lost than ever.
The letter D glared at me. The sole letter which had been sitting on the white page for a while, waiting for more words to join it, mocked me. Today was a day I thought I would not need to think. I foolishly thought that my fingers would fly on the keyboard and not stop until my machine ran out of battery or my mind out of words. But I was wrong. Here I am, staring at the screen for the past hour, just thinking about everything I wanted to share today. Well, it has to start somewhere. So lets do this.
Dec 2015 – After being married for 3 years, we had decided to start a family. I enjoyed a smooth pregnancy with no major challenges except for the delivery which had to be through a c-sec. I delivered a healthy baby boy and nothing could have made me happier. Barring a jaundice episode which took us back to the hospital, it was all well in paradise.
Jan 2016 – My recovery had a few hiccups. My stitches got infected and the recovery took longer than usual. With determination and love in my heart – I started out on my motherhood journey, enjoying every moment with my son, documenting his every first, his every milestone, his every development. My life revolved around looking after and raising Rehaan.
June 2016 – My maternity leave had ended and I was to return to my job. But destiny had some other plans for me. People who I had been banking on, who had initially been in agreement and supported the idea of me going back to work, bailed out. Long story short – I sent in my resignation.
So here goes. This is where my tryst with Depression began.
But before I go any further. For those who are in a habit of forming a judgement on the little or no knowledge they have on depression, I do love my son. That’s all such ignorant people deserve to know. Maybe not even this much.
And for those who ask “Then why did you have a baby?” My PPD (postpartum depression) has nothing to do with my baby. Sometimes, you don’t know what hits you until it does. If given a chance to go back in time, I would do it all over again. Just better equipped, a lot more prepared and with a hell lot of fewer expectations.
Back to June 2016 and the months that ensued.
I had by then been working for over 15 years. Fiercely independent, extremely ambitious and financially stable. Now all of a sudden, I had all of that taken away. Day after day, I felt trapped, suffocated. On the outwards, to most of the people, I was perfectly fine, maybe an exhausted new mother, but otherwise fine. It wasn’t as much about the career as it was about being confined within those four walls. Barring the mornings and late evenings, I was pretty much alone with my son. As a mother, I was succeeding tremendously. But as an individual, I was failing miserably. Even after months. I was not able to “accept” this new way of life. I felt caged. I felt heavy. I felt this inexplicable amount of sadness inside. To escape these feelings, I immersed myself deeper into looking after my son, playing with him, setting up activities, decking up his room, etc. The outcome was a tired body but an exhausted mind. Which didn’t help by-the-way.
For a while, I managed to keep up the facade, the pretences. I never let the gloom shadow my son. But the darkness engulfed me bit by bit. There were days when I would lock my room, sit in the farthest corner, where my son could not hear me and bawl my eyes out. There were moments I thought I would lose my sanity. There were times when I would shut myself in the hazy maze of my emotions unable to talk to anyone. There were days when I wanted to give up, give up on trying to feel better. There were days when all I wanted to do was run away. But the only reason I stayed put and sane was my son, my family.
I started drowning. I didn’t want to go anywhere, meet anyone. But apprearances had to be kept up with. My friends slowly drifted away. It was then I found support in a group of fellow moms. They understood without being judgemental. Be it day or night, they were there. They helped me pull through. My husband took a while to understand just how severe my PPD was becoming. But when he did, he stood by me, with me, rock solid. My Mom and my sister always just a call away. Cheering me up, making sure I wasn’t ever alone.
Depression is a dark place to be. PPD is worse. Insomnia, lack of appetite, intense mood swings, and sometimes even difficulty bonding with the baby. The more severe cases can lead to self-harm or harm to the baby. Fortunately for me, my son has been my ray of light and in a way, he helped me fight it. He is the one who kept me going.
People misunderstand Depression. They confuse it with mood swings or PMS. They assume it’s a phase. Or in case of PPD = a case of baby blues. Well, it isn’t.
I’ve been told things like “you’re not the only one who’s given birth”. True. I am not the only one. But I am the one struggling and battling it. I’ve been “assured”, you will be fine. Well, clearly I am not and unless you are God granting me a miraculous gift, I won’t be fine just because you said so.
Left untreated, PPDepression can lead to serious consequences ranging from the inability to bond with the baby to chronic depressive disorder to relationship problems. But there are treatments (including but not limited to) therapy, counselling, antidepressants and self-care.
Fortunately for me, I found support. A little late, but none-the-less. Not everyone is so lucky. One out of seven women suffer from PPD. And more often than not its ignored.
If you are suffering, seek help. Do not isolate yourself, that will only aggravate it further. Talk to people you trust. Let it out. Go to a therapist. Join yoga. Meditate. Go for walks. Take action.
Next time you see an over-exhausted mom or notice any of the symptoms shared, talk to her. Let her know its ok to seek help. That yes, it’s not a good place to be, but there’s a way out. That she’s not alone. You are right there, walking step by step, with her.