Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Katherine Stone, of Postpartum Progress tells us that the number of women who suffer from PPD is higher than the number of people who sprain an ankle or suffer from a stroke EACH YEAR in America.

Despite this though, especially here in Malaysia, not many are aware of how real PPD is. Many confuse it with just Baby Blues, and assume that it will go away on its own, and from personal experience, no, it doesn't. What started out as baby blues actually pressed on to become full blown episodes that scared both my husband and I.

On the outside, I tried to be cheerful and play my part as the proud new mother. One disclaimer here is that yes, I love my baby. To bits. But I just couldn't help missing my old life. I couldn't help the slight resentment that I felt. And with that, I rarely took part in caring for her. After the first few months, I left my husband to wake up at night for her feedings, even though both of us had to work in the morning. I let him bathe her, change her, feed her even though I could do it myself. I'm not proud of the lack of interest I took in my baby, and even when it was happening, I hated myself for it.

Driving home alone from work, I'd cry in the car for no reason. I'd get moody and angry very easily and wouldn't calm down. In fact, on the first day of work, my husband and I had a huge fight on the phone while I was driving my baby to my mom's. I got hysterical and shut him off. In my head, I was going to send Hana to my mother's, safe and sound, drive off and crash the car into a wall. Luckily, sanity took over when I reached my parent's place. I ran out of the car and confessed to mama that something was wrong with me. She told me to Istighfar and think of Allah whenever I had any of these dangerous urges. If only it were that simple.

I had a few of these episodes. Each worse than the last one, each almost ending with me hurting myself. I was convinced that the PPD would go away on its own. Some days I would feel totally euphoric and I'd tell myself that it's gone. Other days, I'd wish that I never got out of bed. I struggled with work, with friends, and even with my family.

The wake up call came when one day, during one of my episodes, my husband called me a bully and told me I was abusive. That was what I had become. And I really needed to get help. A visit to the doctor for a simple case of the sniffles ended up with me in inconsolable tears, again for no apparent reason. As it turned out, my husband had already told my doctor that he thought I was suffering from PPD, so I suppose she knew what to expect in a way. Never in my life had I had a doctor actually offering and semi insisting on my taking two days of mc until that day! LOL.

She gave me a number for a psychiatrist and we went. I am now on medication for the next 9 months and on regular visits.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that PPD is very real. I've got a supportive husband but it was still bad for me. Imagine what a woman who doesn't have the support system has to go through?

A few weeks ago, a video of a woman beating up her baby went viral around the social media networks. People automatically condemned her for her actions, but I was horrified. I suspected that she suffered from PPD and wasn't lucky enough, like me, to have someone recognise it. What horrified me was the extent of what could happen should PPD remain undiagnosed.

Even for me, in the process, I almost pushed away my family, I almost lost my best friends and I also almost walked away from my beautiful daughter, the most wonderful husband in the world, and life itself.

I'm ok now. Not sure if it's due to the doctor, the meds, or simply to the wonderful people who've always been around me. Alhamdulillah, my faith has been regained and I am so much more active in my daughter's life now.

I've learnt that it's okay to feel overwhelmed, especially as a first time mom, and that it's okay to reach out, or to express my dislike for something instead of just keeping it in. I've learnt to accept that you can't change people, and you can't expect them to understand what you're going through or read your mind, and that you have to talk things out. I've learnt to accept change. And that what I went through is normal, even though it's not something society talks about.

And by actually publishing this post, I'm saying that I realise I'm not crazy, and what I went through is real. And that I want people to know and realise that it could happen to anyone and that IT'S OKAY.