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Because, Seriously, Movies Didn't Teach Me Sh*t: Adventures in Postpartum Depression

By Courtney Enlow | Miscellaneous | September 4, 2012 | Comments ()


Images_272_MollyRingwald_ForKeeps11.jpg

I'm not saying my usual state of being is sunshine sparkles and kitten shits or anything (I'm not Taylor Swift, people) but for the past five or six weeks, I have been a big pile of red-eyed sad. In the interest of full disclosure to the "you people" I've come to love over the past few years, I've decided to tell you about it.

If you're wondering how serious this is, last week, Luke Perry and Jennie Garth allegedly started real-life boning, Lindsay Lohan did all kinds of stupid shit, "Jersey Shore" got cancelled and the most heartbreaking blind item in the history of blind items was posted and I couldn't get it up to write about any of it. So you know it must be bad.

Admittedly, I didn't know much about postpartum depression. I knew what pretty much everyone knows, that hormones are dicks from hell and sometimes, shortly after giving birth, a woman can experience severe depression. While I understood all this as a vague concept, I didn't know what it was like, what to expect. Because, like a lot of people with only a cursory knowledge of certain things, I tend to count movies as research. And there just aren't a lot of movies that deal with post-partum. In movies, the credits typically roll after labor. They don't often stick around for six months after. And that's understandable. Because that would be boring. A lot of diapers and formula measurement. It's all hugely exciting to the people going through it, but I can't really picture a lot of people watching a movie of my life, where the only moments of heart-pounding drama come when I attempt to clip her nails. Seriously, have you ever clipped an infant's nails? It's like Russian roulette.

I can think of two movies that deal with postpartum: For Keeps, starring Molly Ringwald, and Three Men and a Baby. Yes, Three Men and a Baby. It's pretty easy to forget amidst all the montages, wacky misunderstandings, '80s thug drug dealers, Steve Guttenbergs, and pastel tank tops with tiny shorts, but at its core, this is a movie about a woman who cannot handle being a mother, freaks out and gives her kid to Sam Malone. But, other than that, I can't think of anything.

In fairness, I haven't been able to think of very much lately. My brain's been broken.

I have PMDD, pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. Some of you might be shocked to find out that it's not just a made up disease created to sell birth control pills (though those pills are my main source of medication and management, and you can take them when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers, Paul Ryan); it's real and it's stupid. It's essentially a major depressive or anxiety disorder that lasts one week every month until middle age. I don't know that I can accurately describe how embarrassing this condition is. It is really upsetting, as a woman, to feel like the confirmation of the myth that the monthly menstrual cycle is an illness that makes women weak, emotional and crazy. In fact, many experts still contend that it's not real, rather a cultural fabrication. Many of them are women, disgusted at the idea that a period is a disease. But, for me, it is.

Sorry, gender. I really didn't mean to. If it makes you feel better, it's not exactly a picnic for me either.

I bring this up because women who suffer from PMDD are much more prone to postpartum depression. So I knew it was probably coming. When I envisioned it, I was terrified that I'd be the kind of depressed woman that hated her baby, refusing to feed the tiny creature that I cooked in my own lady oven for nine months, potentially hurting and damaging her little body and psychologically ruining her before she could even roll over. And that was my best case scenario. Worst case, I was panicked to my very core at the idea that I could hurt her physically, snapping and doing something terrible that would be followed for months on the Nancy Grace show. Luckily, it wasn't like that at all.

When she hit three months old, I thought I was out of the woods. I'm not one to brag, but I pretty much aced the questionnaire every time I went to the doctor after she was born. And, following a pregnancy that saw its fair share of problems and hospital visits, I was gifted with an incredibly easy c-section and recovery, and a gorgeous little ladybug with a hilarious, friar-like hairline, whose neck worked right away and who started sleeping through the night at four weeks old. So, I'm very lucky. I know this.

Looking back, I feel pretty stupid for not realizing that, at that three-month birthday when I thought I'd totally dominated problem-free motherhood, I'd already been in the throes of depression for a couple weeks.

Depression is tricky. I can only speak to my own experience, which is, of course, an atypical one, occurring only one quarter of each month, then drifting away, quick as it came. But, for me, when it comes on, I never realize it until it's too late. I never *feel* depressed. I just feel...correct. When I start feeling ugly, or like everyone hates me, or like I'm going to be fired, or like I've said and done terrible things and am an awful person, or that my husband is going to leave me, I never think, "ah, yes, I am experiencing that same hormonal imbalance that has occurred on a monthly basis since I was fifteen years old. I totally anticipated this and can ignore these dangerous and inaccurate thoughts." But that never happens. Rather, it usually goes, "this is all totally true. In fact, I'm probably psychic. I should probably just start packing up my desk now." And that's how this went.

It started with my assaulting my husband with accusations. As many of you know, my husband is a recovering alcoholic with nearly two years of sobriety. He's been through a lot and he's my hero. Until I get depressed, that is, and then he's lying fuck-up who's out to destroy me. And I hate this. I hate that this happens. But usually I only feel that way for a day, then it goes away, and I've gotten really good at not accusing him of drinking every time I convince myself "he just stumbled over a word, BECAUSE HE'S SO WASTED" each month. But this was different. On a nightly basis, I'd start crying, begging him to reassure me he'd never drink again, certain that he was lying as he promised me he wouldn't, that he was not only drinking my wine/mouthwash/perfume, but also cheating on me. With whom? EVERYONE, PROBABLY. I would ask him if he thought other women were pretty, stare over his shoulder as he checked texts. "It's from his mom," I'd think. "He probably changed this new bitch's contact name to 'mom' in his phone. He's so fucking sneaky." I don't think it will shock you that this got old to him very quickly. But my husband is a very sweet, patient person (and I can tell you right now that he has the patience of a goddamn saint) so he attempted to politely ignore my crazy. What got to him wasn't how I talked to him. Nor was it my frequent nightly visits to our daughter's bedroom to watch her chest rise and fall while I hysterically Googled SIDS and cried in her rocking chair, for that matter. It was how I talked to myself.

I don't want to blow your minds. But, despite celebrity voodoo trickery making it appear otherwise, it takes many women a fair amount of time to lose their baby weight and regain some semblance of self-perceived attractiveness. I know this. This is pure logic and a rudimentary understanding of the human body, particularly following major surgery where I had a person removed from my uterus. And, yet, I've cried every single morning for the past six weeks. Because I'm an enormous fatty McPiggenstein, you see. I'm disgusting and should be thin, and I've got this flabby stomach, and why do I even bother going out in public, and I might as well just fucking die already.

I'm not joking or doing a bit. These are all real things I've said to myself in the mirror on a daily basis. Because I weigh, like, thirteen pounds more than I did before I got pregnant.

This is not normal thinking. It's certainly not healthy thinking. And, yet, it genuinely did not occur to me that anything was wrong with me. Certainly not anything a private investigator, secret breathalyzer or personal trainer/diet consisting solely of water, cigarettes and bits of toilet paper couldn't cure. And I don't know what made me finally think otherwise. All I know is that one morning before work, I was sobbing hysterically again because my pants still don't fit and I'm still wearing maternity pants (because to buy a bigger size would be giving in) and when I got to the office, I texted my husband to say, "I think I might have PPD." He had the goodly restraint to not respond, "NO SHIT."

So, now, I'm getting better. It will take some time and some fancy pills, but I'll get there. I don't like this. I don't want to *be* like this. And, hopefully soon, I won't be.

Because, really, Lindsay Lohan needs me. I can't let her down again.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • I'm always late getting to these because of my work schedule but I just wanted to drop in and say that the more we talk about all kinds of depression, the more we do to combat it. Seriously.

    As one of my best friends says about almost anything that goes wrong "We'll love you through it."

  • jimbo

    Very good analysis, I can't wait for your Menopause. I hope I am still alive to read it.

  • Bodhi

    I gave birth to my son & moved across the country & in with my in-laws 6 weeks later. More than a year later we are still here &, while I am in a better place than I was when we 1st got here, I still have almost weekly breakdowns. It doesn't help that my husband goes to school full time AND works full-time & I therefore spend more time with his parents than I do with him. And I generally resent the hell out of him for it. And how do I deal with it? I stay up too late & drink entirely too much, which has given me some serious GI issues & landed me in the ER on Monday night. I love my son more than life itself, but I ask myself daily how much better it would be if we had waited to have him. I know that I have some serious issues, but I'm not really sure how to get on the stick & deal with them. I have some friends here, but no one good enough to spill all this shit too. And I sure as hell can't tell my in-laws; they already think that I'm a slack mom.

    All this unloading to say: good on ya for recognizing your issues & talking about them. Talking this shit out is the best way to deal with it, which is something I wish I'd realized sooner. I wish that I'd gotten the help I needed a year ago,

    PS: 13 lbs ain't shit, I've got 40 to go. Yet another reason to back off the booze

  • Bodhi

    I don't mean to denigrate your body image issues & I apologize if that came out a bitchy as I think it did.

  • Anonymous

    I didn't have full-blown PPD, but I did find new motherhood to be completely overwhelming. At one point I thought that I couldn't possibly be a good mother to my newborn, and that maybe I should drop her off at the fire station so someone else could take care of her, because clearly I wasn't fit to give her what she needs. The only reason that I didn't was that I knew my husband would never forgive me if I gave away our daughter, even if it was the best thing for her.

    And the way I felt was bullshit, and the fault of exhaustion and the ragged edge of depression. It must be so much worse to have the real thing. But please know that for everyone who gasps and exclaims in horror, there are far more of us who know exactly what you're talking about.

    By the way, months later I told my husband about the time I almost gave away our baby. And he said, "I know how bad you felt. But you were wrong, because you're exactly the mother she needs." And now that I'm past that stage, I know that he's right. I rock at being her mother. I just didn't always feel like I did.

    I have no doubt that you rock at being your baby's mother. And you know who else doesn't doubt it? Your baby, whose opinion matters a hell of a lot more than mine.

    Hang in there.

  • Thank you for talking about this in a public forum. More people need to discuss their struggles with mental health issues, in the hopes that one day it won't be so stigmatized. I suffer from garden variety depression and I have for most of my post-adolescent life. I'm currently on medication for it, and have been seeing a psychologist for two and a half years, on and off, which really helped me sort through my baggage from childhood. Because of these things, I met a guy I liked, we are newly married, and I ended up moving to a new city to be with him. This caused me to backslide into a depression. I will be dealing with this issue for the rest of my life, but I now know that things can, and do, get better.

  • kbrick

    Oh, and one of the best pieces of advice I ever got: bite off the kids' nails! It totally sounds primitive and super gross but I almost had heart attacks every time I took scissors or nail clippers to those teeny tiny fingers. Your mouth is super sensitive and can handle the delicate nails without causing any harm.

  • Julesie

    First time posting a comment on here (or any website for that matter). This really touched me. How brave you are to write this for all of the women out there who are afraid to speak out about these issues. I have so many friends who pretended to be fine after their pregnancies and it was only after a bottle of wine and a long dinner that they felt comfortable talking about their PPD. I applaud your candidness and your bravery. Thank you a million times over.

  • kbrick

    Courtney, just talking through it and getting it out there is a great step in the right direction. Good on you.

    This sucks, I hear you. I was diagnosed with PPA (anxiety, not depression, though I think I had some depression thrown in there too) a few months after having my son. I was completely NOT myself, and having never suffered from depression or anything before, I had no idea how to handle it. I cried constantly, felt a completely psychotic need to control my environment (which led to hyper-crazy-cleaning the house OCD style and biting my husband's head off every time he didn't comply with my demands). I couldn't enjoy being a mother because I was always on edge and worrying about EVERYTHING, and I also developed a hardcore case of insomnia that lasted for about 7 months.

    I went to a counselor after a couple of months, and began to get a little better, although I still wasn't feeling like myself. My counselor talked to me about getting on zoloft for the anxiety but I was breastfeeding and terrified about the drugs hurting my son. And for some reason, I felt like I completely failed as a mother if I wasn't breastfeeding for at least 8 months (I had lots of self-inflicted 'fail as a mother' rules like this).

    FINALLY, when my son was about 6-7 months, and I still wasn't feeling like myself despite therapy, I agreed to go on the zoloft (I was weaning my son anyway). Within a month I just felt like *me* again for the first time since he was born. I was able to sleep and was actually enjoying my son fully for probably the first time.

    Now my son is 16 months,and I am doing great, loving being a mom, and am actually pregnant again. I stopped taking zoloft when I got pregnant and I've been fine without it.

    So many women I talk to with PPD and PPA have inspiring stories to tell, but, some advice I would give you is DO NOT read stories online too much because guess what? It's mostly women STILL SUFFERING from these issues that post online. If you want to talk to women who have gotten through it and are enjoying life on the other side of depression, talk to friends and family - - you would be shocked at how many women go through this. Once I started talking about my experience, the floodgates opened and I had so many friends who I'd never suspected had these issues confide in me about their struggles. OR, specifically seek out women online who are through it and beat it. I went on the support boards, etc., when I was in the midst of my anxiety and BELIEVE ME, it did not help to see things like "I HAVE BEEN LIKE THIS FOR FOUR YEARS" or "I am never having another baby again!!!" or "It's getting worse - - now I can't leave the apartment without having anxiety attacks!". Those are a lot of the comments you will get and if you're like me, they just make you feel like your situation is impossible and you'll never get better and maybe even get worse.

    So you know, this is not impossible, it is VERY common, you WILL get through it, trust me! Just talk about it as much as you can, maybe see a counselor, and most of all, do not stop yourself from getting any sort of assistance or help out of pride or because you feel like you wouldn't be a good mother if you did or didn't do X Y or Z. You don't have to breastfeed for 8 months or a year, you CAN leave the baby with parents for a night to get some sleep, you CAN spring for a babysitter so you can go to a counselor or the gym or yoga or whatever makes you feel better, you CAN experiment with parenting methods and techniques (one size does not fit all, and the cry it out method or co-sleeping or WHATEVER will not kill your baby), you CAN justifiably get away with friends or your husband for a night sans baby if it makes you feel like more of a person again. Do whatever you can to get yourself back on the right track, because then your kick-ass parenting skills will start to really shine! You can't parent when you're not taking care of yourself adequately. That's my advice, and when #2 pops out next year, I am going to be ready to deal with any PP issues that arise by practicing what I preach!

    Good luck and please know you'll be on the other side soon enough! You WILL enjoy being a mother at some point and you'll feel like a normal, functioning person again! Promise! Just hang in there and tell yourself about 100000000 times a day that even if you don't do every single thing perfect 100% of the time, YOU WON'T KILL YOUR BABY! (seriously, I used to have to try to breathe deep and repeat "I am a perfectly capable mother and I am not going to kill this baby" when I would start to freak out about doing something 'wrong'). You'll get it, and then you'll get why it truly is the most wonderful blessing life has to offer. GOOD LUCK!

  • Scratch McGee

    I come here for the movie news and reviews, but it's a piece like this that makes me feel such a kinship for this place and a profound gratitude to those who will so compellingly bare their frailties to strangers. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things, but I've always been partial to sharing, to shouting from the mountaintops- if not to feel better, to at least yell "I AM HERE, I'M GOING THROUGH SOMETHING, PLEASE HOLD MY DAMN HAND!"

    I haven't had kids yet but I would like to, and the thought of PPD lurks in a dark corner of my mind- of which there's a few. So thank you for writing this, for starting the conversation, and I wish you the very, very best- I can only believe in sunnier days, so I know there's many ahead for you.

  • B.

    I don't have postpartum depression, but I do have PMDD. It exists at that terrible intersection between women's health and mental health issues, and it doesn't help that it's an intangible, difficult to diagnose condition, and that it's so easy to dismiss as 'bitches be crazy'. I sweartogod, if my father tells me to cheer up one more goddamn time.....

    Your article. Yes.

  • Snath

    This really hit me in an emotionally tender area. After our second child was born, my wife completely changed. She'd fought a battle with depression and anxiety her whole life, and had it somewhat under control, even after the birth of our first child. Then, it all went to hell. She was diagnosed with postpartum depression about three months after our son was born, but had been obviously under some extreme mental torture for a while longer than that.

    She was mentally and sometimes physically unable to care for our new baby, so it fell almost completely onto me. I had taken a few weeks of FMLA right after he was born, but I burned through the remaining nine or so in a row almost right away.

    That was...a rough time. Old-timers here and on Facebook might remember how bad it was. I'm lucky we all made it through, I think. Well actually my ex really didn't...but she was never much of a stable person to begin with, like I said. She kind of cracked after that even more than before. Thankfully now the kids and I are pretty much on our own. Hurray for happy endings!

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I second (third, fourth, etc) the suggestions to find a post-partum group. I sat and cried and cried and nursed and cried and nursed until I thought the kid was going to hit spinal fluid and there would be nothing left of me. There's no way for the human body, spirit, or heart to hold everything you feel after having a baby.

    The group I went to was run by the hospital where I had the boy, through the lactation people (I wish there was a better word for that). I can't tell you how much it helped me - just being around other people. I saw the moms who had 6-month old kids, and thought they were the smartest people I had ever met. I mean, the kid was still alive after 6 months!

    The good news is, like everyone says, it does get better. It even gets easier a little bit at a time. Each age has its own challenges, of course. Soon enough you'll be wishing for the days when she was portable and couldn't sass you. And those days come so much faster than any of us likes.

    Enjoy your little one, and remember you've got all of these people on your side, even if you don't know our real names.

  • McSquish

    I haven't read through the other comments yet, but I just want to say that I've been there, and it took me 4 years and another child to realize it. I push all my misery down and present a good face to the world, so no one else realized what I was going through either. It took breaking down completely, wandering the mall with 2 small children, sobbing and completely broken but unable to leave because it all just seemed so pointless and impossible, for me to realize that I needed help. After finding a therapist and some amazing medication (that you can pry from my cold, dead hands), I realized that I'd been unbelievably depressed since right after my en 4 year old was born.

  • Alarmjaguar

    Hugs!

  • missmelis

    Oh Courtney! In reading all your posts I took particular delight in the snarky pregnancy bits since I was also pregnant and also felt snarky towards much of the 'industry'.
    Once I had my baby boy, I did nothing but cry and cry and cry and wonder when those feelings of bliss would arrive, since that is what I was 'supposed' to feel. I obsessively asked all of nmy mom friends if they had had the baby blues, and if they did, when did it go away? Because that's all this was, right? Just baby blues?!? I can't have PPD, not me please not me there's something wrong with meeeeeeeee!
    And that's the thing that makes it so hard - feeling like you are the only one in the world that feels like this, and that 'this is my life now, what did I DO'...and that no one talks about it.
    The big difference maker for me was a post-partum support group. As some of the other ladies have stated - normalizing and knowing you aren't alone can make a HUGE difference. That, and medication (at least for me). The meds aren't a magic answer, they just put me on level ground so I could see clearly.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It takes balls to admit it in such a public forum and you have done a huge service - there are lots of women out there who will read this and see themselves.

    I echo the others - it does get better.
    You are awesome.

  • Becky

    Delurking to say - I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this. And thank you for sharing. I was the depressed woman who hated my baby. Everybody would say - isn't it wonderful being a mom? And I would respond - yes, wonderful while thinking I hate it I hate it I hate it. It got better. With time, and meds and a post partum support group (if there is one in your area and you're not already going to it I would *highly* recommend it. It helps so much to talk to other people going through the same thing). Good luck!

  • I_Sell_Books

    Yeah, it's a bitch. I love how the nurses all say "You might experience the Baby Blues" while failing to mention that the "Baby Blues" are more like a freight train coming at high speed while you're tied to the tracks with no hero in sight. And I didn't even experience PPD or Post-Partum Psychosis (I have a friend who did, and it was bad, and she's never going to have another child).

    I did, however, have two random thoughts that scared the crap out of me so much I had to leave the room. I watched my 2 month old son's eyes change from blue to gray and in my head I literally heard "He's evil" and then "Maybe he should die".

    Yeah. And that was just the 'normal' crap. Good luck to you, and thank you for sharing, Too many women believe it's all in their heads.

  • katethegreat

    Oh holy fucksticks, Courtney. You just put depression into words so goddamned well. There aren't enough curse words to emphasize the emphaticness of my agreement. Hang in there. Thanks for sharing

  • Samantha

    I enjoyed reading your honest post. Although I didn't have PPD, I wasn't exactly thrilled when my daughter was born. I didn't connect immediately with her. It took a while. Newborns aren't my thing I guess. She is now 18 months and I love her to bits. It does get better (in some ways and worse in others). Parenthood is truly a challenge. It is not easy. I hope you get the help you need.

  • vdub

    Thank you. Thank you so much for writing this. I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant with our first child and I have a history of depression. This whole time, I've been trying to mentally prepare myself for all the stuff that's gonna come after the birth - I suppose I should be glad that I've had to say, "I need help" so many times that maybe it won't be too tough if I need to do it again. I admire you and wish you all the best. Seriously, you're a damn good mom by taking care of yourself.

  • stardust

    Love and hugs and drugs. Thank you so much for sharing, Courtney. I thankfully didn't have any issues with PPD, but I kept a close eye on myself because I was terrified of having to deal with one more thing on top of being a new parent. Since my daughter was born in the middle of winter, I had a lot of hard days. It seemed that as soon as she was up and awake the moon was chasing the sun down over the horizon. Winter blues are not a good thing for a new parent. I purposely sought out many articles on how awesome new motherhood is while not being happy sunshiny joy every second of every day. It helped my outlook immensely.

    You're a tough lady. You'll get through this and all of your friends have your back. I also have my bitch-cutting knife at the ready, just in case I run into that lying slag PPD in a dark alley.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    Stay strong Courtney. If I've managed to get mine to double digits (one teen and one tween now), you'll do fine. We've got your back.

  • I've not had kids yet, but I understand depression. And it bothers me to think that there are people who still don't think PPD is real. Thank you for writing this and sharing your experience - whether you meant to or not, you've given a voice to those who've suffered like you.

    Days like this I'm honored to be a part of the Eloquent community.

  • Isthatyourumma

    It's a culture thing on my end, but I couldn't express to anyone but my fiance what was happening. Every night I would have a full on anxiety attack that I was going to die in my sleep. I would fight with all my might to stay up until I was so exhausted that I just passed out against my will. This lasted for the entire first year.
    He's 15 months now, but I still have bad days. Whenever I have to leave him, I have to tell myself I'm not going to get into a car accident and die. Something deep inside has me convinced that I'm going to die suddenly and leave him all alone.
    It's pretty much a cultural taboo to talk about this. You're just told to stop being so sensitive, or to stop being crazy. Can't bring up going to a therapist, because unless I flat out lie about where I'm going? Nobody will babysit.

    Thank you for putting your story out there. It makes it a little better to know that I'm not alone, and prompting so many others to tell their story too.

  • MissAmynae

    Firstly- Thank you for sharing your story. Obviously from the comments on here you've touched many, and that feeling of community is a powerful weapon against mental illness. I'm a depressive Bipolar II with ADD and early fibromyalgia. I likely will not be able to bear my own children because of lady-parts issues. It fucking sucks, but knowing that there are other people out there living with the same things I am makes it seem like the planet isn't out to get just me. And hubby is on board with adopting a little one when its time for that.
    Secondly- Know that we love you and are here for you. I don't think there's a single person who read this story who wouldn't give you a huge smile and genuine bone-crushing bear hug if we met on the street. If you're not the hugging type, too bad, you're getting one and you'll like it dammit. I'm from the South- we hug whether you like it or not. And drink sweet tea.
    Anyway, Court- take your meds, keep talking to your doctor, take care of yourself first- then the family, and put your trust in the belief that you can control this, and that its okay to freak out a little every now and then. Say it every day "I AM frakking beautiful," and if you need confirmation- just look into your baby's eyes.

    Love you honey. We got your back.

  • Lasagna

    That you had the courage to write a beautiful article about this makes me think you'll have the ability to get through it. Best of luck, Courtney.

  • Return of Santitas

    As a fellow sufferer of mental illness can I just say that you have captured the essence of the experience--how slippery it is when your own mind is betraying you. And thank you for writing this, and I wish you the best of health as you recover and go forward. And also to Dustin and Pajiba in general, thank you for running this fucking awesome site. I no longer regret turning off my adblocker and hearing "I am Judge Dredd" or whatever 800 times in the last few days (I jest). May the Judge bring you much cash.

  • fartygirl

    Thank you for writing about this. I have been suffering from horrible PMS for years. It got worse about a year and a half ago, when I went on the pill. I went through the exact same crazy assumptions about my boyfriend. He put up with me sitting up all night, going through his phone, and staring out the window and crying hysterically for months. Then he dumped me. Now he tells everyone that I'm crazy.

    Once I went off the pill, it got better. But I still have 3 random days, each cycle, where I go crazy again.

    It really means a lot to know that this is a for real hormonal problem. I appreciate knowing that other women out there suffer from this too. Thanks so much!

  • troublesometots

    I'm so glad you had this epiphany. Because I sure as hell didn't and 2 years is a long time to miss out on life. It can take a long time to find a good therapist you can connect with and get the meds figured out but it's totally worth it. And totally awesome. Don't give up. And please don't stop 5 minutes after you feel better. There is such a stupid stigma about PPD and people want to be "done" as soon as humanly possible so the first second they feel better they're going off meds and canceling appointments. Trust me and don't make this mistake. Getting better is a process. Weaning off treatment is a process. It's all a process.

    But the good news is that you figured it out! Most of us just struggle for a year or two thinking that it's totally OK to feel this way. And what a sad waste of time that its. Parenting babies is super fun. Babies are the brightest bundle of awesome in the universe and anything that keeps you enjoying them for even a second is crap. Co-parenting with somebody great just makes the whole thing shine that much brighter. So I'm delighted that you had the courage to share your story, that you're getting help and will be feeling better soon, and that your whole family will be the brightest star in the sky.

    Best of luck with everything.
    Alexis

  • Tate

    That was an amazingly brave post. I have no experience of this myself, but from a friend who has been through it, I gather the hardest thing is recognising the problem, so I hope you are well on the way to recovery. Get well soon!

  • TheEmpress

    Thank you for another wonderful post. I'm 7 months pregnant and living far away from family and friends, so the possibility of PPD has been on my mind a lot lately, but everyone has been dismissing it/me and I end up feeling really ashamed. You're amazing for sharing your story so honestly and openly, and you're in my prayers and thoughts (if prayers aren't your thing).

    Ladies, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to support one another, especially in this wonderful, terrifying, transitional time in life. To all the new/expectant moms out there, I know we're all just trying to do our best and I'm here for you!

  • valerie

    Courtney, you've been incredibly candid lately and have shared really amazing stories about your life and past. I really respect how much courage it must take you. Anybody can tell a happy or complimentary story, but it takes real courage to let people in on something ugly happening to and by you. Hang in there and WRITE. Not necessarily to us, but in general. Write down the crazy feelings. I promise, reading them back helps. Getting perspective on what is happening to you helps and hopefully can give you a jump start on how to notice when things are going haywire. Good luck and God Bless. You're tough enough for this.

  • prairiegirl

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. You are, indeed, a brave soul for sharing this in this form but there are countless women out here who obviously appreciate you sharing your experience - letting them know they are not alone.

    While I was never diagnosed with PPD, I was definitely a hormonal basket case for weeks after my oldest daughter was born. I just cried and cried. The more I tried to hold it together, the more I cried. Similar to many you and many of the women who commented, I was afraid I was going to do something to (inadvertently) kill or harm her. Or that I was at the very least going to scar her psychologically for life by something I did or did not do. And I felt guilty that the euphoria I felt immediately following her birth did not last and thought I was a bad mother for it. I didn't want to talk to anyone expect my Mom or my sister because I didn't want them to hear or see me cry when I thought I should be elated 100% of the time. Being a parent (and especially a mother) really sucks sometimes. No one tells you that, but it is true.

    I have a friend who is experiencing some level of PPD right now and I am going to share this link with her. I agree that talking about it honestly with women who understand is so important. Thank you for opening the door for us to do so here.

    I hope each day is a little easier and that you can fully enjoy the awesome (and challenging) parts of being a mother. Big hugs to you - you are awesome!

  • BierceAmbrose

    My dear, my very dear, Courtney, my poppet, my pigsnie(*)(**),

    You are my very own personal hero.(***) I can't stop seeing you in Joan of Arc armor just now, suiting up to face the daemon head on. I pity the fool.

    You already did the hard part. ... My brain’s been broken. Quite the - pardon the expression - mind opening experience, isn't it? "Mood" in "mood disorders" kind of means the holder within which your watching and thinking part sits. All the crazy thoughts sprout like bad mushrooms, now that there's a different medium beneath, and the chatty brain won't steer right. Terrifying.

    So many people never notice, or never can bring themselves to name it. "My brain's broken." OK. Now you work with what you've got. I suspect hubby will be great help navigating this passage, since he's had to learn to manage himself. There's other help around, including me. Or, when you're up to some notes from a fellow traveler, there's a lot of poetry in this book, a first hand account of living with profound depression: http://www.noondaydemon.com/

    You'll do fine jousting with this one. You have the tools, and a ton of reasons, not least a little courtlet to nurture and warp in just the right ways.

    - Bierce

    (***) Not the only one. You are in good company.

    (**) Seems appropriate to quote uncle Screwtape.

    (*) JR won't mind.

  • ArchaeoKelly

    I’ve battled depression my entire adult life (or half of my
    life if you want to look at it that way).
    I know exactly what you mean when you say that you are depressed for a
    couple of weeks before you even realize it.
    I’m sure it sounds kind of ridiculous to people who haven’t experienced
    it, but it always seemed to hit me suddenly that I’ve been depressed for a
    while without realizing it beforehand.
    Mine was never officially linked to my period, but I think there was
    some weird connection. Two years ago I
    had a hysterectomy (total—no more ovaries for me!) to get rid of some pesky
    cancer, and now I feel like a totally different person. It didn’t happen all at once. To be honest, I don’t think I had even
    noticed that I haven’t been depressed in probably a year. Again, it’s strange to live with something
    like that—that comes and goes at strange intervals. It’s been a part of my life for so long… Hang in there. Ride the fuckwave. Let it wash over you, know that you are NOT
    alone, and pick up the pieces as you can.

  • spljt

    There's a great book called "The Female Brain" by Dr. Brizendine that helped me understand how changes in hormones changed my view of reality, making me think that I was being correct when I started hating on myself or feeling paranoid. I only came across it a few years ago, not when I really needed it. I recommend it to all people to get an idea of what kinds of things can go on in the female mind.

    When our firstborn was small, I actually contemplated getting into the car when he was napping and driving until I ran out of gas, at which time I thought I would just lie down on the seat and die. One day my hormones must have snapped back to normal and I asked myself "What what I thinking?"
    I eventually told my husband what I had gone through (of course he had not noticed a thing!) and we were on the alert with the coming of child #2. Thankfully, the depression did not repeat.

  • DrSarCaustic

    Thank you for such a brave and honest account of your illness.

    People often overlook the insidious nature of depression in all it's forms and you convey what it's like in a refreshingly honest way

  • damnitjanet

    Courtney, I am so sorry you have been thru all this. Many of us have, and nary a one of us could have put the hell, the depression, the self-loathing, the abject terror as well as you did. Hugs.

  • Sal Paradise

    Thank you. That's it, really. Just, thank you for posting this. Thank you.

  • Malin

    Wonderful post, Courtney. Thank you for being brave enough to share with us. I really want kids, but am terrified that I'll get PPD, as spent several years being treated for depression during and after my final year of University. Add to that the fact that my husband is bipolar, and occasionally has turns that freak me the heck out - and I'm not sure I should have children, it can be more than enough work to take care of my husband.

  • idiosynchronic

    When I start . . like everyone hates me, or like I’m going
    to be fired, or like I’ve said and done terrible things and am an awful
    person, or that my husband is going to leave me, I never think, “ah,
    yes, I am experiencing that same hormonal imbalance that has occurred on
    a monthly basis since I was fifteen years old. I totally anticipated
    this and can ignore these dangerous and inaccurate thoughts.” But that
    never happens. Rather, it usually goes, “this is all totally true. In
    fact, I’m probably psychic. I should probably just start packing up my
    desk now.” And that’s how this went.

    Yep, that's Big D alright. Just swap genders and make it non-hormonal, and that's what my symptoms are too.

    You got people behind you, Courtney. Some of us know what it's like, but we're all on your side.

  • Ruthie O

    Pajiba 'tis a beautiful, beautiful world.

    I read this post, and Courtney's story touched my heart. I am not yet a mother, but I plan to be someday. I have had some of my own struggles with mental health issues, so I always appreciate when people bravely share their own stories of struggle and survival.

    After I read the article, I was nervous to read the comments-- not because of what I expect from the Pajiba readership, but because of what I expect from the internet at large when women's health issues are being discussed. Turns out I had no reason to be worried. What a beautiful, caring, and compassionate community we have here. Thank you to Courtney and to all of the other women who have shared their stories here today. I am going to bookmark this post to read when I get pregnant and to send to my friends who are expecting.

  • Patty O'Green

    I recognize a lot of this anxiety. I've been snapping at hubby for weeks now over every-little-thing and I can't ever come up with a good enough "why". Maybe I need to have a talk with him (and doctor) about this.
    Thanks for helping me see myself through your story, Court. Drink some hot tea, eat some chocolate and give ladybug a kiss.

  • cj

    I haven't had the fortune of having a little one yet, but I also suffer from PMDD. It terrifies me that it will likely lead to PDD, enough to the point of not wanting children for a very long time. When I was younger, it was my mom saying "you'll be fine," or from my male relatives "you're being so hormonal right now!" It took nearly killing myself in college one very bad week to realize that maybe this wasn't exactly a normal way to live. I got help, despite no support from my family in believing this wasn't just a bad case of PMS. All I can say is that by sharing your story, you are helping so many other women and new moms out there, and helping to bust down the old beliefs about depression in women (which, sadly, many WOMEN still believe). Thank you and best of wishes to you and your sweet family.

  • Nadine

    This is an amazing read. You're incredible, you really are.

  • Moijojojo

    Our two (now 8 & 9 yo) are exactly 11 months apart, & we were living away from family & friends when we had them. I think I was certifiable for a looooong time, but finally got help & got better. I know things seem impossible for you now, but they will get better and you are not alone. I'm glad you shared & hope that everyone's sharing in response helps, too.

  • rhombus

    Thanks...

  • PDamian

    I've nothing to add, except to join my prayers and good thoughts and vibes to everyone who's already sending them your way. Take care of yourself. Seriously. Don't let taking care of the gorgeous little ladybug or the wonderful hubby get in the way of looking out for yourself as well, now more than ever.

  • cooky

    When I brought my son home from the hospital, I didn't close my eyes for an entire week because I was convinced he would choke to death as soon as I went to sleep, and I wouldn't wake up to save him. I didn't *really* sleep for a year or so. I just knew that somehow the rug would be pulled out from under my feet, and I'd find a way to inadvertently kill my child. I never thought of hurting him, yet I rarely thought of anything but how my negligence would eventually bring the demise of this tiny person I'd been put in charge of. I watched documentaries on Netflix, held him, and cried. That was my life for approximately four months. I did eventually get mostly better. It's worth noting, I think, that because women are so competitive withe each other, I'd heard a million times how happy new mothers were. How complete their lives were. How much in love they were. How this was surely the only thing they'd been put on Earth to do. I compared myself to those anecdotes, and felt even worse. It wasn't until much later that I realized most of those things were fibs at the very least. Having an infant kind of blows. I have the MOST fun with my three year old, who hasn't choked to death (yet), and who I've managed not to kill (so far). It gets better. I've lurked here for, like, a million years, so hi...this is the kind of stuff we need to be telling each other!

  • karen

    This! and I add: I wore my glasses to bed for 9-10 months because if my son
    suddenly stopped breathing I knew I wouldn’t be able to find my glasses (that I had worn for…32 years or so) and he
    would die, and then I would kill myself.

    I got through it by (don’t hate me) watching the Sly Lie
    channel for the first time since
    Farscape was cancelled…and stuck around for the end of SG1 and Sanctuary. Thank
    GOD I am too old to have kids anymore.

    Just wait until Kindergarten! Or the special hell that is 2nd grade without his best friends. Good Times!

  • Moijojojo

    Too right! Many women have their social masks so firmly in place that they don't seem to know how to share the real deal on things anymore, which can be so, so damaging to new mothers. Being there for each other in honest ways is what it's all about, and makes such a difference.

  • Jannymac

    I have seen this mask at work in the weirdest way...while doing focus groups on television viewing. The moderator would get the women talking about what they watched and enjoyed and who they watched tv with, etc. It would be all, it's just us girls kind of chatting and then about 10 mins into the groups we would start talking about them as mothers and the change in them was so fast it was like instantaneous Stepford Moms. They would even change responses that they had just given minutes ago. It wasn't isolated either...it happened in every city we did groups. So, so weird.

  • Eric Hiers

    I thought that picture was from For Keeps.

  • Maguita NYC

    Lady, you have balls of brass.

    You shared this with us, strangers, in a way that was so clear, expressive and emotional, yet devoid of all shitty medical jargon that usually makes us think of a Freudian-ass doctor nodding condescendingly, without taking anything seriously.

    Thank you for telling us your story, you have helped a lot! Who would have thought that what you were going through monthly was not just normal PMSsing, and that being assailed by all those doubts and unnatural fears are not just silly once-a-month behavior.

    Get better soon. And again, thank you!

  • Alice

    Thanks for telling your story.
    My heart goes out to you.

    It's hard to be honest with yourself about postpartum feelings. There's so much societal pressure to be the world's happiest mom EVER. So many people ask you, "Could you ever imagine being this happy?!" And I would always say yes, but feel a lot of no. Most of my feelings post-partum, were a hysterical rage-hate directed towards me husband. To me, every single thing he did was wrong, starting with his role in my delivery (which is another story).
    My little guy just turned one year old. It definitely gets better. A tactic that worked for me was surrounding myself with my mom-friends, and forcing them to tell me their real feelings on early motherhood. Typical mirroring technique, but it helped me feel like I wasn't alone at sea.
    For me, it was very similar to a grieving process. I am almost at the point of amnesia, which isn't such a bad thing really. Remembering the good things might be rewriting history, but it's MY history, and my sanity trumps the truth.

  • Katylalala

    Good for you for recognizing it and for this post. I think it's really important to get people talking about issues like this to try to make them a little less taboo in our society.

    I don't have any kids and thus have never had PPD, but I've been in the midst of Regular D for about the last two years. Good luck on your recovery, and congratulations on the new addition!

  • Patty O'Green

    I hereby dub thee MC Regular D.

  • I can't say I know exactly how you feel, because it's different for everybody, but I can relate. In my case, the depression wasn't diagnosed until my son was nearly 1 1/2. Even then, it took co-workers noticing my behavior changes and bringing it up before I realized it. Now I'm on meds, and a much happier person. I'm still not perfect (nobody is) but the ups and downs in life don't seem as steep anymore. Hang in there, it gets better :-)

  • $27019454

    Honey. O honey. I don't have any depressive issues at all, and I am here to tell you that first-baby-hormone storm is/can be a spawn from hell sent to test you in every way possible. You hang in there, hug that husband, grit your teeth and talk talk talk to your doctor. Parenthood and especially new baby-hood is FUCKING MAJOR HARD but it gets so much better (They eventually are ambulatory and can order for themselves in restaurants! Yay!!) We love you! Lindsay loves you (I have no idea why I wrote that) so hang in there.

  • $27019454

    And you eventually do get back into a bikini/your jeans and at some point they start clip[ping their own nails. I swear it.

  • $27019454

    Oh, and dibs on the book title "Breastfeeding Sucks."

  • CMooreVerdad

    I suggest "Breastfeeding Bites" as an alternative title.

  • ess

    Thanks so much for sharing! I am at home with 5 month old twins and it can get pretty crazy. I know your nail cutting woes are not the take away point of this great piece, but seriously, throwing away those stupid baby nail clippers and getting some little scissors was the best thing I did for my sanity. After drawing blood once I thought I would lose it (plus it takes forever! Not as long as a file- which I used to do- ridiculous). Trimming the nails of 20 tiny fingers and toes once a week is MUCH better now.
    http://www.amazon.com/Trim-Per...

  • demondoll

    Hang in there, Courtney. It does get better, promise-

  • Anon

    Im a frequent poster but today Im posting under a fake name because Im not half a brave as Enlow up there
    Thank you. It is incredibly brave of you to talk about this so thank you. I myself have a week out of every month were I have to remind myself that it's just because my period is due that I want to leap of Thames bridge and that everyone is out to get me would be better off if I'd never been born. Everything you said PPDD is spot on and I for one applaud you.
    It sucks that a period of all things can cause so much pain and emotional turmoil and that people don't take it seriously.
    Hang in there Courtney. We are rooting for you

  • mswas

    You hang in there too, @a30347a5c9bf6cb44fedf219d8f91059:disqus

  • LibraryChick

    My dad used to mark my mom's cycle on his desk calendar so he would remember when to be more careful with what he said. Maybe if you marked yours on the calendar whenever you're back to your usual self, it would help remind you of the temporary nature of your PMDD negative thought process.

    Also, thanks for sharing your experience. I've been on medication for almost a decade now thanks to Bipolar I. Should I ever be in a long-term relationship before my eggs are all defective, I'm not sure I could be off medication long enough to conceive a child, let alone allow him/her to gestate in a relatively stress-free environment or take care of him/her once s/he's on the outside.

    Slate.com has been running a series on prenatal depression to help bring more awareness of that situation. Perhaps they would be willing to devote equal time to the postpartum side if they knew it would help those going through the situation.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/...

  • Em Khi

    I just wanted to say thank you for your courage in sharing with us. And it does and will get better. I'm so glad that you were able to get the help you need. So many of us have been in your shoes, so you are not alone.

  • jmd

    I am so very sorry to hear of this. I am so proud of you for recognizing it and getting help. My professional hat says meds and therapy and recognizing you don't have to be SuperMom are the big part of this. My semi-lurker hat just sends you big hugs.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    My post-partum had me wanting to murder everyone except Mr. McLadybits and Pinky Jr. If you held Pinky Jr., you'd better have been prepared for the evil eye that I would foist upon you the entire time. If you looked at Pinky Jr. too long? I MIGHT CUT YOU. And this was WITH MY MEDICATION. Shit is scary.

    Also, I've told you this, Courty my love, but you look amazing and beautiful and ppd is a WHORE.

  • Melina

    I had the worst post-partum depression after I had my first son. I sat holding him in my arms all day crying. When my husband came home, I would hand off the baby and secretly cry upstairs for being such a terrible mom...and repeat for about 5 months. I was scared when I had my second son that it was going to be the same...it wasn't, it was glorious and I knew what it was like to be a happy mother of a newborn!! I'm pregnant again (I know, single handedly populating the world) and I'm scared yet again. If you need anyone to talk to about it, email me: melinalovejohnny@gmail.com . I know I'm a stranger, but there's such a weird shame thing we moms do to ourselves as if we have an option to feel better, it might be easy (easier?) to talk to a stranger.

  • Neon

    Sending support: Hang in there.

  • Rochelle

    You are not alone, hormones are a bitch and make me one too, and it is the worst when your brain turns you into someone you don't even want to know. I'll never forget how good it felt when the meds kicked in and I recognized myself again. Hope you get there soon.

  • KatSings

    Thank you for sharing this. I've never had kids, but one of my biggest fears with future child bearing is PPD, because I've suffered from anxiety and depression since I was thirteen (and been medicated on and off since). I totally get what it's like to hate yourself and mistrust everything around you for no goddamn reason and have it feel totally sane to do so, even when sometimes the back of your brain goes "Um, hey lady - this is the disease talking crazy talk." So I am going to bookmark this page when I get home, and keep it for when I have my own munchkins - that I way I know, going in, I'm not alone.

  • Belphebe

    Hang in there sweetie. I am married to a wonderful guy and he is a great dad. I realized I had PPD when I was giving our dog her morning insulin shot and I caught myself thinking about how to get away with murdering my spouse with insulin since he obviously didn't love his daughter or his wife anymore because he didn't get up early to make the coffee like he does every other day. It was a scary moment and completely out of character for me. My daughter was just about 3 months old then and she is turning 5 months old today. I wouldn't say I am ok yet, but I am getting there.

  • the other courtney

    Preach it, girl. And keep talking to your doctor.
    I promise, I SWEAR, it gets better. Sending happy/peaceful vibes your way.

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