Mom from Pennsylvania
by Lisa Madras
Have you ever had one of those really crummy days? You know the kind I’m talking about - nothing goes right from the time you crawl out of bed in the morning until you cry yourself to sleep again at night. Those are the days when you find yourself breaking down in tears over spilled milk, literally - the days you can’t handle the smallest of tasks and a minor snafu can lead to a major breakdown. Sometimes you don’t even know why.
It just happens……I’ve had a few of those in the last nine months. In fact, I had about 60 of them in a row before I realized something was really wrong and called my doctor. Loathe as I am to divulge information that I feel is truly personal, I feel somehow that the time is right for me to share my story.
The diagnosis? Postpartum depression. It’s not easy for me to publish such a private matter on our Web site.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a problem, or that I’m being treated for it. Diabetics and lactose-intolerants don’t feel the need to hide their health problems, and neither should those of us with postpartum depression. It is a hormonal imbalance, and if severe enough, needs to be corrected with medication.
I know this particular issue has its fair share of opponents, and at the risk of offending anyone, I have to wonder how it is that so many people become experts on something they’ve never experienced.
I’d love to take the next three pages to explain the medical background of this disease, but in order to get back to my point, let me sum it up simply: You can’t control the flow of a river with your mind. You can’t control disease with wishful thinking. You can’t control a hormonal imbalance by thinking happy thoughts.
If you’d still like to judge me, go ahead. Call me crazy. Say I’m weak, and that I should suck it up and tough it out. (It’s nothing I haven’t said to myself a million times.) But at the end of the day, it’s not you who misses your mother’s arms to be wrapped in because she’s too busy sobbing into the carpet. It’s not you who has to play games by yourself because your mother doesn’t trust herself not to scream at you for minor indiscretions.
No offense, but it’s not you I’m worried about. I’ve been on medication for seven months now. It’s been said that it can take up to 18 months for a woman’s hormone levels to return to normal after pregnancy. I’m anxious to discontinue the drugs to see if my body is healed yet, but I’m not rushing into anything. I’m just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and sister, I’m just happy to see anything that isn’t blurred by a haze of tears.
I still have my blue moments, but then, so does everyone. The most important thing is that my kids get to know their real mother, the one who cherishes every moment spent with them, and who has the strength, albeit with the help of a little medicine, to be the best mother she can be.
This is not an affliction that has to be suffered in silence. Trust me when I say that we owe it to ourselves and our children to look past the stigma attached to this plight by an ignorant and ill-advised society, and do what we know is right.
Right now, 400,000 women in this country are suffering from some form of postpartum depression. Are you one of them?
- Lisa Madras writes for the New Castle News