In the spirit of helping other mothers, Carrie has shared her experience in the following interview. I would also like to say I have witnessed her healing as I attended her child's birthday party one month ago and saw a mother who was free, spirited and able to adjust her sail as the the gail force winds tried to destroy her perfectly planned picnic. She did not stress, or falter...only laugh. The laugh that told me this was just another day in the life of a mother.
Thank you Carrie, for your friendship, I am so proud to be your friend!
Thank you for choosing to share your story Carrie, why do you think it is so important?
Sharing my story is important for two reasons. The first reason, being to help others; telling mothers or soon to be mothers of all the good, bad, and ugly truths about Postpartum Depression (PPD) may help them recognize the signs and the different ways to deal with it. The second reason is to help myself. Sharing my story gives me a sense of relief. I know, now, that I was not alone. I can help to change the perception of how others see this disease! This is empowering!
What were your symptoms like?
I had suffered with severe depression during my pregnancy. At the beginning the symptoms were fatigue, lack of energy, uncontrollable crying spells, feelings of guilt and suicide. I had run my car into a pole hoping for the worst to happen so my child would never be born and never have to have me as a mother. After I had delivered my baby I had feelings of guilt, anxiety, irritability and fatigue. I felt like I couldn’t cry, I had distanced myself from everyone around me; I never felt that bond or "love" that a mother should have for her child. I had visions of throwing my son down the stairs. I also had dreams of crashing my car and killing us both. Those are only a few visions, but the most memorable.
How long did you suffer before seeking help?
I had been in counseling for months before the birth. After the delivery, I attended the Postpartum Support Group at the YMCA.
What did you do in order to get help and why do you think it was so important for your family?
Other than the counseling, I took anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medication. I believe it was important for me and my family so I could regain my confidence to be a mother and experience that feeling of love. My sister stepped in to support me and raised my son for eight months during his first year of life. It took a lot of family, friends and counseling to feel ready to be a mother.
What proactive steps did you take with your second pregnancy that was different from your first knowing more about Postpartum Depression?
The steps I took with my second pregnancy started as soon as I had received the positive test result. I had started on new medication, sought counseling, talked a lot about my fears and hopes about having another child. After I had my daughter, I continued with everything as well as took time out for myself to do activities I really enjoyed.
What lessons have your learned from your healing that are positive for your family?
The first lesson and the most important one that I learned was that having PPD was not my fault. I have learned that you can’t change the past but you can make a new beginning! I always felt like I owed my child everything and felt guilty for what I had done. Healing helped me to understand that my love for him was enough; I didn’t have to prove myself. He was a baby and loved me no matter what.
How has this experience helped you in other aspects of your life?
The experience has helped me to believe in myself. No matter what goes wrong or how hard life gets I can get through it. Positive thinking, love, family and friends are all a person needs to overcome anything!
What words of encouragement can you offer for mothers who are suffering right now?
You are not alone!! Talk to someone. Understand it is not your fault. Believe in yourself. Being a mother is the most wonderful gift.