Interview: Postpartum Depression

Today I had the joy of speaking with Sue, a caring and compassionate mother of three. Sue was willing to share with me her experience with postpartum depression, and was very open and honest with the trials that she faced during this difficult time in her life. It is my prayer that this interview will open your heart to women who have suffered through postpartum depression, and perhaps even give someone else out there hope who is dealing with a similar situation. I know for myself, that I have realized that my perception of postpartum depression was all wrong. It's a joy to share this story of such an amazing and strong woman with you.

Thank you Sue for being such an amazing friend, and more importantly a wonderful mom-in-law (oh yeah -- Sue is my husband's mommy!)

When did you first experience postpartum depression (PPD)? When my daughter Allie was born, about three months after. She was my third child. I had stopped breast-feeding abruptly, which I feel was a big mistake. I think it's better to wean the baby off.
What did it feel like to have PPD (what symptoms did you experience)? I felt numb. It was so sudden. I felt totally in despair. At the time I wanted to be hospitalized, because I was so scared. I had horrible thoughts, about hurting my baby, or myself. I felt extremely alone. I also felt terribly guilty. I had a loving husband, and three beautiful children. I was depressed because I had a child, it was almost an oxymoron.
Did you seek medical care? If so, what kind of treatment did you receive?
Yes I did. At first, I was given sleeping pills because I had severe insomnia. Afterwards, I was sent to a psychiatrist and put on anti-depressants, which literally saved my life. With the anti-depressants, it took a few weeks to feel better. But, after a few weeks I finally started to have hope again.
How did your depression affect the relationship that you had with your children?
My two sons were 3 and 4 at the time, and I was home with them, so I think they seemed okay about it. If I felt tired, I would just lay down while they played, or cuddle with them. As they got older, I would explain to them and be very honest about my experience. My daughter was just a baby at the time, but as she has grown I have also shared with her.
Who was most supportive of you while you were dealing with PPD? What can friends or family do to help others dealing with PPD?
My husband, Kevin. He was the most supportive. For about three months he would get up during the night to feed our daughter. His parents as well were very supportive. If you know someone with PPD, go over and help them practically. Offer to watch their baby. Help them with housework, or bring them a meal. Give them encouraging words. Don't make them feel guilty, don't tell them to snap out of it. Depression is a lot more complicated, and there is no simple solution.
Did you feel stigmatized at all? Were there people in your life that judged you as a woman and a parent?
Yes, people would always try to give me simple solutions. I think people are just ignorant about postpartum depression. People would say that I don't need to be on anti-depressents, or just to get over it. You don't tell someone to get over diabetes, or cancer. It's an illness, but not everybody understands that, or treats it as one.
Do you feel like a stronger woman now that you have overcome PPD? If yes, how so?
I feel like I'm more of a compassionate woman. If that means strength, awesome. I feel less judgemental, especially of mental illness. I feel extremely humbled. I feel blessed...to be well again. 

What is the blessing that came out of PPD?
It brought me on my knees, to realize how fragile we are. That we should be thankful every minute of the day. I realized that finally getting better, I was healthier than I had ever been. I also realized that I had probably struggled with depression since I was a young adult, and by hitting rock bottom I had finally gotten better. I haven't arrived. Life is still a journey. I still fear depression. I realize that I'm ultimately not in control. I also believe that depression is what led me to the Lord. Before that, I didn't have a relationship with Christ. After experiencing postpartum depression, I was humbled and brought down to my knees. I was in a place where I could accept Christ into my life.
What would you say to a woman experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression? 

I would say to her: let's make a doctor's appointment. Do not be ashamed. Do not feel guilty. This is a true illness. Have hope, because it does go away. You don't think that when you're in the midst of it, but it does.

"I can hear it in your voice, trying to hang on. 
I can feel it, you've revealed it. 
The pain is strong. Hang on my friend, there is an end, to this feeling. 
Take hold my friend, there is an end, you're healing." 
- Sue's song to a friend with postpartum depression

*If you have been touched by this interview and would like a chance to share this with Sue, please feel free to e-mail me at thisrookiewife@gmail.com, and I will be sure to have her contact you.

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