There are lots of things to be sad about, especially with the state the world is in right now, but typically, having a beautiful bouncing baby is not considered one of them. That's crazy, right? How could you be sad about what everyone calls a miracle? Last I checked, miracles are something to be happy and wonderous about, something which brings tears of joy, not sadness. Well, for 5-25% of women (depending which studies you read) there's a lot of sadness after giving birth to that miracle. The pinto, slow as she may be, dedicated a lot of time researching postpartum depression for part of her dissertation, not realizing the relevance it would have in her own life so soon. Postpartum depression is a form of clinical depression, but it happens specifically after childbirth. Just like with a major depressive disorder, common symptoms are sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, guilt, a sense of emptiness, no energy, social withdrawal, disturbances in sleep and eating patterns, and just not giving a damn (or anhedonia) - to name a few. When women (and sometimes men) experience these symptoms, but in a milder form, it's "baby blues," something that 80% of us have experienced after childbirth. The biggest distinction between "blues" and full-blown depression following childbirth is the transitory nature of the "blues." Having a baby is a big life transition, made worse by the assault your hormones take on your body. So, the "blues" are pretty normal if you ask me. In fact, as you could guess by reading my previous blogs, I would argue that you're crazier if you are blissful during the transition. But, anyway, I digress. So, the cause of postpartum depression isn't totally clear. Some people argue that bottle feeding rather than breast feeding has some role, others suggest that having a colicky baby is a risk factor. Clearly, a history of mood problems will also put you at greater risk for experiencing depression after childbirth. And, like with major depression, low social support, marital problems (or being a single parent), preexisting anxiety, life stress, and low socioeconomic status can also put someone at increased risk for postpartum depression. Makes sense. What's surprising (to the Pinto, at least) is that there is little evidence supporting that hormones are to blame. Huh.
I'm not sure if I have full-blown postpartum depression, but I know that something isn't right. And anyone who knows me and my current situation should be laughing right now (out of pity, of course). There are a multitude of reasons why I might be stressed or depressed. For me, I think it's a combination of unresolved grief, living really far from work, friends, and family, having my emotional rock travel for months at a time, and, well, what feels like trying to constantly fit a square peg into a round hole. ONE of those things would be reason enough to cause significant stress, but add them together and I think I just may be on my way to a proper nervous breakdown. Now here's the irony. The main thing keeping me sane is that beautiful little baby girl of mine. The one who laughs at her own burps and farts, the one who greets me with a smile when she wakes up, the one who gets bed head to rival Don King's, and the one who bounces in excitement to the jingle in an otherwise lame tv commercial. So, how does THAT work? The thing that has added to my life stress and depression is the very thing that's helping me cope. Hmm. I need to think on that....
This is where I give props to my parents, who have absolutely turned their lives inside out to help us make things work. We'll go ahead and call them the gas that keeps this rickety pinto running. I have absolutely no clue what I would do without my parents. Let's just pray that gas prices don't keep rising! LOL!
I'll end by saying that I really don't like putting myself out there like I have in my blog, but postpartum depression is a big issue that is often ignored, not identified, or kept secret. Bottom line, 5-25 percent boils down to a lot of women who are feeling this way. Asking for help is hard. Admitting you don't feel happy when, by anyone else's standards you should be, is even harder. So, if putting myself out there makes any difference whatsoever in helping women connect on this issue, then so be it, I guess.