Postpartum Depression or Sleep Deprivation????
Updated: May 19
Owning our stories and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do." ~Brene Brown
There are so many directions that I want to go in with this blog. As I shift the focus of my practice from gerontology (which I specialized in in my masters program and have studied in depth) to working with women going through major life transitions (a path which I have walked and experienced deep in my soul) let’s start with a sensitive topic. I understand there will be people who read this and are horrified, BUT I'm hoping to reach those who my post resonates with in an effort to help women experiencing what I went through not feel so alone.
For the first two years of my daughter's life, I did not like being a mother. Everyday felt like slow torture! I was actually so sleep deprived that I felt suicidal. I did not think that I had it in me to spend one more night listening to screaming and watching the minutes tick away on the clock as I held my frantic child unsure how to help her. I remember working in the emergency room at Mission Hospital and a woman came in with symptoms of psychosis. After the psychiatrist examined her, he noted, "She doesn't have psychosis, once she gets some sleep she'll be fine. She is experiencing severe sleep deprivation." I could relate! I was actually so sleep deprived that psychosis wasn't that far off in my future.
All I had ever wanted was to be a mother! It was the deepest longing of my soul and a daughter!!!!! I was blessed with a daughter!!! My dreams had come true. Yet here I stood on the verge of loosing my mind. Weren’t these suppose to be the best days of my life? Wasn’t I suppose to be going to the park on play dates and experiencing pure bliss and joy as I cuddled my infant? What was wrong with me that I wasn’t enjoying this journey???
Several people commented that I might have postpartum depression. My response was always the same...."If I can get some sleep and not hear the noise pollution of screaming all night, I’ll be fine!" Was I experiencing postpartum depression or just sleep deprivation and how do you actually distinguish the two while in such a deep fog? The shame and guilt that I felt from not enjoying the journey of motherhood ate away at my soul. Clearly something was wrong with me and I was a horrible mother. What kind of mother doesn’t enjoy being a mother?
My mother was the quintessial happy nurturing loving stay at home mom and always referred to my childhood as "the best days of her life." And here I stood broken down and emotionally beaten just trying to make it through the day. I was in complete survival mode and remembering to brush my teeth felt like climbing mount Kilimanjaro. Play dates at the park?? I could barely get dressed!!!
I envied those moms who were happy and bonding with their children. I envied those moms who were still writing and diving into creative projects. I envied those moms who were starting their own businesses and practices with young children and sometimes even multiple children. I envied those moms who were making it look easy. What the HELL was wrong with me???
Alone, scared, so sleep deprived I couldn’t function and barely able to keep my sanity, I cried every day for two years. Not a day went by where I didn’t morn the loss of my life, my freedom, my identity, and my passions.
I remember sitting at the farmers market in the River Arts District in Asheville on a beautiful sunny day so exhausted that I could barely retrieve my little one who was crawling off. A beautiful mama walked up to me and commented.... "It’s quite the journey isn’t it." I burst into tears! As she handed me a tissue she recognized my struggle and shared her story postpartum. My heart ached with recognition as I heard about her experiences and struggles and for the first time I felt as though someone else understood me! I felt as though I were not alone and I felt as though I was normal.
I am truly grateful for the mamas who shared their journey of struggle with me during those two years and helped me feel sane during a time where my sanity was certainly iffy. I don’t think this topic is talked about nearly enough for those of us who are experiencing it and it leaves us feeling deeply isolated and unworthy.
So this is for all of the mamas who have struggled or are struggling! For all of the mamas who are sleep deprived to the point of what feels like no return. For all of the mamas who are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. For all of the mamas who are doing it alone. For all of the mamas who are in survival mode and just doing the best that they can to put one foot in front of the other each day. For all of the mamas who are just hanging on by an eyelash. For all of the mamas who feel scared, lonely, and overwhelmed.
You are not alone! You are Amazing! You are worthy! You are a wonderful mother! Your child is blessed to have you! You are perfect exactly the way that you are! And above all you are loved.....So so so so deeply loved! Please know how beautiful you are deep in your soul and how you are the perfect mother for your child! Reach out to people and share. Ask for help and for what you need. You can’t do this alone and no one should ever have to. Perhaps sharing your story will help just one other mother for a brief moment in time or even for a lifetime. If you can relate please feel free to share....to share your story and to share this post!