Speaking up and sharing my own story and the stories of other women turned Running in Triangles into a beacon of light for those women who were lost and suffering in the darkness.
Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to connect and interact with so many women who have had or are currently suffering from postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders.
One thing that so many of them had in common was the fact that they stayed silent for so much longer than they should have. And there are so many more than 9 reasons why these women chose not to speak up about what they were feeling…
Here is a list of over 50 Reasons Why Mothers Don’t Speak Up About Postpartum Depression (including the original 9)
*I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale. *This post may contain affiliate links*
1. We are in denial
2. We don’t even know we have it
3. We’re not 100% certain that we have it
4. We haven’t been officially diagnosed
5. We don’t think it’s as bad as it actually is
6. We just aren’t ready to admit it yet
7. We think this is “normal” motherhood
8. We don’t think it’s a big deal
9. We don’t want to make it seem like we’re suffering more than any other mother
10. We don’t want to be complainers or hypochondriacs
And just as importantly, there is another mother out there who is waiting to hear it and just doesn’t know it yet. She has been reading postpartum depression stories, searching for one she can relate to and hasn’t found it yet because you haven’t told it yet.
Postpartum depression, as common as it might be, is widely misunderstood. No one knows for certain exactly why mothers get postpartum depression and many aren’t even aware of the symptoms.
If there was less stigma and more mothers felt comfortable enough to speak up about their postpartum depression, perhaps the rest of the world would know about it and find ways to help.
In an effort to help others understand more about postpartum depression – here’s a list of 10 things that mothers with postpartum depression want you to know.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
1. We Are Not Bad Mothers
Mothers with postpartum depression are not prone to hurting their babies. While there have been cases that ended in tragedy – those mothers were likely suffering from postpartum psychosis, which is much more serious.
We might be seen as “bad” mothers because we didn’t bond with our babies right away, or we seem withdrawn from them or avoid holding them. These are common symptoms of postpartum depression but it does not mean that we want to harm our child or that we don’t love them as much.
If anything, postpartum depression makes us stronger mothers because we have to fight harder to build a mother-child relationship.
You don’t need to take our babies away from us or be concerned about leaving us alone with them. If we come to you for help and admit what we are feeling – that makes us a better mother, not a bad one.
2. It’s Not In Our Head
Postpartum depression is not just a psychological issue – it’s physical pain, it’s chemical imbalances, it’s uncontrollable hormones. It’s a total body experience and not just something we imagine.
Positive thinking alone will not get rid of postpartum depression. It’s important to stay positive to help reduce stress which is a big trigger for symptoms, but there is so much more to it than that.
Many women suffer from disruptions in sleep and appetite, headaches and back pains from stress and tension, nausea and debilitating fatigue. So the pain is never just “in our head.”
Postpartum depression is NOT our fault. We didn’t get it because of a traumatic labor or breastfeeding problems or because we didn’t have a good enough support system.
It’s natural to want to find an explanation for what we’re going through and it’s easy to look back on our pregnancies and deliveries and find something to blame for the mess.
While there are several different risk factors that can increase your chances of having postpartum depression, the truth is – even a women with the happiest of pregnancies, easiest of deliveries and biggest support system could still be diagnosed with postpartum depression. It does not discriminate.
There are plenty of treatment options and ways to control the symptoms but we will never be the same person we were before postpartum depression.
Anti-depressants, therapy, self-care, etc., are all temporary solutions but they will not make postpartum depression go away permanently. Some women can control their symptoms better than others, but no matter what, we will all have to live with the darkness inside of us for the rest of our lives.
If we’re not careful about following our treatment plans, we could suffer a relapse.
5. It Can Be Invisible
Just because we don’t seem depressed doesn’t mean we’re not suffering inside. Postpartum depression can be an invisible disease, which means we don’t have a giant scar or walk with a limp but we are in just as much pain.
Mothers with postpartum depression have gotten very good at putting on a smile to hide the pain and avoid the awkward questions.
Thanks to the stigma around postpartum depression, many mothers won’t even admit to having it for fear of what the world will think of them.
Postpartum psychosis leads a mother to have hallucinations and hear voices in their heads. They are often a danger to themselves and those around them, including their children, because of their unpredictable behavior. They are not aware of what they are doing, and if left untreated – can end in tragedy.
Postpartum depression can manifest itself in different ways.Fits of uncontrollable rage is a lesser known symptom and can cause a lot of strain on relationships.
When we are riding the emotional roller coaster that is postpartum depression, it’s easy to lose control and lash out. But until our symptoms are under control with a proper treatment plan, it’s best not to take the things we say and do personally.
The urge to push people away and withdraw into ourselves is strong with postpartum depression, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we actually want.
In fact, a support system is something we need now more than ever.
8. It’s easier to talk to strangers
Please don’t feel offended if we don’t want to talk to you about what we’re going through. It’s much easier to talk to strangers who have been through it before, such as a therapist or online support group.
They understand what we mean and won’t judge us. We know you don’t mean to judge us, but unless you know what it feels like to be inside the head of a crazy person, you couldn’t possibly understand.
Some of the best “strangers” to talk to are available through the PSI Helpline (call or text!)
9. We Need Your Help
Even if we don’t want to talk to you, we still need your help to get through this. Postpartum depression is a tough fight and it’s even harder to fight alone. There are so many ways that you can help us, but it’s very hard for us to tell you what they are.
The biggest way that you can help us is by trying to understand what we’re going through. And even if you don’t understand, stand by us and support us no matter what.
Mothers with postpartum depression make for some of the worst company. We’re weepy and emotional. We rarely smile or laugh. We’re tired all the time, or angry and annoyed. We dodge your phone calls and cancel dinner plans. We don’t blame you for not wanting to hang out with us…
Withdrawing from society is a major symptom of postpartum depression and it’s out of our control.
But we hope that, when we do finally feel better, you will still be there waiting for us on the other side of the darkness.
Many women are afraid of suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of a child, but none more than a mother who has already experienced it before.
It goes without saying that any mother who has suffered from postpartum depression would never willingly want to put themselves through that kind of torture again.
But while the idea of having another baby after postpartum depression feels like a suicide mission, a significant amount of women go on to have more children after being diagnosed.
This means that, while it might seem preposterous at the time, there is hope for a full and bright future filled with all the children we dreamed of having.
With my first child, I experienced a mild case of the baby blues, followed by full blown postpartum depression with my second child.
But upon the birth of my third child – despite experiencing months of bed rest and hospitalization due to hyperemesis gravidarum just as I had with the first two – I was spared from any postpartum mood disorder whatsoever.
At the time, I was certain I was just “lucky” or perhaps I had suffered enough and deserved a break for a change. But in hindsight, I realize that there were a few significant things that changed in my lifestyle and way of thinking that contributed to the fact that I did not suffer from postpartum depression with my third baby.
Here is my best advice for how to Prepare for Another Baby after Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
If you don’t already have an established treatment plan for your postpartum depression, then this is the first step.
Once your treatment plan is in place, don’t deviate from it – even if you start to feel better.
If you never initially sought treatment for your postpartum depression but feel like it is under control – it is still worth seeing a doctor, therapist, counselor or other health professional to discuss your options should you experience a relapse of symptoms.
Before adding a new baby to the family, it’s worth considering what triggers your postpartum depression symptoms and trying your best to eliminate them ahead of time.
Financial or marital problems should be worked out in order to avoid added stress. Illnesses, chronic pain, nutrient deficiencies and the overall state of your health should be addressed.
While many triggers will be unavoidable, if you can be in top mental and physical shape prior to getting pregnant again, then you will be more prepared should postpartum depression strike again.
Document Your Feelings
Writing down everything you’ve gone through can help you to remember what your experience was like at a later date. Sometimes the things we feel in the heat in the moment can easily be sorted out when our mind is clearer.
If you wrote down any of your thoughts or feelings in a journal of some sort during your first round of postpartum depression, then you should take some time to re-read those entries prior to have another baby and see if they give you some insight.
If you do end up struggling with postpartum depression again after another baby, then document your feelings again so that you can compare both experiences and see if there is a common factor or trigger that you can work on.
You can download this free printable PDF to help you document your journey:
I know, I know, I’m always talking about how women need to speak up about postpartum depression… but it really makes all the difference!
The more we talk about it, the less taboo it becomes. We need to stop living in the shadow of postpartum depression – it’s the only way we can eliminate it’s power over us.
If you’re thinking about having another baby after postpartum depression, then everyone in your life should already know about your previous battle with postpartum depression. It shouldn’t be a shameful secret, but rather a badge of honor.
In addition to your loved ones, your doctor or midwife should know that you suffered from postpartum depression with a previous baby if they don’t already.
Knowing that you have a support system already in place in the event that you suffer the same unfortunate fate again, will help you to prepare for having another baby after postpartum depression.
Why do you want another baby? Is it because you’ve always dreamed of having more? Do you feel like you need to provide a sibling for your child to grow up with? Does your spouse or partner want another baby? Do you feel your biological clock ticking?
I’m not saying that any of these reasons are wrong reasons to have a child, as long as it’s what you really want.
If you feel pressured in any way to have another baby, it might be time to do a little soul searching and think carefully if the time is right.
I can give you thousands of tips on how to prepare for another baby after postpartum depression, but unless you are ready – none of them will help.
Become a Warrior
Speaking up is only the first step to battling postpartum depression. If it has affected your life – don’t let it get away so easily. The best way to fight against postpartum depression is to take a stand and help destroy the stigma that surrounds it.
Research postpartum depression and other maternal mental health conditions:
The more you know about, and are involved with, the postpartum depression community, the better you will be at defeating at.
The truth is, if you’ve suffered from postpartum depression before, the chances of suffering from it again are high. While you may not be able to avoid postpartum depression the second time around, being prepared and educated will help you handle the symptoms and know when and where to turn for help.
Taking time for themselves is something that all moms need to do but practicing a self-care routine is essential to treating postpartum depression.
Self-care doesn’t always need to consist of spa days or alone time. While different things appeal to different women and personalities – there are some simple, basic, everyday tasks that can make a huge difference to one’s mood and patience level.
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
What is self-care?
It’s all the things you need to do to take care of YOU. Self-care is a huge topic among parents, especially SAHMs. Because how the heck are you supposed to take care of yourself AND the tiny humans who demand so much of your attention?
The nature of a parent is always to put their children first and therefore, self-care often gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list. I’m quite guilty of it myself and sometimes life gets SO busy that I don’t even realize how long it’s been since I showered or blow-dried my hair.
Trying to fit a self-care routine into an already packed day is impossible, I know. There are never, nor will there ever be, enough minutes in the day to get everything accomplished.
This means you’re going to have to sacrifice something. It could be sleep (sleep? what’s that?), it could be that extra time with your kids before bed, it could be the gourmet dinner you cook every night.
Or perhaps there is a way to work your self-care routine into your existing routine with the kids. There’s no rule that says self-care must equal alone time so feel free to involve your kids or partner.
I had a ghastly image of myself in my head and I feared that if I looked at myself in the mirror I would realize it had come true. The few times I did make eye contact with myself, I immediately broke into tears because I absolutely hated myself and standing in front of the mirror meant coming face to face with my worst enemy.
But I wasn’t afraid to look at myself when I had a little makeup on. When I was showered and my hair was done and I was in decent clothes – for a moment, I forgot about that pile of muck. This was someone else I was looking at, talking to, admiring in the mirror. That pile of muck was still there but I didn’t have to look at her. I didn’t have to face her and all the sadness she brought with her.
So while some might consider self-care a type of vanity, I felt that it was the only way for me to escape the rut I was in.
Developing a good self-care routine is extremely important both during your battle with postpartum depression after you’ve started treatments to reduce the chance of a relapse.
Start with the basics
Brush your teeth
So simple right? Not when you’re awoken by the loud screams of children at 7 am. You rush out of bed to see what’s happening and deal with whatever new fiasco they’ve created. And then coffee is the first thought on your mind. You’ll brush after coffee – that makes sense, right? Then you won’t have coffee breath! Smart woman!
Except you never, ever, finish that cup of coffee…
It sits there getting cold. Maybe you walk by once or twice and stick it in the microwave to heat it up and then forget about it there. Before you know it the hubby is home from work and for some reason he’s not going in for that smooch…
Take the shower!
There are so many days when this feels like an impossible feat. It takes more than a few minutes and we all know what kind of trouble kids can get into in that time.
But putting it off means you’re putting yourself off, and self-care is all about putting yourself FIRST! So take the shower!
If it means putting on a tv show for them, or letting them use the tablet while they sit on the bathroom floor – then do it. If all else fails – take them in with you! I’ve brought my babies into the shower with me and sat them in the Bumbo chair… they loved it!
If the thought of taking a shower feels like the last thing you want to do after an extremely long day, then it’s what you need most. Trust me and just TAKE THE SHOWER!!!
Change your clothes
Changing from flannel pajama pants into black leggings counts. Don’t stay in your pajamas all day even if they’re the comfiest thing on earth and you’re not going anywhere anyway. I’ve gone so far as to use the excuse that I don’t want to make more laundry for myself.
But even if you wear the same “daytime” clothes for a week – change out of your pajamas. The act of changing your clothes – even if they are from one pair of sweatpants to another, is enough to trick your brain into thinking you’ve done something productive.
Do your hair & makeup
This one is more important to some than others. I’ve never been a “full face makeup” type of person. (I use three things makeup-wise everyday – concealer, bronzer & eyebrows).
If you have a particular “problem area” that makes you self-conscious then take care of that so you can feel confident enough to face the world.
I also recently chopped my waist-length hair into a bob, something I had been considering dreading doing for years. It’s much less maintenance now, which means I actually do it everyday, and the change in style has given me a renewed confidence.
Add in some extras
Give yourself a pep talk
Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, a little “you can do this” under my breath reminds me that I need to stay positive. It is SO easy to lose that motivation when you are battling postpartum depression because you are in a constant state of darkness. Find some way to remind yourself to stay in the light.
Write a positive message on your bathroom mirror in dry erase marker and change it up every few days/weeks.
Follow some of these Instagram accounts that share motivational messages so that when you’re scrolling away on social media you get a little pick me up!
Take your vitamins
Sufferers of postpartum depression are infamous for their terrible eating habits – either not enough or too much. And because of that, we often end up with all kinds of vitamin deficiencies which can have a huge effect on our mental health. So if you’re not able to eat as healthy as you should, you should be taking supplements in order to get your levels back up to where they should be.
I am a very new user of essential oils but I am quickly becoming addicted. I can’t say for certain that they “cure” anything but if you find a blend that you enjoy, it can have an extremely calming effect.
There are so many different ways to use essential oils and I plan to do much more research on them in the treatment of postpartum depression (which I will share, of course).
What I can tell you right now is that quality makes all the difference so even though it might seem like splurge, you get what you pay for.
And it doesn’t have to be a BIG thing. A spa day is great but so is binge watching Netflix. A beach vacation may not be in the budget, but relaxing outside in a hammock or inflatable couch is. [I like this one from Pouch Couch]
Focus on ONE extra activity that makes you feel happy and relaxed and ONE thing only. As moms we spend most of our days multi-tasking, and there is so much pressure to become a mom who can bake and sew and do crafts and plan parties (thanks a lot, Pinterest) and it becomes overwhelming and exhausting.
Your self-care routine should consist of something that makes you feel happy and relaxed afterwards. It doesn’t have to be productive and you don’t need to justify it. You just need to do it.
Write it down
Keeping a journal of your thoughts can be hugely therapeutic for postpartum depression survivors in many different ways. Not only is the act of writing out your thoughts and feelings a way to release them, but it also helps you keep track of whether they are getting better or worse.