Mum-of-four and blogger Liz Petrone thought that she would have it eay with baby number three. She's already given birth and gone through the new baby stage twice- but baby three was a game-changer.
Petrone struggled with postpartum depression, and now wants mums to know that Iit can strike at anytime, not just with the first baby. In honour of Postpartum Depression Awareness month, Petrone shared her heart-breaking story of PPD, and her journey out of it.
When her third baby arrives, she was "ravenous", but this isn't a story about the baby. It's the story of how "as she grew and continued to consume life in big ravenous gulps, the opposite happened to me."
"I became flatter and duller," Petrone writes. "I was tired all the time, sure, but this was that bone aching tired that sleep doesn't come close to touching. I was anxious too, terrified that I was screwing her up or about to screw her up and thoughts started to creep in, uninvited, from the edges of the darkness: maybe they would be better off without me.
"(Here's what I know now, that I didn't know then: this is a lie the sickness tells you. They will never, ever, EVER be better off without you.)"
Petrone went to her doctor to seek help, but did not receive the support she desperately needed.
"I asked my doctor at the time: 'could this be postpartum depression? After my third kid? Does that even happen?' (Here's what I know now, that I didn't know then: it does happen.)
"I said: 'But it's been months since she was born. Can you get PPD months later?' (Here's what I know now, that I didn't know then: you can.)
"He said, and I quote, 'I'm not sure what you want me to do here. I'm not a psychologist.' This dismissal made me feel like I was being erratic. Hormonal. Self indulgent. (Here's what I know now, that I didn't know then: I wasn't.)"
The doctor sent her home with a prescription for antidepressants, which Petrone now credits for saving her life. She doubted her postpartum depression because she didn't fit into the 'box' of PPD sufferers.
"You see, right, what I am saying? I didn't know. Nick didn't know either. We had had two children already and we thought the third would be easy. I'd been pregnant three times, was raising three little kids. Advice, some solicited and most not, was heaped up around my feet by seemingly everyone we passed in the street, but this?
"NO ONE TOLD ME."
Postpartum depression was something that she hadn't faced before, and she had no idea of the massive struggle that was ahead of her.
"No one said I could love my baby so much and still wonder if I had made a huge mistake.
"No one told me I would spend my my evenings, after everyone else had gone to bed, lifting her sleeping form from her crib and just holding her against me, resting my weeping head in her nest of curls, whispering, 'I'm so sorry, baby. I'm so sorry.'
"No one told me you could feel broken and battered and bent under the weight of sadness and anxiety and yet seemingly still look normal enough that it would surprise people when you scared yourself enough to weakly raise your voice and ask for help."
Now, Petrone believes mums need to raise our voices, to ask for help and to support other mums around us.
"We need to raise our voices. We need to tell our stories...And we need to keep talking, even when we don't want to, even when it's unsightly or embarrassing or uncomfortable.
"Because one in eight women suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety following the birth of a child. Because one in ten men suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety following the birth of a child.
"Because this is people we know. This is people we care about. This was me. Maybe, even, this is you. And if it is, please trust me when I tell you this one thing, if nothing else: speak up.
"Because here's what I know now, that I didn't know then: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Not even close."
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