Emma runs an adorable circus of boys. Where Emma goes, there, too, goes a trail of three boys. Emma has a calm presence and is a great listener. Emma and I were friends for months before I found out that she, too, suffered from PPD.
Once we began speaking about it, Emma said that she experience PPD with each of her three kids. The PPD brought on by having their first child was the hardest because she didn’t know what she was experiencing, and by the time she had the other two children, she already had a treatment plan in place.
Her treatment plan today still consists of Lexapro and Wellbutrin.
What stands out to me in Emma’s story is how she found out that her family has a history with depression and how she found comfort in that fact.
When Emma was in the deepest part of her depression, she reached out to her father who told her directly that he felt she was depressed. At this point, this is when he told her for the first time that he suffered and continues to suffer from depression. Further, Emma was told that her grandfather and great grandmother suffered from depression, as well.
When Emma found out she was depressed, even eight years ago, there wasn’t as much discussion about depression, let alone postpartum depression.
Emma notes, “There was still this really difficult stigma.”
It took Emma a long time to be able to talk about it. It wasn’t until a year did she begin to find her voice when it came to her experience with depression.
“I guess I never wanted to tell people I had depression because I didn’t understand the disease, and I though that you were sad all of the time, and now I realize that it was more of a roller coaster. I was worried that people would think that I was a recluse that sat around and cried all day—and maybe in the beginning I did—I just wanted to sleep all of the time. Even now, I need more than the usual seven to eight hours of sleep. I try to get nine hours every night, and I still sneak in a nap everyday.”
Emma recalled her most depressed state.
“I didn’t feel anything negative toward my kids, and I bonded with my babies as soon as they were born. My husband was sweet to me through all of it. Having moved to a new place where I knew no one really made things worse for me. I even talked divorce. Still, my husband was so good through all of it. Thankfully for me, my husband didn’t give up, and he was there with every step. Even though my brain was irrational, my husband was always there.”
Emma always found great support in her father, which truly helped get through each day.
“We had my dad who had been through it and knew what it was. I called my dad everyday—sometimes multiple times a day. Sometimes I would just need him to say that everything was going to be okay. My dad was never angry or annoyed with my calls; he always answered.”
Still, Emma had hard days, and she expressed great frustration with not having her prescribed medications kick in immediately. It took Emma four months to find the right prescription regimen, and she stated in that four month window, she felt betrayed by medicine—it didn’t feel fast enough—and for many people suffering from depression, waiting for medication to work can be very difficult.
Looking back, Emma feels grateful for the strong support system in her husband and in her father. She is hopeful that perhaps her experience can be helpful to her family in the future.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Emma, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.