The Dark Side of Postpartum and the Journey Back to LightJan 20, 2022 ● By Heather Kittelson
By: Heather Kittelson
While postpartum can be a dark road, a local mom shares her recovery and journey to feeling better.
As of mom of four, some would say I am a pro at what to expect after delivery. I felt just fine after my first two, so I would have agreed. Our third child had a rare kidney complication in utero. I became fearful of what our future might look like, which led to worry and mental stress. I found myself turning to other things to cope. But I just assumed all these feelings were from the hormonal changes and overwhelm that three children bring to a household.
After the arrival of our fourth child, I entered a very unfamiliar world of postpartum depression. I was so confused why I couldn't smile and mean it, why I didn't want to be around anyone, why I couldn't feel any emotion other than sorry for myself. When friends or family would ask how I was doing, I would say, "great," but the truth was far from that. I was numb and dying inside. I retreated from everything I loved, including my husband. I buried myself in work and maintaining our home the best I could. I turned to other things to cope, which was the worst thing I could have done as it escalated the drowning effect.
Everything came to a head, and I had two options: I was going to die, or I was going to choose to live. On December 5, 2019, I chose to live and got help.
Postpartum depression is a tricky mental illness, and it doesn't care who you are. No one is safe. I share my story because I can see things more clearly now that Evie is three. And I want to help other moms who may be feeling similar know there is hope.
There are signs to watch for:
Retreating from the people and things you love
Coping through bad behavior/choices
Feeling all alone even though loved ones surround you
As a spouse or family member of a mom suffering from postpartum depression, one of the hardest things can be seeing changes but not knowing what is happening. I would encourage a new mom to share her true feelings and emotions. It can be really hard to verbalize when you feel nothing, but please do not stay silent. Our families are here to support and love us.
There are many resources available, including seeking counseling, nonprofit centers like Volunteers of America, Dakotas, or other treatment plans or rehab centers if your depression has escalated into a larger issue, like my experience.
Just remember, you are not alone. There are women on every block experiencing some sort of mama blues. Those postpartum emotions are hard - really hard! Be brave. Be real. We are in this together, mama.
If you are experiencing postpartum depression or other mental health concerns, see our Counseling and Therapy Directory for places that can help.