round and round...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talk is sometimes more than cheap

If you've been coming here for awhile, or even if you're new to my world, chances are you know I'm a big sap. I cry a lot. I cry when the wind blows, when I'm sick, when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm hurt, when I see touching commercials on TV (damn you, Walmart at Christmastime!).

It's no surprise that I cry a lot lately. This kidlet cooking in my insides makes for a pretty fascinating hormonal ride. I'm up, I'm down, I'm up even higher, I'm down even lower. Luckily, as soon as I passed the 15 week mark I started ending up on the high notes and not on the low ones. The first 15 weeks were tough. Tough is an understatement.

"Tough" is one of those words you use when people ask you how you're doing and you don't want to say, "I've never experienced this kind of crushing, all-consuming depression before and I'm terrified that it will never go away." You don't want to say that to people because it's scary. It's scary for them to hear and it's scary for you to say because then you're acknowledging it. It becomes too real.

I've read a couple medical studies done with pregnant women in different parts of the world and they've found that perinatal (during pregnancy) depression is as common, if not more common, than postpartum (after birth) depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) has been getting more media attention in the past handful of years since more women have been willing to be open about how they're feeling rather than hide their extreme emotions out of shame. The attention is good, but there also needs to be a discussion in the medical and mental health communities about perinatal depression. It's a real thing. I've been there.

For the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone see friends or family, go to work, interact with people. I didn't want to have a conversation with anyone because I felt that the only thing anyone ever asked me about was the baby. It's understandable, but it made me feel like I was disappearing. I felt as if Melissa was invisible and some strange incubator had taken her place. My identity was very shaky and malleable and the ground felt uneven under my feet all the time. Matthew saw it all first hand and he was amazing. He was nothing but supportive. I can't imagine having gone through that without him. Single women and even women in relationships with less than supportive partners have to endure their pain in silence, alone, without a support network. Something about that needs to change.

I've joined a support group in Brooklyn for PPD and perinatal depression and hope that it grows into something where I can volunteer to help other women who are going through what I went through. I'm monitoring my emotional and mental health on a daily basis and I'm listening to what my brain tells me. Once the baby comes it's that very monitoring that will let me know if I'm one of the millions of women across the world who suffers from PPD. Catching it early is important. If you know someone who has suffered from perinatal depression or PPD don't be afraid to talk to them about it. The more we talk about it, the less monstrous it becomes.

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8 What people are saying:

Blogger Lynilu rambles...

Ahhhh, yes. I'm so glad you have been able to come out on top in the wrestling match. Pregnancy is wonderful; I always loved being pregnant. Yet that doesn't mean it was holly-jolly good times all the time, 'cause your life is upside down!

Can you imagine what this would be like without Matthew? Yike.

Yes, talking (or writing) about it helps a great deal. Keep it up, keep it up! And I'm glad you found the group for support.

I'm sending you a hug, Melissa. :)

11/11/2008 01:29:00 PM

 
Blogger Caroline rambles...

I am glad that Matthew is there for you. I have never been pregnant and I never thought much about perinatal depression. Thank you for this information.

Oh, and I love the picture.

((hugs))

11/11/2008 01:51:00 PM

 
Blogger Anisa rambles...

you are an amazing and brave woman. not only are you talking about this issue...but you are planning to help others with it too.

you're going to be a great mommy.

11/11/2008 02:03:00 PM

 
Blogger Melissa rambles...

Lyn - Same to you, my friend! ((hug)) Thanks for the kind words. From someone who has had a handful of very tough years I appreciate your words more than you know.

Caroline - I'm so happy to be able to talk about it now! As someone who suffered in silence for a long time you know what that feels like! Just being able to talk about it gets me closer to being the authentic me. As you know, that's a great journey, right?

Anisa - Girl, you made me cry. Surprise, surprise! :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you for those words.

11/11/2008 04:23:00 PM

 
Anonymous Katherine Stone rambles...

Thank you so much for sharing your story on antepartum depression so that others may benefit. It is true that depression during pregnancy is just as common as postpartum depression. I'm going to link to your story from Postpartum Progress!

11/12/2008 10:20:00 AM

 
Blogger Retro Girl rambles...

You ARE an amazing woman...with an amazing wonderful hubby it seems, too!

My friend back home suffered greatly from PPD with her 2nd child. I've seen it, but not experienced it myself. I know it can be truly debilitating though, for some. You're strong, I think you could get through just about anything. You're my hero, that's for sure! :-)

I admire you for wanting to volunteer and help others. I am sure the organization will truly benefit from your help.

Btw...in our adoption parenting class, they talked about adoptive mothers getting Post Adoption Depression, believe it or not. I don't think I'd ever considered the possibility of it. They said that many moms of internationally adopted children can experience very similar emotions and physical symptoms as PPD birth mothers do. Wow. Definitely something for me to read up on until Isaac gets here.

11/12/2008 06:44:00 PM

 
Blogger MJ rambles...

What courage it took to share your story. I have a good friend who had done a lot of studying on PPD and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. She was on the National PPD Board--her website is familyhands.com . Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.

You are very lucky to have a supportative hubby!

11/13/2008 10:42:00 PM

 
Anonymous The Rover rambles...

You are awesome. So is Matthew. Even if you guys have forty kids, you'll still be rock stars to me.

11/15/2008 07:56:00 PM

 

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