I didn’t think I could get depressed.
Shh, Don’t Tell! stories are meant to be heard – in the person’s own voice – as well as for the original music. Please click above and listen, if you can! The transcript is also below.
Narrator: Sometimes your own reaction to something surprises even you.
Rachel: When I found out I was pregnant I actually started crying. He I think thought I was crying because I was happy. But I was actually not.
Narrator: In this Shh Don’t Tell story, Rachel’s pregnancy was healthy and her son’s birth went fine. But she remembers the day he was born as the day her life started downhill.
Rachel: I guess what people usually assume is that a mother would feel euphoric, or you know, in love, instantly overflowing with love for your child. I was just a little surprised that it was quite the opposite.
Narrator: Rachel first asked her sisters for help.
Rachel: I basically asked my family, hey, is this a normal feeling, you know, that I’m not incredibly happy that I am a first time mom? I have this beautiful child…is it normal that, you know, sometimes I am kind of resenting my own child? Is it normal that I’m crying for no reason? Is it normal that I feel this anxiety? And they said yes. It’s all very normal post pregnancy stuff.
So that lasted for a couple of weeks. And then it actually, got a little better. My son was actually sleeping pretty well, and I was kind of getting the hang of things. But my anxiety and my feelings of overwhelmment just kept on going.
I was on maternity leave for three months. I think it was maybe a couple days after birth I actually just wanted to go straight back to work. I just wanted to get out of the house and just wanted to see my team and feel that familiar environment again of work, which I really enjoy.
I told my husband that I wanted to go visit my team alone.
He said you know, sure I’ll watch the baby. No problem. And so I got ready, didn’t wear anything fancy, just you know, jeans and a shirt, and put on some makeup, and drove over to work.
I felt so free. And I felt like I was going home, actually. Like my work was home.
I arrived there, everyone was just super happy to see me, everyone was a little surprised to see me a week after birth, but it was great. I briefly talked to my team, I talked to my boss, then I had to go.
music abruptly out
Because I knew my baby was waiting for me at home, my breasts were starting to, you know, get hard, so I knew I had to go. And that was really really hard. I almost did not want to go home. I wanted to just take the car and drive off somewhere. And not come back.
I knew I had a responsibility to my child, and that was huge, like actually physically huge on my body. And so, I thought well, what if I go away and never come back, how will that affect my child?
And I thought, well, he’ll be with my husband, I think he’ll be okay. But I was constantly just seeing my son’s cute face in my eyes, and I thought I just can’t do it. I have a responsibility
I really struggled with just resentment towards my husband. My husband could never do anything right in my eyes. I did not like anything about my husband really. The way that he talked, the way that he walked, whatever. I just was not attracted to any of that anymore. I’m sure he noticed that I wasn’t the biggest fan of him for all those months, but I never actually told him until later on. It was after work. We were home. I believe the baby was already sleeping. I was sitting at the dinner table and I think he was just walking around in the kitchen or something. And I said I’m just having a really hard time with all of this, I don’t feel like myself. And I just don’t really, don’t see myself with you for the rest of my life. I can’t do it for the rest of my life. And I actually told him I was thinking about a divorce.
He was shocked and I believe he started crying, which was kind of the first time that I’ve ever seen him cry to be honest. He just said you know, you’ll get through this, we’ll get through this. He wasn’t quite sure why I was all of a sudden asking him for divorce. Or I’m sure he thought that things weren’t as bad as I thought they were.
When I realized that I wasn’t feeling like myself, when I realized it was straining my marriage, when I realized something was wrong and was starting really to get worse I mentioned to friends or family that I really want to talk to my uncle about this. Because I think he would understand.
And I really just wanted to just kind open up to him about it. He would be the first person that I would really talk to besides my immediate family and husband, and I really want to get his opinion and just kind of vent. And people said no, I don’t think you should do that. Because he thinks highly of you and really loves you.
I feel like they were saying he won’t see you like that any more if you tell him about your depression. He’ll probably think that you have, you know, a problem or you’re weak, or yeah, he’ll just not think highly of you anymore. And I kind of just backed off, and didn’t say anything. Never spoke to him about it.
It’s very hard for people to understand this. And I don’t want people suffering from ppd to feel this way, that they’re alone and that they’re crazy, or feeling helpless.
I think around 8 months is where I finally went to go see my doctor. I took kind of an emotional behavioral type assessment. He officially then diagnosed me for postpartum depression. I was actually quite surprised.
Because I didn’t think I could get depressed. I thought for was just for people who, were going through tragedies in their lives or had some kind of a medical condition or something or an actual chemical imbalance in their bodies. And so…. I was shocked. That is where I kind of see the slope going up.
Because I know now that it is real. And I know how it affected me. It contributed to probably one of the worst time of my life. And for a very long period, I did not know I had it.
Special thanks to Baby Blues Connection for help with Shh, Don’t Tell! Stories, to Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists fame for our awesome theme and other music and to cellist Collin Oldham for his terrific compositions and scoring.