Tall Mom tiny baby: I Was Tortured By Postpartum Depression

I Was Tortured By Postpartum Depression

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hi there. Remember me? I'm that tall freckled mom who used to blog ALL the time about her life, her family, and her adorable little son - Itty Bitty (aka Rhys.)

I kinda disappeared from the blog-o-sphere, and life to be honest, for a large part of 2014. I've barely blogged about my new pregnancy - baby due in May...



Where did I go? 

Well, I was still here. Still home, still living, and still performing my role in life. 

Performing my role? Yep. I was performing.  For everyone.  Including you.  It was a role that wasn't me.  A role that shouted "everything was 'ok'." But, nothing was ok. 
Not so fun fact: I suffered from severe postpartum depression.

For a long time, I didn't even know I had it, but what's worse is that when I realized I had it, I pretended like it wasn't there.  At least for a little while.  

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's start from the beginning. 
I am a performer. Always have been.  Always will be.
Here's a prime example - as a music and theater teacher, I stand in front of a class of hopeful thespians, sharing with them the tricks of the trade to fool the audience


How to dance, sing, and block out the noise.

How to apply stage makeup - bronzer, blush, mascara, eyeliner and concealer - all to create a lifelike mask for the stage.

How to hit each movement just right. 


How to adopt an entirely different personality, all for the audience. I teach others how to leave the worries of the day behind, and to embrace the stage. How filling yourself with song or memorized lines can transport you away to a different world.

I teach others how to be someone else

Then I landed a job on television. 
I personally did everything I taught my students - I woke up at 4:30am, threw on my curlers, covered my freckles with high definition foundation, and slathered on extra pale concealer over my tired baggy eyes. To make myself look thinner, I bathed in self tanner, painted my face with bronzer, and chiseled out features with care and attention to detail that would rival that of Michelangelo. 

Gluing on fake eyelashes, and brushing my teeth with whitening toothpaste were daily staples. 


This, of course, was all in the name of looking fresh faced and, dare I say, natural.

Good days or bad, tired, happy, or sad, I looked the part. 
Even when I was hiding my pregnancy on air, or holding back from vomiting due to the daily smells of the kitchen, I did what I had to do.  That was my job. I was perky, calm, and refined.

I performed. 

Then my job changed again.

I became a mom.
I stopped wearing the eyelashes, wore shorter-less-product-filled hair, and skipped the heavy foundation. The only part of my morning routine that stayed the same was my daily cup of coffee.

After having my son, I stopped taking care of myself properly.

Gone were the days of daily showers and hours spent primping and preening. I wore yoga pants and slippers, adult diapers, and went to more doctor appointments than baby play dates.


I didn't eat properly, and loathed my new mom body. Sleep was a rarity, I was judged and made fun of for my parenting skills, and finances became an emotional burden on my family.

Unbeknownst to me, I actually was slipping into postpartum depression. 

The problem was, no one else knew either.

Because I was still performing. 


No, I may not have been doing all the primping for TV like I used to, but I still had to be me. To the naked eye, I was still the same Tall Mom. 


Outwardly, for the most part, I fooled everyone. I was Mary the TV personality, Mary the wife, Mary the daughter, Mary the mom, Mary the podcaster, Mary the worker and Tall Mom to the blogging world. 


I managed to look pretty and put together at social events, and could still shoot jokes when I got together with friends or family.  I even created a new online company called Tall Mom Media.


I wasn't crying in a corner, or threatening to hurt myself or my child.  Actually, my child was pretty much the only thing that gave me any sliver of happiness.  For that I was extremely thankful.  Even as I write this now, I think I used my love of Itty Bitty to help propel my persona throughout my daily life.


But, inwardly, I was spiraling out of control.  

I felt hollow. 


Then I started crying on a daily basis, but couldn't bring myself to cry in front of others.


Something wasn't right. 

My mind and heart weren't working like they used to. My concentration was slipping, and I felt incredibly heavy in my heart and chest. My breathing was shallow, and I was constantly irritable. 

I couldn't remember. ANYTHING.


I couldn't even do simple math.


There were very few, if any, activities or events that I enjoyed. 


Simple tasks became incredibly overwhelming, and I often just wouldn't do them at all. I could only manage to take care of my baby and my part-time work requirements.


I started pulling back from friends and became terrible about communicating. 


I didn't know how to text anymore, nevermind the idea of composing a legitimate email.  So I stopped.  I hid. 


If I had a commitment, I just ignored it.  I couldn't bare the thought of having to talk to someone about whatever they felt was important.  I could barely get my pants on without having an anxiety attack, do you think I wanted to hear anything about your life? 

Talking to Tall Dad was even a struggle.  Not because I didn't want to talk to him, but because I didn't know how. Worst yet, we weren't intimate anymore. I still loved him, and felt like he was attractive, but I just...couldn't.


I couldn't cook.  I couldn't clean. I couldn't move.  My body wanted to move, but my brain put a stop to all of it. I was being torn between my life, my husband, my son, my friends and my sanity. 

Have you ever opened a hard cover book to wide? You know that sound and feel it makes as the binding starts to break? That was me. 


Everything started to slip.



Bad habits formed, and I had convinced myself that this is just how new moms are supposed to feel. Exhausted, confused, mediocre, ugly, and sad.

I was tired.


God, was I tired.


I'd sleep in the day, and be wide awake at night.

I would watch the funny youtube videos about moms in yoga pants, cheerios in their hair, whining that they never sleep. 


But I never really saw videos that looked like me. 


No videos or blog posts of crying moms, desperately trying to remember how to breathe properly. 


I didn't see moms shying away from play dates, like I did. 


I didn't see videos or blog posts of moms going to bi-weekly doctors appointments for various problems they incurred from pregnancy and birth.



And that sucked. 

I felt like I was barely treading water with my emotions.

I was about to drown. 

I was failing as a mom. Failing as a wife. Failing as a human.


Failing as me, Mary.
 Because all these issues started to overwhelm me, I felt immense guilt.  Guilt of immeasurable power.  

To me - I was worthless. I was a terrible friend, a horrendous wife, and the epitome of all that could be wrong in a mother. I didn't see anything I did as giving worth to the world.


I couldn't sleep, didn't care to eat, and thought that I was a nuisance rather than a productive member of society. The world was better off without me.


Tall Dad could collect life insurance.  My debts would be forgiven. Itty Bitty could look back on pictures and only see me in the light of a loving mother instead of the piece of garbage I thought I was.


I mean, I wanted people to see what was happening to me. 

I wished I had a broken arm, or the flu so that people could see that there was something wrong. 

I wanted them to see how scared I was, how out of control my thinking had gotten.

But, they couldn't. 


No one saw any of this because I was performing. And, I was performing because, well, I have no idea.  I just did.


It was like that nightmare when you are screaming out for help but nothing comes out of your mouth.


After a long time battle with my sub conscious self, I began to tell good friends and Tall Dad that I was feeling off. I told them that my emotions and comprehension weren't the way they used to be, and that I was scared

I think it was still hard for them to grasp at the time. And, it's hard to blame them for not being more cognizant of how I felt. I could still smile in front of then when I needed to. I seemed to be managing myself and my commitments perfectly fine. 


Eventually, I knew I needed more than just help from my social circle.  It had gotten to be too much.  


I couldn't perform anymore.
After meeting with a couple of counselors, I finally met with my doctor, and broke down sobbing. 

Tears streamed down my face as I frantically told her all about my worries, my intense anxiety, my lack of appetite, sheer exhaustion, feeling alone and how no one understood. Not even Tall Dad.


I was so afraid that my mind was slipping further and further away, and was nervous about what might happen next. 


I was evaluated, and found to be suffering from severe postpartum depression


My doctor hugged me and told me that it must be hard for the rest of the world to see and understand because I was incredibly high functioning. 

I was a performer, and my natural instinct of being on stage for the world had taken over. It had gotten me through for a couple of months, but now it was actually hurting me.

Because I had been hiding my pain and depression, no one knew to help me. Not even myself. It was like I was playing on thin ice all of this time, and it was finally starting to crack.

It took me over a year to understand that I had postpartum depression, and because there was such a long wait, the damage was pretty severe


My doctor said that I needed to start a strict and intensive treatment plan, right away, with hopes that I wouldn't slip any further into depression. Lucky for me, I live in an amazingly supportive state, with lots of resources which are readily available

I got better. 


Then I got worse.


I had to leave my house and stay with my dad for a couple of days because I didn't feel safe.  I was going to do something stupid. What that was - I still don't know.  But I just knew that I was in a bad place. 


It was heart breaking - being away from Tall Dad.  Seeing his face as we talked to therapists in person or over the phone.  We didn't even know how to talk to each other.  He wanted to make everything better, tried to talk, but it just made things worse.  


I horrified him.  I horrified myself with some of the things I said.  But I needed, and was getting help.


And then I got better again. 

The Center for Women's Behavioral Health at Women & Infants was a godsend. They helped me understand that what was happening to me was biological because of having my son, and that it could be fixed. 

I was going to be me again.

Postpartum Depression happens to all sorts of women, and moms just like me. 

Their methods and compassion worked. I'm fortunate enough to live here in Rhode Island where they offer such a program. It was covered by my insurance, and I attended their intensive day program for two weeks.

I learned so much about postpartum depression and anxiety while I was there. I learned that it isn't always what you see in movies or on TV. 


While in treatment, I didn't feel alone


I heard other women saying the same things I felt, and saw them progress. It gave me hope, and after two weeks, I was the one giving hope to other new moms.
I've been better for several months now, and am finally feeling like I'm getting back to my old self. 

I have been taking care of myself. I eat well, exercise, and find ways to make myself feel pretty on the inside and outside - like getting my eyelash extensions and a keratin treatment. I even entered a beauty pageant to push myself into exercising and to feel pretty wearing a dress on stage. 


Honestly, I didn't know if I was ever going to publish this blog post. It has sat in my draft bin for months, slowly being added to, continually just saved as a draft. 

I'm embarrassed still. Postpartum depression has such a bad stigma about it, and I don't want to be classified with those negative thoughts.


I want to be known for who I am now - a confident and healthy mom. 

But then I remember what it felt like to be alone
To not see the posts or videos that looked like me, and I thought about the impact a previous honest post was for some readers (read here.

I decided to publish this in hopes that maybe I can help someone else out. To let you know that these immense feelings aren't something you have to live with, and that you CAN get better. You will, and you just need to ask for help.


So if you, or anyone you know is suffering from what seems to be PPD, please encourage them to talk to their doctor. I know it turned my life around.  I just wish I had asked for help a lot sooner.


So thanks for listening/reading. Now you know a bit about why I've been absent - from the blog and from life. I truly appreciate you all, and hope that this post can be helpful to other new parents. 


Talk soon (I promise!)







Every woman faces adjustments when she becomes a mother, but for 10 to 20 percent of women, the emotional and psychological changes brought on by pregnancy and childbirth are more than they can handle alone.

In these cases, women may be depressed or anxious; they may cry easily or wonder if something is wrong with them. It’s more than the baby blues, and can severely impact a family’s life or even endanger the woman and others. Depression, psychosis or anxiety can make it hard for a woman to: 


-Take care of herself, her baby or other children

-Bond or engage with her baby

-Function at home or at work



Here's a great list of helpful links for PPD - click here .

If you, or someone you know, might be suffering - and live in Rhode Island - here is the information for Women and Infants:


Day Hospital Program Cooperative Care Center
2 Dudley Street, 1st floor
Providence, RI 02905
Campus Map

Hours
8:30 am - 2:30 pm

Contact Information
Director 
Margaret Howard, PhD., 
401-274-1122, extension 42870

41 comments:

  1. I have never known anyone who suffered from this personally, but I can;t even imagine how hard it must be.

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    1. I hadn't known anyone either - or at least anyone that told me - which is why I felt so inclined to publish this post. I realized that if I silently suffered, maybe there are others out there who could use a little nudge to get help.

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    2. Thank you for this. I have an 8 week old baby and I love him dearly however, I find myself not me either. It's hard to explain but I just don't care and hate everything. Everything annoys me I feel angry with everyone . I continously shake it off thinking I'm just tired. And blame my crying on hormones and not sleeping. Even going to doctors appointment, I'm almost scared to admit I'm feeling this way. I'm afraid if being diagnosed. This post gave me a little more courage to atempt to admit my feelings to my doctor.

      Thank you, Mary...I appreciate this, knowing I'm not alone.

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  2. I'm so glad that you shared your story because it helps others. A friend of mine had postpartum and committed suicide. It breaks my heart. It's a cause that really needs more support because our bodies do weird things and we need to help women to get through this if it happens.

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  3. There are no word to express how proud I am of you and thankful that I get to know and love you.

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  4. Mary, what an amazing performer you are! To me, you are one of those strikingly gorgeous and so-well-put-together Moms I honestly envy (while I sit at home reading your posts in my yoga pants and sweatshirt). When I think back to the time we came to visit you at your apartment, I had no clue you were struggling. I am so sorry to hear you suffered in silence for so long, but also so glad to hear you sought help and are feeling better these days. Thank you for your honesty and sincerity in this post.. the more we talk about depression and anxiety (whether postpartum or not), the better.. it's the only way to erase the stigma. Sending love from one preggo to another… :)

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  5. Very proud of you Mary. I was very afraid of postpartum depression I read up on it a lot. Several years later I also read Brooke Shields book on it and it was startling, but similar, odd, two people (you and Brooke Shields) who outwardly appear to have it all, beauty, intelligence, career, good husband and to go through so much. It took so much courage for you to write this, I really first knew you as a teacher Mary and you are still teaching. Thank you for this act of kindness and bravery.

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  6. This blog brought tears to my eyes.I suffered from major depressive disorder and like you,I acted as if all was fine...I got help at the Butler Day Program (mine was not postpartum) I still struggle at times and many of those close to me are in the dark.They would be surpised...I'm usually the "Go To"friend when others have problems.I am elated that you shared your story,I feel a sense of relief for both you and myself..You will always be in my thoughts and prayers..Now my tears are happy ones.I feel so sure that this will make you a stronger woman and the best Mom.Thank you for sharing ��

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  7. Wow, I always thought postpartum was quickly diagnosed, with the extent of common health care and women's health routines these days. I can easily see how someone so eager to please and perform would not acknowledge the signs until they were truly overwhelmed. What an inspiring story!

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  8. I have a friend who had postpartum depression. I felt so bad when I found out, because she never said anything, and she never looked like anything was wrong. I wish I'd know so I could have helped her. That's the thing about postpartum depression. Women feel bad about it because they think they're supposed to be all full of joy. So they never tell anyone. =(

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  9. I'm so glad you got help, and you're doing better. I'm glad you had the courage to write this post so that others might have a heads up about PPD before it hits them. I really think it's much more common than people think. I had PPD to some degree and Anxiety with a capital A. I didn't really realize it until it had started to lift. I was lucky. I hope this time around is easier (and that baby number 2 sleeps!) email anytime if you want.

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  10. This is so open, beautifully written and heartbreaking. We love you, Mary. I'm so thankful you reached out and have found your way. <3

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  11. Beautifully written and painfully honest, Mary. It is particularly important to remember that you don't have to be perfect, ever. That is one of the hardest lessons to learn for the natural perfectionist--I am one, so I get it, and had a very serious bout with depression when my kids were little. Thank you so much for sharing this, it can literally save lives. Continue on that road to good health inside and out...and God bless.

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  12. What a great resource to learn and to get help if you need it. This is a real issue and I'm glad you are addressing it.

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  13. Sending you hugs. I am a performer too and nobody can tell when things get bad here either.

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  14. Damn...........it is so difficult to be depressed and not be willing to let anyone down with your "bad mood". I have had my share of depression and it is the darkest inner spiral. The guilt, minimizing, performance to save face and hiding the secrets are the things that held me together but also ripped me apart. Thank you so much for writing about this and making sense enough about such a crazy, overwhelming thing. I am certain that your story will reach people and change lives. ((HUGS))

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  15. I am so glad that you are getting better! Post-partum depression is a serious issue that not many dare talk about. It is really good to see it being addressed!

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  16. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post - for so many will read this and not feel alone. You are strong! XOXO

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  17. It's very brave of you to share your story, and I know it'll help other moms out there who are dealing with PPD. Huge hugs!

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  18. This is so open and honest. I suffered from PPD during pregnancy and post pregnancy with my daughter. Our stories are so similar. Although I am not an actress, I did act through my PPD. I have found that many women who have PPD also act through it, just trying to get by. The day program and my moms group were my life saviors. I am forever grateful for getting the help from them and am so glad you were able to seek out help. You are a Warrior and you are not alone!

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  19. I suffered from post postpartum depression after i had my first child. I did not feel like myself at all. I wore a mask to hide how i was feeling. I have heard a lot about Placenta encapsulation. I have read about amazing results with post postpartum depression when the Placenta is ingested. If i were to have another baby i would definitely try this.

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  20. What a great post, you captured the feeling bang on. It's sad that many don't see the effects that this has on everything and everyone - and yourself.

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  21. This post is beautiful. To feel alone is so hard, but to be brave enough to put yourself out there so that others don't feel alone as well is amazing. So glad you are getting the help you need. You are so strong.

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  22. Thank you for your honesty. Your post is so raw and real. Your honesty and bravery is going to help a lot of people. (Ginger Mommy)

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  23. Thank you for posting this, as a postpartum doula, I am so proud to help new moms. My hope is to prevent them from feeling this way, and if I notice any signs, to recommend help. Our resources in Rhode Island are indeed wonderful!

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  24. I'm just reading this now, but I know exactly how you feel/felt. I am not in a performer role in my normal life, but that's what I did as well. It took me over a year to admit that I had a problem, and another 6 months to figure out that I needed to tell someone and get help. 2.5 years after my son was born I am finally starting to feel better, but each day, week, month has it's ups and downs. Nice to know I'm not alone in feeling that way.

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  25. Thankyou for sharing this Mary. I suffered a 3 month bout of anxiety when my eldest daughter was 18 months. The feeling of dread was so oppressive and crippling, but I did recover and learned a lot about my mental and what was needed to stay well. Yoga, meditation and a change of thinking played a big part. Your story is important - it will help others become more aware of PND (as we call it in Oz) and see that there's a path out to the light again. Go well dear Mary.

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  26. Thankyou for sharing this Mary. I suffered a 3 month bout of anxiety when my eldest daughter was 18 months. The feeling of dread was so oppressive and crippling, but I did recover and learned a lot about my mental and what was needed to stay well. Yoga, meditation and a change of thinking played a big part. Your story is important - it will help others become more aware of PND (as we call it in Oz) and see that there's a path out to the light again. Go well dear Mary.

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  27. Thankyou for sharing this Mary. I suffered a 3 month bout of anxiety when my eldest daughter was 18 months. The feeling of dread was so oppressive and crippling, but I did recover and learned a lot about my mental and what was needed to stay well. Yoga, meditation and a change of thinking played a big part. Your story is important - it will help others become more aware of PND (as we call it in Oz) and see that there's a path out to the light again. Go well dear Mary.

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  28. Thanks for Sharing. I was diagnosed 11 months ago & still think about it many times a day. It's a slow healing process- and you need to know that you are helping people by sharing. Ihid my auicidal thoughts too- I started to feel like they would be better off without me too. I can't fathom someone not getting help at this stage and am scared for what they might do. Keep sharing!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that you too have suffered, Sharon. But I'm happy to hear that you have been on the road to recovery. I agree, my heart truly aches for mommas who haven't gotten help. Thank you for sharing <3

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  29. I just found your post and I feel like I am reading my own story. I am in the aftermath now of PPD and being extremely high functioning as well ... I didn't seek help until it was out of control. Thank you for this post. It is very brave to discuss your experience but please know other "strong" women also suffer in silence for fear of what others may think. While I hate that anyone has experienced what I did, your story makes me feel more normal. I am so glad you survived and are now speaking about this important issue.

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    1. Hi Kim- I'm so sorry to hear that you went through this as well. Being a strong high functioning woman can be great, but it can also mask issues -- and that's why I felt the need to truly share my story. I'm happy that you have gotten better!

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  30. Thank you. Really. God, that awful feeling to be unable, incapable, to not know how to explain the whys and what I'm feeling inside. And I though I had to be strong, perfect, and that other people were expeting this from me.
    Instead, I was lost in a vortex. A performer, indeed. Hide and smile, hide and smile; inside, a crack and a huge hollow. nobody cares, nobody notice. If they see me cry, they'll make THE question "everything okay?"...and I wanted to scream "NO! it's so not okay!" but I was afraid, I was scared to reveal my feelings. I was not capable to express myself, my mourn - yes: I was mourning myprevious self. because everything's changed, I'm no more me, I didn't know anymore who I was. No theraphy for me. Only love - and God bless my family for this wonderful gift. My second kid is almost 3 y.o. by now - and only now I'm almost out of all that misery. Almost. My way is still long, but now I know how to climb it and who are there to help me.
    Again, Thank you for share. thank you for giving voice to something so overwhelming, that you have no voice to explain it when you needed. And please forgive my mistakes in this writing - I'm from Italy and I'm typing this message by the flow, so my english could be poor. Wishing you all the best. With all my heart. Elena

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  31. I can not thank you enough for being so brave in sharing your story! Tonight as I lay next to my 4 month old baby girl I was searching on the Web for anything that resembled the feelings I have been going through lately. I didn't know how to explain what I was feeling and here I stumble apon your blog and felt a rush of support for a complete stranger. Thank you for helping me understand why I have been feeling the way that I have and for bringing some clarity to the chaos.

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    1. <3 lots and lots and lots of love Eryka - you are NOT alone. I too searched the internet, and honestly feel like part of the reason I blog is so that I can continue to share this post. I'm so happy you stumbled upon it, and want you to know that things will get better. I hope you are able to see a care provider in the very near future so you can start getting some help. Know that you are not weak, that this happens to a huge percentage of moms, and that there are solutions -- I am now so much better! I just wish I had sought out help sooner. Sending you lots of love!

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  32. Thank you for sharing your story. It is really hard to find the stories of high functioning women with PPD. I suffered for a long time without getting help due to my pride. I am a social worker, so I felt soooo ashamed and defeated, like a fraud. How do I call myself a mental health professional and can't even help myself. OF course that was the PPD talking and I knew deep down that was not true, but it still took me 2 years to finally come to terms that I need help outside of my "self help" techniques. I say all that to just say Thank You again. Its stories like yours that help people like me realize that I am not alone.

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    1. Thank you Nicole for your touching words and story. You are most certainly not alone, and I'm so happy to hear that you were able to get help. We can be our own worst enemy sometimes, and I'm so happy that help was there for me when I needed it. Good luck on your journey to recovery, and I know your future patients will benefit from things you have learned on your own recovery.

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  33. Thank you for sharing your story. It is really hard to find the stories of high functioning women with PPD. I suffered for a long time without getting help due to my pride. I am a social worker, so I felt soooo ashamed and defeated, like a fraud. How do I call myself a mental health professional and can't even help myself. OF course that was the PPD talking and I knew deep down that was not true, but it still took me 2 years to finally come to terms that I need help outside of my "self help" techniques. I say all that to just say Thank You again. Its stories like yours that help people like me realize that I am not alone.

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  34. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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