Happy Saturday, everyone! This week’s featured writer post comes from Jamie Johnson, a full-time working mom and author of Hashtag Mom Fail, who got real about her postpartum depression. Mental health is extremely important, especially in today’s society, which is filled with pressure to balance a job and family, make enough money to pay the bills, and still have time to enjoy ourselves. Jamie gives an excellent repertoire of her experience with giving birth to her second child, Simon, and discusses details of not only postpartum depression, but depression in general.
“There is a stigma surrounding people that bring up the fact they need help. It’s a taboo subject. People judge others that admit they have mental health issues. And I’m not okay with that.”
If anyone else here struggles with depression, whether postpartum or general, you are not alone. In fact, the NIMH estimates that 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode on 2012. Furthermore, depression is the leading cause of disability and the World Health Organization estimates a total of 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
Let’s understand that mental health issues are real, can be quite debilitating, and need to be brought to the light instead of being judged and misunderstood.
Here’s what Jamie has to say about postpartum depression and the importance of taking care of both the mind and body:
Mental Health & Child Birth: Do What Feels Right For You
There were a lot of topics I considered writing about for my first post-baby blog post. But since I have been so open about my experience with postpartum depression after having Henry, I thought that sharing how things are going this time around would be fitting.
Mental health is so important. It also happens to be something that isn’t talked about. There is a stigma surrounding people that bring up the fact they need help. It’s a taboo subject. People judge others that admit they have mental health issues. And I’m not okay with that.
At this exact moment, I am sitting on my couch. I have on headphones listening to my favorite tunes and writing this blog post. My five day old baby boy – Simon Parker – is sleeping peacefully in his rock-n-play. And I feel good. Really good. I’m genuinely happy. I feel so much love in my life right now.
At about five days postpartum with Henry, I was not okay. Most likely I would have been in the bedroom crying. The blinds would have been closed. I would be ignoring phone calls, text messages, visitors, and even my husband and child.
Disclaimer: I absolutely loved Henry at that point. More than life itself. But depression does absolutely crazy things to your mind and body.
It hasn’t been very long since I gave birth to Simon, and I know that things could change with the flip of a switch, but I feel very encouraged. I know that I have finally stopped giving zero fucks – excuse the language – about what other people think of me and how I take care of me, my body and my baby.
Here are some of the things I have done that may seem “against the grain” when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I am so glad that I finally told those voices telling me to do the so called “right thing” to shove it.
- I took depression medicine throughout my pregnancy. This was obviously something that I spoke to my doctor about and she agreed it was safe for me and the baby.
- I decided not to breastfeed with Simon. I can’t nurse on my depression medicine and I believe it is better for my child to have a healthy, happy mommy than breast milk and a mommy that can’t stop crying and locks herself in a dark room for days at a time. I won’t lie, I was apprehensive about this one. Why? Because we hear “breast is best” so much. What if it really is true that formula fed babies have more allergies and don’t get into the best colleges and choose to eat dirt in the backyard instead of collecting and indexing bugs? I was also nervous that the lactation consultants and nurses at the hospital would push me to nurse. I was scared they would try to give me a guilt trip. But you know what? They didn’t. I told them I wanted to bottle feed and no one said a word. No one tried to pressure me into anything.
- I am getting sleep. One perk of bottle feeding this kiddo is that my husband can help. Logan takes the night shifts and I take the early morning shifts. We trade in the middle of the night so we both get some rest. And a (semi) well rested mommy is the best kind of mommy.
- I continued with anxiety medicine after I gave birth. I know, I know. Depression AND anxiety medicine? Some might call me a hot mess. Or worse, a bad mom. But you know what, I don’t care. If I did care, I wouldn’t be writing about it in a blog that thousands of people read. I have a history with depression and anxiety. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bad mom. I work out. I eat well – most of the time. I practice self-care. But sometimes medicine is necessary. And I have come to terms with that. I am the best version of me mentally when I take my medicine.
- I stopped putting incredible amounts of pressure on myself. No one is perfect. The perfect parent doesn’t exist. I am doing a better job of going with the flow and enjoying my time with my kids. I don’t want to look back one day and regret that I spent so much time charting dirty diapers and feedings and sleep cycles in an app that I paid $4.99 for in the app store that I missed something that really mattered.
I know i’m not out of the woods yet. Postpartum depression hits you hard and unexpectedly. But I feel as though I have taken the right path this time around for me and my baby. So throw everything you have heard is the “right thing” out the window and do what feels right for you. I promise you won’t regret it.
Until Next Time,