Reality check on not caring and not knowing what to do?
April 22, 2012 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I feel like something just snapped in my head. Alternatively I'm being a baby and a drama queen, but a tiny voice is telling me something isn't right and I need to ask for help. I'm not sure if the site is really for this, but I would really appreciate a reality check and for someone to tell me what to do now.

Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop (sorry about typos on my phone) My partner and baby are at a party around the corner which I refused to go to and insisted they go without me. It's been an especially hard week but I was really happy this morning until my partner kept reminding me about the time and I started to feel like going out to socialize was just another work day. Then I refused to go out for a while, then I came out but I felt numb all the way here and just couldn't get it together to go with them. I'm not blaming my partner, I insisted and they are really upset and don't know what to do.

Things are hard right now. We are in a new city and I am having a hard time finding a job (although my partner will disagree because I haven't been turned down anywhere yet). Unless I get a well paid job we can't get anywhere to live (we are staying with family while we get settled). My partner isnt going to work because of visa stuff but also to care for our little baby, which we all agree is what we want. I know I need to just get any crappy job but I had a senior professional job before the baby and I feel like then my life will be shit for ever, as well as not being able to get somewhere nice to live. We do have a lot of savings, but this more about what I should be doing if that makes sense.

I feel so humiliated and like such a failure. I cant even drive because i need to get a license in the new place we live. I am taking lessons and renting a car to practice but i just cant do it fast or well enough. My kid doesn't care if I am here or not, there's nothing I can do for him that my partner can't. I don't feel like an adult, I am disappointing to everyone, my partner must feel like they have another child because I am not as motivated to get stuff done as them.

I feel like i just don't care anymore where I go or what happens, but that's sort of not true either because I'm not going further than this cafe because my partner has my asthma inhaler and I'm paranoid about having an attack. I should just go for a walk. I feel so numb and tired. I just spent an hour not even looking at my son and he doesn't care, I feel like I want to stop breastfeeding him, but it's something I love doing. I can't even write this question in real sentences.

Something in my head is telling me to tell my partner or someone that I don't feel right and I need help, but I guess I seem fine to them, and it seems like if I know I have a problem I must be making it up so I don't. I don't think I could get good healthcare anyway, insurance isnt an issue here, but I will not go on meds and I'm scared because a woman here got her kid taken away after telling her doctor she was depressed and we are an unusual family that will attract extra scrutiny.

Can someone just tell me what I am supposed to do? I know I can't just sit here. My partner will be here in a couple hours. How do I explain this to them, evcn that I just dont care what happens and they should do what they want and play with the baby and stuff without me?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I know fuck all about everything else, but every now and then my wife or I have to say to the other "Hey, feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. Need a bit of time alone to decompress. Can you be with the kid for a bit?"

That's a lot better than snapping and throwing stuff. Hope you decompress soon, it sounds like you're about to blow.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

if I know I have a problem I must be making it up so I don't.

This is VERY not true.

Something in my head is telling me to tell my partner or someone that I don't feel right and I need help

Think about how you would feel if you found out that your partner needed help and was reluctant to say anything to you. Wouldn't you want to know and be able to help? Telling someone is a good idea.
posted by tractorfeed at 11:52 AM on April 22, 2012 [9 favorites]

It sounds like you may have post-partum depression. Can you talk to your OB or doctor about it? These feelings of helplessness and being "numb" are very common after birth, and very textbook for post-partum depression.

Remember your hormones are crazy right now.

Please don't feel ashamed to talk to someone about getting treated.
posted by katypickle at 11:52 AM on April 22, 2012 [46 favorites]

This is depression, either postpartum or otherwise. Yes, you need help. I have been where you are, I have felt and done exactly as you just described. You need help.

You are not being a baby and you are not being a drama queen.

Please, get help. This is treatable!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:54 AM on April 22, 2012 [35 favorites]

You are not being a drama queen, you're burnt out and depressed. You've been under a lot of stress (new baby, new city, job hunting). You are not making this up. You are unhappy. You need help and guidance and support, and the best place to start getting it is from your partner, who will absolutely understand because they love you.

How do I explain this to them, evcn that I just dont care what happens and they should do what they want and play with the baby and stuff without me?

If you feel like you can't articulate it out loud, can you show them this post?
posted by fight or flight at 11:58 AM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Not sure where you are, but google your city + mental health helpline (or any kind of health call-in service). Call it. Hopefully they can tell you about resources for people without insurance, etc.
posted by scribbler at 11:58 AM on April 22, 2012

Take a deeep breath! You seem to be snowballing from feeling bad about not wanting to go to the party and have some alone-time, into doubting your recent life choices. These are not the same thing!
posted by rhizome at 12:01 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came in here to say it sounds like postpartum depression (or just "regular" depression. You are not being a drama queen. You need to tell your partner you're feeling overwhelmed and get some help. I wish I'd done that sooner when I had terrible ppd (and thought I was making a big deal over nothing).

Good luck. You are not alone in this.
posted by devotion+doubt at 12:03 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

Can someone just tell me what I am supposed to do? I know I can't just sit here. My partner will be here in a couple hours. How do I explain this to them, evcn that I just dont care what happens and they should do what they want and play with the baby and stuff without me?

It is really okay to say, "I am overwhelmed and I can't deal with this right now." It does not even have to mean that you need help or counseling, it doesn't have to mean anything momentous, it's just you choosing to take a break.

One time when I was going through some personal stuff, I had signed up for a weeklong seminar that was going to involve intensive interaction with people. It was about an hour's drive away. I got within ten miles of the venue, and I thought, "I cannot do this right now." I pulled over, thought about it for a minute, and drove home and took the next couple of days off. It was no big deal. I gave myself permission to bail out.
posted by jayder at 12:03 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Oh, the other thing about what I did: I was expected at this thing. It was limited enrollment. But sometimes you just have to let people down. And it was not a big deal.
posted by jayder at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you are on a smartphone, download the book "When Baby Brings the Blues" by Ariel Dalfen. Do it now. It will cost about $13 US. (Do not worry about the money right now. It's ok; that's not much.) Start reading it. It has some basic self-treatment starring points and ideas about how to get further help.

What you are feeling is real and happens to a lot of people. It's so, so hard, but it is treatable. You don't have to suffer this way. I'm rooting for you.
posted by purpleclover at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can someone just tell me what I am supposed to do? I know I can't just sit here. My partner will be here in a couple hours. How do I explain this to them, evcn that I just dont care what happens and they should do what they want and play with the baby and stuff without me?

You are under a lot of pressure to quickly find a job and start supporting the family and find a place to live and drive.

you needed a break. To decompress as others have said.

Just say this to your partner. And perhaps work out a schedule where you get more of these "me times" during this high pressure period of your life.
posted by infini at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2012

At their heart what you're describing sounds like pretty standard depression/anxiety reactions that are pretty damn natural in a stress overload situation. New city, challenging temporary living situation, career change and uncertainty, new parent, special relocation challenges like the driving issue. I think I'd be more worried if you weren't feeling completely overwhelmed.

Just as points of perspective I want to point out some things you said that I'm basically certain are expressions of your emotional state but don't seem to have have much actual basis or justification in fact:
-then my life will be shit for ever
-I feel so humiliated and like such a failure
-I just cant do it fast or well enough
-My kid doesn't care if I am here or not
-I don't feel like an adult, I am disappointing to everyone, my partner must feel like they have another child
-if I know I have a problem I must be making it up
-I don't think I could get good healthcare
-a woman here got her kid taken away after telling her doctor she was depressed
-we are an unusual family that will attract extra scrutiny

It's okay to have anxiety, to feel panic, to have a crisis of confidence in yourself and feel overwhelmed. You've faced too many big changes at once but it sounds like objectively you are in good shape. You have family support, a supportive partner, financial resources, and you're doing the things you need to do, job hunting and taking driving lessons and so forth.

Your partner is on your side and wants what is best for you. Nobody else thinks you're a failure. There are lots of different kinds of mental health support resources. Nobody is going to try to insist you take medications. Create the opportunity to talk out all the feelings you're struggling with, with your partner, while someone else takes care of the baby or while the baby is reliably asleep if that is happening yet. What you are experiencing is super normal and there is absolutely nothing in it to feel ashamed about. Admitting you are feeling totally overwhelmed and finding support within and without your personal network is absolutely the right thing to do.
posted by nanojath at 12:31 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

I had the same feelings about my son when he was little, like he only needed my partner and not me, like there was nothing I could do for him and what was the point in even breastfeeding?

It's just not true. It's most likely PPD. And I can tell you most certainly that your baby needs you desperately, even when you have another partner who does most of the child care.

This will pass, but it will be much much easier on you if you're able to get help. And I'm not trying to diagnose or treat you from here but flat-out refusing mess is just silly (c'mon, you use meds for your asthma!) I took mes throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, there are some that are safe (iANAD, and I am not suggesting it's your best option. Just saying that you're silly to reject it out of hand.)

I could be wrong but I have a vague feeling that I might remember you from earlier posts and ai think I know where you are. (sorry if this is nonsense.). Help IS available, even where I think you are, though I understand your apprehension at asking for it. At the very least please get counselling. Do not be ashamed. Your baby needs you sooooo much, I really don't want you to miss out on this very special time due to feeling lousy (like I did). Please reach out to your partner for help.
posted by rubbish bin night at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2012

Aargh autocorrect! Sorry if I was a bit harsh with the 'silly' thing. I really didn't mean it that way.
posted by rubbish bin night at 12:43 PM on April 22, 2012

Depression can sometimes make you imagine things that are not true, things like your baby not caring if you are around. But also know that it is very common for the baby to prefer one parent for periods of time, usually the primary care taker. Tons of new dads have found themselves feeling useless and rejected for periods of time in which the baby prefers mom. But soon the pendulum will almost assuredly swing back the other way and there will be other periods of time in which the baby will be a lot more interested in the non-primary-caregiver parent. So don't take it personally, it's just, as they say, a stage.

If you want to stop breastfeeding, you can stop. It does take a lot out of you. I suggest you get your depression looked into first, so you can make the decision from a more positive state of mind. But you are absolutely not obligated to breastfeed any longer than you feel comfortable doing so. Your baby has already gained lots of benefits from however long he or she has nursed, so you can feel good about that and go on to bottle feed if you want to.

I'm scared because a woman here got her kid taken away after telling her doctor she was depressed and we are an unusual family that will attract extra scrutiny.

You almost certainly don't have an accurate picture of what went on there. That may be the official story the mom or the family is telling everyone, but I can practically guarantee you that nobody is going to take your baby away because you are depressed. It just doesn't happen unless the baby is being abused or seriously neglected.

I will not go on meds

I'm not sure what your reasons are, but I can tell you that I resisted going on meds for years while struggling to control my depression through "natural" means. It worked for awhile, sort of and just barely. Eventually I had to give in and try some meds because my life was simply falling apart, and it was one of the best things I ever did. Truly. I can't believe how much better I feel and what a relief it is to not be struggling 24/7 just to maintain my emotional balance. If you can get a good psychiatrist to manage your meds, they can work with you to find a med (or a combination of meds) that will make you feel better with a minimum of side effects.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

You are depressed and SO overwhelmed -- moving, a baby, a partner who can't work, looking for a job -- that is all SO stressful. Unemployment alone is harrowing and makes you feel terrible. Post-partum depression alone makes you feel terrible. You are not being a drama queen -- you are going through a LOT right now.

"I'm scared because a woman here got her kid taken away after telling her doctor she was depressed and we are an unusual family that will attract extra scrutiny."

I don't know where in the world you are, but I'm in the U.S. and I've battled depression, post-partum and otherwise, and they do not take your kids away for being depressed. And I remember having that fear when I first sought help after my son was born. Memail me if you want to talk about it more, I'm happy to share my experiences.

"but I guess I seem fine to them, and it seems like if I know I have a problem I must be making it up so I don't."

You probably DON'T seem fine to your partner; but your partner is trying to cheer you up, not knowing what else to do for the burrow of sadness you're in, and you need more specialized care than that.

"Can someone just tell me what I am supposed to do? I know I can't just sit here. My partner will be here in a couple hours. How do I explain this to them, evcn that I just dont care what happens and they should do what they want and play with the baby and stuff without me?"

You can just sit there. Go get an Italian soda or a coffee or something and just SIT for the next two hours. You don't have to do anything. Just BE for a little while.

Then, show your partner (or the family you are staying with) this post. You need help finding a doctor and making an appointment. Ask your partner to help you with that. You can find help for your depression through your child's pediatrician if you need to -- they have referrals handy because so MANY parents suffer from post-partum depression. Tell your partner you need a break from the baby -- take a night off breastfeeding, and just sleep and sleep and sleep until you're slept out. (If your boobs hurt, get up, feed the baby or express them, and go right back to bed.)

And then I want you to read the trashiest, most mindless book you can think of, or sink three hours into a video game, or watch Titanic, or something that you really enjoy but is undemanding. You are so overwhelmed you need to REST and then, if you can, recharge just a little bit with something enjoyable but easy, something that is just for YOU. You have SO much responsibility on your shoulders right now, you need to do something for you. (Note that neither sleep nor trashy books will cure your depression -- you need to see a doctor -- but these are concrete and free things you can do immediately to get some much-needed rest and do something to take care of yourself.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:56 PM on April 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

You need to be screen for PPD, because what you are describing is classic PPD. It is treatable.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:59 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

You sound depressed. And not the 'Ugh the concert is sold out' kind of "depression" that gets thrown around. Like, legit, DSM depression. You feel numb and overwhelmed at the same time. You don't think people need you. You are scared and going through a lot right now. You're self-loathing. All these things are a sign of depression.

And, no. You are not making this up.

This is Serious Business. And i know it seems like a lot to deal with, and talking to your partner is going to be hard. But you need to power through it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel. No matter how much you think you can just keep hiding and not "bother" anyone with it. You need to let someone know.
And, trust me, it gets better. I had severe depression for a while. It'd get so bad that I'd have a panic attack thinking about leaving my room to get a beverage from the kitchen. I didn't want my room mates [who were also my best friends] to see me. I dreaded, absolutely dreaded, them ever knowing how much of a failure I was. I never talked about it with my partner, either. I kept hiding and pretending. Eventually everything broke and the cat was let out of the bag about how much of an utter wreck I was on the inside. And you know what? IT MADE EVERYTHING SO MUCH BETTER. God, the pressure was off. It was such a relief. I could just be myself. And, some days, myself was a sad ball of sadness who just wanted to sit in the dark and read crappy novels, but hey-I could now work through my emotions without pretending they weren't there.
I can't guarantee the people in your life will respond the same, but my friends and partner and family were really supportive. So now, when I'm feeling like that, I can just say "I'm having A Day." And there doesn't need to be any more discussion, they just understand and try to be supportive.

So, yeah. Please, just talk to someone and let them know the hell you're going through. It's the first step towards getting the help you need.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:15 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I went to the emergency room with my husband and baby and told them that I was considering hurting myself or my baby if I didn't get some space and some sleep. They did not take my baby away. A friend of mine called her doctor and told her that she was having vivid, lucid fantasies about throwing her baby down the stairs, and they did not take her baby away. In both cases, we did get the appropriate help that we needed, and they did not take our babies away.

I am so familiar with the feelings you are describing. I remember sitting at a wedding reception of two dear friends and suddenly realizing that I was about to just simply start screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming, and trying to figure out how to communicate to my partner that we needed to go RIGHT NOW without opening my mouth, because if I opened my mouth I would never stop screaming. In my case, it turned out to be depression and anxiety, plus a decade of not-good-enough coping mechanisms that were finally cracking and failing around me. I don't know what it is in your case, but it is something real, it is something bad, and it is something that can be helped.

I am actually in tears at your question; you write your feelings so lucidly and so clearly, and I remember so vividly what it was like. Please tell your partner and your family. This can be helped.
posted by KathrynT at 1:15 PM on April 22, 2012 [28 favorites]

"We do have a lot of savings": This is so, so wonderful. You can take immediate steps to get a little help. Like, you can google today for OB/GYN providers and call a couple places tomorrow to get appointments. You sound exactly like you're going through some post-partum depression. Your general sense of not being good enough or wanted, even by your baby, is depression talking. You're taking on three of the biggest stressers at once (moving, baby, and job hunt), which is just incredible, let alone with breast-feeding hormones. You are doing great. You really are. Good for you for taking some time alone. Self-care is really hard, particularly when you feel valueless.

If you can do one thing in the next day or two, find an OB/GYN to talk to. Yelp can recommend one near you. Ask your facebook network if someone has a fav local doc. They can help you think through the first steps with some perspective. They can talk about medication, therapy, support groups, and other options. They're a good place to get referrals. Talk therapy, even 6-8 sessions, can help tremendously.

When you call to schedule, emphasize that you are having a crisis and you need an appointment NOW. You really, really are, as much as a broken arm is a BIG DEAL thing.

Medication may not be the right choice for you, and that's okay. Keep it in mind and talk about why you don't want it, in therapy or with your OB/GYN. Chemistry is not a personal failure. It's just crooked neurotransmitters, and hey, I'd treat diabetes with insulin, so I treat my anxiety. You are in such a tough place now, and I feel for you.
posted by BigJen at 1:30 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came in to say what many others have said. If it helps to know you are not alone, I felt this way, it was post-partum depression, and it's terrible to go through! It is also treatable. You can be yourself again.

You may have to go on some medicaion. I'm sorry, I know you don't like it, but if you were diabetic and had to take insulin you wouldn't give it a second thought if you knew that was best for you and your family, would you? Your depression is a serious health issue and you have to treat it that way. It is messing with your head and making you unable to cope right now. You can't even think straight right now.

For instance, you say this: My kid doesn't care if I am here or not, there's nothing I can do for him that my partner can't.

That is so, so not true! I know it without knowing you, I really do, because even in your own question you contradict this. You are breast-feeding your child. You are looking for work that will financially support your family, work your partner cannot get because of visa issues. Your partner and your child were upset just to go to the party without you. They need you and they want you in their lives! You think they wouldn't miss you? Of course they would. They'd be devastated.

You think your son didn't care because you couldn't look at him for an hour and his life went on all the same? He's just a child. He loves you, worries about you and needs you, but he isn't always going to show you in the way you might want him to. You know this, really, but you can't see the forest for the trees right now, because you're depressed and having a hard time at the moment.

Let's face it, parenting is tough, and it can seem like a thankless job in the short-term. I can tell you from experience, though, that it is also incredibly rewarding in the long term. My nearly-grown kids are amazing, and they are grateful and loving, too. You just have to hang in there to see those times come. And to do that you need to get help now!

I'm scared because a woman here got her kid taken away after telling her doctor she was depressed.

Okay, now take a deep breath. You have a partner, you have a family you are living with right now. You are not alone, right? That woman was not you. If her child was taken away, it's because she was a danger to herself and others and there was no other way to keep that child safe.

But even if you thought you might be a danger to yourself or your child (which I know is a horrifying and scary thought), even then, you have people around you, a support system to take that child in. There is no reason for your child to be taken away from you. So what you do is, you make yourself get help, because that's what's best for you and your child.

It's hard, I know. You don't feel like doing anything right now, you just want to curl up and go to sleep. You have all these responsibilities and you feel like you want to be the child and have someone take care of you for a change! That's completely understandable, okay?

Maybe, once you get the help you need, you and your loved ones can all figure out how to take some of the pressure off going forward, too. But first, you need to get that help now.

Please, please go see your ob/gyn or your primary care physician and tell them what you have told us. You desperately need some help. I'm worried about you!
posted by misha at 2:09 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Something in my head is telling me to tell my partner or someone that I don't feel right and I need help, but I guess I seem fine to them, and it seems like if I know I have a problem I must be making it up so I don't.

You should tell your partner. They want to help. It's really helpful just to be able to admit that you're feeling this way to your partner, even if you still have to put on a brave face for public or whatever. If they understand why you're acting the way you are, they can help you get some alone-time when you need it, help you stay on an even keel emotionally, and be there for a reality check when you feel like everything is awful. They can't directly help with your depression— depression is notoriously personal that way— but they can still help you.

It's completely understandable that you're overwhelmed. You're in a really stressful situation: you're suddenly responsible for a new baby and your partner; you're in a new city where you don't have a network of friends, familiar places, and so on; you're looking for a job; and on top of that you probably have post-partum depression. Any one of these alone can be hard to deal with. You're dealing with a lot. But on the other hand: you will, in time, settle in with the baby, in the city, find a job, and your hormones will come back into whack.

Even if you don't want to take meds (they might be the best thing for you, esp. if PPD is a factor, but it's your decision), you can still talk to your doctor/obgyn/etc and ask for help. A therapist could help you and your partner develop good coping strategies. You're aware that some of the things you're thinking don't totally make sense, so CBT might be helpful. They have a whole toolbox of helpful ideas; it's kind of their thing.

it seems like if I know I have a problem I must be making it up

I had a tiny insight about this feeling once, which I don't know if I can communicate: it's that the question of whether you're "making it up" isn't really meaningful. Because the awfulness you feel is real. Sure, if you were just feeling kind of bummed, then maybe the best way to respond to that (real!) feeling would be to put it aside and get over yourself; but that's not what you're feeling. The weird mixture of thoughts you describe is horribly familiar to someone who's been depressed. You can probably get through it the hard way, with no help, no meds, etc.— but that's like walking ten miles on a broken ankle for no reason; you can probably do that but why would you if you could splint it, put it in a cast, or heck, take the taxi that's waiting right there? No one will think you're weak or foolish for looking for help.
posted by hattifattener at 2:33 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Post-partum depression was the absolute worst thing I ever experienced because of the voice telling me "oh, you can still X, so it's not really that bad" PLUS the addition of a new life to care for and the whole "my life is changed forever" somehow translates into "my life will be horrible forever". Sounds like you have the same thing going on.

Others have covered the mental health part but I'll just say that taking care of/parenting babies and toddlers is HARD, it is STRESSFUL, and it is often BORING AND UNREWARDING. They ignore you, they claw you, they bite you, they fuss until you want to scream. That is not just you, it is most people. The sexist society we live in feeds women a bunch of bullshit about it being easy and fun in order to reinforce the idea that women's work is valueless and leisurely. BULLSHIT.

Hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:54 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you are not just in another city, but probably in another country, perhaps one with substandard health care and limited understanding/acceptance of mental health issues. I am not going to argue with you about whether you are being rational about being scared to seek help in case it gets your child taken away, although I will say that depression (which you seem to have a textbook case of) does lead people to magnify the dangers and scariness of taking steps to help themselves, while minimising the possibility of success.

That said, you have savings. You have a partner who is cool with being the primary carer for the baby. A possible plan would be for you to visit your family back home, and see a doctor there. Maybe for a few weeks, get some emergency therapy sessions (and I also think you should at least discuss the possibility of meds, but even if you don't, I think this would be worth it). You can tell everyone where you are now that family back home is sick and you are going to help out, or something. When you are back home, you can work out a plan for self-treatment with your therapist, and/or he/she might be able to give you a reference to a reliable provider in the country where you are.
posted by lollusc at 3:31 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I will not go on meds

In cases like yours, this would not be "going on meds." This would be "taking medicine because people get sick and sometimes need to take medicine to get better."
posted by hermitosis at 3:45 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Dealing with any one of these things on its own would be tough for anyone, let alone altogether.

I don't know where you are, but there will be support for you. Please tell someone how you are feeling.

In case you are in the UK, here is information on postnatal depression from NHS Direct, and also Mind and the Association for Post Natal Illness who both have helplines you can ring. You can also contact Parentline which is a confidential hotline for parenting support - 0808 800 2222.

And, if you are in the UK, there have been recent news stories about a Doctor who has been accused of misdiagnosing parents with mental health problems, which lead to some of them loosing custody of their children. He is under investigation from the General Medical Council because of his actions. Please don't let that story stop you getting the help you need.
posted by Helga-woo at 4:45 PM on April 22, 2012

Just one very small piece of information which is sometimes not apparent to people who are against the idea of anti-depressants - you won't have to keep taking them. In the vast majority of cases they are very much a temporary thing. Once you're through the worst of what seems like the all-encompassing despair of depression the meds become unnecessary.
posted by h00py at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

This definitely sounds like post-partum depression. How old is your baby? Has s/he started eating solid food and nursing less often? This can cause a change in your hormones and lead to depression. No one ever talks about it! But it is definitely a concern.

Even without the hormone piece, you have so much going on that can lead you to feeling overwhelmed. New baby, moving, looking for work, learning to drive (one of my biggest fears!!), living with family (which can be horrible!). The pressure of having to support your family by yourself, that alone can eat a person up.

I have been where you are. I'm a single mother who had a fantastic job before the baby, had terrible depression after, lost the terrific job and had to try to find something to support us both. I was too afraid to apply for welfare when the money ran out, because I was certain they would see I was a mess and take my daughter away. In retrospect, I can see that was totally irrational, but I can also remember very clearly how absolutely certain I was at the time that this would happen.

I'm not sure what your unusual family circumstances are, but you are two parents plus extended family available to care for your baby. Unless there is gross neglect or abuse, I can't think of any state that would seize a child under those circumstances.

Don't let that fear keep you from getting help. There is so much good help available and no reason to continue feeling as awful as you do. Don't worry about taking drugs; you may find that talk therapy is enough. A good therapist may have other recommendations other than drugs. If at some point someone suggests drugs and you decide it's worth a try, you can stop if they don't work out. Nothing is written in stone.

When your partner comes back, tell them what you wrote here, that you are feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Ask them for help.
posted by looli at 5:49 PM on April 22, 2012

One other thing. This:

Something in my head is telling me to tell my partner or someone that I don't feel right and I need help, but I guess I seem fine to them, and it seems like if I know I have a problem I must be making it up so I don't.

is how I went eight years (EIGHT!) without getting help for PPD. I waited until I was suicidal and in danger of losing the (fantastic) job I eventually managed to get (also by moving cities).

I, apparently, seemed fine to everyone, too, including a couple of different doctors at walk-in clinics I went to for help over the years. I'm going to assume from the fact that you had a senior professional job before the baby that you are a pretty together woman who was very high achieving. I think this is something that can really work against you when what you need is help. You may well be very successfully putting on a brave front for everyone. I feel very lucky that I made a good friend at work who could see right through me and kept on me until I finally broke down, took a leave of absence and got help.

Drop your brave face, lower your guard and ask for help.
posted by looli at 6:01 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Please, if you have a second, read the book How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, by Susan Rose Blauner, and I bet you will recognize a lot of yourself in there.

You aren't making anything up. Your brain isn't working optimally. Maybe you are also sad and stressed by the huge change that's just happened in your life, too. But the important thing is that you are precious and you have every right to have these feelings--and not only that, these feelings are totally understandable for someone in your position to be having. Nobody will judge you for having a hard time right now. Please take care of yourself.

Please, please call your doctor tomorrow morning and see them as soon as possible. Everything you're saying sounds like classic post-partum depression from my armchair, but the important thing is to get in to see someone who can help you help yourself.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:35 PM on April 22, 2012

What they all said.

Right now your brain is not helping you see the possibilities and options you have. That's OK, and it's not your fault, it's just what is. Tell your partner what's going on with you - even just print out this AskMe and have them read it. Ask them to help you sort out what your real options are, where you can get help and be safe. What you're going through is very real and very scary, but there are answers and you are not doomed or broken permanently or worthless or lazy or useless or whatever else you're thinking you are right now. Depression lies; don't believe it.

If you tell the mods what country and state/province/etc. you're in, people can help you sort out options from here, too.

It will get better, if you ask for help and be kind to yourself. Really.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 8:18 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

My best to you.

You live somewhere you are afraid the state might step in and take your child? You may not be wrong about that, proceed accordingly in regards to this concern.

That said

You MUST share this with your partner and support system, however far away some of them may be.

Yes your baby needs care, but so do you!

You are not not not not the first new parent to get overwhelmed. Take heart.

You're going to be OK after you reach out to safe people and resources for help. Start with your partner.

"My kid doesn't care if I am here or not, there's nothing I can do for him that my partner can't."

And I KNOW your son loves you. He's just too little right now to demonstrate that. My son just enjoyed his first birthday. The first year is difficult, and I swear to you that little man you've got there loves you and your partner like no other. You have no replacement in his world. Give it a few hours, a few days, or even a few months - he'll start showing you how unfailingly important you are to him. This I can assure you.


As per Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman!, I was also thinking if you let us know where you are via the mods, I'm almost certain other Mefites would be happy to reach out to you and lend support, no questions asked, no reciprocation required.

So there's us, too.
posted by jbenben at 8:25 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know where you live, but in the UK last week there was a story on Woman's Hour about a mother who had her baby taken away from her for telling her doctor she was struggling with depression. If that's what you're referring to, let me set your mind at ease. The whole reason that story was reported was that the reaction of the doctor was so wrong and out of proportion and not what should have happened that it was considered scandalous. There was even an admission that the doctor had lied to social services to exaggerate what the mother had told her. This is absolutely not going to happen in your case because 1. it was an anomaly that it happened in the reported case and 2. it's so much on GP's and the public's radar at the moment because of that story that they're going to be extra careful not to take babies away from their mothers at the moment without a rock solid reason. Please do go to your GP and tell her about your depression. Wishing you luck.
posted by hazyjane at 10:26 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Your partner loves you. They want to know when things are bad, so that they can help. You need help with this. Tell them how your are feeling. Hell, send them a link to this page, do it right now, it will take you all of 10 seconds, and then you know that they will read it and know how you feel.

I don't know how old your child is, but for a long time it will seem like they don't really need you. And then one day you will realize that all of a sudden they freak out when you are away from them. Until that day comes, it is easy to feel like they don't need you, but it is not true.

Try to think about the best things that you can do for your family. Right now, that would be getting your partner to understand how you are feeling so that they can help you through this situation. There is no downside to this. There is however a huge downside to keeping these thoughts to yourself.
posted by markblasco at 11:13 PM on April 22, 2012

It seems you've made an incredible amount of changes in your life: new city, looking for a new job and having your baby. Any one of those is a stressful change - so it's really OK to need a break for a while.

I'll nth the speak to your partner sentiment. They need to be told your feeling overwhelmed.

How do I explain this to them
Perhaps you could just show your partner what you've written above? Or maybe you'd like to break it down into the specific things that worry you. It sounds like you're worried about not getting your own place, not getting a job quickly enough, and maybe not being able to get a job at the senior level you worked at before. You also seem worried about your baby not needing you.

It's been said before, but it's worth saying again: it's not just you that's finding it hard to get a job at the moment. The job market sucks. If you have to settle for a less senior post, you can at least take consolation in the fact that it should leave you with more time to spend with your baby and partner. Hopefully it will also just be a stepping stone to a more senior job. Of course it's also a stepping stone to your own place.

Please don't worry that you're not doing this fast enough. It's not you that's limiting the pace, it's the lack of available jobs and the amount of other candidates.

And please believe me when I say your baby needs you: baby is just at an age that doesn't really show that very well at the moment.

Also you say you're staying with family. Is there anyone there that you could talk to? They know you better than us, they might be able to help you relax or help with the job hunt.
posted by SuckPoppet at 1:47 AM on April 23, 2012

Oh, Honey, you've got too much on your shoulders! ((Hugs))

I don't have anything to add that the others haven't said - but reading this broke my heart and I wanted to offer some love. There is a lot of useful advice in this thread, please find something that works for you. Before it's too late.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:44 AM on April 23, 2012

Like other parents above I've experienced some of the same things you are experiencing and my heart goes out to you. My kids are grown, back then there wasn't much help available. There is now. If you are in the US here are some resources for you:

Postpartum Support International

Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Foundation for Postpartum Depression

The Ruth Rhodan Craven Foundation for Postpartum Depression Awareness

Please let the mods know where you are so we can give you the most useful links.
posted by mareli at 9:48 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

if you are in the UK and struggling among other things with how the health service here is organised, please, please contact me and I will talk you through it.

This is depression, and there are treatments, if you, your partner or your baby had an infection that a doctor felt needed antibiotics, would you reject them?

Please just keep an open mind at the moment about all options because your mind is not working as well as it has done in the past. This is temporary and it will get better.

please do let the mods know where you are as we can then give better advice on options.
posted by Wilder at 11:08 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You would not be 'going on meds' anymore than you would be 'shooting up plaster' if you got a cast for a broken arm. Actually, bad analogy - plaster casts are a rarity, but chances are pretty good you know people who are on anti-depressants right now. Lots of people.

True story: a coworker looked jittery.

'What's up?'
Quietly: 'I forgot to take my Zoloft.'
Louder: 'I forgot to take my Zoloft.'

Four colleagues - this was a team of eight, for crissakes - reached into their desk drawers and handbags. 'How much are you on?'

Seriously, I think I'm the only person I know who isn't on anti-depressants.

I'm so depressed
Not really, but I like to be a part of things too
Yes, I'm joking, because I wouldn't wish depression on my worst enemy
Looks like I don't need glasses, either

posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:37 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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