I'm new to depression. Please help.
June 4, 2013 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday I admitted aloud to my husband that I think I am suffering from depression. This came after a lengthy argument over something trivial. Lately I have been feeling very, very irritated at the littlest things, and I feel like I could tear the world apart.

Pertinent information:

- I had a son 8 months ago. I had a small bout with depression (I guess), the very first week he was born. From my understanding the first week is hell for anyone who has just had a baby. I leveled off after I got out of the hormonal dark zone approximately 6 weeks after his birth (September 2012).

- I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months. My son rejected me outright. I had been struggling up to this point to maintain supply with him and I could never meet his needs without supplementing. While I was breastfeeding, I was on low-e birth control that I believe may have interfered with my milk production. Since I now longer breastfeeding, I am on a new birth control. I have been on it for a little more than a month.

When I finally announced that I thought I was depressed, I felt very strange. Like the header says, I am new to depression (at least feeling it this strongly). I was holding my son at the time and he weighs about 20 pounds. As I was holding him, he began to feel like an anvil. He kept getting heavier and heavier. I felt light headed and I began to shake. He's been fussy for the past few days and he has a diaper rash that won't quit, so he was beginning to cry. I thought that I might pass out while I was holding him so I handed him off to my husband who then went to the other room to change his diaper, give him a bottle, etc. We were in the process of making dinner at the time and I was outside by our grill crying enormous tears, but silently. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I felt nothing; completely blank. It was a beautiful day and I didn't care. The sunshine felt cold. As I was crying my silent tears, my husband asked me to flip the chicken on the grill and I did so. It must have been a very odd sight to our neighbors; me flipping chicken while openly weeping.

I texted my mom to ask if I could talk to her on the phone later after my son was asleep and when my father was not around to hear. She called me a few hours later and I told her. She was very supportive and agreed, based on what I told her and how I was feeling, that I need to see a doctor. I have made an appointment but the earliest I am able to see my GP is next Tuesday.

I feel very ashamed. I have, from what most people can see, a happy life. I am married to an amazing man who is an amazing father. I have a son who is really the easiest and happiest baby on the planet. I have a stable job and income, and I own a home. These things seem to make up the general consensus of happiness. I feel as though I have no right to be depressed. I have all these nice things, right? There are people out there with real problems. I don't feel like I am one of them.

I feel like I am losing my connection to my son. I have never dreamt or fantasized about hurting him in any way. Things were great with him up until six months, when we stopped breastfeeding. Now, I don't want to interact with him. I have been great with him up until this. I hold him because I feel like I have to and I want people to see, out in public, that I am a good mom even though I am not. I know that I have been good in the past. I want to be good again. I want to be great again.

With all of that said, I'm not sure that I'm truly depressed. Perhaps it's related to my hormones fluctuating with the new birth control and stopping breastfeeding. I have an enormous amount of guilt from quitting breastfeeding, even though it was a battle the entire time and I hated every minute of it. I'm not sure if this is late-onset postpartum depression or anxiety. I've read the symptoms of depression, PPD, and PPA, and I seem to fit them all in one way or another. I don't really know where to go from here, other than waiting to see the doctor, and that seems like a very long way away even though it's a week.

I don't really know what's happening to me or where it's going to take me. I'm scared and ashamed. My mom is supportive, but I still feel like she will look at me like some mental patient. I asked her this directly and of course she said that she wouldn't. She said that she would not tell my father and I trust her on that.

Sorry if this isn't clear enough. I feel like I'm trapped in a fog. I literally had to leave work today to take out my contacts and wear my glasses because I felt like I couldn't see straight. Is depression supposed to be this literal?

TL; DR: I think I'm depressed but I'm not really sure. I agree with nearly everything on symptom lists. Is this related to PPD/A or is it actually depression?

Note: I have had one traumatic life event, but it was 17 years ago and I don't think it's relevant.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You sound like you're struggling, and from what you've written it sounds like "depression" is a label that might make sense.

It's okay to be having a tough time right now -- you have nothing to be ashamed of. Making an appointment with a therapist to talk through what to do next would probably be a good step. (You can even talk about being ashamed of being there! That's totally okay!)

I'm sorry you're going through this. Take care of yourself.
posted by cranberry_nut at 10:08 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

As someone with a two-and-a-half year old and an eight month old, my best guess is that this is hormonal, and will probably pass in a few months. Weaning (or attempting to wean) from breastfeeding, even partially, threw me into a HUGE emotional rollercoaster for several weeks at a time (I tried to wean my daughter twice, actually did it the third time, and am partially weaning my son now). Hormonal BC can also mess with that. I'd take a deep breath and assume this was a temporary kind of crazy. BUT, as far as the question:

Is this related to PPD/A or is it actually depression?
Who cares? (1) PPD IS "actually depression," and (2) the immediate answer to either (temporary but extreme hormonal issues or long-term chronic depression) would be the same: doctor, therapist, support system. Whatever the reason for your emotional state, you still need to address it, and you can totally discuss the hormonal issues with your doctor. Even if it "only" lasts a few weeks or a few months, those will be a pretty miserable few months if you don't have support.
posted by celtalitha at 10:11 AM on June 4, 2013 [15 favorites]

You are indeed showing all of the classic signs of depression. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. This is your brain chemistry, not something you have chosen - you're not a bad mom and there is a lot of help out there.

It sounds, at least right now, that you are not in danger of hurting yourself or anyone else. If this is not true or it changes, take yourself, or have your husband take you to the emergency room. This is NOT a cop out. This is an illness. Sometimes giving everything over to someone else to handle is the best option.

It would be optimal if you could get an appointment before next week. Can you possibly call and tell them it is urgent? Not because you are being dramatic, but because this actually is urgent.

Please feel free to memail me if you want to reach out to someone.

Be very, very gentle with yourself. There are no judgments here.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Speaking as a mom of two who has fought depression her entire life, depression has NOTHING to do with what your life looks like from the outside and a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT to do with your body's chemistry. Post-partum hormone fluctuations, new birth control, cessation of breastfeeding; your body is awash in chemicals right now. And most of the time, at least in my experience, depression is a result of the body's chemical balance going haywire.

That's why anti-depressants can help. They help your brain restore its proper wiring and get you back to functioning.

Hang in there, take care of yourself and memail me if you need to talk. You are not alone in this.
posted by tigerjade at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

I feel as though I have no right to be depressed.

This thought is demonic. Regardless of how objectively nice one's station in life is, one can suffer depression. It, like any other illness, is not something that is "deserved".

To me, you seem diagnosable with some sort of depression. Of course, none of us can diagnose you. Please see the gyn/ob who treated you during your pregnancy about this. He/she can then prescribe a course of treatment or refer you to the appropriate mental health professional.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2013 [19 favorites]

I don't think the exact diagnosis matters at this point--you sound very unhappy, and you deserve to feel better. Your problems are your problems, they are real to you and that is all that matters. And your child needs you in order to develop into a healthy person. Please take yourself seriously.

You say that your appointment is a week away and it feels "like a long way away." Please do not cancel this appointment, see if you can get a sooner one. And if you feel suicidal, please go to the hospital or call a hotline even if you feel it's not necessary.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2013

I don't think the cause of your depression matters so much right now. Treatment (as of now) is the same whatever the cause, e.g., therapy, medication, exercise, light, peer support, [fill in a personal helpful activity]. While causes may ultimately be useful for you to think about, causes don't really matter when the struggle part is really active.

Depression is super literal at times. You can feel sick in your heart area. In your gut area. In your head area.

I think your view that you may not be "truly depressed" is actually just another signal in your case that you are indeed depressed. (Worrying that you might not be really depressed but rather [lazy, self-obsessed, wrong, ungrateful, etc.] is a classic.)

Depression is very common -- I've had it for 35 years, and many of my friends have it. Treatment and lifestyle hacks and spiritual and vocational meaning have made all the difference for me.

A mental exercise -- you might not have empathy for yourself right now, you say you feel ashamed. But you have empathy for me, right, random internet person? You don't think I should feel ashamed, right, for having depression? (Because I don't.) Okay, can you try to bring that empathy back to yourself.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had both general depression and PPD. Your description of your symptoms sound exactly what I went through with PPD. It was a completely different animal of depression than the general depression. I had rage over small things, I felt completely out of sorts and as if the whole world had changed without asking my permission.

It was terrible.

Please check out postpartumprogress. She has lots of links for help and for possible therapists.

Please get help - you and your child both deserve it! (And feel free to memail me if you want to talk).
posted by Leezie at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm so, so sorry you're having such hard time.

It was really brave of you to reach out for support - you told your husband and your mother how you are feeling, made an appointment with your doctor, and you're now reaching out again on Metafilter. I know you are feeling scared and ashamed, but perhaps you can remind yourself that depression is not your fault - it's something chemical going on in your brain - and you are handling it really, really well. Reaching out for support is the best possible thing you could possibly do for yourself and for your baby.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You are going to get through this! You are a good mom even if you don't feel like one!

Whether it is PPD or depression or something in-between, there are lots of resources and people out there ready to help you. Know that you are not alone and lots of new moms go through something similar. While you wait for your appointment, one thing that could help is to do something for yourself (without your husband or child) for 15 minutes a day. It could be a walk around the block.

Also, your glasses story makes me wonder if you are also exhausted. Not to say that you don't also have depression, but severe sleep deprivation can look a lot like depression. Would it be possible for your husband and/or mother to watch for child for a 12 hour night so that you can get some sleep?
posted by JuliaKM at 10:22 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

While I was breastfeeding, I was on low-e birth control that I believe may have interfered with my milk production. Since I now longer breastfeeding, I am on a new birth control. I have been on it for a little more than a month.

I think there's a good chance the birth control could be the culprit. Talk to your doctor obviously, but I'd recommend looking into non-hormonal BC (IUD, etc).
posted by Asparagus at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Please please please contact your doctor or your healthcare providers mental health dept. almost the exact same thing happened to me when my baby was 6 months old and had I not gotten treatment quickly, there might have been a really tragic outcome.

Please - this is a real, physical illness and you need professional help. Feel free to MeMail me.
posted by tristeza at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't have to think about this as an either/or scenario. PPD/A could feed into generalized anxiety or depression. Things aren't always so clear cut. Since it is strongly associated with post-pregnancy adjustment, you should be able to talk to your OB/GYN about this as well as your GP for starters. They should either suggest treatment options directly or refer you to a different specialty or both. If either of them do neither, consider finding a new physician. this is something each should take seriously but some do not.

And yes, definitely bring this up with the doctor who prescribed your birth control.
posted by rocketpup at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You mention you have an appointment with your GP. Good! Might I recommend also giving your OB a call? PPD/A is something that your OB is going to be familiar with and ready to treat. It's possible your OB will consider this a more urgent matter than your GP does; it's also possible your OB may have some better treatment strategies, given you are still post-partum. (It does not matter that you are 8 months post-partum; that's still post-partum, particularly when combined with the more recent weaning.)
posted by devinemissk at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is absolutely no shame in what you're feeling, trust us on that, please! You mention that you're on a new form of birth control, I assume it's something containing hormones? That could be one of the things affecting you. If it's in pill form maybe you can stop taking it for now, if it's in some other form consider having it removed.

You are a fine mom. Babies and their parents go through all kinds of phases. Your baby is starting to exert some independence, that's all good. I nursed two babies, the first I had to wean at 20 months and the second weaned himself at around 7 or 8 months- and I did not feel like I had failed with the second, it was kind of a relief to have my body to myself again. Everyone's different, you gave your baby a good start by nursing him for 6 months, that's wonderful, and that stage is done. On to the next one. Your baby is probably starting to move around and explore. He may also show some curiosity about other babies. Do you have any friends with babies you can invite over? Or, if it's warm where you are can you go out to a neighborhood park and meet up with other parents and babies?

Your son's fussiness may be due to teething. Call the pediatrician if the fussiness continues. Please continue to reach out, there are many people here who have been through similar difficulties. Feel free to mefi mail me.
posted by mareli at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2013

I suffer from depression. I have not had children, so I cannot speak to the post-partum depression side of things, but I am extremely well versed in non-baby related depression. What you're describing sounds a lot like what I feel. When I'm in a bad way I had the same "I don't have a connection to the people I love/I don't enjoy doing the things I love doing any more/I'm stumbling through my days in an unhappy fog." It sucks, but it is very very common and treatable. I have no idea about the root cause (hormones, birth control, exhaustion, PPD, etc) but I have this to say:

1. I am oh so very familiar with your feelings of "I have no right to be depressed" feelings. Those feelings are what kept me from getting treatment for a long time. I just kept thinking how things in my life were pretty good, I had zero reason for feeling so unhappy and miserable, clearly I'm just weak and pathetic. I kept thinking how I should be able to just snap out of it. I have to work very hard to remind myself that depression doesn't NEED a reason to be there. Sometimes it just is there. I also have to work very hard to remind myself that this is chemical, not weakness. It is no different than any other illness. People who are diabetic aren't weak and pathetic because their body can't produce insulin, they can't just snap out of it and be stronger and regulate their blood sugar levels. The same applies to depression. Try to not beat yourself up and remind yourself this is medical and nothing to be ashamed of.

2. You have already a made a huge step towards getting better. You reached out for help, you talked to your husband, you made an appointment to see your doctor. Those steps are crucially important and I think the hardest ones to make. Depression thrives in darkness and isolation and concealment. By talking about it and reaching out for help you are pulling it out of the darkness and facing it in the light. This will help. I find the more open I am about it the less likely I am to fall deeper in to it. When I start to get in a bad way I will tell my fiance. If I get needy and insecure I will tell him, "My depression is telling me lies right now, telling me I'm a terrible partner for you and a terrible step mom to your son.". By talking to him about it I can usually claw my way through it a little more easily.

3. Getting treatment is very important. "Treatment" can mean a lot of things. It can mean therapy or medication or meditation or a lot of other things. For me it is medication, therapy, and an intense exercise routine. You need to find what works for you, and the absolute best place to start is with your doctor. It is great that you have an appointment to see your GP. I suggest maybe calling them and seeing if you can be put on a cancellation list to get in sooner if possible. The sooner you start addressing this the better.

4. Not getting enough sleep makes everything worse. With a new baby in the house sleep is probably pretty hard to come by, but if you can I'd do everything I could to ensure as close to normal amount of sleep as possible.

Lots of love and support to you. Feeling the way you do now is pretty miserable but I promise it can and WILL get better.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:34 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Depression is a medical condition. Would you be ashamed of an ear infection or allergic reaction? Treat this like an allergic reaction or auto-immune response to the biochemical whiplash of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, weaning, sleep deprivation, and chemical contraception.

Depression is a lot meaner than a rash, though. It'll tell you that you don't need treatment, that you're bad and wrong for needing help and you don't deserve it and you should just, you know, get over it. You just go on and get over that chemical imbalance - after all, if you had a broken leg, you'd just get over that, right? The shame is a symptom, the worthlessness is a symptom, the rage is a symptom. Treat them with the exact same urgency you would a rash or a lump or blood where blood isn't supposed to come from.

And yes, depression is that literal. Joint pain or flu-like body aches can be a symptom of depression. Extreme fatigue, including the muscle weakness you describe, is also a symptom. Your brain and your body aren't processing neurotransmitters properly, and that will manifest physically because you need that stuff to make all your parts do what they're supposed to.

Do let your OB know, and your pediatrician as well, as either one may be able to get you in sooner. This is a little bit of an emergency. Not that you're going to do something rash, but you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your ability to function on a day to day basis. That's urgent.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

I came in here looking for either a new baby or a new birth control, and it looks like you hit the hormonal jackpot there (in a bad way).

You have all these hormones flooding your brain because of the pregnancy and the lack of sleep and the new birth control. The hormones are screwing up the way your mind is working. This is nothing to be ashamed of, any more than you'd be ashamed of having an allergic reaction. It's a chemical reaction that you have no control of!

I would urge you to talk to your doctor about this (the same way you would if you had an actual allergic reaction). Explain to the doctor the feelings you've had since stopping breastfeeding. Get a referral to a therapist/psychiatrist/whatever, and get these chemicals straightened out. And once you get the baby-chemicals worked out (or even before), consider switching BC methods; certain pills are notorious for causing hormonal depression.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I came to recommend pospartumprogress as well. I suffered from post-partum anxiety, and felt much the same - that I should be fine, I have help, I have two healthy kids, I have a great life, etc. My doctor immediately recognized what was going on and told me to stop doing that to myself - that feeling that way was a symptom of what was going on. The lack of sleep + a reflux baby + hormones + some other stuff was just overwhelming. The doctor put me on zoloft, and life has gotten much, much better. He expects I'll stay on it until after weaning and hormones straighten out. Do not feel ashamed or guilty or anything of the sort - after I "came out" about my issues on facebook, I quickly found out that more of my friends with kids had suffered post-partum mood disorders than didn't. Also, for what it's worth, many of them didn't experience the symptoms (or at least didn't seek help for them) until the 6 or 8 month mark.

Take care of yourself.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:46 AM on June 4, 2013

So I am telling you: This happens. You're not alone. Your doctor can help - I'd suggest your OB along with your GP. Other mothers can help - do you have a sympathetic friend who can help out a bit? Please check your MeMail - I've sent a link to my own story.

I'll second what Lyn Never said above: Do let your OB know, and your pediatrician as well, as either one may be able to get you in sooner. This is a little bit of an emergency. Not that you're going to do something rash, but you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your ability to function on a day to day basis. That's urgent. A week can feel like ages when you're on depression time, and trying to work and juggle home life on top of it.

My thoughts will be with you, take care, and remember that you will not feel this way forever.
posted by peagood at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd also like to add how courageous you are to ask for help and to say I am sending you good thoughts. I won't diagnose you third hand, but you have described how you feel with lots of significant details and if you explain it similarly to your GP that will be super helpful. He or she should also ask about your sleep and appetite, and if not, give them this info anyway. If at some point you take meds, I would suggest that a psychiatrist manage them (though this may not be feasible right away as it takes way too long to get a pdoc appointment as a new patient). Their clinical experience with medications for anxiety and depression is much greater than your GP's or OB/GYN's, and if one combo is not optimal, a good pdoc will usually have another up their sleeve. In the meantime, please look after yourself as well as possible and let your mom and husband support you. I also agree that sleep deprivation can be both a symptom and exacerbating factor with regard to depressive symptoms. Good luck to you.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2013

Considering the life upheaval and the hormones and the lack of sleep, I'm surprised more new mothers (and new parents) aren't all drooling in padded rooms at the end of a month!

Depression manifests itself in many ways, physical ailments, feeling down, feeling anxious, and all sorts of other games your mind will play with you.

Your actual life has nothing to do with depression! It drives me nuts when I explain to my mom about a panic attack or my general anxiety and she asks, "What are you anxious about?" GAH! Nothing in particular and everything, that's why I'm on meds!

There's no need to feel shame about this, it's your body chemistry and it's not something you have control over.

Keep talking to people and if anything changes if you feel like you might hurt yourself or the baby, GO TO ER!

No one will judge you!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2013

You could also try calling your baby's pediatrician's office. Most pediatricians are now trained to look out for PPD in new moms, so s/he might have resources available to get you seen sooner. It doesn't hurt to ask.

You have a medical condition. It's related to hormones and brain chemicals and stress and lack of sleep and a whole host of other things that have nothing to do with how good your life is or how much you love your family. If it's related to breastfeeding, that doesn't make your feelings any less real, and it certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn't get help. You deserve help if you want or need it. And it's really good that you and your family are working on getting it for you.
posted by decathecting at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2013

I feel very ashamed. I have, from what most people can see, a happy life.

This is standard with depression. In fact this is partly how I define depression. If you're life sucked and your health was bad and you had no house or money or family you would have a reason to feel bad. The fact that you feel the way you do without cause is what makes me believe you do have what you believe you have.

Depression is one of those weird things like love in that if you feel like you are in love most likely you are. If you feel like you are depressed most likely you are. It's one of the few things where I trust a person's self-diagnosis (I am not a doctor).

Even if you are not and it's something else entirely I think your course of action is the same. You need some help. There's nothing to be ashamed of.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh my dear. You sound really ill. You also sound as if you're not getting enough help at all. I just want to offer you hugs.

Ask for more help. Ask if your husband or your mum can look after the baby - and you - for a while - maybe they can actually get leave from work and do it. Try and bring that appointment forward, and yes, also try the OB/GYN route.

You are suffering, this is a genuine medical condition, you need and deserve all the help in the world.
posted by glasseyes at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm late to my own therapy appointment. I just want to give you a big hug.

Going to the doctor is a great idea. By taking care of yourself, you are being an excellent mother. You can get through this - I know because I am getting through the same thing. Therapy, meditation and meds have gotten me a long way towards being able to enjoy and really experience life and parenting.

You are so, so not alone, and you can get through this. I send you all the virtual hugs possible. If you need to, you can Memail me. I'm happy to listen.
posted by linettasky at 11:53 AM on June 4, 2013

I admitted aloud to my husband that I think I am suffering from depression. ... I feel very ashamed. ...

Depression is a nasty beast. Pregnancy, post-partum, nursing, and hormonal birth control all cause dramatic changes to your body, brain, and mental state. You're doing the right thing by seeing your doctor, talking to your Mom and your husband. Take good care of yourself, keep asking for help, and please stop blaming yourself. I hope you have a swift recovery, and I'm sending you hugs and good wishes.
posted by theora55 at 12:17 PM on June 4, 2013

I feel as though I have no right to be depressed.

I realize that when you're depressed it will be very hard to see this, but saying "I feel as though I have no right to be depressed" is like saying "I feel as thought I have no right to have a broken arm." A doctor's visit is definitely in order.
posted by davejay at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This sounds like classic PPD/PPA. I am lucky enough to suffer from both "regular" depression and anxiety, and PPD/PPA. Since I suffer from both, I can tell you that PPD actually did feel qualitatively different from "regular" depression and anxiety. It did not feel solely hormonal - it was distinct from the baby blues of the first few weeks post-partum, which felt clearly hormonal, just like PMS. I think it was a combination of sleep deprivation, adjusting to my new life, dealing with a lack of support on the homefront, and some hormones.

The good news is that the PPD lifted like magic after a few months! I did do therapy, which helped a ton. The pure passage of time helped too, combined with getting a little exercise, sun, and more support at home. I think I also just had to get used to being a mom, which took a while.

PS - the feeling of being alienated from your baby is a classic symptom. For me, that feeling was worst at the depth of the depression, but it never lasted for longer than a day or two. The best thing you can do about this is connect with your baby -- if you babywear, stick him in the carrier and snuggle him for a good few hours.

feel free to memail me! you will get over this.
posted by mrs. sock at 12:33 PM on June 4, 2013

The shame and the guilt is PART OF THE DEPRESSION. I felt exactly this same way, that I didn't have the right to be depressed, that it was some horrible moral failing. That's PART of it. The fact that you feel those feelings is strong evidence that you are, indeed, depressed and need to seek treatment.
posted by KathrynT at 12:44 PM on June 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, you know what else is great for feeling disconnected from your baby? (Which is definitely the most distressing symptom.) Hanging out with other moms and babies, and nice old ladies who will coo over your baby. There's something about seeing someone else fuss over and praise your baby that helps so much. It makes you start to remember, "Hey, my baby IS the cutest baby in the world!"
posted by mrs. sock at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2013

I can't say if this is "real" depression or just crazy hormones, but it might be worth reading this Ask Moxie post (and maybe this post) on weaning and depression.
posted by logic vs love at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2013

I went through this! It was miserable. I was overcome with anger at MY WHOLE LIFE and couldn't see it as depression because my primary emotion wasn't sadness as much as constantly feeling like I was on the verge of yelling and screaming at...anyone. Plus, I didn't start feeling that way until my baby was about 8 months old and had stopped breastfeeding. Coincidentally the same time I started taking birth control pills again.

Turns out the pills were a major factor. Until I had kids, they never gave me any problems. As soon as I stopped taking hormonal birth control pills (and I tried several brands) I started feeling better. So much in fact that I now have two kids and a hormonal IUD which has not turned me into a raging monster.

Seriously consider stopping the birth control pills and see if it makes you feel any better. Obviously talk to your OB, but hormones are weird things and your body has been through a lot. I could not believe how differently I reacted to pills before and after I had kids.

Please know that you're not crazy, and you're not alone! If you need to, have your husband or mom make an appointment for you to tell someone how you're feeling, whether it's your OB or a therapist or whatever. Asking for help sounds easy but is so, so hard when you're in the middle of it, so enlist whoever's close to you to make it happen if you need to.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 1:19 PM on June 4, 2013

Unfortunately, I'm not new to depression. The thing with crying while flipping chicken is that you feel a lot sillier about them than people who might see you. It's like when I was parallel-parking the other day and doing a horrible job - a guy started making faces at me in my mirror so then I felt *super* self-conscious. Besides this one douchebag though, people probably didn't notice or didn't care and even if they did, too bad, they're losers for making fun of a lady trying to parallel park when they could be doing, gee, I don't know, anything else in the world with their time. I do the same thing when I'm working out - I worry that everyone is looking at me and thinking, look at the fat girl run! But if that's what they're thinking, that's their problem, not mine.

Feeling shame is understandable. Sometimes shame is useful, even but in this particular case, it's counterproductive. You didn't do anything to merit feeling shame. Right now, your brain is not working the right way - that's what I tell myself when I feel things that aren't appropriate for the situation. The thing with feelings is that they're always temporary, even the bad ones, so figure out strategies for dealing with the bad ones until they go away, which they will.

I don't know if this will help you but for what it's worth, there's a debate about whether mourning after someone significant dies should even count as depression because of course you would be sad after losing someone. To me, the fact that that is a debate indicates that depression is usually without cause. So if you feel like you shouldn't be depressed, that kind of indicates that what you are dealing with is depression and not something else.

I'm confident that you are a great mom. Depression is just like a cloak that gets thrown over your eyes so you can't see things like what a great mom you are. Maybe you need a therapist to help get the cloak off, maybe a doctor, maybe antidepressants, but whatever it is, you can get rid of it. You know how you think that other people have better reasons to be sad than you do? Well, other people also have had much worse cases of depression than you do and they got better. You can, too. Keep track of your feelings. You looked up symptoms for a few different conditions - write down which symptoms seem the most similar to what you're experiencing so you can share it with your doctor when you get a chance.

I'm not a mother so I don't know what you can do specifically to feel more connected to your baby, but when I've felt generally annoyed with my husband, I've made a mental list of things I love about him or cute things he's done. It helps - it's something I can refer back to. My emotions are all over the place right now but having that list in the back of my head gives me a reality check. Like, calm down, you don't actually hate his guts, you can name 16 sweet things he did without breaking a sweat, the fact that he forgot to buy milk is really no big deal.

A friend of mine wrote this about dealing with post-partum depression. You're absolutely doing the right thing for you and your family by getting help. Think of the quote (I think it's from Churchill?) "If you're going through hell, keep going." Put one foot in front of the other. You can do it.
posted by kat518 at 1:21 PM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why feel shame at something which is more than likely biochemical and/or hormonal in origin?

You will see your doctor, she or he will help, and it will get better.

I have had depression, and I have had babies, and I know that this is hard for you. But it's not helpful to think of it as a character flaw because THAT'S NOT WHAT IT IS.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:56 PM on June 4, 2013

oh honey, it's going to be ok. This is not your "fault". In fact, there is no "fault" here. Just how to help you get better.

See your doctor - your obstetrician is fine or your family doc. Or better yet, a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner (who specializes in mental health).

Get as much help with the baby as you can right now. You are probably exhausted along with all of this. Which is not your fault, new babies just do that to a mom.

See if you can get a hold of Brooke Shield's book, Down Came the Rain. (I'll be happy to send it to you if you want to put it on your wishlist at Amazon and let me know the link.) In it she describes in great detail what she went through when she had post partum depression and a lot of it sounds like what you are describing.

Call the warm line here and talk to someone.

Call me and talk to me. PM me and I'll send you my number.

It's going to be ok but please reach out and get help. Please update soon and let us know how things are going.
posted by dawkins_7 at 3:07 PM on June 4, 2013

First, let me echo the sentiment that its totally ok to feel whatever you feel, no justifications needed, and also that you are smart and brave for reaching out for help. In fact being that smart and that brave is a big part of being a great mom. Even though you are in a tough spot you are doing things just right.

I wanted to add that struggles with nursing can be so, so difficult and emotional. I wonder if this is part of what's going on with you? There is SO much powerful messaging around breast feeding advocacy that when it doesn't work out (for whatever reason) it can feel really devastating, a whole constellation of fear and failure and self-doubt... My first daughter wouldn't latch for love or money and it was so hard, so incredibly awful for me... Took a very long time (and frankly a successful nursing relationship with my second child) to really come to terms with it.

If this resonates with you, let me reassure you that there are many, MANY situations where nursing just doesn't work. Baby issues, supply issues, life issues. No matter how your baby is fed, you are still a wonderful, competent, loving mother who is doing the best for her baby and he is going to be just fine.

Hugs to you,sister. Infancy and the postpartum period is just hard, period. Take care.
posted by Sublimity at 3:45 PM on June 4, 2013

Guys, wow. Really. Just wow. I am so overwhelmed by your support and PMs and virtual hugs. You guys are really the best.

I'm happy to report that I have an appointment with my OBGYN at 9:30 tomorrow morning. In the depths of a crying spell that forced me to leave work, I remembered that when I finished my last pack of birth control, I was right in the midst of my first period since giving birth and my doctor instructed me to just start a new pack of the new birth control when I finished the old prescription. My period abruptly stopped. Looking back on that, it should have set off alarm bells but I didn't think anything of it. I am on the dud week (iron pills) of this new pack of birth control and my period is nowhere in sight. I think that's the problem right there.

I am going to talk with my OBGYN tomorrow as well as keep my appointment with my GP. My GP is a wonderfully awesome dude who has been my doctor for 18 years and who has come to be a family friend in the time that I've been a patient.

Thank you, everyone. I can't thank you enough.

A membership to this website is the best $5 dollars I've ever spent.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

Hey - just checking on you! If you feel like it, let us know how you're doing.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:36 PM on June 18, 2013

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