A mom who is currently struggling with postpartum depression recently asked me how to know when you are getting better. Rather than answer that question myself, I put it out to my followers on Twitter and to the members of our Facebook page.
Reading through their answers brought me so much happiness, as well as a few tears of remembrance! Here’s what I love most about them:
The diversity of responses: Some moms were glad when they could laugh again, whereas others knew they were getting better when they could sleep again or could be alone with their babies without fear. Just as mothers’ experiences with postpartum depression are not one-size-fits-all, neither are their experiences of recovery.
- The hope: I feel such joy in the collective hope these moms represent. All of them went through the depths of despair and are here to show that you will get better, too.
I Knew I Was Getting Better From Postpartum Depression & Anxiety When …
- Jackie K.: When I was able to smile with my baby, laugh with my husband and enjoy my family.
- Jade R.: When I could enjoy my children.
- Anna P.: When I didn’t have to try so hard to act “normal.”
- Tara S.: When I looked forward to leaving the house.
- Candace E.: When laughing didn’t feel forced.
- Kate S.: When my mom told me I was a delight to be around again.
- Erin B.: When I could lay down for the night and be excited about the next day.
- A’Driane D.: When I could laugh as my 18-month-old was screaming and refusing to let me wipe his nose.
- Tempest B.: When I finally felt that surge of love for my daughter that had been lacking.
- Jenna S.: When I could enjoy the moment with my toddler and see the world through his eyes.
- Alicia H.: When I started enjoying the little moments with my baby boy.
- Jennifer L.: When I was able to sleep without any help from medicine.
- Amy R.: When I didn’t cry for a whole 24 hours.
- Jennifer F.: When I felt like I was in control instead of the depression.
- Kristina G.: When I realized the day had passed by without me having to worry and plan each moment.
- Mary L.: When I finally saw the light and felt a huge weight off of my shoulders.
- Crystal B.: When my kids hugged me and told me they were glad I wasn’t mad anymore.
- Alice M.: When my husband was gone all day and I didn’t feel panic at being alone.
- Nadia M.: When I started talking about my experience with postpartum depression in the past tense.
- Brooke P.: When a week went by and I didn’t have a depressed day.
- Sara M.: When I didn’t dread the next day.
- Janna H.: When everyone started saying Janna’s back because I started singing out loud at work and making people laugh again.
- Shannon S.: When I felt like myself and had emotions.
- Kristen H.: When I had a day in which I mostly felt like myself, and I was too excited to fall asleep because of how good I had felt that day.
- Stephanie P.: When I looked at my son and saw the blessing God placed in my care.
- Crystal B.: When I didn’t wake up in a panic from the nightmares and I felt rested for the first time in ages.
- Jennifer C.: When I was excited to come home from work at the end of each day and see my daughter.
- Melissa B.: When I was able to believe that it was okay to cry and that it wasn’t a sign of weakness or failure.
- Stacey P.: When I woke up in the morning and didn’t immediately wish it was time to go to bed; hours, minutes and seconds were no longer my enemy.
- Elizabeth C.: When I realized I love my baby.
- Melissa D.: When I no longer wandered the aisles of Target at midnight.
- Emily L.: When I admitted I had a problem.
- Allie B.: When I felt excited to hear my twins cry. They were awake and wanted mommy love.
- Laura R.: When I stopped hating my daughter.
- Alicia S.: When I could go back to sleep when the baby did.
- Elizabeth R.: When my baby started smiling at me and I realized he was smiling back at me.
- Amy T.: When it became okay to go to bed at night without going through the OCD ritual I created to protect myself from dying in my sleep.
- Deanna D.: When I started laughing my head off instead of crying when both my boys were have giant meltdowns.
- Laurie S.: When I was able to start my morning without a massive panic attack about something stupid like cleaning bottles or packing the diaper bag.
- Becky P.: When I finally felt that “connection” with my son.
- Stacey H.: When I became excited to rock my baby boy to sleep.
- Amanda K.: When I was no longer obsessed with the number of hours of sleep I got each night.
- Amanda L.: When my daughter’s cry didn’t cause me to go into a full blown panic attack.
- Jennifer L.: When I started to enjoy food again.
- Ann Marie W.: When my OCD thoughts of harming were not 24/7 and didn’t give me anxiety any more.
- Claire P.: When I could be alone with my baby and not panic about it.
- Iri Z.: When I could look at a pregnant woman and not feel sick or sorry for her.
- Cristi C.: When I asked for help.
- Allyn O.: When I felt happiness instead of dread when my baby called me “mama.”
- Lauren P.: When I could finally say “this is my son,” and not feel like a complete and utter fraud and failure.
- Anne R.: When I slept 8 hours in a row consistently.
- Vanessa B.: When I realized I didn’t need people around me 24/7.
- Sarah O.: When I enjoyed playing with my son for the first time.
- Theresa M.: When my negative emotions stopped controlling me.
- Roxanne W.: When I no longer wanted to give my daughter away to a complete stranger.
- Danielle P.: When I could congratulate someone else on their pregnancy/attend a baby shower for a friend.
- Jennifer G.: When I felt joy in just being with my husband and daughters.
- Dara K.: When the thought of leaving my house didn’t make me feel sick to my stomach.
- Laura.: When I could drive the route to the hospital without crying.
- Katherine S.: When I looked at my son’s first portrait from nursery school and thought, “That’s my boy!”
- Quinn: When I held both of my boys and didn’t want the moment to end.
- Kim: When I wanted to take care of myself, and my home, again.
- Anne: When I could look at pictures from the hospital after my daughter’s birth.
- Ashley: When I stopped cleaning the kitchen floor obsessively.
- Liz. C.: When I could imagine a day alone with my children without drowning in a sea of panic and anxiety.
- Melissa: When the baby crying didn’t make me want to crawl out of my skin.
- Suzanne: When I didn’t cry every day.
- Leelah O.: When I wanted to be a part of things again.
- Lauren H.: When I could laugh again.
- Mirjam R.: When I laughed instead of crying when something went wrong.
- Nicole M.: When I could leave the house with my son without being overwhelmed by anxiety.
- Christina: When I FELT the sun, not just saw it. It was warm. It felt like life, finally.
What about you? How would you finish the sentence: I Knew I Was Getting Better When __________.
I just want to be the first person to comment to say how grateful I am to all the mothers who participated in this. What an inspiration you are!!!!
**tears** Thank you for compiling this!!!
That is an amazing list!
This is wonderful! It's great to see so many names and so many lines in which I can relate to. Makes me feel that I am definitely not alone.
Awww, I must have missed this. I will post mine here:
I knew I was getting better when I was able to control myself during a major crying tantrum in a store.
I missed this too.
I knew I was getting better when my son had a tantrum and I didn't freak out.
I missed it…
I knew I was better when I stopped wishing he was my nephew and started being thankful he was my son!
It is so nice to be able to say I am better! If you aren't yet know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you will be you again. It is a wonderful feeling, hang in there
When will I start feeling better? I have had it for 10 weeks, since the birth of my son. I feel so guilty, I want to LOVE my child and want to WANT to be around him, but I don't, and when he cries I have such anxiety. I am so scared that I will never get better.
my heart goes out to you, Heather and so glad you have found this site. Hearing other women's stories of recovery made it seem possible even when it was very far away…even out of sight. I wish I had better words to say, magic words to say but when I saw your comment, just wanted to say something right away.
Thank you for writing this. I’ve read so much about PPD and your comment is what hit home. I’ll keep hanging on.
This is such a wonderful list!
I knew I was getting better when I could sleep again!
I didn't know for years that it was suffering from PPD.
When I started to want to make love with my husband again. Is that weird?
Not weird at all!!! Good one!
**tears here too** Wow does that bring back a lot of memories… I knew I was getting better when I looked at a picture a friend took of my son and I and I had a genuine smile on my face while I was laughing. Five years later I still have it up on the wall. I also remember driving up the street to my house belting out a song on the radio with tears of happiness streaming down my face…
i knew i was getting better when i could wake up in the morning and not feel like electricity was running down through both of my arms due to the anxiety of facing the day
I want to wake up, with out the electricity around my both arms too. i want that mental stone to disolve from my eyes and i can feel free again. i have the mos beautifull 3 kids a 3 month baby boy, 2 years ols and a 4 year old daughter. I know i will see the light, i just don't want to worry about worring….
It’s amazing how we think we are the only ones to feel this way while thousand of us struggle with the same difficulties.
This particular feeling of electricity going through my arms and hands… I didn’t even think of sharing this because it felt like it was MY symptom, as if no one could have the same. And yet… Your comment was posted five years ago !
I don’t have this anymore, just a weight in my stomach when I wake up. So I can tell myself: hey, it’s getting better 🙂
What a wonderful list! I am spreading this message and hope it helps others.
I never had PPD but I am struggling with Post Pregnancy Depression after losing our most recent pregnancy. I know I will get better / am getting better when I wake up feeling complete joy for the three healthy children I have and not with tears streaming down my face as I approach what would have been our due date.
When I wasn't overcome by anger in every inch of my being when one of my children cried.
When the thought of giving my baby to someone else to take care of made my heart break instead of feeling relieved.
I knew I was getting better when I let my husband hold me again without my mind racing to the next thing on the to-do list.
Thanks for this. Ladies, you are all lovely and it is a privelage to be in your company.
I knew I was getting better when I wasn't scared to be alone with my children anymore.
…when the clock wasn't racing away from me, like the molasses had been washed off my brain. I'm not all the way there, but I am starting to believe I will get there.
An amazing list…thank you.
Mine is….when traveling solo with my daughter for 3 weeks, I was at times tired, frustrated, or angry but not overwhelmed. She was almost 4 years old and I finally felt like I could handle being her mom.
I am printing this out and posting each lady’s input in a different place around my house. Thank you, THANK you for compiling this, and for everyone who participated! You have given me such hope!!
Love that idea!!
Hey everyone who has suffered or is suffering with depression i found a good facebook page to go to shes new so give her some time.
its called living with depression give her a like help her help people living with all kinds of depression and struggling or just surviving
I don't think I am quite there yet but I don't feel so alone anymore when there are this many honest responses from mums who have been through PPD. Thank you..x
As several people said, when I was able to handle my son’s crying & meltdowns with just love, and without my own anxiety. It’s such a relief to be reminded how far I’ve come!
Having been through PPD once, recovering fully, and now finding myself back there a second time, it's hard to read that list. I remember being well but I'm not well again yet. I miss feeling. Feeling anything! I know my son is gorgeous, I can see it but I can't feel it. the only thing I do feel right now is beaten up. I miss myself.
Hugs Danielle, from someone who's been there! You'll get through again.
All the best.
I can relate to all these!
…when I could taste food again, when flowers looked beautiful, when I wasn't filled with dread first thing every morning, when I could sleep, when I was free to love my child in an uncomplicated way, when I could feel laughter, when I could talk about it, when I could watch a show or read a book without anxiety taking me over, when I could enjoy a shower, when I could carry out a normal conversation, when I wasn't second guessing myself constantly, when I wasn't obsessed with my child's sleep. I could go on and on.
Crazy as it may sound, I now look back on that time and am thankful for it. Getting over the depression/anxiety taught me so much. It was the biggest adversity I've ever faced and getting through it taught me things about myself and the world I hope I never forget.
I knew I was better when I could take a deep breath and say its not my fault that he ended up in NICU and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and really believed what I was saying
I knew I was getting better when naptimes that didn't go as planned didn't result in me crying or yelling.
But I can relate to so many of the above responses. SO many.
Thank you so much for this post, Katherine. I'm sorry I missed the tweet. I would have loved to chime in earlier. You are an inspiration to moms like me.
I know I am better because I can read this and cry…. but not for myself anymore.
I knew when my husband started making fun of me about being depressed. He never would have done that before I seemed somewhat better AND it made me laugh.
I'm so relieved that I'm not the only one who couldn't be alone with my son. Those OCD thoughts made me so afraid to be alone with him. Fast forward 3 years with another child joining our family and EVERYTIME I'm alone with them I am so grateful that I'm no longer suffering anymore. Thanks to all of you for helping to make this possible!
I missed out on this, but I'll add mine.
I knew I was getting better when I wanted to comfort my crying infant instead of hiding under the covers and crying myself.
This is so great. I am still struggling so much every day to get better and to feel better. Not PPD, but still. Thank you for sharing the light, Katherine.
For me, it was a number of things…knew I was improving when I realized I didnt cry that day. Also whenever I didnt feel sheer panic at the thought of being alone with my kiddo's. I cried everytime my husband left, and once I stopped feeling scared, I knew things were getting better.
While I am still on the path to healing, I can relate to a lot of these. I have made a lot of progress, but I still have mixed emotions about some things, like seeing pregnant women. Handling/living with the uncertainty of what each day will bring with a baby is also still a struggle. It's so helpful to know that I'm not alone.
I knew I was better when… I started thinking differently like my life wasn't over, it was just a new beginning, and while life was easier,doesn't mean it was better. I was able to laugh again, I was able to be alone with my baby without someone's help. When I stopped having the crushing feeling of anxiety & hopelessness. When I started to feel that I deserved to call myself his mother.
Love it. I realized I was getting better when I something didn't go as intended…and I wasn't angry. I just went with the flow and moved along.
When I began loving my son and cherishing our connection, rather than directing anger and blame at him. Also when I began talking about my experience without feeling shame or guilt… just acceptance and freedom.
#55: Yes! I haven't joked about wanting to give my daughter away to a "friendly passing stranger" in a long time now, and it feels so good. I also don't need to joke about winding up the baby catapult and sending her to someone else's backyard anymore.
She is 22 months now and is FINALLY sleeping through the night, out of teething hell for the time being, and is turning into a delightful little person. I finally, finally cherish the time we have together. It is such a wonderful relief!
I knew I was getting better when my friend who had been supporting me every day, broke down when I showed up at her door toting my baby (I'd been terrified to go near him for months). She broke down, gave me a huge hug and said, "Thank you God! You gave me my friend back! I never thought I'd get her back.
I didn't realize how far I had come or where I was until I read this list. Now through my tears, I am so grateful that I found it. When I realized that I "deserved" to go back to work if I wanted to, and made it happen, I began the journey to feeling better. After an unplanned second pregnancy, it has taken nearly a year (not including being pregnant) to get to a place where I don't feel stupid to have made such a dumb mistake by not properly planning our second child. I realize now that I deserve to have a job, to have friends, and hobbies again. God, I am even looking at websites that I enjoy which I haven't done in forever.
I knew I was getting better when I could take a shower without uncontrollably sobbing.
I know i'm getting a better step by step, i don't feel a nut in my trout, I'm not having panic attacks, i'm mjust still having sime irreal thoughts, but i notes that happen happen more with my period. Loveee never fail. do you girls feel sometimes like stuck in some thoughts, like a brick? but then it go away
I love this!!! it made me cry beacuse i wish one day that could be me and be myslfe again
When I could sleep without sleep medications, when I could do small things without feeling overwhelmed with anxiety – like putting on makeup or going to the store, when I was not afraid to be alone with my baby, when I wanted to play with my baby, and when I had an appetite again.
Thank you for posts like this. It makes me believe that eventually things will get better.
I missed this!
I knew I was getting better when I was able to be completely alone and go out with my baby without fear.
Thank you for sharing this!
This helps me stay better – thank you all! I knew, and my husband did, too, when I laughed with abandon again.
THANK YOU so much for this! I’m just coming out of a slump and was really beginning to question if I have made any progress at all but now when I look at all these lovely words I recognise so many of them and can truly BELIEVE that I’m getting better.
So I guess my own would be…
I knew I was getting better when I read this list and recognised a lot of those signs in myself! 😉
Fantastic!! That gave me a big smile Laura!
I knew I was getting better when I became comfortable calling my son by his name instead of saying “the baby.”
When I was able to let the joy of being with my daughter wipe away all the depression and anxiety. This also enabled me to challenge my OCD and intrusive thoughts and they could not convince me to give in any longer. I once questioned why I had even given birth to my daughter; during my recovery I realized what a blessing her existence is to me and to my family instead of seeing that as a burden.
I just found this post ad I’m so grateful… I was just telling my husband last night that I feel like I’m getting better. I knew I was getting better last night when I just wanted to watch my sleeping daughter in love and soak up being in her presence. When I stopped dreading being alone with her. When I stopped thinking I was stupid for having a baby because it was a terrible mistake that ruined everything. When I could talk to a pregnant mom at La Leche League in excitement for her baby due soon, rather than telling her how hard and lonely it is to have a baby. I have been taking zoloft for a month and am starting to feel like I’m BACK! I knew I needed help five months ago and was so resistant to taking medication, but I became so numb that I finally was willing to do whatever it takes to get better. I’m so grateful I did the right thing for me instead of trying to “tough it out” because I’m finally authentically enjoying being a mom!
I have PPD and PPA. I can’t get treatment because of finances. What happens in therapy? How do people get better thorough therapy? How can I get over this by myself?!?! There’s got to be a way. I’m desperate. It’s terrible. 🙁
Christine, you can’t go this alone. First off, join our private forum (it’s free) and start getting support from other moms who have been through this. You can join here: http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-progress-private-forum. Secondly, do you qualify for any healthcare benefits through the state? You can talk with a primary care doctor about what’s happening. Therapy is another option, and some centers provide free counseling or a sliding scale for fees based on your income. Don’t give up. There is help available.
Recently I found out my daughter is on Zoloft and Aderall because she is in treatment for PPD and OCD for the past 5 years. My daughter and I have always been close but for some reason she has never discussed this with me. She lives in Los Angeles and I live in Missouri so we do not see each other as much as we would like. I am so upset that she has been on that medication for so long after researching about the medications. There has never been a history of this with anyone in our family. She does not want to discuss this with me so is there any advise as what to do or not do. I love her so much and am hurting for her and want to help in any way I can. I feel so guilty about not being there for her as she has been dealing with all of this. It seems like after 5 years, there would be a chance of addiction to the medicines and how can you have PPD for 5 years when you are no longer pregnant? She has always been a positive, outgoing, sweet and caring person destined to be a great mother. So I am so concerned she has not shared any of this with me. What is the best thing I can do? Do I talk with her about this or just let her volunteer info when and if she chooses? No matter, I am here for her and so worried that I want to do the right thing for her. Is there anything I can read to help her?
Thank you for your information and web site. Any additional suggestions are appreciated.
Hello Denise, I’m sure this is hard to take in and process. It’s good that your daughter has started to talk with you now. There is so much shame about mental health issues, unfortunately. So her staying quiet for so long probably has more to do with that than with anything else. Something to keep in mind is that sometimes existing mental health issues are amplified after having babies. This could explain why your daughter is still being treated five years later. This was my personal experience. I had no idea I was living with anxiety because it was all I had ever known. Then it got so bad postpartum and in learning about it, I learned it had always been there. So my treatment continues even though I have not had a baby for four years. We learn to live with even intense anxiety, depression, ADD, etc and we cope without recognizing that we needed help all along. In a way, having this reveal itself after having a baby is a gift. At least now we KNOW and can move forward in a new healthier way. Sometimes that does mean that we need medication on-going. That does mean staying on medication indefinitely for many of us. Your concern is valid, but only you know your daughter the way you do. If you feel she can be trusted with working responsibly with her health care providers, try to give her the benefit of the doubt. She did a courageous thing in getting help and clearly her providers felt her condition was deserving of medications. You raised someone who values herself enough to reach out for help even when the stigma around admitting such a thing is terrifying. You have questions and concerns and that’s okay. Perhaps the best route for the two of you is to let her know that you would love to learn more if she is comfortable in sharing but that you won’t push her if she feels uncomfortable. You too are a good mother. You are searching for answers because of your love for your daughter. That is courageous too.
I knew I was getting better when I didn’t have to remind myself to see the good in things. When I realized my off thoughts cannot and do not control me. When I gave harming thoughts and I tell myself they are not scary.
When I actually wanted to shop for clothes for my baby girl.
I new I was better when instead of wanting to hide from my children all the time, I really wanted to be engaged with them – playing,reading, cuddling.
I didn’t know I had it until my triplets were over 2 yrs old. It was getting worse (or, at least not better) and I finally went for help. My medication has saved my family life. Now I don’t know when I should stop with the meds. I’m scared I will go back to the symptoms if I stop.