postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthDear New Mom,

I’m going to tell you something you may not believe. It may not seem possible and it might sound like I’m saying stuff just to make you feel better. But I’m truly not lying when I tell you:

It will get better.

You will get better. You will be able to get through the bad days and weeks much more easily than you can now. And you will feel better about this whole motherhood gig eventually.

As long as you get help.

That’s the key. You have to reach out for help. I know it’s not easy. There is a lot of unnecessary fear and stigma associated with depression and medications, and I’m sure deep down, that’s why I hesitated to get help when I had postpartum depression.

But I shouldn’t have waited. I could have felt a lot better, a lot faster, if I had called my doctor much sooner.

My experience with PPD wasn’t the kind that you typically hear about. Yes, I had the deep sadness, the irritability, and the lack of interest in life. But what really took me aback was the rage I felt.

About five weeks after my second daughter was born, I felt anger building deep inside me. I felt trapped by my colicky, non-sleeping, no-bottle-taking baby. I was frustrated with my toddler, who was throwing tantrums constantly. And I was seriously questioning my decision to leave my full-time writing job to stay at home and freelance.

I felt sad, anxious, and angry – morning, noon, and night. And it was the anger that was most overwhelming to me.

Then there was a terrible night when my toddler had a massive tantrum in her room – and I lost it.

I couldn’t control the words flying out of my mouth as I was enveloped in an otherworldly bout of rage. It was the most terrifying feeling I have ever experienced. Thankfully my husband was there to take over so I could get away from what was triggering me – my own daughter.

I called both my primary care and OB docs the next day. Working together, they got me on medication and into therapy right away for PPD. And I felt better within days. The sadness, the lack of interest in life, the anxiety … it all got better with treatment.

The anger inside me, though, took more work to get under control. The medication helped. But the therapy was what made it much, much better. I find that anger is the most difficult part of depression to manage and from my experience, the least-talked about symptom.

Today I still need to take an antidepressant to feel like myself. But I am living a happy life. I handle everyday stresses in a normal way, I love being with my family and friends, and I enjoy my job.

It got better.

And it will for you, too.

I want you to know that if you are depressed, it is not your fault. You are not a bad mom or bad person. Depression happens to regular people, and there is no shame in getting help if you have signs of postpartum depression.

Being a mom means doing hard things. And sometimes the hardest thing is asking for the help you need. But the faster you get help for your PPD, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your beautiful baby – and your new life as a mother.

I wish you all the best and send you love and hugs,

~ JD Bailey


JD Bailey blogs at Honest Mom, where she writes about raising her daughters and managing her depression. She is an outspoken supporter of women who deal with depression, was interviewed by Katie Couric about the topic, and has written for various on- and off-line publications. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, too.

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Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!