Postpartum Depression, Body Image, & Weight Gain

Inside postpartum depression there are a multitude of challenges, but one I often struggle with is how my mental health affects my physical health. Therapies that help my mood like medication can often cause weight gain. And a big cycle ensues.

For me, it’s a big loop of feeling depressed, lacking the motivation to exercise, taking meds that are known to cause weight gain, emotionally eating, gaining weight and feeling even worse about myself, with a bad body image. It all leads me further into depression.

A while back I tried to get motivated and attended a stroller exercise class. It’s a great option when you don’t have easily accessible childcare. You just bring them along. I had high hopes because I knew a few of the women in the class and they loved it.

I went into this class still inside my own place of anxiety and depression, but it felt good to get motivated and take a positive step. That is, until I got there.

This big group of women all in the postpartum period themselves felt like a big community. Great, right? But for me? My social anxiety took over. They all seemed so much more fit than me. I had trouble keeping up, and even though they reminded me with great care to go at my own pace, I felt defeated. I wasn’t good enough. Teary eyed and insecure by the end of class.

I haven’t exercised since.

I want to be motivated. I really do. Exercise for many is a wonderful therapy for the body and mind. I know so many new moms who get their groove back or help manage their mood issues with exercise. Endorphins are real, they feel good. A healthier body can help lead to a healthier mind too. It’s so interconnected in many ways and I know that … intellectually.

But when I’m in a place where I’m not feeling at my best emotionally and I’m already not happy with myself physically, finding the will to exercise can be the most difficult thing in the world.

After having Ellie (she’s 22 months now) and battling my own postpartum depression, I’ve had many ups and downs with mood and weight. At one point I’d do so well with both, feeling balanced and healthy, eating right and feeling and looking good. Then extra stress or lack of sleep would overtake me (still does sometimes), and I’d feel depressed, not eat well and put on a few pounds.

I’ve changed medications a few times as of late, and one very recently surprised me with a big weight gain. I’m right this very minute almost two sizes bigger than I was just this summer. And it breaks my heart.

I know we’re supposed to focus on our health and not our size. I know that for certain in my head. But along with my depression comes feelings in my heart of inadequacy, insecurity, and sadness. I don’t even recognize the woman in the mirror and those feelings become more intense.

How about you? Are you struggling or have you struggled with your weight, body image, mental health, and physical health?

We are not alone in these feelings, I’m sure of it. It’s probably more common than we’d ever imagine.

How do you get motivated to get moving?