|My Journey Through Postpartum Depression |
By Teresa Twomey
Life at home with an infant can be a lonely place for any mom, but it was especially difficult for me as I suffered from postpartum mood disorders. I had thoughts about harming my baby, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety. Even after these symptoms disappeared, I settled into a long, deep depression. I had little social support; there was no one to call to come for lunch or just a chat.
I was so lonely that as soon as my husband came home from work, I’d overwhelm him with a verbal barrage detailing the minutia of my day. I resented every time he left for work. He still had a normal life while I was locked in a box with a high-maintenance, colicky baby. Every day was an ordeal.
I felt practically invisible. I craved seeing someone who would simply recognize me. Once during an “invisible” day I decided to mail a letter. There was a clerk at the post office who always recognized me and smiled. So I wrote the letter, packed my daughter and myself into the car and drove to the post office. But my clerk was gone. I went out to my car and cried and cried.
For almost two years I continued to feel isolated and depressed. When I became pregnant with twins I began to understand my need for support. I was terrified of going through the same feelings of depression and isolation again and was determined to have more support this time. When my twins were three months old we were planning to move. At each town I would ask the realtor “What kind of mom’s groups are there?” A few days after we moved to Farmville, when we were still living out of boxes, I loaded my three girls into the car to hand-deliver my MOPS application.
A few months after moving, my depression returned. But this time I had knowledge and a community of support in MOPS. Many women in our group went out of their way to be helpful, and I gradually learned to accept their help.
A year later I was on the Steering Team as MOPPETS Team Leader. All the Steering Team leaders were sharing their stories. I wanted to share my postpartum experience but was afraid that the Coordinator, April, would say that it wasn’t appropriate to share. April was a popular, well-loved minister’s wife. Even with two young boys she was always attractive and well-coifed. Meanwhile I struggled to just get out the door on time–usually without makeup, in a T-shirt and jeans–a bonus if my hair was brushed. I didn’t think she’d have much sympathy for my subject. Although I know postpartum depression can happen to any mom, I was surprised when April approved my topic and confided that she too had struggles with depression. Knowing April fully supported me gave me a boost of confidence, even though I was nervous telling my story to our MOPS group.
Now I am active in speaking to groups about Postpartum Depression as part of Postpartum Support International. I feel God led me through the valley and placed me in this cradle of love and security called Farmville MOPS so I could heal and turn my experience into a ministry of hope for others.
Message to Women with Postpartum Depression:
- You are not alone.
- You are not to blame.
- Your experience is real. (This is a medical condition, just like a broken bone is.)
- There is help and you will be well.
Mood Disorder Resources*:
This article originally appeared in Connections magazine, January 2005, MOPS International, Inc.
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