It's so hard to understand post-partum depression. I certainly didn't. Not until it happened to me. And even after it happened to me, I find myself at a loss for how to describe it.
It happened again this week. My third baby is 1 year old and I had almost no issues with PPD after she was born. It was the easiest, happiest recovery of all three of my births. But a few days ago I was hit hard.
It was late afternoon and I was helping the boys clean up their rooms and vacuum upstairs while Brett finished up outside. I was in a bit of rush because the downstairs was still a disaster and my in-laws were coming over with dinner to stay with the kids while Brett and I were going to a play. I left the boys to finish and went to start on the downstairs.
A few minutes later, I went back upstairs to check on the boys. They had finished up, and then proceeded to pull stuff back off the shelves to play. And I broke down in tears. I did the best I could to choke out the words admonishing the boys and directing them to pick up again. They knew something was very wrong and jumped right on board. And that's when I heard Brett and his parents downstairs.
I lost it. Utterly and completely. I locked myself in my bathroom, sat on the floor, and sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. For no real reason. (Because the boys did what I asked them to and then started playing? Not a real reason.) It was beyond any control I had over myself. The tears would not stop coming. And I knew with absolute certainty that I would NEVER be able to go downstairs for dinner (ever again!) and that I was NOT going out of the house that night, and that I would NEVER stop crying and that I would NEVER feel happy ever again. Everything was a shambles.
So I cried nonstop for a good 40 minutes. Every time I even thought about trying to pull myself together and interact with other people, even my children, the tears came stronger. And after I was cried out, I crawled into bed and fell asleep for 30 minutes. When I woke up, it suddenly seemed like it might actually possible to see another person and not break down into tears. I might not be happy, but I could function. An hour before, I didn't think that would ever be possible again in my lifetime.
So I survived dinner. Brett and I went out to the play (which was phenomenal, though I probably would have enjoyed it even more on a different night). And when we got home I went straight to bed. By the next morning, life seemed to be returning to normal. And by the end of the next day, I was left wondering if I imagined the whole thing.
I felt it for a few hours this time. I try to imagine what it must be like for the women who live with those feelings for days and weeks and months on end. I remember it a bit from after my first was born. I still can't talk about some of the thoughts that lived in my head during those dark days.
May this give you just a touch of insight. It's not a fun place to be.