Where to begin? On a good day, postpartum depression (PPD) is something I want to shove aside and pretend wasn’t an unwelcome houseguest at 6150 Buckingham Parkway. On a bad day, PPD won’t let me forget that it moved in approximately six weeks after the birth of our daughter, EV, unannounced and with many bags to unpack. (If you’re not sure what it is or if you have it, this explanation in “plain mama English” should make it pretty clear.) I never expected to get PPD. I’m a licensed clinical social worker, I know all about depression, I treat people with depression. I’m not supposed to get depression. Surely knowing what it is and how to treat it will prevent me from getting it, right? But expectations are tricky little things that have a tendency to implode and suck you in like a black hole. You didn’t realize you had them until they’re already affecting you and it’s too late. Suffice it to say, my expectations did not protect me from PPD.
So when my sweet, supportive, emotionally literate husband told me several months in that he thought he needed to go to therapy for PPD, I felt unsurprised–I could see through my fog that he had been fraying at the seems, seeing the negative side of things more, quick to anger, a little withdrawn, a little less himself, despite giving his all at work and with the baby–and a little cheated. I needed to go to therapy, too. But it took someone else saying, “I have a problem,” for me to realize, I had a problem, too. Thank God he spoke up and told me. We had been drowning and we hadn’t said to anyone, “We are drowning, here.” The reason we were barely able to stay afloat is that we were each paddling with a broken oar with one hand and trying to plug the holes in the boat with the other. It didn’t matter what we did, we were still taking in water. And we needed help.
That’s why I created this website and started a PPD/PPA support group in our neighborhood. An incredible amount of resources and books are available for moms, or even dads, with postpartum depression or anxiety, but where are the stories of moms and dads on the teeter-totter of PPD together? Sometimes, you’re up, sometimes, you’re down, but never at the same time. I think there’s a beautiful asymmetry in what happened to us, and I believe it is through story that we heal. If there is anything that can help a struggling parent, or person, it’s knowing you’re not alone. There is hope. You will heal. And it’s my goal that by writing about the process of how we heal, and through evidenced-based practices, somebody who reads this will not only heal and survive, but thrive.