29 March 2012

What does PostPartum Depression feel like?

I see and hear this question a lot. It's not one that has an easy answer. There are certain symptoms that are indicators of PostPartum Depression, but one thing that I think I can say with certainty is that there is no way to say how everyone who has it will feel. Some people can't sleep, some people sleep all the time. Some people are constantly angry, some are only angry in flashes of rage, some are never angry and always sad, some are numb.

I can't say how PostPartum Depression feels for anyone else (other than absolutely awful) but I can tell you how it felt for me. Even there I can't tell you everything because it was simply too complex to describe precisely, and half the time I wasn't even feeling anything, but I think I can sort of sum it up.

It felt arid. Dry. Desolate.
Like wandering alone in a barren desert.
No water, no food, no company.
Like help was somewhere out there.
I would think I saw an oasis occasionally.
When I got closer, it was just a mirage.

It felt like fog. Gray. Dull. Oppressive.
Like I was just in a haze.
Sitting in the rocking chair, rocking my baby.
Sometimes crying, mostly staring into space.
Wanting to feel but not really.
Even the pain was often just a dull ache.

It felt cold. Alone.
Like being adrift at sea, alone, a chunk of ice.
Separated from everything and everyone.
Going where the current decides, with no control
over my own fate, emotions, or destination.

It felt wild. Out of control.
Like being a drop of water in a raging creek.
Rushing along. Crashing against the rocks.
Tossing and frothing.
And yet, watching from a distance.
Not really part of my own existence.

It felt like all these things at one time, or sometimes like only one or two. But most of all, it just felt numb.
It felt like I was just there. Sometimes it felt like I wasn't even really there. 
Like I was just watching myself from a distance.
Sometimes I thought I saw a flash of sunlight through the clouds. 
But mostly it felt like a deep hole, an abandoned train tunnel. 
Devoid of light. 

There was hope out there, and eventually I found it. But it took a long time and that time felt like it would never end. It was like being trapped in a nightmare that you can't wake up from.

The good news is, one day I woke up. 

The fog lifted and the sun broke through the clouds. 

There were colors. There was clarity. I could see.
There was a hint of a shadow lingering at the edges.
A reminder of what I went through, 
but no longer overshadowing my entire life.

The worst was behind me. 
I was able to sail forwards.
I was no longer stuck being tossed about in the waves,
churned by the wake.
I was free.
I could move on.

If the feeling of being stuck was the worst feeling ever, the feeling of finally being free was the best.



  1. Great post. I love how you describe it and I can definitely say I felt all that too. It was like a nightmare you don't think you will ever wake up from but we eventually do.

  2. Incredibly accurate. I felt this way, too. Numb. I felt detached. Detached from my husband, detached from my new baby. Alone. Scared. Such an awful way to begin a new relationship with your child.

  3. Your words made me tear up. I am going through terrible PPD after having my twins seven months ago. It's been five months since I started feeling this way. I've been hospitalized twice. Sometimes I think that I'll never feel happiness again. Thank you for writing this. Maybe there is happiness in my future, too. I was thinking today as I was wiping away tears at the stoplight, if the pendulum has swung this far in this direction, it will feel amazing when it swings back!