My apologies to everyone out there who has PTSD, because I'm shamelessly altering your acronym for myself. I'll just say right up front that PTSD is a very terrible and serious condition. So is post partum depression, the disease I suffered from for about the first year of my daughter's life.
What I have now is PPPDSD, or Post Post Partum Depression Stress Disorder. When I go online to PPD forums, I am unable to offer sympathy or consolation or hope. I just feel myself begin to simultaneously panic and shut down. I was watching a newly born baby at church this weekend, and while I adored his tiny features and wibbly wobbly movements, I also began to feel a little sick to my stomach. I wanted to coo and want to hold him, but instead I emotionally checked out.
It's going to take me a long time to process the full extent of what my disease did to me in those first few precious months. I'm proud though. I'm proud of myself for getting help. I'm proud of myself for being open about my suffering, and not allowing shame to silence me. I'm proud of myself for accepting the help that was offered. But most of all, I'm proud of the fact that despite my disease, I was a good mama in those painful months. I gave up dairy so I could continue to breast feed. I took pictures and videos and made a scrapbook and movie so though my memories may be hazy, I have records. I hugged and kissed and cuddled my child, even when my emotions were so disconnected that I felt nothing. I was wise enough to go out and get help on the days that my disease threatened my self-control. I did not self-harm.
I hope with all my heart that one day I'll be able to directly help those who suffer from PPD. Until then, all I can do is tell my story and encourage those who are suffering to find the help they need, in exactly the form they need it.