Tag: motherhood

#PPDMyStory – One Kenyan Mom’s story and how she got help

African mom and baby, postpartum depression

We are starting a new series titled #PPDMyStory where we will be sharing life stories of moms with Postpartum Depression, their motherhood journey and how they are recovering/ recovered. This is in line with our efforts to sensitize the community on maternal mental health and to raise awareness for Postpartum Depression (PPD).

#PPDMyStory

Today’s entry comes from one of the moms who we have had in our support group sessions. She requested anonymity, so we will simply share her story as she did.

You recently had a baby, how was pregnancy?

My pregnancy had few complications. However, I enjoyed the last two trimesters because I did not experience intense morning sickness like I had been experiencing in the first trimester. In the last few weeks, I experienced some intense feelings of physical discomfort and this was made worse when I got really bad news about two weeks before I gave birth.

Read More: 8 things no one tells you about pregnancy

Your baby is 2 years old now, how has the experience been with him?

My experience with the baby has been more blissful than I thought it would have been. Initially I thought that I was never capable of loving this new human being but I have grown to learn what he likes and what he doesn’t. I have also grown to dedicate moments where we spend time together just to bond and appreciate each other’s existence on earth. Being a mother to my son is the most amazing experience ever.

A few months after birth you started feeling that something was off, that it was more than just baby blues. Please share with us about that period.

Getting sad news just two weeks to delivery made me question if I was ready to be a solo parent. It made me question my capabilities and I gradually started to feel like I had let down a small human being who had no idea of what I was going through. I gradually sunk into a state of physical numbness and emotional turmoil, and stopped enjoying activities I used to love like writing or going out with friends.

Waking up was dreadful, and during some moments I would play out thoughts of cutting my existence for good. I felt worthless. My self esteem took a plunge and I could not bring myself to work (as a freelance writer) because the voices in my head were constantly playing out situations that were far-fetched and independent of my reality.

When did you learn that it wasn’t just feeling off, that you had Postpartum Depression?

I came to the realization that these were not baby blues or just feeling off after 9 months of stagnation in my daily life. Things were crushing in my reality. I got to a point I could not effectively handle the bills, all my savings were almost depleted, I was in a constant state of despair, guilt and regret and to top it all I never wanted to live any longer.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

What symptoms did you experience? What did you feel during this time?

Some of the symptoms I experienced include:

  • Feeling helpless and out of control
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of interest in activities I once enjoyed
  • Intense guilt and feelings of regret
  • Weight gain
  • Constant exhaustion but total lack of sleep
  • Constant sadness and moments where I would cry without a distinct reason
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling like I am a bad mother for not being happy and grateful for this new bundle of joy
  • Intrusive thoughts of harming myself and having someone better take care of the baby

How did you get help? What kind of support did you receive?

I was referred to Samoina of PPDKenya by a mutual friend and after a few weeks of direct communication with her, she recommended that I attend some group therapy sessions that were organised for both young moms and dads with signs of PPD. Initially she had recommended that I seek individual counselling sessions but I was a bit hesitant to open up so I eventually felt like the group therapy sessions would help me open up. After attending the group sessions I was subscribed for a series of additional individual sessions with the therapist for about three months and I was accorded thorough emotional and psychological support.

What about your healthcare provider? Was anyone able to pick up your symptoms?

My healthcare provider at the time did not pick any symptoms mainly because when a mother goes to clinic after childbirth the focus is normally on the wellness of the baby. There is also the general assumption that is made, that the mother is okay, while they may not be.

Looking back, what risk factors do you think predisposed you to PPD?

My biggest risk factor that triggered depression was an unsupportive partner. This drained me a lot. In addition, I was constantly exhausted due to lack of good sleep.

Read More: Out of This Life – A Photo Exhibition on Suicide in Kenya

What positive coping mechanisms have worked for you in your recovery journey so far?

Positive self-talk is a winner for sure. I used to love myself before conception but when PPD hit me hard I hated how I looked and even how I felt inside. After therapy, I am able to refute negative thoughts about my being and during moments when I feel overwhelmed, I always remind myself that I am in control (among other positive affirmations). I have grown to embrace meditation as part of my daily routine where I get in touch with my soul and I also get to let go of what no longer serves me.

In addition, I also engage in daily physical exercises which play a big role in breaking tension in moments when I feel otherwise. I journal long-term and short term goals to keep me motivated to work and achieve something tangible. I stick to a distinct schedule which also includes time for me to take naps and a quality time to sleep.  Also, I have gradually revived my spiritual life which was typically dead.

What encouragement would you give to a mom who has PPD, or an expectant woman on how to take care of her mental health during pregnancy?

Post Partum Depression (PPD) is a mental health condition that should not necessarily be a death sentence. As a woman, many factors can predispose one to PPD hence one should be keen to look out for distinct symptoms and at the onset of PPD seek psychotherapy/counselling. In addition, there are various inexpensive ways of seeking professional help as offered through PPDKenya.

What one thing do you wish you knew about PPD before your experience?

I wish that I knew what PPD is, its symptoms and how to protect myself from the trigger factors that initially sent me into a extended period of depression.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and with other moms. We hope your journey will encourage a mom who is scared of asking for help. Would you like to share your story on our website? Please get in touch on email: ppdkenya@gmail.com with the subject ‘PPD My Story’

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Moms share 5 things they wish they knew about Postpartum Depression

 

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses; with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 moms will get PPD. Yet, as common as it is, many affected moms typically admit that they wish they knew more about PPD before they had it. They admit it would help them accept the condition and seek help faster. We asked some of the moms who have reached out to PPDKenya (and gotten help) what they wish they knew about PPD before child birth. Here are the responses:

  1. I wish I knew PPD steals even little joys

Lyn, a mom of two girls, shared how her PPD stole even the smallest of triumphs. She could not find joy in her motherhood experience, and this impacted her ability to bond with her second daughter. One of the ways in which Postpartum Depression manifests is through a mom’s inability to bond with her child. This does not mean that a mom hates her child; on the contrary, she may be overprotective of her bundle of joy, but just can’t find it within herself to bond and play with her baby.

  1. I wish I knew PPD is a treatable mental illness

Lucy, a mom to one said, “I wish I knew Postpartum Depression is a mental health condition that can be treated through therapy. “ One of the myths about PPD is that it is a permanent condition for which there is no help. PPD is a temporary condition for which treatment is available. Moms do get help, and go on to make a recovery. Part of the reason we continue to do awareness campaigns on Twitter (check out our previous #PPDKenya tweetchats here) is because when moms are aware, then they can know what the symptoms of PPD are and where to get help.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew Depression after birth is NOT normal.

“Depression after birth is NOT normal, and I wish I knew this. Additionally, PPD affects both moms and dads,” Kristy shared with us. Many moms who reach out for help with PPD will often admit that a well-meaning person told them what they felt was ‘normal’ and it would pass. The truth of the matter is that PPD is anything but normal. When a mom starts to exhibit symptoms of PPD, and they go on for more than two weeks, then there is cause for concern. More importantly, moms are reminded that, just because you exhibit just a couple of symtoms of PPD, it does not invalidate your concerns.

  1. I wish I knew that it was possible to get Pregnancy depression and PPD thereafter

Jacinta* shared how, struggling with depression during pregnancy and not knowing what it was only compounded her symptoms after childbirth. Her pregnancy depression symptoms included weepiness (over just about everything), inability to comprehend a future with baby, so much so that she had intrusive thought even before baby was born. Left unchecked, Jacinta’s Pregnancy Depression morphed to PPD, and she shared how, knowing what she does now after support group sessions, she wishes she had gotten help earlier.

Read More: Treatment Options for Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew how incredibly lonely PPD is.

Victoria* shared and said, “I am afraid of telling anyone close what’s happening anymore, because the last time I tried I was told that I have become ungrateful, so I continue to struggle with my PPD in silence. I feel so alone.”

The stigma associated with maternal mental illness means that moms feel ashamed for seeking help, and end up keeping it to themselves. The truth is that there is no shame in reaching out for help, and if you have PPD, please know you are not alone!

At PPDKenya, we understand what you are going through. We are here to walk the journey with you. We will help you get the help you need. Get in touch using our Contact Page.

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