Heart To Heart: Tell us about your experience with Perinatal Mood Disorder.
Ellen: I didn’t know at the time what it was. 20 years later, we have a much greater recognition of PMD…different classifications: OCD, postpartum anxiety, depression, and. in rare instances, psychosis.
HtH: How long did it last? Did you have it with all of your children?
Ellen: I had it for about a year. It was the worst with my first, less severe with my second and not at all with my last two.
HtH: So you didn’t think it was depression?
Ellen: Right. I didn’t seek help soon enough, one reason, because my symptoms didn’t match up with [postpartum depression] bullet points: Are you feeling like you want to hurt yourself or your baby? No. Are you sleepless? No. Do you find yourself wanting to sleep all the time? No.
HtH: So how did you feel?
Ellen: Like I wasn’t enjoying myself, but I thought it was my job. I often describe my life at that time like operating at 40 percent. I just did what I had to do, because I had to do it.
HtH: Did it affect your marriage and parenting?
Ellen: Yes, we just “survived”. I wish for that reason along I could have found help.
HtH: What can someone else do to help?
Ellen: Ask questions. This is something that helped me. My mom asked “How much time during the day are you spending in negative emotions?” For some reason, being able to quantify this made it seem less like this giant sea of emotions that I could never get out of. I hope that by being open about my experience helps other people feel like they are not alone.
Follow this link to an informative TED Talk about Postpartum Depression and Psychosis.