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PPD Recovery Stories “You are not alone, weird, or a bad mom”

Ever wonder how you get through postpartum depression and anxiety? Well, everyone does it a little bit differently.  The Postpartum Mood Recovery Series puts a spotlight on the unique ways in which each parent finds their way through.

How would you describe your postpartum experience?
Isolating, then once I found help relief, community building. Before help – terrifying. After help, normalizing and oddly empowering.

Did you receive a formal diagnosis of a postpartum mood and adjustment disorder?  If so, how did you receive that diagnosis. If not, did you seek one? 
Yes I was diagnosed with PPA with my second child from <a Toronto hospital>. I self diagnosed with my first child (when he was 9ish months old) and did not seek help (massive mistake)

What was your postpartum experience like at its worst? How did you know it was time to get help? 
I hated being a mom a lot. I felt the days would never end and had constant guilt of not being good enough. I wouldn’t leave my house or engage with others as my anxiety left me feeling worthless, ugly, etc. I was thrilled to go back to work but also racked with guilt. I hated mat leave and there were many dark days of feeling my life was over and things would never get better. Also sleeplessness even when my child napped, constant exhaustion, didn’t enjoy any activities, etc.
What kinds of supports do you credit with your recovery (medication, one on one therapy, group therapy, naturopathic care, etc)?
Meds really helped me, and the drop in west end postpartum group. I wish I would have tried naturopathic care.
When did things start to turn around? 
When I knew what was wrong and that it was okay, and that others felt this way. When I found non-judgemental support things took a turn. And the meds really helped too,
What kind of support did you have from partners, family or friends?
My partner didn’t really know what to do. He did get to the point where he said “you need help” and once I sought help was supportive of that. My family and I don’t really discuss mental health at all. My friends were incredibly supportive, available, present.
What helped the most? 
Meds, talking with others and realizing that I am in fact not abnormal but this is a shared experience. Sleep training my child and also buying the occasional / semi regular babysitter really, really helped. Yoga, walks, swimming.
What helped the least? 
Platitudes, “enjoy it – is passes so quickly”, moms who clearly stand in judgment/relish in appearing to have it all together.
What kind of support plan do you have in place ongoing?
Friends, west end drop in (hells yes!), continuing meds, babysitter
If you could give one piece of advice to a parent struggling with their postpartum mood, what would that be?  You are not alone, weird, or a bad mom. This is so common. If you can afford it, get babysitters/help and take a break. Sleep training is a nightmare for a while but then you sleep and sleep protection (5 or more continuous hours of sleep) was so important for my mental health. Finding a mom Crew is hard but when you do they are lifesavers. Meds aren’t the devil.
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