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Depression in stay at home moms is a common phenomenon, and can often manifest as anxiety attacks or listlessness.
We often relate depression with many brainy jobs, difficult targets, the strife to achieve perfection, and maybe highly paid professions around the world.
Depression is still a taboo for most of us to discuss, including me. But now I make my honest confession: my life revolved around this word in the two-three years after my second baby. It takes real courage to accept that yes, you were depressed and went through gloomy days which you never want to come back.
They say bright days always follow gloomy days, and every dark cloud has a silver lining. My experience helped me understand depression, and maybe my learning will help you: since I want no other woman to face what I had to.
My story starts almost 9 years back when I was carrying my first baby. All planned and not unexpected. I had decided to quit my dream company to take care of my child. I never regretted quitting. At the time, many friends warned me that one day you will regret your decision of quitting and I reacted back with a big smile.
But I enjoyed my break from work, chilling out and doing whatever I could not do earlier due to my hectic life schedule. After my baby turned two, I wanted a second child to accompany her: maybe a little selfishly, I thought that I will be free of childrearing before I’m much older. My doctor gave me a go-ahead and my second one came exactly when my first one turned three. I was happy that my delivery work was over for a lifetime, though of course the duties and responsibilities of parenting can never be!
Being in a nuclear family and your spouse working odd shifts makes it rather a difficult job for a woman to manage all single-handedly. I am quite independent: I can manage in any situation and take my own decisions of life. I managed hospital visits all alone during my pregnancy or with a small baby, and I didn’t want to depend on anyone for petty things or even bigger tasks.
On the other hand, sometimes being so much independent can overload you by the end of the day. My husband helped in all the ways he could, from bathing the baby to massaging her. But his working hours were from 12 p.m. to midnight, which was a big challenge for me. I hired all the help I could. But at the end of each day, I was so tired, both mentally and physically!
Depression does not single out high profile people or successful ones. It can creep in with stress from small things that could later turn into bigger ones, and it can target anyone of any age and at any time.
Depression can also show itself at times:
This is what happened to me, and feeling lazy all the time was the first sign. Just to clear my doubts, I went for a complete health check up and everything was perfectly fine. The only advice the doctor gave me that you need rest. He didn’t talk about postpartum depression: if he had then I wouldn’t be writing about PPD at this moment.
Additionally, no one talked about this and I was unaware of the facts back then — six years ago. I also felt that I could not become a victim of depression because of the healthy lifestyle I follow, which includes exercise, meditation, yoga, a big social circle, healthy food habits, and a positive attitude.
This started in the year of 2011 when my second child was born. I thought maybe things will work out soon as she grows up. But I was completely wrong. One day in October 2012, I suddenly felt breathless and my hands and feet began to tremble. Luckily, my husband was at home and we immediately rushed to the hospital. As soon as we entered Emergency, they put me on oxygen and a drip. I had no idea what had happened to me.
They did a few tests and told us that it may be due to congestion or some allergic reaction. I was completely fine after two days. Then again after a gap of one and a half years, I had the same attack of breathlessness. I called my husband and we rushed to the emergency center. It was a blessing that the hospital was just 500 metres away from our home. Again they put me on oxygen but my oxygen level was full. The visiting doctor asked me what happened. I explained I had breathlessness and anxiety or fear. She immediately diagnosed,“This is an anxiety attack.” Then they induced one SOS tablet through drip and I dozed off.
Do you know what an anxiety attack is? How it feels when you suddenly go out of breath without any obvious reason. I have sensed those moments closely when you feel like someone is taking away your last breaths. It felt almost like the last moment of my life, when all flashbacks and memories of your children pass by you. There is no regular medicine for anxiety, and it’s more of a mental level syndrome.
I had 3-4 anxiety attacks during those 3 years and finally a doctor asked me, “Are you depressed?” I had no answers. Because I felt, “I was not depressed and cannot be.” I wasn’t stressed: I didn’t have any monthly targets to complete. I don’t run in the morning to reach office. I don’t expect big bungalows and servants. I am typically a social person who talks to everyone around with the same smile and zeal.
He said, you must be, otherwise you would not have landed here as an anxiety attack patient.
He made me think of where I had gone wrong. I had always been a positive person: how could I be in such a situation?
Soon I realized what had gone wrong. Postpartum depression, and many other factors after my second baby where no one had guided me. I wanted everything perfect: a routine for everything, a spick-and-span house, perfect cooking. I wanted to manage everything independently and single-handedly without asking for help.
A tag of superwoman that I never wanted to remove.
And most importantly the time when I was not engaged mentally.
I know how it feels to be a homemaker who suffers from depression. And I am proof of that survey which claims that SAHMs are more prone to depression.
I am lucky that I tried to look for the solution and worked on it. I am a little better now and can live my life.
I realised that labels like perfection and superwoman make you more stressed, so I decided to drop them.
And most importantly, I realised how important it is to have some ME time, to claim for yourself all those hobbies and the happiness which you leave for others!
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Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
Founder-Life Of A Mother (Blog). Just spreading some positive vibes around.
Very sincere and honest post Ekta! Depression or something very close to it, is far more common than we know or like to admit, in many new mothers. A great big reason that there is so much denial is, I suspect mostly due to a patriarchal conspiracy to keep the negative aspects of pregnancy and motherhood secret so that women will not hesitate to agree to go along with the plan of having babies and providing a future generation for society. Experienced mothers are part of this conspiracy too, so it really makes it even more difficult for the truth to come out. But if we only stop to think – it is no rocket science why we may be pushed to depression! Pregnancy itself pushes us women way out of our comfort zones-both physically and mentally-making us fully aware that we are losing control over our bodies and minds that are both under the influence of chemical and physiological changes caused by a baby. After 9 solid months of all that we have to deal with fresh hormonal swings, excruciating pain of childbirth, problems with latching/feeding, sleeplessness, back breaking exhaustion from breast feeding, unpredictability and anxiety of a baby and its health settling down, endless trivial new chores of housekeeping-none of which, any one prepares us for or even mentions! The recipe for a pressure cooker like situation is clearly already well under way…But now add to this -endless expectations of reliability of milk production/nourishment for the child, dependability and availability 24/7, openness to advice from every fool, friend, foe; alertness to avert any danger or harm to the child and oneself and also the involuntary cutting off from many leisure activities and people!!! It is all a very tall and unfair order indeed, that a woman is expected to deliver! But then mothers and grandmothers will say they all faced the same and make us feel soooo guilty for even expressing a whimper of a complaint and the celebrity yummy mummy super women will smile glamorously from their glossy mags and seem to mock our ineptitude of getting back on track quickly enough and make us feel even smaller and guiltier !!! So then inside we go, deeper and deeper into a dark corner of despair and guilt, while on the outside we try to pretend that we absolutely love every moment of this joyous, wondrous phase of motherhood! As we feel -there is nothing else that any self respecting mother can do! In the bargain we too quietly join the big gang of conspirator mothers who aren’t honest and thus fool other women into the same foolishness!!! I am so glad you are breaking the mould. Motherhood I feel is like any other tough and difficult job. We may say we love it- but NOT because it is the best job in the world- but more so because it is the job we’ve landed!!!
Thank you Sonia for your thoughts! Yes, I feel most of them really don’t know that they are already in that trap.The reason could be whether they are unaware of facts or they don’t want to accept. I feel one can find the solution only when she accepts that yes they are already into problem. Running away from problem can never be cured!!
A very honest post Ekta! And yes a lot more women go through this at some level, than those who accept they do! And as Sonia said the patriarchal set up which includes not just men but women too make it very difficult for us to accept that we can afford to be less than perfect.
Yes Rummana, I feel the main problem lies that this subject is still not taken as important in a family. Women is always overburdened with work and others take this for granted and ultimately the health goes for a toss. I feel awareness is must to all levels. Let women also spread the word so that we can reduce this at larger level!!
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