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Sunday, February 19, 2012

postpartum depression - book review - PART ONE

(image from Google)
Down Came the Rain - Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields
I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time, thinking it's such an important topic all women should know more about in case they ever experience it or know someone who goes through it. Postpartum depression (PPD) seems to be a taboo subject. To have a celebrity like Brooke Shields write a memoir about what it was like when she had PPD with her first child is a great thing for women. Shields is so honest and her account is raw, sad, overwhelming and so true that I could not put this book down. I highly recommend it.

On page 55, Shields explains how the feelings began, "Over the five days that I was in the hospital with {daughter} Rowan, I was in a bizarre state of mind, experiencing feelings that ranged from embarrassment to stoicism to melancholy to shock, practically at once. I didn't feel at all joyful, but I attributed this to being tired and needing to recover physically."

On page 65, Shields explained what it was like with the baby at home, "At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn't simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different... But this was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. If felt as if it would never go away."

Page 69, "Why was I crying more than my baby? Here, I was, finally the mother of a beautiful baby girl I had worked so hard to have, and I felt like my life was over. Where was the bliss? Where was the happiness that I had expected to feel by becoming a mother? She was my baby; the baby I had wanted for so long. Why didn't I feel remotely comforted by having or holding her? I had always felt that a baby was the one major thing missing from my life, that a child would complete the picture and bring everything into focus. Once I was a mother, the different parts of my world would all converge, and I would experience life as I'd envisioned it and in turn would know what I was meant to be. But having a baby clouded my vision and threatened whatever peace had already existed. Instead of wanting to move forward, all I wanted was for life to return to the way it was before I had Rowan."

Shields provided information about PPD:
-typically starts within a week of baby's birth, but can start up to a year after birth.
-one cause is the rapid change in hormones after birth.
-sometimes symptoms begin in pregnancy.
-Other factors that contribute: sleep deprivation, difficult pregnancy or birth, complications of birth for mother or child, inadequate social support, marital problems, history of depression, recent occurrence of a major life change like family death, etc.
-can last from a few months to a few years if untreated
-PPD affects 10 to 20 percent of women
-if it lasts more than 2 weeks before birth or more than 2 weeks after birth it's more than just the "baby blues," and is probably PPD.

The important thing is there is help for PPD.
Resources for PPD, provided in Shields' book:

In part two of this PPD series we will share two perspectives on all emotions post-partum. Stay tuned.

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