A Trip Through the Dark…My Struggle with Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is not only for mothers. Spouses can feel it also. Especially when there is a traumatic birth experience. In fact, 10% of fathers experience some form of postpartum depression. After the birth of our third child, I had a hard time feeling content with things for about a year and a half.
After Mika’s birth, I had a hard time connecting with my family. I felt pensive and lonely for a very long time. I found that going to work was a release to this sadness. The work took my mind off how I felt about the whole experience. I knew how badly I failed Christine during her birth, and while I relished being with Mika, I knew I felt disconnected.
Around this time, I also started my master’s degree and took classes online. I used more of my time to retreat into myself. I told myself it was for the family. I told myself it was to be better at what I do and the path I want to travel in my career. However, I look back and realize I was trying hard to run away.
We moved from the house we were in to a larger house. It provided us with some space and financial wiggle room. My master’s degree took up huge amounts of time and the rest was spent sleeping and working. I spent very little time with my children, except to bring Mika to Christine for breastfeeding. I neglected my relationship with my wife and children. I didn’t know how to interact with them as the failure I felt I was.
Time passed and things continued until Mika’s 1st birthday. This was the turning point in my struggle with postpartum depression. I found the birthday party a fun and sobering reminder of our daughter’s first year. I felt like I had missed most of it. Like I had been sleepwalking through that milestone year. I remembered the things that had happened, but like it was on an old TV. Fuzzy and without color. I knew then I needed to change what was happening. A few more negative events played out and I found myself needing support. I attended Celebrate Recovery and found the accountability and fellowship comforting and uplifting. There were others who had the same problems as I did. The fear and anxiety of failure. After many months of talking and working out my fears, I felt like I was on the road to being myself again.
I’m not going to lie to you and say, “I turned everything around and feel amazing!!” Because that’s not what happened. I has taken me years to begin the process of healing from that experience. I can honestly say there are still times I feel myself slip back into that dark mindset. It is a long road. It takes time, energy, and support. I know most men think they can handle it on their own. But what if you can’t? Do you allow yourself to continue to suffer alone? Who are you really hurting by doing this? Ask yourself these questions. Then think about where it started.
Postpartum depression doesn’t only affect mothers. I felt it, lived it, and still feel it on occasion. But, I refuse to give into it any longer. I need to be there for my family. With my family. I needed, and still need, support. Don’t you?