Monday, 26 October 2015

Dealing with Post-Natal Depression..

In Malaysia, I noticed, that this topic is not much talked about or discussed but the danger is all too real. I'm talking about 'post-natal' depression. Despite some people thinking that it's 'all in the head' of the new-mother, I can you that it's not true. It's a real medical condition that requires help.

I was diagnosed with post-natal depression after giving birth to my 5th child. Who would thought, that a woman my age, who had delivered 4 babies before, would suffer from depression. Well, let me tell you can happen to any mother regardless if you are a new mom or you had just given birth to your 12th child!

In my case, the depression hit me right after 5 weeks of giving birth. At first, I thought it was just my hormones that went haywire since I'm already in my 40s but it was not like any normal depression. In the past, whenever I felt blue, I would just shake it off and it seemed to work but not this time. It followed me like a plague. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to get out of it. I felt that the Angel of Death was stalking me, waiting for the right time to yank my soul from my body. I had this unexplainable and unreasonable fear of the unknown and about everything. I felt that I was falling into a 100 feet black pit and was powerless to stop it. To make it worse, I couldn't produce enough milk for my baby and she was not getting enough. I felt like a failure.....

Getting up every morning was a task in itself. I had to literally dragged myself out of bed. I dreaded waking up because the only time I was not depress was when I was asleep! I couldn't motivate myself to look forward for a new day. Everything seemed doomed and gloom. It was like living in Gotham city, only 100 times worse! 

I didn't want to see anyone other than my own family and if it was possible, I would have holed up in a cave somewhere, away from the whole world. I worried over the slightest thing, like will my two fat cats be kidnapped if they slept in the front porch.  I get panic attacks on a daily basis. My anxiety was in overdrive. I lost all control...

When I began to start resenting my newborn daughter, that was when I knew something was not quite right and that I had to seek help. You see, I didn't want to talk to anyone because I didn't want to seem as a failure. I can't fail! I would be ashamed to fail. Failing is ridiculous because I already have children. This whole giving birth thing was supposed to be a walk in the park for me, at least, that's what everyone kept telling me...but they were wrong and I was wrong...

I finally spoke to my gynae and she diagnosed me with 'post-natal' depression. I was, honestly, taken aback. Not willing to accept it, I spoke to another friend who is also a gynea and she confirmed the diagnosis. I had all the symptoms and more. In a funny way, I was relieved because it went to prove that I was not going cuckoo nor was I punished for the sins that I committed. What I had was a real medical condition. 

The next question was, how do I deal with it? I asked my doctor if she could prescribed me 'happy pills' to which she said 'no' and advised me to see a shrink. Oh well, it was worth a try. I wasn't receptive to seeing a shrink because, call me twisted, but I just didn't want the shrink to confirm that I was actually mental!But that's just me. For other mothers, seeing a pyschiatrist might be a tremendous help. 

Support from your spouse is utmost important. In my case, my hubby became my shrink. He patiently sat down and listened to every worries and fears that I had and tried to reason it out. He didn't dismiss my condition as petty and didn't treat me like a nut-case.  That to me, was the biggest help. I also enlisted the aid of the 'Wise Owl' who convinced me that I wasn't possessed by demon nor was I losing my faith.

I came to realize that post-natal depression is not a disease that can be cured overnight or by a magic pill. Prozac or any other anti-depressant is only a temporary relief. What I did was, I managed the symptoms as it emerged. To me, having post-natal depression was like having a cold. There's no cure for common cold. You just have to let it run its course and manage its symptoms. That worked for me but for others, you need to find out what works for you, but it is important that you MUST seek help. Do not suffer in silence.

I started getting myself into my usual routine slowly. When things got a little bit overwhelming especially with the baby, I wasn't ashamed to ask for help. Don't feel guilty if for some reasons you can't breastfeed your baby or if you needed to supplement his or her feed with baby formula. Don't feel guilty or bad if you think you need some 'me' time because trust me, you do. Get someone else to take care of the baby while you take a breather. Let me repeat this; you have not failed as a mother. It is just the way things are. Accept it and move on.

Talking about it also helps. Talk to your spouse or mom or friends or anyone who is willing to listen. Never sweep it under the carpet because it will not go away on its own. In fact, it could get worse if you choose to ignore it. 

My advise to all mothers out there. Don't be ashamed if you if you are experiencing post-natal depression. You are not a leper that everyone has to stay away from. You are not crazy either. You are very normal. You just need a little bit more support and love from the people around you. Stay away from negative people. In time, the bogeyman will go away, InSha Allah.

As for me, I'm not quite whole yet. I still have traces of it but I am in a far better place than I was a few months ago. When I think about it, having post-natal depression is actually a blessing. It opened my eyes to many things that I chose to ignore in the past. It made me be more appreciative of my surroundings and most important of all, I received extra love and attention from my loved ones....

"Verily after hardship comes ease."
Quran 94:5


  1. I'm glad someone is writing about this on the local front. There's too little exposure when it comes to ppd in Malaysia. I was diagnosed with my first child and yet some peolle close to me still refuse to acknowledge it as a real thing. I was accused of not looking to Allah for help and being possessed by djinn and syaitan. Whenever i try to talk to them about it even now, they get steely, disbelieving look on their faces and change the subject. And these are people who i thought would stand by me and support me no matter what. I was blessed to have a husband who recognized the symptoms and asked for help instead of abandoning me, and a (now) best friend who saw my need for support and was there throughout even though she was unmarried, childless and had virtually no idea what i was really going through. People need to be exposed to PPD as it is and not make up ghost stories about it. It's a real medical sickness and someone really needs to put it forward here in malaysia so more mothers can get the help they need instead of thinking they're bad people for feeling the way they do.

    1. PPD is a medical condition that our people choose to ignore or be in denial about it. Their solution to it is just to ignore or tell the poor mother that she's possessed. Utter rubbish!

      When I was diagnosed, I didn't really give a hoot about others thought of me. My primary goal was to get better. I avoided negative people, families and friends included. People fail to understand that PPD, like any other disease, can happened even to the most pious woman.

      I hope you are better now sis and Alhamdulillah you had support and help. The one good thing is that now you can see the true colors of the people around you.

  2. I never had diagnosed but I just read about the symptoms. It is all in me. Thank God for my husband support. It has been almost a year since the illness. Now I am started to get myself in control back. Hoping everything will be okay like before.

    1. Actually, many women experienced post-natal depression, it's just they don't or didn't know. It can be a serious or life-threatening condition if left untreated. Alhamdulillah, you had good support from your husband which is important. More awareness about this condition should be made. Women should not be made to feel ashamed for having post-natal depression because it is not a sign of weakness neither is it make-believe.