Bringing postpartum depression out of the closet.
by Rabbi Baruch and Michal Finkelstein
Excerpted from Delivery from Darkness, A Jewish guide to prevention and treatment of postpartum depression.
"I Was Being Buried Alive," the author's personal account
I was irritable; I cried; I was exhausted, yet had trouble sleeping. Getting through each day seemed nearly impossible. My own children avoided me; my husband tiptoed around me. I was convinced that my family and the world would be better off without me.
Although I was a certified nurse midwife at that time, my lack of experience and understanding of postpartum depression (PPD) matched that of the average layperson and, unfortunately, most medical professionals. PPD was something that happened to "other" women who already had psychological problems.
Anyway, PPD would never happen to me. I was too "happy!" I was always the type of person that people viewed as so capable, energetic, and positive. But I suddenly realized that if PPD could happen to Michal Finkelstein, it could happen to anyone.
After my sixth child was born over 15 years ago, I suffered from PPD. It was only after this birth that my doctor and I realized that I had probably suffered from PPD after the birth of my five other children. I had found it difficult to cope, but had chalked it up to having many children close in age, to being overwhelmed, to lacking household help. I didn't even know that my extreme frustration and anxiety weren't a "normal" part of being a young mother. Thankfully, I had a good marriage, good friends, and a cohesive community. This support, along with my sheer will, helped me to pull myself out of these milder episodes of depression.
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