Let's Talk About PPD: Sumathi's Story
I moved from Melbourne to Singapore when my son was three months old.
I was glad to move to a new place and it all seemed very exciting in theory. But once I came here, I was so lonely. My baby was cluster feeding from day one and just wanted to be carried 24/7. Even today at 3 years he is a very sensitive and high needs child. My husband would leave for work and I would be alone all day. I had no friends. It was a new city and I didn't know a single soul. I was too shy to walk up to people downstairs in my condo. I had absolutely no support system at all - no help or family, no close circle of friends, no online mums group or network. I remember not going out of the house for a span of 10 days. I felt a gradual loss of confidence. I was constantly irritated by every single small thing. I was ANGRY ALL THE TIME and I didn't ask myself why. I just let my anger, loneliness and apathy take over me. I shouted at my hubby whenever he was home. He gradually changed from being a very pleasant smiling person to someone who shouted back when I got angry. He was confused too. He didn't know what had happened to me. Instead of being thankful to God for the beautiful baby and a loving husband I had, I was making my life miserable. But I never asked myself why.
A few months later I happened to read an online article on post natal depression and it suddenly dawned on me that this was the cause of all the misery I felt in my life. But I still did not seek professional help. I wish I had done that. In my mind, I could justify my behavior to myself and that was enough. But my anger and loneliness didn't stop there. My marriage started to break down gradually. We had phases of calm but for the most part we fought a lot and I cried. The depression just grew.
And then I fell pregnant again. This was such a different pregnancy. It was full of mood swings, tears for any small reason (perhaps it was the hormones?). My husband wasn't the doting, loving and caring person he had been during my first pregnancy. Was this my perception or was it the depression coming back to haunt me again? I often wondered. I still don't know the answer. But I feel the depression never really left me after my first child was born. It was worse this time as I started to have suicidal thoughts. I thought many times about killing myself and to just “finish” this miserable life. These terrible thoughts seemed to give me a relief while I played them over and over in my head. I never had the courage to harm myself (thank God!) Another thing that stopped me from committing suicide was thinking of my son, how sad he would be to never have had his mum with him and how he would die before he was actually born through no fault of his.
After I gave birth to my second child, the PPD came back with a vengeance. It was so bad that my husband and I fought every single day. Our marriage nearly broke down. Then, one night when things were looking very bleak, I asked for advice on one of the online mother support groups. I was introduced to a therapist, we spoke on the phone and eventually I met her in person. I am so thankful to God for making me see the light and for allowing me to meet this blessed soul. She is still helping me out and we are determined to work on my PPD and on saving my marriage. I really wish from the bottom of my heart that I had taken steps to combat PPD after my first child was born. I wish I had sought professional help earlier.
These are things that helped me cope:
Getting out of the house when I felt up to it physically. That was the one thing that really really helped me get over the lonely feeling.
Talking to a friend or a relative.
Going for a walk or a swim, or just getting any form of exercise.
Seeking professional help. Both KKH or NUH are equipped to help. Don't repeat my mistake of knowing about depression but still not doing anything about it thinking it will go away and suffer every day.
Focusing on your baby if you can. It helped me feel more grounded.
Listening to music and reading. Any hobby that you did before the baby came along.
Going for a pedicure, a haircut, a massage or some form of pampering. Doing this once in a while for a treat made me feel happy and confident. If you can't go out of the house, there are people who can come to your house to do this.
Trying to get some sleep during the day if baby keeps you up at night. This really helped me save my sanity.
Getting some baby-free 'me' time if you can. If you are breastfeeding, express a bottle for the baby for your husband or partner to give while you exercise or go out of the house or sleep.
Joining an online support group for parents. There are various groups on Facebook you can join to receive support: