One of the most commonly asked questions I hear from women who come to my practice suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders - and even from professionals learning about PPD treatment is: “How long will it take be well again?”
This question is inevitably prompted by either the story of someone who fully recovered in two weeks (making it unlikely it was a PMAD) or because someone said to them, "You mean you are STILL not feeling well?" You can imagine how such implications would lead to further despair and a feeling that their own situation might be hopeless.
There is great danger in attempting to compare your recovery time, symptoms, or treatment, to that of other women you may know who are going through the crushing experience of PMAD’s or who have had it in the past.
As with any other medical illness, NO TWO EXPERIENCES ARE THE SAME. Each woman’s illness brings its own unique biological, psychological and social factors – the intensity, disability and presentation varies as widely as a cold does to pneumonia.
Sometimes, there’s unity and connection when women talk about what they are feeling. Knowing you are not the only mother who thought about giving her baby up for adoption, who wished the baby had never been born, or who feel resentment instead of joy at the constant cries for attention can be hugely relieving.
It can be comforting to know that sleeplessness is its own hell, that partners don’t do the right thing, that no one rises to motherhood without questions and imperfections and wishing to have your former life back again is perfectly normal when you are feeling so badly.
The horrific guilt that plagues such mothers can be reduced by compassionate and even humorous exchanges with other moms. The PSI weekly Chats are testimony to the relieving effects of ending isolation and lonely despair when you think there is no one in the world who could possibly understand – or have compassion – for what you are feeling or thinking.