PPD and the Working Mom

Hi. I’m Brandy and I have suffered from postpartum depression/anxiety…twice. I had no idea how to start this post so lets just shine light on the elephant in the room right off the bat (holy cliche sentence, Batman).

Being a mom is hard…working or not. We can all agree there. I can gladly state that the newborn phase of my children is the hardest (so far). While I don’t doubt my ability to mom or how good a mom I am, I know I have struggled with both Landon and Oliver as new babies. I also had great support to help me…and I know not everyone has that. As I stated in my other post about maternity leave, life at home isn’t for me. The colic. The crying. The long days of getting nothing done. The second time around was a little better knowing that it was a finite thing until I went back to work but still very isolating and scary at times. It wore me down.

I am willing to admit all this but I think some moms struggle with that. Sometimes that struggle is just a small nagging but sometimes it is more. Sometimes the long days with little sleep and so much frustration build and build. As hard as you want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is really faint. You get angry over little things and no amount of deep breaths help. You break one day and scream at your kid and then bawl your eyes out at what you did. People telling you “it gets better” mean nothing because while you know they are right, you want it better NOW.

What made it better for me? Going back to work.

As insane as that sounds, it has done so twice. With 3 years of  self reflection, I know this is because of how I am wired. I thrive on achievement, if not over-achievement, and meeting goals. I have my dream job where I get to create and discover every day. So to go from that to a shower being my biggest accomplishment for the day? SUCKS! I thrive at work. I get to do what I love…create and help people. I get to work with amazing people and develop innovative products. And? I GET TO SIT DOWN. I get to go to the bathroom without someone crying. I don’t have to put some one to nap and then wait to see if they actually will. There is routine that HAS to happen. We have to be at work at X…so crying or not, it will happen. Once we get home, I have X amount of time until I can drink. Everything is calculated out and predictable. Yes, I have more on my plate with a full time job but I can think about something other than sleep schedules and poop colors. It gives me balance.

A few weeks after I went back to work, I went to see my therapist. She could see the difference when I walked in the door. She was pretty amazed. I haven’t needed my anxiety meds except maybe once since starting back. I still have tired days when the baby didn’t sleep well and I am struggling. There are still the calls from daycare you dread but it is part of the gig. The next day brings something new…not just more of the same.

This post was spurred by this post on Huffington Post that I related to instantly. Another mom who found relief in the working world. I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone. I write this to show it is possible, as crazy as it sounds, to add more to your plate to make it better.

Have you dealt with PPD/PPA? If so, how did going back to work affect you? Better? Worse?

PSA: If you are struggling after your baby is born, even later on, please talk to your doctor. It is nothing to be ashamed of and completely normal. You may just have a case of baby blues but it could be more. Take care of yourself.  If you want to read other stores, please check out Postpartum Progress. I am also happy to answer any emails, tweets, etc if you need help. – Brandy

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16 Comments

  • Jamie says:

    Looking back, I think I probably did have mild PPD after my kids were born. It wasn’t diagnosed but I can definitely relate to many of the feelings you mention. I felt like I felt better each month and I remember with the girls counting down until they were a year — because I knew then things would really start to get better. The newborn days were definitely not for me.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and your journey and being open. I do think a lot of mom’s struggle with sharing their true experiences. *hugs*
    Jamie recently posted..Halloween FunMy Profile

  • Tina says:

    I went back to work too soon. I was still really depressed and it made me even more depressed. I felt so overwhelmed. I eventually had to be hospitalized an additional time, but that was the last time I was hospitalized. I do okay at work now. Sometimes when I am having a really rough day or I am depressed it is difficult to concentrate. Those days are rough, but most days are good.
    Tina recently posted..Good TimesMy Profile

    • Brandy says:

      Everyone has a different story. I am so sorry it didn’t go well for you but glad you got the help you needed. I know I am also lucky with my work environment to make it easy being a working mom. If they call from daycare to tell me to come get him, I don’t have to freak out. It is completely understood that being a parent means we have to be flexible. I can see things like that elsewhere could pile on the stress. Feel free to chat me up on a bad day…I know it is lonely.
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Beth Anne says:

    I just love the snot out of you because you’re like, BAM! this is what it is & this is who I am & this is how it works.

    For me, going back to work made my PPD worse.

    BUT.

    I was in a shitty job with sitty expectations & I hated every moment of it. My clients & bosses asked me why I “didn’t want to be home with my baby.” I cracked under the pressure of meeting sales goals when I could barely smile at anyone, much less spend 3 hours having them emote all over me.

    I think for you, being in a job you adore with a company that treats you well is simply invaluable & I’m so thankful that you (& me) have it now.

    I’m hoping that work will be my saving grace the second time around.
    Beth Anne recently posted..Tide Pods: The One-Stop ShopMy Profile
    Twitter: baballance

  • molly says:

    Good for you for knowing what’s the best for you and your family! I feel the same way.
    molly recently posted..31 Days of the Shred: Day 30My Profile
    Twitter: adayinmollywood

  • Annemarie says:

    What I love most about this post and the comments is that regardless of each woman’s experience, stories are being shared in the spirit of support and creating awareness for how to navigate mommihood. Wouldn’t it be nice if new moms struggling could skip the “does feeling this way make me a bad mother” phase and go straight to getting some help? Probably not realistic but the more we talk about topics like this the closer we get.

    Thank you for continuing to share your experience, Brandy.
    Twitter: annecalla

  • Kendra says:

    I think this is great for you to shed light on. What I admire most is how unapologetic you are for putting your needs first in order to be a better mom. Some people may feel guilty for wanting to go back to work and you’re simply saying, “this is who I am.” From a person that struggles with putting themselves first, I genuinely admire that.

    I didn’t suffer from PPD on my first, although I did have the standard “baby blues” for a few days, but I’m really scared for my second. This pregnancy has been way different and I’ve actually been feeling overwhelmed and down throughout the whole pregnancy. I talk to my doctors and I see a therapist once a month but I am so nervous for when the baby comes. If I feel this way now how will it be when I’m in the newborn trenches and this time I’ve got a toddler thrown in!

    Thank you for sharing and for your inspiration!
    Kendra recently posted..October 21stMy Profile

    • Brandy says:

      I think you are already in a good place. You are armed with knowledge. If you feel like something isn’t right, you know what to do. I am sure you will roll with the punches. The biggest thing I have learned through this journey is that you never know what to expect. I would have NEVER pegged me for PPD before Landon. Almost laughable…and I was super wrong. Even with Oliver, I thought I could keep it at bay with knowledge from the first time but it was slightly different but still overwhelming at times. At least I knew what to do!
      Brandy recently posted..Newborn Survival GuideMy Profile
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Hi – Loved this post. I chose to stay at home, twenty years ago, with my son, I went back to work seven years later, in a different career. I think that families need to discover what works for them best. I wish that there was more support for families in general, in our society to make things easier. India just passed an act giving women 6 months family leave. In this day, with changing roles, it is the first time in history that women who are well-educated and used to making decisions, making money might choose to stay home to keep stress down in the house and are now home alone with a baby, leading a completely different lifestyle from which they had been preparing for life via education,etc. We live in changing & interesting times. take care Kathy
    Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli) recently posted..Snooki – Our Jersey Girl as a Public Health Role Model?My Profile

    • Brandy says:

      Thanks! You are right, everyone needs to have the ability to make the best choice for their family and not feel like there is some mold they need to fit. I am lucky enough to have the confidence to do what works for me but I know a lot of moms shy away from it feeling like they are a “bad mom” when that is not the case. Sometimes we might care TOO much about everything BUT what is best for OUR family. Thanks for stopping by!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Observacious says:

    I didn’t have anything as serious as PPD, but I do find solace in working. It’s the schedule as you mention, and probably a bit of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

    My current job is losing funding in August, so I am currently looking for a new job (so far to no avail). Although I primarily want to continue working for financial reasons I feel guilty whenever I dread the idea that if I don’t get a job I’ll have to be a SAHM. There is nothing lesser about being a SAHM. Actually my opinion is rather the contrary. I don’t think I could handle it.
    Observacious recently posted..Tony Awards: Cyndi Lauper could be the first woman to win Best ScoreMy Profile
    Twitter: observacious

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