Parenting With Mental Illness: Maria (PPD)

Parenting with Mental Illness, a feature interview series on bettysbattleground.com

I have been putting together this series behind the curtains for a while now, almost as long as Betty’s Battleground has been live, and I am really excited and honored to launch it today.

“Parenting with Mental Illness” is an interview series featuring parents battling mental illness. Mental illness is an unparalleled struggle even without having children in your care, but when the pressures of being the caretaker for a beautiful young life gets paired with the battles of living with mental illness, the difficulties sometimes feel insurmountable. But they are surmountable. Those of us who live through it prove that everyday. We often live this reality in silence, however, feeling judged and ashamed by our circumstances. This series aims to lift some of stigma surrounding parenting with mental illness. My hope is that those on the outside will gain some compassion and insight toward what we deal with on a daily basis, and that those also living through this will realize it is okay to be who they are, and to seek help. Please remember: Shaming drives people further into the darkness. It is only through radical acceptance that people begin the journey of change.

Before I introduce you to the first brave interviewee, I want to say a few words about my Abuelita. She died one year ago today, at the age of 100. She lived a long and full life, so her death was no tragedy, but I still miss her every day. Sometimes my grief is quiet, like a murmur in the background of my day, and sometimes it wails and brings me to tears at random moments. My Abuelita was a beautiful woman. Born in Chile to a Cuban mother and British father, she traveled across Latin America during her childhood, before finally settling in Cuba, where she would marry the love of her life, an English teacher, and bear her five children. In 1966, amid the turmoil of a new government, she would leave her mansion home with the tadpole-filled pool in the back, and jasmine bushes in the front, to move with her family as refugees into a small studio in New Jersey. She would live in New Jersey the rest of her life, and though she would never regain the comforts she had known in Cuba, she would improve her economic situation enough to be a world traveler through her 80s. She was a vivacious, gentle soul who love to sing, write poetry, and read Agatha Christie. She possessed a rare, youthful beauty which did not diminish with age. She died one century and a handful of months after she was born. Though she had five children, she would be a grandmother to only one-a little girl who she would love unconditionally through all of the child’s various turmoils and disgraces. She would live to hold her eldest great-grandson, and to talk on the phone with her two younger great-granddaughters, all of whom she cherished.

My Abuelita was perhaps the only person who loved me no matter what, and I suspect I will miss her for the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Brico's Abuelita bettysbattleground.com

Stella Blair with one of her daughters, 1916-2016

And now, I present to you another beautiful soul: Maria, who mothers with Postpartum Depression.

Meet Maria: A Mother with PPD on bettysbattleground.com

Meet Maria: A Mother Living with Postpartum Depression bettysbattleground.comTell us your name? 

Ma-an, or Maria.

Which do you prefer?

Maria is fine, it’s easier to pronounce.

What is your diagnosis?

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

How long have you had PPD?

I will say that I believe I’ve had Postpartum Depression for at least two years, and did not know. I only acknowledged it last month!

What clued you in and made you acknowledge that you needed help?

I had spent months…just being upset all the time. I was screaming at my children all the time, even at times when I knew they weren’t misbehaving and their actions are pure child’s play. I’d pick fights with my husband about issues that have passed and really go at it with him to the point where I’d over exhaust myself [and] I’d spend the next few days just crying. I was always angry and that was the main thing. I swore more than ever from the anger. I’d have fits, sporadic outbursts and I wouldn’t know why I felt so angry… I’d spend days freaking out about little things and felt like OCD was getting bad. I don’t think I had ever had it that bad. The smallest things would trigger my emotions. I had spent a couple of weeks unable to run errands..shower..and it just got worst from there. I didn’t want my family to see me (crazy) this way anymore. It was beginning to affect my relationship with my husband and my son. I’d spend days not being able to connect with my two younger kids (1yr and 2 yr). So I called a therapist to ask questions. A consultation was done and I ended up seeing my family doctor after.

How has having PPD affected your family relationships and ability to parent?

It is absolutely terrible, having Postpartum Depression and trying to mother. I have three kids, the oldest is eight and goes to school. I realized something was wrong from my relationship with my first child becoming more and more difficult, and everything a challenge. The symptoms of Postpartum Depression affected me so much unknowingly, that I only realized something was wrong because my child’s school sent a timed letter about his absences and lates. He has had 33 absences since September to last month. It’s not normal for me to have him miss so much school for no reason that pertains to his health. So that really shook me.

[The letter] was more of a notification, than it was a warning. But having never had this come home before, I was absolutely shocked and upset. At first I overreacted [by] being upset with the school. I called and spoke with the principal and informed him that I had previously requested for my son to take the bus service to school but since we were considered too close of a distance to school, we didn’t qualify. I’m home alone most of the day until past 6 pm when my husband gets home. So the symptoms of PPD were affecting me more than I had thought. There are days when I really just can’t get myself out of bed and everything hurts. From the scoliosis, to carpal tunnel, to headaches, back pains, and my emotions being so out of whack most days it really dawned to me that it was more than just coincidences piling-up.

How does having PPD affect your daily life, outside of parenting?

Sometimes it gets really difficult to get out of bed. Everything hurts, everything feels unmotivating, everything seems jumbled up in my head, and I can’t get anything done from the simplest tasks to the big stuff that I’m usually used to doing. At times the guilt of dealing with this illness becomes so overwhelming, making you feel like you just want to disappear. Like life is just this heavy rock you carry while you get through the day.

What are your most difficult triggers and symptoms?

Having two young children under two, is very challenging at times. The crying and the whining. The mess. The visitors. Having OCD. The most difficult symptoms are the crying, the sleepless nights, the guilt, the inability to focus, the anger, the feeling of [being] overwhelmed.

Usually most moms would pick-up their baby when they cry. For me when she would cry, I’d get upset and not want to pick her up. Then I’d feel guilty about not wanting to pick her up. This would then lead to me crying. I’d eventually succumb to her cries..but when my husband was around, and she would cry for me, I’d literally walk out and go to the room or go outside.

What are your best coping mechanisms?

I am still trying to find my way on how to cope. But I write and I blog, that sometimes helps, or at times not at all. My husband has been my rock, and my children who reminds me everyday I am loved.

My doctor provided Zoloft, an anti-depressant, but at a low dosage. (It has yet to work). [I am also prescribed] Xanax for my anxiety but I have only taken it once. It makes me sleepy and tired. So it’s not recommended to take it while I’m the only adult around the kids. It’s also low dosage.

If you could tell the public one thing about PPD that they may not know, or have misconceptions about, what would it be?

You are not weak, for having Postpartum Depression.

imommy.coTo learn more about Maria’s struggles as a mother of three with PPD, please read her frank and powerful blog post “28, Three Kids, and Postpartum Depression.” If that link doesn’t work, copy & paste the URL: https://imommy.co/2017/03/28/28-three-kids-and-postpartum-depression/

I want to thank Maria for being my first interviewee. It is not easy to even publicly admit that you suffer from a disorder as stigmatized as PPD, and Maria has done much more than that by describing, with unabashed honesty, her symptoms and treatments. My hope-and Maria’s as well-is that by sharing this, other women suffering from the same disorder will seek help.

Maria lives with PPD, learn more on bettysbattleground.comAs a surprise to Maria and her family, I have opened a YouCaring fundraiser in her name!! Parenting two kids under two and an older one is hard regardless (trust me; I’m in that boat too), but the difficulties are doubled (tripled! quadrupled!) when Postpartum Depression gets in the mix. Money won’t cure her PPD or fix everything, but it can certainly help cover some of her therapy and self-care expenses, and help to mediate the financial burden that comes along with being a single-income household. If you were moved by Maria’s story, I urge you to please make a donation to this fundraiser. All proceeds raised will go directly to her, excepting, of course, the very few fees that are taken out by PayPal. Anything helps, so even giving $10 or $20 will be a blessing. If you truly cannot donate, then I’d love it if you could please share this post. Perhaps someone whom you help to see it will be able to help in a big way!
Come on! Let’s kick this off right and get some donors rolling. Even a modest donation will help. Maria has been in therapy for just one month, and has an uphill climb ahead of her as any parent with mental illness knows. Let’s at least get her a little bit of help with the financial side of PPD care 😀

 

Don’t leave yet! There’s one more thing!

Maria answered a few more questions that I wasn’t able to fit into this interview, but I am going to share them exclusively with my subscribers as part of my first-ever monthly newsletter that I am launching next week! If you’re interested to learn how Maria’s friends and family reacted when she revealed that she had PPD, and how her husband and kids actively help her manage this disorder, please subscribe to my newsletter and post updates! I promise I won’t spam you or sell your info. You can always subscribe on the sidebar, but I’ll make it easy for you to do RIGHT NOW! Here’s the form:

Join Betty's Army

If you were touched by this post, please leave a comment of support for Maria.

Shares are always appreciated; the stigma surrounding parenting with mental illness will only be lifted if we recognize the reality of this lifestyle. It would mean the world if you could take a moment to share this on the social media platform(s) of your choosing.

Thank you for reading.

If you are a parent living with a mental illness and would like to participate in this interview series, please e-mail bettysbattlegroundblog@gmail.com with the headline “PARENTING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS INTERVIEW SERIES”

62 thoughts on “Parenting With Mental Illness: Maria (PPD)

    • Thank you for being my first interviewee. It is an honor to host your story on my blog. You strike me as a very brave lady already <3

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this article. I think so many women suffer with similar issues after having babies and so few share what they are going through. You are giving a voice to so many who are silent.

    • It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. Sharing is one of the scariest thing in the world for a person going through PPD. Elizabeth has been helpful in making it comfortable to share. Her website is a helpful platform to share this issue on. I’m thankful for her advocacy on mental illness.

  2. This is definitely a topic that needs more publicity so that women who suffer from PPD will feel more comfortable talking about it and seeking help. Great article!

  3. This is beautiful. I found this through the Parent Bloggers Tribe on FB, and I knew I’d be interested in this post because I, too, struggle with PPD (and PPA). It’s so hard to deal with those mental health issues when you’re trying to parent and make decisions. When your brain is in a fog and you’re exhausted, the last thing you want to do is be responsible. But Maria, you are doing such a great job! Believe me: you are a great mama and the perfect mama for your children! I would love to donate to your fundraiser, but unfortunately we’re in a very tight financial position. So I’ll share this and hope others can give a little. Thank you for sharing your story, Maria!

    • Hi Rachel, thank you so much! No worries. Sharing is enough for me. I hope that you’re doing well. I hear ya. Its so hard to cope with PPD and be responsible for children. I still don’t know how to deal with this..and it gets the best of me most of the time.

  4. Thank you Maria for being so brave and sharing your story. I’ve known several women who have suffered from PPD and it can be really hard and scary. I myself suffer from anxiety and depression. Mental health illness is very misunderstood and hard to talk about. But with people like you who are brave enough to come to the forefront and talk about it, hopefully it will help others get the help they need and realize they are not alone. I wish you nothing but the best in the future!

    • Hi Rose! Thank you! There are so many people who struggle with some type of mental illness and it’s so important for others to understand that this is not a small thing to just be brushed under the rug. It is a very difficult struggle. It effects so much of you. I hope you are having better days. Support is so important..even if it’s just someone to talk to and Elizabeth has been so great with helping me and talking to me. She’s truly been a sweet girl throughout this season of my life. x

  5. Maria is a strong mama. Hopefully, you and her and the rest of the women in your series can help bring more awareness to PPD.
    Also, I truly enjoyed that beautiful piece on your grandmother. In my Spanish class, my students read a novel called, “The Red Umbrella” about a young girl who must leave Cuba and her life behind to come to the States during the Freedom Flights. I could almost picture your grandmother as a character from that story. What a wonderful tribute to her.

  6. Thanks Maria for sharing your true experiences and hard times in this interview.Parenting needs so much courage.It is really not easy.Living in another country where there is no one at home during day time,I really struggled with my kid when he was a baby.I had to wait for my husband to come home to have some adult talk.I understand your difficulties.But you are a so strong mama!

    • Thank you so much Amila. It takes a village to raise children right? While we can’t always depend on family or close friends for help..finding a community online of bloggers or moms have been helpful for me even if it’s just to talk. Elizabeth has been one of those friends you just happen to meet at the right time. x

    • Thank you Lauren! It’s an important illness to bring light on. So many struggle with mental illness of some sort and it can be a really lonely struggle. Please share this, to help bring awareness. xo

    • It is indeed a topic that requires more talk. Its a hard struggle for so many..especially when it’s a mental struggle. Please share this to bring more awareness. Thank you Kayla!

  7. You are amazing by sharing stories like this. It can be difficult dealing with out own issues on top of parenting our little ones. But Maria will get through it, I wish her nothing but love and strength.

  8. Thank you for sharing this article and for Maria’s story. Postpardum is a serious illness and I could not image what it is like to have it.

  9. Thank you for featuring Maria for your first interview and bring PPD to the forefront. I will share on my FB. The more people talk about PPD, hopefully the more educated and empathetic people will become towards women struggling with this. Thank you Elizabeth for providing a safe place to share their stories. And for sharing the story of your grandmother, she sounds like she was an amazing woman.

  10. Once again, you have hit it out of the park with a raw and honest look at mental illness. It affects so many people in so many different ways. I suffered from PPD and I can totally relate to Maria’s situation. Thank you for give a voice to this important topic. thank you for sharing this post in the All For Mamas Link Party Week 5 #allformamas I will share this post on the Facebook group page, my page, twitter, pinterest and stumbleupon

    • Stephanie! Thank you for sharing and helping bring light to such a dark illness. Its so important for others to know that this is not something they struggle with to punish them. This is an illness that cannot be helped. So many struggle in dark in silence and so many need support. Thank you for your help! xo

  11. Thank you for sharing this article. I think many women suffer with similar issues and yet, so few share what they are going through. Thank you for using your voice to help others!

    • Hi Claudia! It’s definitely something that was hard to share, at first. But finding Elizabeth and her being so helpful and being an advocate for mental illness..helped me in really understanding that the shame we feel with PPD is not something to hide. It is a mirror to what PPD is like..and Elizabeth has helped bring light to this and share the voice in speaking out about it to help others who really suffer in silence. Please share this post to bring awareness and to help those who need support. We all need support one way or another..but mental illness can be really lonely.

  12. You are both so strong and inspiring, thank you both for sharing your journeys you will help so many others. It takes great courage to even go to therapy, proud of you Maria <3 I know you will overcome!

    • Yes-that’s so true. Just getting into that office in the first place is so hard. Maria is a really brave and amazing person, on many levels.

    • Robin! Thank you for always showing up and supporting. I have truly found such amazing women who has been so kind with me sharing my struggle with PPD. I was really uncertain about the process of sitting with a therapist. Im afraid to open old wounds and to feel the emotions Ive been so good at hiding. But it is a step to healing. Elizabeth has been so amazing and helpful with advocating for mental illness and sharing my story that I know others who are in similar situations will find some type of comfort in. Much love to you! xo

      • Maria I wanted to jump in and say I still have that difficulty with my therapist (and I like her). I think one of the key elements in finding a good one is that she (or he) won’t push you to talk about stuff you’re not ready to talk about…she’ll encourage you when she thinks you’re ready but won’t push. Sometimes being able to just talk about the day to day helps, even if you don’t get into the backlog yet.

  13. Thank you for sharing the awareness on mental health. I think it’s very important to highlight as you said ” Shaming drives people further into the darkness. It is only through radical acceptance that people begin the journey of change.”

  14. It’s so important to talk about these tough experiences. It shows to other women that they are not alone with depression. Thank you for sharing.

  15. I admire women who try their best to speak out and help those who are experiencing the same. It’s not easy to be a parent who have kids that rely on you and also be depressed at the same time. My heart goes out to these mommas.

  16. This is a very helpful article. I have briefly read about Postpartum Depression but never knew what it fully! Thank your for giving me more information about it and thank you for being so open about PPD

  17. Thanks of for talking about this topic that is sometimes dug underneath the earth and people avoid talking about. You opened up my eyes to what post pardom depression is like.

    • Hi Rosey! I’m glad you are able to learn more about this illness. You aren’t alone in not knowing. Many of the individuals who struggle with mental illness find it hard to talk about because it’s hard to explain. Please share this to bring more awareness. Thank you for your support!

  18. we all do what we can and our best. i try to not shame other parents as i don’t know all they are going through.

  19. I had postpartum depression with my daughter first in 2010 and now it’s full blown severe depression and anxiety. These days I functioning really well, but when I feel like I’m going to lose it, I’ll sit in my kids for an hour or two while they sleep to keep me from crashing. That plus yoga and meditation seems to be helping.

    • Hi Daisha, thank you for sharing this. (If you’re ever interested in being a featured interviewee as well just e-mail me bettymama206@gmail.com) I agree with you; yoga and meditation are fantastic tools for dealing with depression and anxiety. I’m not able to do sitting meditation because I have PTSD but I do yoga and other forms of moving meditation and it helps a lot. I have another post around here that you may be interested in! Mindful Mothering: Six Simple Indoor Activities To Do With Your Kids When You’re Kinda Sorta Maybe Really Freaking Out If you ever have the time to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you would add anything, since it sounds like you have some stuff of your own in your arsenal 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment <3

    • I’m so glad you’re working through PPD. Its helpful to know what works for you. I hope you have more good days than bad. I’m still trying to figure out how to cope with PPD..while raising two children under 2 and a schoolaged child..but it’ll get there. Some days are good some days are bad..lately it seems it’s always bad, but sharing this story and having Elizabeth help so much on sharing this has been helpful! xo

  20. this post hits home my own mother struggled with mental illness most of her life. While we grew up we would see my mother only occasionally my grand-father hired in 2 ladies one to do the meals and housework and another to take care of us children. My sister also suffers from mental illness and we share custody of her children as she tries to care for them and always loves them
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    • Wow Angie, it sounds like mental illness has really affected you and your family. Would you like to guest post? I would love to host your story and my blog and would be so honored if you would write something for us? If you’re interested, e-mail bettymama206@gmail.com

  21. I love how real you are with your illness and bringing it out into the light can and DOES help other people find help for themselves too! It’s seeing someone’s recovery that really inspires and motivates someone. At least that’s how it is with me and my story! Having a support group was huge! But not all support groups are created equal so you have to find one that works for you! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • I know it’s so true! I am really trying to push this fundraiser for Maria because I know from talking to her that she doesn’t have a big support system, and when her husband has to go away for work, some extra cash for a sitter and therapy would be a huge help! I know what it’s like to not have access to a support system or break-time. It can be pretty bad…really bad!

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