Mental Health Collection: Sheila's Story (Part 1 of 3)
We were very excited to sit down with Sheila! She is a phenomenal woman who values honesty, which we love and appreciate. Sheila is a Doula, is married and has three amazing children. Please join us below for Part 1 of Sheila’s story - an interview between Amanda and Sheila - in which she talks about her experience with postpartum depression.
(The lovely Sheila, hanging out on my deck. Having her photo taken was her favorite part of the entire interview! Just kidding, it wasn't - but she rocked it.)
Amanda: Sheila, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I’m thrilled that you’re willing to sit down with me to chat. Can you start by telling us a bit about your experience with postpartum depression and anxiety?
Sheila: Yes, definitely! I am happy to share my story, so thank you for having me. To begin my story: I had a baby, Cash, in February 2010. At that point I had a newborn, and a five and a half year old, Zach.
For the first six months of Cash’s life, I felt good, especially with him. My understanding at that time of postpartum depression was that it was between you and baby. If you didn’t like your baby, or if you are not happy with your baby – then that’s postpartum depression.
A: Right – that makes sense.
S: I was relaxed, I was totally fine with my baby – so I thought I was good to go. However, I very much disliked my big kid, Zach. I could not stand to be around him, at all. He would come in and sit beside me and breathe wrong and I would be angry like that (snaps fingers).
S: Like instantly, I would think: ‘piss off!’ It wasn’t that he was doing anything, and I knew he wasn’t doing anything. And I hope I did a good job of not blaming him. But in that moment, it was such uncontrolled anger towards him. So, Jeff (my husband) often took Zach to go do things. It got to a point where I could hardly be in a room with him. I was just so mad all the time around him. I asked: “What is wrong with me?”
I went to the doctor and I broke down, crying. I said: “I don’t know what is wrong with me. I am so mad at Zach all the time.” It was Dr. A and I loved that doctor. He was so good because he looked at me as I was holding Cash and he asked: “How old is that baby on your lap?” He knew.
I said: “He’s seven months.”
Dr. A asked: “Have you ever gotten tested for postpartum depression?”
I said: “Well no. I am fine.”
He asked: “Are you?”
I replied: “Yeah, because I love my baby, I am good with him, and I am happy with him. He is sweetness and he is love and he is joy and I am all good. But it’s my big kid I can’t stand. So it’s me and my problem is me with him.”
He asked: “Did you know rage and anger is a sign of postpartum depression?”
I said: “No.”
A: I didn’t know that.
S: Yes, it’s not very well known among women, but I guess it’s a big red flag. Dr. A went through the rest of the testing, the questions and I did have some more indicators of depression, for example lack of sleep and not being interested in things that used to bring me joy. He put me on some medication, and I took it, and started feeling the difference.
S: Night and day, I could sit beside my kid. I could hug him again. Before that, I couldn’t trust myself to hug him without feeling like I was going to just shake him, I was so mad all the time. But it wasn’t me, it wasn’t my parenting. It was the depression. So now looking back at that time now – wow. I just didn’t know. The medication helped.
As Zach got older I could be very honest with him. I would say: “Mom has this thing called depression and it just means that my brain is working in ways that are a little bit different than normal, so Mom takes medicine and it helps my brain. I get grumpy and mean sometimes, but it’s not you.” As I explained to him, I could see all the stress go out of him, and he would feel much better. Before I explained that it wasn’t him, he used to internalize it. I could see his self-worth going down because I could be so mean. Just miserable…stomping and slamming things…nobody is moving fast enough…nobody cleans this house. All of that.
S: But then I would say “Mom is just having a bad day, it’s not you.” And he would be okay.
A: That’s an amazing lesson for him to learn, right? By your taking responsibility for your actions and apologizing, he wouldn’t take it on. But then it gives him permission to take responsibility for his actions down the road, too. That’s amazing; if all humans could say “It’s not you, it’s me. I’m figuring it out. I’m sorting through it.” Wouldn’t that be an amazing world?
S: Yes! Can you imagine?
I know, right? Sheila is brave and we are honoured to host her story here. This concludes Part 1, but watch our website and social media for Part 2 on Thursday and Part 3 on Friday. In Part 2, she talks about her experience with postpartum anxiety (it's eye-opening). In Part 3, she talks about how she's using her knowledge to help women in her role as a Doula. You won’t want to miss them!
Amanda, Rebecca and the entire Grounded Goodness Team
(The lovely Sheila, having tea. Cheers to new friends!)
P.S. We are simply trying to spread awareness about the importance of mental health, by sharing stories and experiences. We are not qualified to extend advice, but there are many resources available, which include the following: