Postpartum Depression/No Mom

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QUESTION: Hi! Im Melinda Grace but everyone calls me Gracie and Im 13 years old. I have an older brother named Matt(16) and a twin sister called Melissa (Lissa). Our dad is a single parent. Hes 36, he and my mom had kids really young. Hes 2 years older than mom. Dad says my mom had Post Partnum depression. Anyway, My mom left a few months after we were born. Me and Lissa were 8 wks early so we had to stay in the hospital longer than most babies. Mom left a few months after we got out. The thing is, Ive been feelin a little upset lately and Ive been thinkin about my mom alot. I love my dad, he's the best dad in the world but I really wish my mom were around. Dad doesnt get things like boys and periods and hair and make-up. I see other girls with their moms hanging out or going to school stuff and its not fair. Everyone tells me that I shouldnt get upset about something I cant change, but I cant help it. I try to get over it but I cant. Its stupid but I miss my mom even though I never got to know her. I guess I want to know how to stop feeling so bad about my mom, and how to get over it? And, Why do moms get depressed after they have kids? Why did my mom leave? Why didnt she love me enough to stay?

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ANSWER: Dear Gracie,
I am writing back to you at 1:34 am, because I couldn't sleep until I tried answering your question. It breaks my heart to read your letter. I canít imagine how it would feel to think that your mom may not love you or wonder why she left you when you were little. Truthfully, no one but you mom really knows why she left or what she was feeling. She may have left because she thought it was the best thing for you and your siblings. Or she may have other reasons. I know that Post-Partum Depression is an ugly and crippling disorder if left untreated, and it can screw with your mind if you donít get help for it. Whatever reason your mom had for leaving, the reality is you have to deal with that fact and find a way to overcome any bad feelings you have about it. It totally sucks, and I can see from your letter that you are really bummed about not having a mom around to talk about important things like having your period, relationships, and other daughter-mom things.

It sounds like your dad is an awesome loving father and that he is doing is best to raise you and your siblings on his own.  It also sounds like you have a good sister in your twin. Definitely talk to her about what you are feeling if you havenít already. It really helps to have someone who is going through the same thing to talk to. She may be feeling the same way and you guys can lean on each other for support. Other than that, I would suggest telling your dad how you are feeling. Letting him know that you have these questions about your mom is important. Also, see about speaking to a counselor at school, because that is what they are there for!

Another thing you could do would be to look for support groups online for kids living in single parent households or other support groups. There may be a message board or online community you would be interested in joining and speaking with to get support. Above all, keep talking about it. The more open you are about your feelings and the more you talk about them, the better off you will be. Donít hesitate to get help if you think you need it. Donít be afraid to talk to others about your feelings.

I am proud of you for asking for answers. Some questions you will never know the answer too, but you can never give up on yourself!

And never ever feel like you shouldn't be upset. Your situation is totally a reason to feel upset! And music really helps. I was super depressed as a teenager, and into my early 20s, and I found music which spoke to my emotions really helped me.

Sincerely,
April
P.S. I have posted some links below for some websites you may be interested in:
http://www.teenhelp.org/
http://www.drphil.com/messageboard/category/177
http://teenlineonline.org/teens/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004481/  (this one is about PPD and why some mom's get it. The likely hood of PPD increases with having twins and also with having babies who are premature or sick. It was not your fault your mom had PPD, it was her hormones and how these hormones were out of balanced and messed with her brain chemistry)

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QUESTION: Hi Ms.April
Its me Gracie (obviously), I just have like one more question But first, Thanks for answering my other ones. I know It was a long letter and It was really nice of you to take the time and help me with it. I found out alot of stuff from those links and everything you said. You kinda made me feel better about everything. I've never really talked about stuff like this before with anyone so thanks for listening (or reading lol). Umm ok so I have another question about Post Partnum Deppression. Is it permanent? Like could my mom be out there somewhere still depressed or does it go away?  Do you think she was depressed when she had my older brother Matt too or was it only when me and Lissa came? Ms.April what if I grow up and be a mom and I leave my kids like my mom did? My dad says me and Lis look like mom, but what if we grow up like her too? I dont wanna grow up depressed like mom. I've never been depressed before, I mean I've been a little sad and mad lately ever since I turned 13 and everything started changing. When Dad started freaking out when I tried to talk to him about boys. Or when he had to talk to me and Lissa about periods and sex and other gross weird stuff. I mean, Dad does the best he can and he's a great dad but he sucks at the mom stuff. Hes a guy he doesnt get girl stuff. The older I get the harder it is not having a mom around. Mom being gone always made me sad, even when I was really little like 5 or 6. But now I start to get mad at her. She never even gave me a chance. She just left and never looked back. Like dad me and matt and lissa didnt matter to her. I dont get it. I know she had depression but did she really hate us that much? we were just babies, what could we have done to make her not even love us a little. She's a mom, I dont get how she could be out there somewhere living her life as if we never existed but for most of my life all Ive ever thought about was her. Its just doesnt make sense. If she went through all the trouble of giving birth how could she walk away so easily?  Dont all moms have some kind of weird bond with babies and stuff?

Answer
Dear Gracie,
You sound like you are going through a lot and are really upset about your mom and what happened. I can't really speak for your mom, but I do know that PPD is not normally a permanent condition. Depression can affect you all throughout your life, but PPD is only during the time a women is pregnant and usually no more than a year afterwards. You are at an increased risk for developing depression since you have a family history of it, but if you get help (which could be anything from simply talking about it to getting medication), you should recover just fine with no problems. Like I have told to others, I had very bad PPD after my twins were born, I had a panic attack and had to be hospitalized for 5 days while they taught me coping skills and placed me on anti-depressant medication. I was on the medication and went to therapy on my own for about 2 years. After 2 years I felt so much better, and I was able to go off the medication. It is not permanent and it does not mean you will get it either even if your mom had it. Also, each pregnancy and birth is different, so a mom may get PPD with one child and not another, or may be highly prone to PPD and get it with all her pregnancies. As always, don't be afraid to talk to someone about your feelings and your situation!

Take care,
April


oh, and P.S. Bonding with a child as a mom is something that does not happen immediately with every person. I was so depressed and in so much pain after my c-section, that I found it very difficult to bond immediately with my babies. Mom's who are able to hold their babies right after birth experience a surge of dopamine and Serotonin with their babies, something I missed because I wasn't allowed to hold them. Also breast feeding releases the same hormones and creates more bonding. I was on pain killers and my babies who too small to breastfeed properly, so again I was not able to bond through breast feeding. It took about 3 months before I really felt that connection. I always loved them and always wanted to protect them, but I had doubts about my ability to care for them the right way because I was so messed up. I did eventually get better, and I was able to bond with them.  

Postpartum Depression

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April

Expertise

I can answer questions about PPD symptoms, direct people to helpful books and websites about PPD. I can answer questions about what treatments are available for PPD. 1 week after having my twins in 2007, I was hospitalized for severe Postpartum Depression. I spent a total of 5 days in in patient treatment, and was put on antidepressants. It took me 2 years to recover, and I still take it day by day. But I know my first hand experience and my willingness to share my story has helped other women come forward and seek help for their PPD. if you need help, call: 1-800-944-4PPD Helpline provided by Postpartum Support International.

Experience

1 week after having my twins in 2007, I was hospitalized for severe Postpartum Depression. I spent a total of 5 days in in patient treatment, and was put on antidepressants. It took me 2 years to recover, and I still take it day by day. But I know my first hand experience and my willingness to share my story has helped other women come forward and seek help for their PPD. I know that acceptance of PPD and knowledge about its signs and symptoms is very limited in many cultures, including my own. I hope to help other mothers, fathers, and other concerned family members and friends recognize the importance of seeking treatment and help without fear of ridicule or judgment. I am here to lend a sympathetic ear to those who may be suffering from PPD and let them know I too have been there and they will get better!

Education/Credentials
I am a second year graduate student in Medical Anthropology at the University of Memphis. I have a B.S. in Health Services Administration. I am not a doctor, so I cannot diagnose or treat anyone with PPD.

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