Postpartum Depression: Break the Silence

Guest post by: Purna K.V., Blogger

(Original Post appeared on her blog here:

Post-Partum Depression. Yes , I faced it and No , there is nothing wrong in talking about it.

Those of you who see my pictures on facebook and think that mine was a happy pregnancy and a perfect delivery and everything was a perfect little dream-come-true…… are wrong. It was actually far from it. I had suffered from a severe prenatal depression in my last trimester and an equally severe postpartum depression after delivery.

It took me a long long time to come back to normal and start living life normally. It took me a long long time to actually come to a conclusion that I should write about it. Yes, there is no need to be ashamed of it. It can happen to any other woman on this planet and it comes without a due notice and we are far from being prepared to face it. Knowledge is wealth and I thought I should provide awareness about PPD ( Post Partum Depression ).

All was well until the starting on my last trimester ( 7th month ). I was working as well in Johannesburg , South Africa, and didn’t have any problems. I moved back to India during the same time to rest at home and deliver in Hyderabad. Ravi came just to drop me back home , had a brief holiday and went back to wind up things at Joburg.I thought this phase would be the most relaxing time of all and was really excited with it. But the travel from Johannesburg to Hyderabad left me with swollen feet and a tiredness which didn’t go away for as long as a month after that. Even my swollen feet took a lot of time to get back to normal. And it is when I was staying at my home in Hyderabad , that depression set in. It started with lack of sleep and a frustrated mind as to why I am not able to sleep. I was bored at home and didn’t have anything to do. I couldn’t travel outside , because I didn’t know driving and the weather change between Joburg and Hyd traffic left me nauseatic. It was better to sit at home rather than travel outside with all the pollution and traffic. And above all , you know what elders say , you are pregnant so don’t do anything without out help. My stamina kept decreasing and so did my appetite. But I thought it was all normal and definitely hormonal. Yes , it was hormonal , but it was not normal and I realised this only in my 8th month. It was the first case of PPD in my family and nobody knew about it.I started imagining all kinds of things and was not happy about it. I always felt that , whatever came into my mind didn’t at all leave me and it only started creating deep impacts and craters in my mind. The ability to control my thoughts was absolutely gone. I felt that my mind was not in my control anymore. I felt that I was some other person and this person is nowhere near to what I am. I felt that something was happening to me and I am not able to stop it. Lack of sleep , lack of appetite , restlessness , no peace of mind and always sad about something which I was not able to apprehend properly. I also had insecure feelings about staying away from my husband and when it was un-bearable , I contacted Dr Vijaya and told her briefly about my situation. It was not only psychological and emotional , it was physical too. I had nervous weakness in my hands and legs , and I was not able to stand and do things properly sometimes. I never felt like waking up from the bed and do something to kill the boredom.

In our society , giving birth to a child and all the pregnancy and delivery phases of life are supposed to be “happy” things. And if it is anything different from it , nobody would want to talk about it. It is all hushed up and the fear of the society seeing you as a “bechara” makes us hide things. But I did no such thing and walked straight into Dr Vijaya’s office and spoke to her. My scared mother accompanied me. I am thankful she did.

May be Dr Vijaya knew already and was suspecting the worst. But she was kind to me and comforted me with her words. She appreciated my outward thinking and the boldness I had to come and talk to her. Because , she said , most women wouldn’t do it. She told me that PPD is a spectrum kind of a thing and almost 80% of pregnant women experience it but at different levels. Some are tolerable and some are not. But mostly , women don’t express it to the gyneac or the midwife. So most of the society doesnt know what’s happening on the inside.

My mother was totally unprepared to face all this. And she never felt or knew that all this was due to hormonal changes or due to changes in pregnancy. She thought I was saying and thinking about issues wantedly .She was scared with the way I was thinking and manifesting things in my mind and her being scared , made me even more timid and frustrated as to why I was like that. After going to Dr Vijaya , we concluded that it might be the mood swings and depression kinds and was normal and a part of pregnancy sometimes. This comforted my parents and husband… but not me. Because it did nothing to my mind so that the pain and everything could go away. I wanted to be happy and welcome my little child. And the fact that some other things were taking precedence over it made me guilty and that guilt started killing me from inside. I couldn’t ignore it and as it was physical too , I was even more scared as to how I would be able to take care of my baby if I was not even able to walk properly and do things normally.It was pure hell. Ravi pre-poned his trip and returned early. But no matter who was beside me and what they had to say to me , the suffering didn’t go away. I had erratic fears over silly things coming into my mind and it scared the hell out of me.I had frequent fear and panic attacks. My brain would be blank and cold for a few minutes.  I knew that my family was putting a brave face outside but were equally concerned and scared from the inside.

Finally , when I delivered , I wasn’t scared of anything in my life , except the “thing” that I was going through. I gave birth normally  and very boldly. Because I wasn’t scared anymore. I had something else to be worried about. Physically , mine was the perfect delivery that anyone would want. Not a single medicine given to my body and not a single prick from the midwives. But psychologically , I was somewhere else. Nothing gave me happiness , expect for pure and intense sense of care towards my child. I took care of her to the core. May be the guilt that built up inside was coming out in this way. My physical  and psychological symptoms remained , even after delivery and then Dr Vijaya suggested me to a clinical psychologist. She spoke to another lady who gave birth in the same center and also a psychologist. Unfortunately , she was out of town , so she referred me to another elderly man in Sweekar-Upkaar , Jublee Bus Stand , Hyd.

I was breast feeding and my body was in the process of healing. But I had to go to consult him. He listened to me and referred me to take some tests. Not lab tests. Some written tests ( I thought they were like some tests to determine my concentration and mind body co-ordination ) which took a lot of time. I had to leave my baby in the car and go to take the tests , occasionally coming back to feed her. There is a phrase in telugu……….. “ Idemi kharmamooo” anipinchindi. I don’t know about the cure , but the visit to the doc itself can make you feel so low and less of confidence , as to something is seriously wrong with you and you need somebody’s help to fix it. It makes ourselves feel like yuk.  Finally , he told me that , I didn’t have any previous mental disorders and this was something that had popped up only in and around pregnancy and hence will be termed as “Post Partum Depression”. He gave me 2 sessions of relaxing my muscles as I was constantly complaining about the nervous weakness in my hands and legs. I almost begged him to give me a medicine to calm me down and make me peaceful. But he denied it as I was breast feeding. He said , treat it as a punishment from God and bear it for 6 months. My duty as a mother was more important than what I was going through and he asked me to come back after 6 months , if I felt it didn’t go away.

He told us a lot of things. He said that , in pregnancy , a woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes.Some are physical and some are psychological. Some are good and some are bad. Now , we the people , miss the bad part. We always think that having a baby only brings joy to us. Ofcourse it is a happy thing………. But it doesn’t always bring joy to us. It also makes us nervous and all the emotions around taking up that responsibility and doing our part correctly. So , “pregnancy and delivery is a happy thing” is highly overrated. It can be the opposite also and there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes , the wiring in the brain changes permanently because of pregnancy , he said. And I am unfortunate that I have had the bad effects of pregnancy. Having a baby is a very big change in life and different people react in different ways to it, consciously sometimes and sub-consciously sometimes. Nothing is wrong or right in it. And if the pressure on the brain becomes un-bearable , then it translates into physical symptoms like the ones I had. In the spectrum of PPD , may be I fell into a “more and intense” scale. It happens to everybody and not everybody are vocal enough to go to a doc and express that something is wrong. Because we are bound by families and society. And this insecurity and the “unhappy” part are buried under the name of society and the family’s name in the society.

It took me an year and half after delivery to completely come back to normal. And I didn’t take any medicines. It was long , hard and a challenging journey and at the end of it , I guess I have turned out to be a lot more tougher than before. I was sceptical about writing this post from a long time. But finally could muster the courage to put it in words and provide awareness to others. PPD in a severe way happens only to a very very few people. But we must be prepared to face it J.

Would Indra Nooyi like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother has been to her?

Professional success and financial self reliance does not automatically create an understanding of gender injustice (or any injustice) and the role that plays in perpetuating misogyny (or any prejudice).

What made Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo share how her mother treated her sister and her? Why did she want the world to know about this? What was she trying to convey? Is she proud of her mother… ?

Would she like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother was to her?

Whether or not she wants to, in some ways, it seems, she might. Instead of explaining why she (and her husband) couldn’t attend the Class Coffee in their daughter’s school, she asked the school the names of other mothers who missed the meetings and told the daughter,

“ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”

This is what guilt can do to parents, and this is why the dad didn’t need to be so illogical and so on the defensive.

What if the child understood that being a loving mother did not mean giving up something that made her happy? Why are working dads (generally) spared this guilt?

Nooyi said they were two sisters and they a have a much younger brother. Their mother was smart but couldn’t afford higher education and lived vicariously through her daughters. Their mother ‘put them through the paces of these aspirational jobs’, like she made them prepare presidential or prime ministerial speeches – (where she would decide who she would vote for), but she also threatened them with arranged marriages at 18 years of age.

Indra K. Nooyi says the sisters actually feared that this could happen. She did not believe she had a say in this? But isn’t this true for so many Indian women today? (of course it is, or else it wouldn’t be so easy for this minister in the previous post to ‘promise’ ‘wives’ to men in Haryana)

But, did Indra Nooyi see this as wrong? Does she come across as justifying this? Would she like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother was to her?

How common in India are mothers who know their place and would like the daughters to know their place too – somewhere at the bottom of the family-hierarchy, with few rights and freedoms and with predefined duties?

I wonder if she ever – politely and respectfully, asked her mother what she thought would make her daughters happy. Was she brought up to ask questions and to seek honest answers? Does she sound like she is proud of the challenges she lives with? Does she seem to want to change the situation – or does she seem to be fine with it – maybe even justifying it (maybe, when she says she is sure her mother is proud of her but in their community they don’t believe in showing they are proud)?

Should she be burdened with the task of being a role model for Indian women, doesn’t that add further to the guilt?

Indra Nooyi explains that the men in the family put their foot down and did not allow the mother to arrange their marriages when they were 18. Why did the men know more about the changing times? Was it more about knowing that the girls could get away with not being married off at 18, or maybe even that careers could improve their marriage prospects – or was it about letting the daughters choose their own futures?

Also, if they were really liberal why didn’t the mother get similar opportunities and encouragement?

How would it have been if her mother was supportive, positive, not-misogynistic? And what if her husband was a little more involved – he did not know that there was no milk…. ?

Link shared by Madhavi with this question:

I am wondering how many working men, or all those intellectual male CEOs  need to choose between being a husband or a father and their work every day.

Related Posts:
Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

Do Indian women see socially reinforced gender inequality as a problem in the first place?

“Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men? “

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…?

Were Indian Women Better Off As Homemakers?

An email: “My heart literally is tearing apart while writing this… feeling like to die…”

I hesitated in sharing this email and then realised the email would not have been there if we, as a society, did not refuse to discuss these issues. All the identifiable information has been changed. What would you say to the email writer? Do you think he deserves to be forgiven?

Why do you think did he feel and act the way he did?

“I had to go study at my maternal aunt’s place in a city, after passing my class 8 exams from a remote village. I had 3 female cousins, one of my age and 2 elder to me, as the place and environment was new it was very difficult for me to live the city life but since my cousins and aunty etc were very cooperative, it became lovely for me (14 years of age  that time)…. I respected and loved my aunty, uncle and cousins too much.

After passing my higher secondary examinations, I started helping my uncle’s in his business while also pursuing my bachelors, me and my cousin used to fight and quarrel a lot but we loved each other so much that we used to literally pray to each other for hours to start talking once gain.

We shared a relation in which nothing was secret amongst us, If any of us did not have dinner due to anger, the other one left no efforts to make him/her eat. We used to talk for hours while holding hands… although we were of same age, she used to call me bhaiya and I used to call her didi.

Whenever I used to go to my hometown or on a work trip and by mistake i used to forget wishing her goodbye, she didn’t talk to me for days..even if I was out of station… call.. sms.. we were constantly in touch.

Years went by, we were now 21 ½ years of age and were in final year of graduation. My work required a lot of travelling and I used to catch a train at 5 in the morning. On one not so fine morning when I was leaving the town and went to wish her good morning, she was sleeping, it was never on my mind but I do not know what happened, I just ensured that she is in sleep and started touching her inappropriately, I went out of the room.. came again and did the same (My heart literally is tearing apart while writing this… feeling like to die)  she came out of the room after 5 minutes and and said “Wow! What a nice way to awake someone (In so much anger)… I didn’t say anything… don’t know why.. and left to catch the train…. when I was in train, she informed everybody about my dirty act… everybody started calling me and when I came back at night, you can imagine what everybody must have done with me but I didn’t accept my fault and left the house.

From then onwards, I started burning in a fire… for which I believe there is no extinguisher………the guilt of that day is not letting me live….unable to put this feeling in words.

I moved to a metro and enrolled for higher studies, I accepted my blunder by sending thousands of e-mails and texts to her and to other cousins… but to no avail, I literally have spent more than hundred sleepless nights crying.

Sometimes I believe that it was for good because now I am too much into meditation and good deeds, me and my family can’t believe that I am the same person, for my family and younger siblings, I am an ideal, a hero…. but for me… I am no more than a cheapster…… my cousins have not spoken to me since then… but the grief I have is not of them not talking to me…the real pain I am going through is that ..I can’t believe how I could do that…. My life has become hell and I can’t believe that I have lost such good relations.

Whenever I topped my college in this new place, there was no happiness… when I am now awarded best employee…..there is no happiness either.

I very well know that I did a sin for which there is no forgiveness from GOD also……


Edited to add: I just found out that this email was sent to one more blogger, I feel if the email is genuine then this discussion would be helpful, if it is not then the email writer would be disappointed to find the issue being discussed so clinically, either ways we are discussing a socially relevant issue.