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Carly Hu, Yuzi Director of Care, holds her newborn just after giving birth.

My Postpartum Mental Health Journey

  • Author: Carly Hu
  • Published On: Apr 12, 2024
  • Category: Mental Health

Last blog post, we discussed different symptoms of postpartum mental health issues and the baby blues. This week, Carly Hu, Yuzi’s Director of Care, shares her experience with postpartum depression and anxiety.

***

Picture it, it was about a month since I brought my first baby home from the hospital, I was sitting on my bed with a little burrito of a baby sleeping on my chest and I felt nothing. Yes, I loved that newborn smell and smiled at her little grunts and faces, but if someone asked me how I was, I did not have an answer.

How was I?

I don’t know.

Saying, “Oh I’m great!” seemed too hyperbolical. Saying, “good” seemed like a lie. Saying, “I’m struggling” seemed too depressing and risky to say aloud to any listening audience.

What I settled on was “I’m hanging in there.” I was telling myself to be happy, to be grateful, to be anything yet my brain could not help but feel numb. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my baby. I loved my supportive husband for waking up with me through the night, giving me breaks when the baby allowed, handling the diaper changes, and bringing me anything I asked. Those weren’t the reasons why I felt numb.

So why was I emotionless?

As a clinician, I thought I could fix anything, even myself, because that is what I was taught in school. My husband and I worked out a system where I could nap from about 7pm to 9pm before the baby needed to be fed again. This stretch of sleep was amazing. Yet I was still numb.

I then thought maybe it is because I wasn’t taking care of myself. So, I started actually taking a proper shower. You know the kind – I call it “the works” like the ultimate package at a car wash. The kind of shower where you stay in until the water gets cold and you tend to any and all areas of your body. I even restarted my skincare routine, got a pedicure, and got a haircut.

And guess what? I was still numb.

I soon realized that maybe my problem wasn’t that I wasn’t taking care of myself or that I was tired. Maybe it was postpartum depression. I have struggled with depression for over a decade but this felt different. In the past, I had circumstances that made me sad. Now, I had an adorable baby, my husband home on paternity leave, in-laws in town coming over with meals, family visiting from out-of-town, supportive friends near and far sending gifts and food and checking-in. I did not first recognize my numbness as depression because depression before never felt this way, plus, what did I have to be depressed about?

I found that is one of the worst questions you can ask yourself. Depression, anxiety, or any other mental health journey does not need to be justified, validated, or explained. Mental health does not discriminate.

About this time, I had my 6 week follow-up with my midwife. As soon as she asked me how I was, I just looked at her. My first instinct was to brush it off and say, “good” and move on. Instead, I told her I felt numb. Luckily, I did not have to explain myself too much because my scores, on the postpartum depression questionnaire the clinic used, were very high. I discussed a treatment plan (I can’t help it, I can’t turn off my nurse practitioner brain!) with my midwife and we figured out the next steps. I was able to get on a medication regime and with a counselor shortly after.

After a few weeks with the treatment plan, I started to feel emotions. I had a genuine answer when people asked me how I was. I got that tingly happy feeling inside again when I looked at my baby.

I realize that not everyone has access to care that I had and for that I say, I am sorry. Our healthcare system in America does not prioritize mental health treatment and puts postpartum women even lower on that list. This is why I am so proud to work at Yuzi. We want to create change and prove that families deserve better. The Yuzi team is here to support your mental health needs during your stay and beyond.

My baby is now almost a year old and what a year it has been. I’m proud of my journey and the help I got when I needed it. I’m proud of my hard work. Lastly, and certainly not least, I am proud of you. No matter the journey you are on, everyone has their own mental health battle whether you make it known or not. You may not see it now, but it will get better.

Keep going,

-Carly

To learn more about navigating postpartum emotion and recognizing mental health concerns, check out this blog post.

If you or a loved one are struggling with postpartum mood changes or anxiety do not delay in reaching out for help. Not sure where to start? Below are three organizations that offer a variety of support services.

  • Postpartum Support International (PSI): A nonprofit organization providing support, education, and advocacy for individuals experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Website: www.postpartum.net
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Offers resources, support groups, and helplines for individuals and families affected by mental illness, including postpartum depression. Website: www.nami.org
  • Mental Health America (MHA): Provides information, resources, and tools for mental health support and advocacy, including postpartum mental health. Website: www.mhanational.org
  • National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. Call 988
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