I’ve Been There Too: Embracing Postpartum Depression Without Shame


I’m no expert in psychiatry or anything fancy like that. Just wanted to share about my experience with postpartum depression that turned into postpartum psychosis, which is a longer-lasting, more severe form of postpartum depression. It eventually became more of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

Being a mom is tough, no doubt about it. Taking care of a little one can feel like a full-time job with no breaks. But when you add postpartum depression into the mix, it’s like cranking up the difficulty level to expert mode. Suddenly, all those normal challenges of motherhood feel even harder because you’re dealing with a whole bunch of extra emotions like sadness and anxiety. It’s like trying to navigate through a maze in the dark. But remember, it’s okay to ask for help and lean on others when you need it. You’re not alone in this journey.

It all started in 2007

When my daughter came into the world in 2007, I was thrilled. But then, bam! Postpartum depression hit me like a ton of bricks. I was scared to sleep, worried something bad might happen to her. And let me tell you, the lack of sleep just made everything worse. I would not even let my husband or mother watch her sleep because I did not trust that they would watch her carefully enough and she would stop breathing. I felt like I was the only one able to make sure she was okay. I even had an overwhelming fear that I was going to drop her on the back patio, so I didn’t go out in the backyard at all. There were more issues than that, but it gives you the idea.

To add to the chaos, my husband left for basic training when our daughter was only two months old.

Talk about a whirlwind! We sold our house, moved in with my parents, and then he was off to Iraq six months later. Life was a blur, and taking care of myself was the last thing on my mind.

The OCD wouldn’t let me stop that skipped-record behavior.

It wasn’t until my husband’s second deployment, this time to Afghanistan, that I hit rock bottom and finally reached out for help. The postpartum depression turned OCD was out of control. I had simply run over a curb in my car after a grocery shopping trip and couldn’t convince myself that I did not run over a person. So, I circled the parking lot for well over an hour because I couldn’t stop. I knew that I did not run over anyone, but the OCD wouldn’t let me stop that skipped-record behavior. I also had other things happen that were similar to that, and finally realized I couldn’t function like that! So, I looked for help finally.

Why am I sharing my very personal story with you?

Sharing my story isn’t about getting pity. It’s about showing others they’re not alone. Talking about this stuff is important because you will have someone that ignores it like me because I was ashamed to go get help, and it just got worse and worse. Sometimes people don’t even realize what they are doing is PPD either. In the years that followed, I shared my story with others, and they shared their stories with me. This did so much to help me out. Simply hearing from other mothers that they went through similar issues was worth its weight in gold.

So, if you’re going through a tough time like I did, please don’t wait. Seek help sooner rather than later. You deserve to be happy and healthy, for yourself and your loved ones. Trust me, reaching out can make all the difference in the world. Click here for resources to get help.

Check out this beautiful poem from another Military Mom Collective contributor.

Take care of yourself, Mama!

-Nicole Cowan

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Nicole Cowan
Nicole Cowan, or Nikki to those that know her well, is an active-duty Army spouse for nearly 17 years and a mom of a teenage daughter Elizabeth, as well as a 5-pound Chihuahua named Athena. Nicole and her husband Matthew are high school sweethearts and have been together since 1998. Recognizing the challenges of maintaining stability in education amidst the military lifestyle, Nicole homeschools her daughter. She is a huge homeschool advocate and believes that it is important for parents to have that option. With a background in veterinary nursing, Nicole's love for animals runs deep. Although she no longer works in the field, she still tries to find ways to put her time in the veterinary field to use by answering any questions people might have. She believes that educating the public about animals is crucial for fostering a better understanding. Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, Nicole's heart belongs to the mountains. Nature has always been her inspiration. She used to have her own photography business, specializing in lifestyle photography of children and animals, as well as macro nature photography. Although she no longer does photography as a business, she still is very much a photographer and does it for fun now. Animals, nature, and kiddos are still her favorites to photograph. Nicole is currently the owner of Sweetellabella (a nickname she has for her daughter) where she makes jewelry and other fun gifts all inspired by nature for the lover of flora and fauna. She has a booth in 3 Painted Tree locations in Virginia and in Arizona. She also has her work on her own website and sells on a platform named Spouse-ly where all the vendors are military, and first responder affiliated. When she's not working on her creative projects, Nicole enjoys spending time with her family. One of their favorite pastimes is exploring antique stores on the weekends.


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