Motherhood

The Hardest Two Months of My Life

In an effort to be authentic, I’d like to talk about something difficult I went through as a new mother. A year ago, I went though the worst two months I’ve ever experienced. I never mentioned it on the blog. I couldn’t; I was too overwhelmed. But now that a whole year has passed, I want to share my experience with you…

Flashback: Toby was eight months old. It was a chilly January in New York, and we had just had a blissful Christmas vacation. But suddenly I started feeling bad. Out of nowhere, my mind started obsessing and worrying about inconsequential things; I had trouble sleeping (I’d wake up in the night and feel gripped with anxiety and fear); I began feeling very down, like that heavy feeling you get in your chest when you’re sad about something. Why? I had no idea. But I knew it wasn’t good.

Over the next couple weeks, I felt worse and worse. I felt guilty because I had a wonderful baby, a loving husband, and a great life on paper, yet I was inexplicably falling apart. Although I had loved taking care of Toby since he was born eight months before, it suddenly seemed exhausting to look after a child. I dreaded hearing his cries in the morning and having to get out of bed and face the day. I felt utterly overwhelmed and exhausted. Work projects seemed especially intimidating. Even the smallest work decisions seemed like insurmountable obstacles, and I was quickly moved to tears. I felt certain I would disappoint the people I was working with and for.

My self esteem plummeted, and I felt completely overwhelmed. I would read other blogs–Oh Happy Day, Swissmiss–and think, how are these women doing so much? How can they handle everything–job, family, life–and get it all done and seem so happy? What is wrong with me? I wondered.

Through my sad eyes, I read blogs and saw strangers on the street and just assumed everyone had a perfect life. When I told that to Alex, he swore to me that everyone, without exception, had their own true story, their own struggles, their own flaws, worries, concerns; everyone is human. And then he said, “Look at your own blog, after all. People would have no idea that you’re going through this. You come off like you’re handling everything effortlessly.” That was true, I realized. (I mean, look at this post, for example; I was feeling terrible and insecure that day. It’s the type of event I would have normally loved, but instead I felt self-conscious and lame.)

To explain my sadness and worry, I looked at my life and tried to point to something—my career, right? It must be ending, I figured. Everyone would surely stop reading my blog and it would just fade away; people would stop hiring me for projects, and I’d never get work again; I convinced myself of these things. And I was a bad mother—I didn’t know if I was making the right choices about sleep, food, discipline, everything. And I was a bad wife—I was suddenly boring and cried a lot. Alex would get sick of me. My friends would stop hanging out with me, I would be alone from now on, and then how would I fill the endless days? My mind took on crazy scenarios, and life felt so bleak.

When you’re feeling down, you often compartmentalize it, right? You have to get out of bed in the morning, so you try to take a deep breath and get through as much as you can–working, going to dinner with friends, watching TV. You try to put your sadness out of your mind and put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t want these feelings to bleed into my whole life, so I tried to keep them bottled up as much as possible.

At the time, I wasn’t able to mention my sadness on the blog. Even now, I don’t know what I would have said if I had written about it. And I didn’t want to admit–even to myself–how lost I suddenly felt. It was disorienting and inexplicable, and I felt like it would never end. My sadness felt like my new way of being.

(I *almost* mentioned it in this post, which I wrote right after I was feeling better again, but I couldn’t. It was still too close to home.)

Although I try to keep Cup of Jo as honest and true as possible (and am always happy to share personal things), I wanted to keep the blog separate while I was depressed–and keep it a place where I didn’t have to think about my sleepless nights and strange sudden deep sadness and self doubt.

Even most of my best friends had no idea. I told Alex (of course; it was obvious to him), my parents, my sister and brother, and just a couple friends. I remember my sweet friend Jason took an afternoon off work to come hang out with me. I barely talked. I kept thinking that he must think I was so boring and wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore.

It came in waves. Sometimes I’d feel better, almost like myself again. Other times, I’d feel so overwhelmed with sadness and hopelessness that I’d feel like I couldn’t move or breathe.

Honestly, it’s hard to think back, but here are a few of the tough moments I remember:
* One evening, I was crying on the phone with my sister Lucy, while holding Toby. I looked up and saw myself in the mirror and thought how sad I looked, and how worried Toby looked, even though he was still so little.
* My mom came to visit, and I sat on the sofa and looked at the floor and could barely manage to whisper, “I am so depressed.” I would just lie with my head in her lap and she would stroke my hair.
* I was walking down the street with Alex and Toby on a sunny day, but it felt dark to me. And, even though I adore them, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be anywhere. And Alex said to me, “You’re so sad, you can barely walk down the street.”
* I was walking to a work meeting on a snowy day. The whole world felt grey. I just wanted to lie down on the street and fall asleep. It was hard to keep moving.

One afternoon, while taking a walk along the Hudson River, I told my mom, who was visiting us, that I wished that Toby had a different mother. He deserved more, I thought. I felt like such a failure: I had always wanted to be a mother. I always had baby fever. I always looked forward to having children. But now that I had a sweet, curious, beautiful baby, I suddenly couldn’t handle motherhood. I felt exhausted and inept. I hated seeing or reading about families with more than one child, because that meant that they could handle having a baby…and even choose to have another. What was wrong with me? I didn’t want Toby to be affected by this weighty sadness I was feeling.

Writing down these words feels strange now. That time feels so far away from me, now that a year has passed, but it was so rattling and all-consuming at the time. I felt like a totally different person. I thought it would never end.

Of course, I had ok moments, too. I felt some relief when watching TV in the evenings. I liked having friends over, as long as I wasn’t expected to talk much. Every Saturday afternoon, Toby and I would go to the Upper West Side for a playdate with my friend Leigh and her two sons. Hanging out at Leigh’s apartment was cozy, she’s easy to talk to, her boys were charming, Toby loved playing with their toys, she’d make a delicious lunch. Leigh had no idea that I felt so bad. I once told her that I felt overwhelmed by “the juggle” of everything, but I only mentioned it in passing. (She was shocked months later, when I told her the full story.) It was a relief to hang out with her and NOT talk about it. I still felt sad underneath, but I enjoyed those days and found them refreshing and bolstering.

But overall, for six weeks–from late January to early March–life felt really, really dark. I couldn’t bear thinking about the future. Every day felt long and exhausting, and I couldn’t imagine making it through all the days ahead of me.

My mom, my sister and Alex kept telling me over and over: This is a clinical depression, not your life; you must have some sort of chemical imbalance, some sort of medical reason why you’re feeling like this. But I didn’t believe them; I thought I was just sad because I was lame and going to fail in life, but a tiny part of me held a flicker of hope that maybe they were right. With their encouragement, I started seeing a therapist, and she gave me tools to help with anxiety, but overall I remained overwhelmingly sad.

The funny thing about depression is that you don’t know that it’s depression—like, chemical imbalance in your brain, or a hormonal crash. You just think it’s your actual life–that your career really IS ending, that you really ARE a terrible mother, that your husband really WILL stop loving you, that friends DO think you’re boring. At any time in your life, if you just start feeling bad in your mind and mood, you can always come up with a random reason to point to–oh, it’s my job! Oh, it’s my dating life! Oh, it’s my looks! Oh, it’s just me being an awkward person! When you’re depressed, you don’t realize that your life actually is fine–you’re simply sad because you’re depressed. The depression is the reason for the depression.

After about six weeks of feeling so low, a funny thing happened: I woke up one Tuesday morning, and it was over. Just over. It felt like I had been swimming in a pool, and suddenly—woosh!—I had resurfaced and my head had come back out of the water, and I could see the bright sun and breathe in the fresh air again. It felt like waking up from a bad dream. Suddenly, I was myself again. That Tuesday morning, I woke up, the sun was shining and I felt happy again. My depression had just…ended.

And the crazy thing was: I got my period the very next day, for the first time in over a year and a half–since before my wedding day, since before I found out I was pregnant. It was as if my hormones had finally figured themselves out, and boom! I was back to normal. And that’s the first time that I realized what had happened. Suddenly, I looked back at the situation and slapped my forehead with the realization: Of course! My depression was related to weaning.

Here’s what had happened, I realized: In late January, I had decided to wean Toby from breastfeeding for a number of reasons, so I quite abruptly weaned him within a week. But instead of feeling liberated, I began feeling tired and sad and went into a downward spiral. The timing of the beginning of my depression (weaning Toby) and the end of my depression (getting my period again) lined up perfectly.

Next, I researched depression related to weaning and it all made sense. I’ve also now spoken to many other women who have been through the exact same situation–including the wife of our friend C., whom he described as getting “hit by a mack truck” when she weaned their baby.

A lovely Cup of Jo reader, who went through the same thing, had written to me: “When some women wean, they experience a depression similar to postpartum depression, because of the drop in the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. (Studies have shown these hormones produce the same kind of ‘feel good’ as cocaine or ecstasy.) So, when I weaned, I was having a hormonal crash, similar to a withdrawal. It was something my counselor didn’t catch until I told her—and it was something I really hadn’t heard about before. There are tons of online articles about the benefits of breastfeeding and about postpartum depression, but unless you are really looking for ‘weaning’ and ‘depression’ on google, you won’t find much. This is unfortunate because I suspect many moms just chalk it up to lack of sleep, not adjusting to the new situation, or a plethora of other things…If I had known that depression was something to look out for when weaning, it would prevented a lot of turmoil (my husband wouldn’t have felt as helpless, I could have taken more proactive, preventative measures, etc.)”

And I agree: Even though there’s a wealth of information about postpartum depression right after you have a baby, it was virtually impossible to find information about depression related to weaning. But now that I’ve spoken to other mothers who have experienced the exact same thing, with the exact same timing, I know that it’s a real condition. I found a mention here, and a forum here. [Update: A lovely reader recommended reading this post, as well; thank you, Kathleen!] But otherwise, depression around weaning seems to be a real gap in medical research and awareness. (One psychiatrist, whom I called for an appointment, actually said to me, “Well, I guess anything’s possible.”) I hope that people will become more aware of it, and more research and preventative measures will be developed.

Thankfully, once the depression ended, it really was over. This past year has been wonderful. My energy and confidence are back, and I’m honored and thrilled to be raising Toby, who is such a joy and a funny, lovely little person. I love my family with all my heart. We’ll surely go through more ups and downs in life, but this year has been great—and restorative—and now I feel ready and able to handle future bumps in the road.

I wanted to share my experience, since, hopefully other wonderful mothers who go through this will recognize it for what it is, and get help for clinical weaning-related depression, instead of just thinking that it’s them, their own life or failure to handle motherhood. I would recommend being slow and careful around weaning, and if you do feel the blues, or a more intense depression, get support and know that you are not the only one who has gone through this. As my lovely friend said, “If I could spare anyone going through what I did, I would for sure want to.”

Also I have a huge new respect and humility for people who suffer from depression, and I’ll never again secretly think that someone should just “shake it off” or “snap out of it.” People are heroes for getting through it. In a way, I’m glad that I went through this because if friends or family or even sweet Toby ever goes through a depression, hopefully I will better understand how they’re feeling and maybe know a few things to say to help them get through it.

What about you? Have you ever experienced depression or anxiety? Was it related to having a baby, a hardship you went through, life in general, or no reason in particular? We really are all in this together. Lots of love to you, as always. xoxo

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
–Mary Oliver, Dream Work

P.S. Related: My own balance of work/baby/life, and the schedules of seven other moms

(These photos are from last May, when I was already feeling much better:)

(Poem via Andrea)

  1. J says...

    Hi, thank you for sharing your experience, I get emotional and the thought of weaning…I will talk to someone at la leache league this week… Never knew the influence of hormones in this way!

  2. Jane says...

    So glad to find this. I am just starting the weaning process and have been feeling a little off lately. Glad to know what to be aware of if it gets worse – I’d honestly never heard of this issue before.

  3. Courtenay Estes says...

    I too am going through this horrendous experience. I started getting these odd episodes where I would be starving, shaky, and short of breath. Then panic would set in; I also feel hopeless and sad a lot of the time. My anxiety is out of control. It’s getting better after about a month, but still scary. I also have SVT (supraventricular tachycardia) and my episodes are happening a lot more, almost every night and I am guessing it’s due to hormones. Anyone else experiencing this?

    • jenn says...

      hello! im 4months post weaning. still suffering because of my hormones trying to level out. makes me wonder if it will always be like this.

    • Courtenay says...

      I’m sorry you’re still going through this. Have you seen a doctor or a naturopath to help balance your hormones possibly? I’m still suffering but we haven’t completely weaned yet (makes me scared to know what will happen when we are completely finished weaning). I am seeing an integrative doctor who has helped me a lot. I also started taking magnesium and some other supplements. I hope you are better soon, I know it’s so hard.

  4. Mims says...

    I’m weaning now and I relate to this some, but mostly I hear my sister in this post. I wish I had a baby and went through all the baby things before my baby sister did, so that I could understand, be more resourceful in helping her find help before it was too late for her. I was so clueless. I hope that this post helps other women see that with help and right “diagnosis”, the acute depression does not have to last forever and it is not hopeless. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Jamie says...

    I am so thankful for this post I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful you are.

    I haven’t been feeling like myself at all and I’ve been terrified that I’m getting sick. I struggled with anxiety and depression when I was much younger, but as a daughter of a bipolar parent I’m terrified when my mood dips.

    I am weaning my daughter now and have noticed that when I’m home from work or taking vacation we nurse far more that we usually do… and I just feel awful. It makes perfect sense to me that fluctuations in nursing and hormones would put me into the space I’m currently in.

    Thank you for your courage. Your story has helped me shape my own and be able to talk openly about what I’m experiencing.

    • Courtenay Estes says...

      Jamie this is exactly what I am going through! Exactly! I have stopped pumping but will nurse a lot on weekends and hardly at all during the week. About the time I cut out the last pumping session is when this weird anxiety/depression snuck up on me. To boot, I am sick and have been for over 3 weeks now. I too have struggled with anxiety in the past and this is just so much worse than before. Anyway, I have found it hard to find other women who are in our exact situation (most have weaned completely) and this is comforting, although I am so sorry you are going through this. But hey, you’re not alone!

  6. Ellie says...

    Jo, I just came across your post after googling weaning and depression – you’ve brought me to tears but also made me realise I’m not going mad. Thanks for sharing xxx

  7. Heather says...

    I am writing here because I want people to understand how weaning depression can be. I have read a lot about it, as I am nursing now and in love. I feel super elated all the time. Apparently some people get much more from the oxytocin boost. And when you nurse for a long time the drop can be severe. The heavy is that my sister committed suicide in the anxious depression. She was given pills with no oversite when she complained about funk. The antidepressants were not working and made her severly aggitated. Family and friends didn’t take it seriously and she was not able to return to doc due to embarrassment and depression. For 10% or more people antidepressants can make you suicidal. Weaning depression is serious. It’s something people need to learn about before they cease weaning. I only learned through this experience and am on guard now because I am so happy nursing, as she was.

  8. Rachel says...

    Thank you! I think I read this post after weaning my other son maybe 2.5 years ago and even though it effected me last time, again, I was unprepared (he’s 16 months). It just really messes with you! We’re scaling down the nursing and I think I’m only at 1-2 nursing a day now. Just cut the night nursing for the second night in a row…he’s sad and grumpy…I’m sad and grumpy…and were both going through so many changes since I started teaching again 2 weeks ago. I miss him so much and when I get home he’s just a mess and it is breaking my heart. I think it’s time though. Whenever he’s not with me he’s totally happy and fine…but it’s like being around me makes him miserable because he wants to nurse nonstop. Also, the night nursing was just getting terrible for us both. He would wake about every hour. Anyway…anything helps at this point, so if I don’t tell you last time, thank you for your post.

  9. Stephanie says...

    Thank you so much for posting about your experience! I am a mother of two and my first us 18 months old. I never successfully nursed with my first daughter and I suffered from severe post pardom depression and anxiety. When she was 6 months old I found i was pregnant again with another beautiful baby girl. When baby number two was born I felt amazing. It was a truly magical few weeks. I was nursing with little struggle and I felt powerful and confident. However, at two months I began weaning my daughter. The time it was taking was making it very difficult to care for my energetic toddler. I went through days of nursing then formula and I found a pattern. Although I thought the convenience and predictability of a formula fed baby would relieve some anxiety it was just the opposite. I felt lower than ever! Guilt, depression, anxiety! My doctor prescribed Zoloft and after researching I could not fathom taking this strong drug. I tried nursing random days at a time and I felt like myself again. Exhausted but healthy in my mind. I’m convinced it is all hormone related. I am grateful that you have shared it and perhaps knowing that I’m not going crazy and other have gone through this struggle will help me manage and recover. Thank you again for sharing.

  10. Kathy says...

    Thank you for this post. I just stumbled upon it after googling depression related to weaning. This really hits home with me. I’m like you– I have a great life with a happy healthy almost 2 year old and a wonderful, supportive husband. Honestly, I have everything I’ve ever wanted, but for the last week I’ve been haunted by a weird anxiety and depression. It started the moment hubby told me he was taking our daughter to visit his mom for a few days so I could start weaning her. (This wasn’t a sudden decision, we’d been talking about it for months). I am still nursing her, but I think just the thought of weaning her has my hormones all out of whack. I’m so glad to know you just one day woke up feeling better. Any idea how to manage things in the meantime? I’m not used to dealing with these feelings and I’m not enjoying my wonderful life like I should be…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m thinking of you, kathy! and i’m so sorry you’re feeling down. email me directly if you’d like: hello at cupofjo dot com

      xoxoxo

  11. Thais says...

    I’m so sorry it happened to you but so glad I read this post. I had never heard of “weaning depression” and had post partum depression after my first baby’s birth. It felt exactly how you described but lasted over a year. Therapy helped a lot and this second time around I am breastfeeding and thought I was “out of the woods”. Awareness will certainly help when I go thru weaning. Thank you so much!!!!

  12. jennie says...

    How did everyone overcome the depression, anxiety, sadness ect??

  13. Kim Brakeley says...

    This strikes a deep chord with me. I suffered an immense post part depression 3 years ago after a blissful pregnancy (and a difficult birth). It was very rough going, but with a good Dr and low dose medication, we all got through it……until baby girl pretty much weaned herself at about 13 months! We were on vacation, one day she just STOPPED nursing. No longer interested, too much else to look at, wanted a bottle, and to wander around. Which was fine with me, but I suffered a terrible slide back into deep sadness, and physical decline, it was dreadful, and totally unexpected. More women need to be warned about what can / may happen with weaning! Learning to nurse was also difficult, we had to really really work at it. So ending it was a little sad in and of itself. But the hormonal ride is HUGE. Thank you for confirming what I thought, and for being public about this, it is so important! To all who have had a similar experience, brava for getting through it. Phew, the things they do not tell you after you have a baby……

  14. Citla Cruz says...

    Gracias por compartir esto. No sabía bien qué me esataba pasando y me ayudas infinitamente. Thank you Joanna.

  15. Anoushka says...

    Thank you so much for sharing your difficult time with us. I’m not a mum yet but i’m glad I’m now aware of these things. You are such a beautiful, smart and honest person.

  16. LeeLee says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am in the midst of the most achingly depressive state of my entire life. I weaned my 17 month old a month ago, we were both doing great and to be honest I was so excited to have my body back. I felt accomplished, like I had finished a marathon. We were ready. But here I am 1 month post weaning and I’m crying all the time, screaming at my husband, having horrible thoughts, dreading being alone with my son. There is a deep aching in my chest. All I want to do is sleep. Feels like Im walking through mud, Im so tired but my heart is pounding out of my chest. Who is this person!!?? Ending up in the ER for a panic attack. I’m sorry you went through this but I’m happy to not be alone and I hope this ends soon because it hurts so bad

    • jennie says...

      Oh how I can relate to all of this! We stopped breastfeeding one month ago. And boom. Depression/anxiety at its finest. Along with dizziness, no energy, or appetite. I know when my period starts this shall all be over with. Its just a matter of when i start again! So until then i made an appointment with my doctor to help with all the symptoms until then!

    • Kay says...

      LEELEE, I can relate to your feelings. You will get through this hormonal crash. Since everyone woman’s body and mind is not the same, the time as to when you will start to feel normal will just be up to your biology. I could not handle the intense panic that would wake me from my sleep, so I saw my Dr. She gave me a prescription to take only when the panic was intense and to take the edge off..I took it for two days…and then I stumbled unto this article and other forums where I realized what is happening. Hormones are tough to deal with…it’s been a week since I last felt that intense panic. Every day is a new day, but just knowing that hormonal changes are the culprit, lets us know that we will be fine and be back to our old-selves…we have to let hormones take their course.

  17. Laurel says...

    Thank you so much for this. I have been so confused about what is wrong with me. I was so happy and I loved my life and have so enjoyed new motherhood so much. Then suddenly there was a shift. I feel terrible, can’t sleep, crying for no reason. I am feeling very lost. All my joy in life evaporated. It suddenly hit me at about 4 am this morning that this might all be hormonal. I googled weaning depression and found this post. I recently weaned my son cold turkey at 18 months. Your words truly give me hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. No one really talks about what happens to the mom after weaning. Thank you again for sharing.

  18. L says...

    Thank you for sharing your story! I was supplementing with formula occasionally from my baby’s birth until 2 months old when I quit nursing all in one day. I felt (still feel) many of the things you described above as it has only been 2 weeks since I weaned my baby. I also had no idea depression can come from weaning but am thankful to at least know the cause of the depression and hope the hormones will balance out soon. Your story has helped me understand what’s going on with me now.

  19. Liz says...

    thank you for writing this. my baby is currently 8wks old and I had started to wean a week ago. I know I haven’t nursed as long as most moms did, but the “depression” I feel I know is related to weaning. I cannot snap out of it…. there are good days and bad days.

  20. Natasha Kushevska says...

    Oh My God,
    you make me cray and You are My new Best Friend!!!!
    This happend to me a year ago, and I too realise that was because i stop breast feeding. it was choking. My boy get used to the new situation in a week, but form me was stressful….
    Thank you for writing about everything
    Thank you for writing.

    I’m from Macedonia (Europe) and evrerything that a read here I share and talk with my husband and I’m saying: My frend said this, she talk about relationships, about marriage , about 2 kids and marriage (we have 2 boys 4 and 2 years), and we have sleeples nights and….everyhing that you allredy know.
    Again, thank you thank you thank you that you write. Bravoooooo!!!!!!!!
    And kissss from me, ***
    P.S. I like your style , and design post , oh I like you I lot.
    You are my second best frend !

  21. Hannah is 2.5 and in the last month went to 1-2 sessions every day or so…she was at 3-5. I have been in bed, physically ill, anxious all the time, depressed, crying, and a lump of nothing. Dreading light in the morning becauae I know everyone expects me to get up. Hubs is at his wits end, doing everything because I can’t seem to push through. She is my 3rd nursling…and I’ve never experienced this before. Than you for writing this, I read it with tears streaming…it’s me.

  22. Katie N. says...

    Thank you so much for such an honest and detailed account of what you went through. I am currently in the process of weaning my third, and since I can’t recall feeling any sadness weaning my first two, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on with me. I don’t feel as sad as you described, but the bouts of sadness, sudden crying, easy agitation, and my overall apathetic mood are starting to get to me. Just the other night while putting my older two kids to bed it felt like such an overwhelming task that I felt completely broken afterward. I hope it doesn’t last too long, and thank you again for opening up and talking about it so women like myself don’t feel alone or like something is fundamentally wrong with us all of the sudden.❤️

  23. S W says...

    Thank you. I am going through this right now and there is shockingly little written about it. Your post truly helped me.

  24. Alisa says...

    I have to say thank you for this post. I have read your blog for years and I read this post back when it was originally posted and logged it away in my mind somewhere and I am so glad that I did because now with my 3rd baby I am experiencing this. I have been recognising the symptoms over the last couple of days. My biggest red flag was when I came home from being with a group of other mum friends for a birthday playdate feeling absolutley horrible and as if they must all hate me and find me annoying even though nothing happened at the playdate to make me think that and I have never been an insecure person and as an extrovert I usually come home from something like that feeling great. I really knew something was wrong that was more than just sleep deprivation and adjusting to having 3 kids. After emailing my best friend about it today I remembered that you had written this post about post-partum depression. All that you wrote was really resonating with me as I re-read it and then when I got to the part where you explained what had caused it I felt so surprised and everything seemed to click. My baby is 7 months old and over the last month he has been starting on solid foods and suddenly sleeping so much better at night and only waking to feed once in the night and once early morning. Basically, he is feeding loads less, even though I plan on continuing to breastfeed for much longer. I was just saying to my husband that maybe it is connected to my body clearly trying, and making a pathetic effort, at getting my period back last week. After reading this it seems pretty clear that it is all connected and even though the sadness is still there, it feels incredibly reassuring to know better what is most likely causing it. Thanks again for this post and for your blog in general. I have read many blogs over the years but yours is the only one that I have stuck with while all the others come and go.

  25. the really shocking thing about post-partum depression is the fact that we don’t ALL experience it! it’s like the perfect storm – physical trauma (childbirth), the rises and dips of the hormonal roller coaster, chronic sleep deprivation (a time-tested torture method), and the whole “i created a human being that i am responsible for” thing. motherhood is an awesome experience (in all senses of the word), and the period of adjustment is so, so tough. i can relate to SO much of this – I had a similar mirror moment when my sad, worn reflection just made me burst into tears. brutal. thank you for sharing this.

  26. Zoldos says...

    I went through the same thing. Very comforting to hear you are not alone. Thanks for the post!

    • LeeLee says...

      when and how did your sadness go away?

  27. Thank you for your honest post. The more we can talk openly about these issues, as you have so eloquently done, the less women will feel ashamed, embarrassed, and confused and the quicker they can begin the healing process.

  28. Katelyn says...

    Thank you for this post. I cannot WAIT for the clouds to lift for me. I am going through nearly your exact situation…and through it all I suspected that weaning could be the cause, and have tried to keep the idea that my hormones will eventually stabilize as some small motivator to keep going. It feels as if my brain is betraying me by not allowing me to dwell on anything but every sing past mistake I have ever made. It is brutal.

    • Kay says...

      Hang in there, Katelyn. Hormonal changes, especially when they are abrupt, are a royal b@#$! Yes, the b@#%$@ is brutal. I can attest to what your are saying…reading these posts gives me peace to know we all will be fine.

  29. Artemisia says...

    Amazing, thank you so much. Nailed it on the head.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s really brave, putting something so personal and difficult out into the world. I’m a little scared to post this but here goes:

    I have to admit that when I first read this post (and again when I re-read it yesterday), I was jealous. I’ve had depression since I was about 10 (I’m 30 now- diagnosed at 24) and anxiety my whole life, and I so badly wish I knew what it was like to wake up and find that the have clouds lifted, or to even know what it’s like to be an adult who doesn’t struggle with getting out of bed and finding self worth every day, or to just be able to chill. the. heck. out for once. Over the years I’ve learned how to manage it and live what looks from the outside to be a great, successful life, but from time to time I still get these pangs of jealousy that some people are able to be “cured”. Especially on days when I cancel all of my plans for the day so I can lie in bed and think about how overwhelming everything is and feeling bad that I didn’t even manage to take my sweet dog out for her morning walk.

    whew, ok this was a little more personal that I usually get in a comment but I just wanted to be brave a little, since you were :) I hope you don’t think I’m minimizing what you went through or saying “some people have it worse!” because depression is horrible, no matter the circumstances or the length of time it lasts. Your post was beautifully written, and I’m truly glad that you were able to emerge from the dark clouds! That thought has just been rolling in my head for awhile and I wanted to share a little, too.

    • Kay says...

      Hi Erin Mary :) I was diagnosed at a young age too, a bit older than you…however, I think that it’s partly related to hormones…that and my predisposition to the illness via genetics. Just curious, how do you manage..do you have a regimen?

  31. Lilly says...

    Oh my stars! To have you pin point so many things I’m feeling brings me huge comfort. It IS hard to find much about this on the Internet. I noticed my symptoms just a few weeks after breastfeeding. I can’t wait for this hell to be over so I can get back to enjoying my little girl. Thank you for your honesty and relate-ability.

  32. Neetu Singh says...

    Thank you Joanna for sharing a story with us. It is really plus point for me at this moment.
    I have to stop breastfeeding my two years old in one day, as she left with her dad to my home country and I am alone here. It is really hard for me to manage my life and hormones now, as none of us was willing to leave breastfeeding. But I have to. I will join them in two months, but right now I am struggling. I hate everyone, tons of negative thoughts, I can’t concentrate on my studies for which I have to stay here. It is really messy. I talk harsh way to my lovely hubby and sometimes he feel offended because of my bad language and yell at me, which increases my anxiety and all negative things. I do not want to spoil my sweet relation and do not want to disrespect but still I do… I was so optimistic but after marriage especially from very first day of my pregnancy I was continuously in depression. I went to docs but nothing help, no counselling helps. I tried everything. My hubby tried to change in accordance to me, but to what extent. I changed every second. After reading your article, I can just hope some days these things will end up for me too and I will also enjoy my life with my darling hubby and princess… I am sorry for my sad and detailed story.

    Thanks for this informative blog

  33. I know this is an older post, but it’s new to me. I just experienced this myself. I was nodding through your entire post. As always, your honesty is so lovely and comforting.

    I have recently written a post about this on my own blog. I hope you don’t mind if edit it to include a link to yours. Thank you.

  34. Anon says...

    Nice to read something this honest. I’m sorry that you had two months like that. That’s the kind of adult life I’ve had, since 2001. I feel pretty much like that most months, with a few short-lived exceptions in 2006, 2010 and 2014. I feel really bad that I’m not successful. Like, crippling, heartbreakingly, miserably bad. But how can a person be successful when they’re constantly struggling to breathe? For some of us being able to breathe is the best success we can hope for. I’ve seen professionals, taken drugs, all that jazz and nothing really helped. I know plenty of other people struggle as badly as I do. You know what? I’m pretty smart and without this chain around my neck I think I would have had a pretty great career and life, maybe even one like yours.

  35. Em says...

    Thank you for this Joanna. I’ve read your blog consistently for several years now & I remember you posting this or perhaps a reference to it from another article. I remember glossing over it as one might if they didn’t find it wholly relevant. But today it is relevant, and I am grateful for your words. Thank you.

  36. M says...

    Reading this was like reading my mind..just can not understand why i am feeling all this, given that i am not weaning my 18 months old.. Still get these pangs of anger, guilt, shame..what could it be?

    • Kay says...

      M, it’s hormonal changes. I am not weaning my 19 month old, but perhaps the longevity of breastfeeding has to take a toll on our hormones, and that is why we are experiencing these changes.

  37. Angela says...

    Thank you so very much for this!!!! I went through almost the exact same thing when my first baby began weaning herself, and my mother had just died so I was unable to sort through my emotions and figure out which were real, and which ones were hormonal. I also remember the day “I woke up” from it all, started my period, and felt like me again. And what’s amazing, is that I am currently feeling that horrible underwater feeling once again (second baby is 8 months), and it’s amazing that I couldn’t see it coming, even though I’ve been through it before. It finally just dawned on me after two weeks of feeling horrible. I am so thankful that I wandered onto your wonderful blog. This was tremendously validating!!!!!

  38. Marie says...

    Thank you for writing this. I am going through this now as my daughter is eating less and less. I am going through a roller coaster of anxiety and it was really impacting my day and work. So glad that I am not alone. Your honesty in the post is great, thanks for sharing.

  39. Rachell says...

    This is exactly how I feel! My daughter is 16 months and for the last several weeks my husband has been commenting that it seems like I have postpartum depression. I didn’t experience it at all when I first had her, in fact I felt so wonderful! But a friend suggested that my recent struggles may be related to weaning! It makes so much sense!

  40. Well I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

  41. D says...

    thank you for posting your story, I stopped breastfeeding 2 months ago and I have been feeling like you since I stopped, Actually today I felt the worse, until today i thought I am mentally ill that something serious is going on with me…. now I know and I am ready to deal with it. I didn’t know you can get depression after weaning. My son is my second and last, I have never suffered any depression. I think because he is my last its harder for me, I decided to wean him ” cold turkey way” and it was really hard for me i cried and actually reading your story, feels like I am reading myself. Thank you i know what to do know and that will pass x

  42. S. says...

    Thank you for this post. I’m up late googling “depression and breastfeeding” and came across your blog. I am not weaning but am mentally TRYING to….I have a 2.5 yr old that BEGS and CRIES for “bubbies” and I can’t resist her. I know that breastfeeding is depleting me…but every time I try to say no, I cave. It’s the first thing she does when she wakes up and it’s the only way I can put her down to sleep. She’s my second – and last – baby and I know that plays into it as well. I have to stop for ME…but I can’t. I do enjoy the bonding and she is so happy and satisfied after (yes, I’m still producing a lot of milk), but I just feel so dried up in every other way…it’s a really confusing time and I barely recognize myself. I know I must be depressed. Even writing that feels surreal. I’m committing to speaking to my doctor and a therapist as soon as I can. Thank you again for this post. I started crying reading about how good you feel now. There is hope!

    • Kathy says...

      I’m in the same exact boat, S. How are you doing now? I’m TRYING to wean by 2 year old but have really made no progress. Ever since I’m kind of a wreck and have been experiencing a lot of unexplained anxiety. It’s comforting to know you’re going through the same thing. Hope you’ve gotten past this by now.

  43. Katy says...

    Thank you so much for this post, I stumbled onto your post and have been feeling the same. I thought things felt very horemonal but never related it to weaning but now you say it that’s what’s been happening these last few weeks, bubs has been eating solids and I introduced a formula feed – really interesting stuff.

  44. Savannah says...

    This has been the first week I have felt back to “normal”. I was going through the same thing for the past few months and had no idea where it came from but started to research symptoms of weaning/depression and came across your blog. I felt encouraged knowing someone out there could relate and experienced the same thing & what a potential case of my symptoms were from. Thank you for sharing your experience! It looks like you posted this a few years ago, but glad it’s still up!

  45. Joanna, thank you for writing this article. It is such an important women’s health issue. Mental illness is already so stigmatized and misunderstood. I can’t imagine what this must have been like for you, to do it while already having to care for a newborn.

    I have a history of clinical depression and for the first time had to start taking medications for it this year. I am one of the lucky ones. I worked in a research hospital in mental health research. One of my coworkers, who is experienced in treating women’s mental health, recommended I make an appointment to go see someone. And the psychiatrist, in turn, immediately recognized what it was. I’ll forever be grateful to them for the compassion and astuteness they showed, even if it was hard to acknowledge it at the time. Like yourself, I simply thought the problem was with ME. If only I was smarter, better, more capable this wouldn’t be happening. I didn’t want to believe this was YET AGAIN another round of the same thing.

    Talking about this is so important. I don’t know where the saying comes from, but villages don’t raise only children. They can also raise and support adults. Social support and being given the tools for self-empowerment was crucial to my recovery. In some ways, I am still recovering. My brain for now simply functions better on medications, but I am working on eventually going back to my normal, happy state.

    Thank you again, Joanna. You are a brave lady for sharing this story.

  46. Melody says...

    This is such a relief to me to read this. My daughter is just over 13 months and for the past 2-3 months I have been very slowly and methodically removing nursing sessions. I went from eliminating night feeds to having only 4 during the day and now I am down to just one feed in the morning. The past week I have felt inexplicably “down”, discouraged and angry (this has been happening randomly to me ever since I started to wean). But tonight it occurred to me that perhaps it is related to the weaning! Then I googled “weaning effects on mom” and came to this post! I thought, because I have been weaning so gradually, that I could’ve avoided the mood-swings and depression that sometimes accompanies weaning but it seems that I haven’t avoided it. It is comforting to know that it will most likely pass and that I am not insane. Sometimes I feel alone in the fact that nursing has been a huge component of motherhood for me (I can’t imagine being a mom to my baby girl without nursing being in the picture!) – it seems that people don’t understand or can’t relate, even other moms – so it is no surprise to me that I haven’t heard people talk about depression related to weaning all the much. Here’s to being open and honest about motherhood!

  47. How refreshing to read such an open and honest post. I have really been struggling this week and even blogged about it myself however nowhere near as eloquently as you have here… there’s me beating myself up again. Thank you so much for this post. It’s so nice to see that I’m not alone.

  48. Lindsey K says...

    After my first, I cried – a lot. I thought it was because I had to take her to daycare and I hated my job. After my 2nd, I was overwhelmed, wanted to sleep all day, and cried a lot. It wasn’t until one day when my 3 yr old looked at me with the most concerned face I had ever seen and asked me if I was ok?! I called the dr within the hr, got on meds and got better. After my 3rd, I should have known better but still I didn’t realize until the day I cried for 3 hours straight for absolutely no reason. Thank you for sharing this- thank you for being brave, real, and allowing me to feel like I can finally say that I too went through post partum depression and found the light. Hugs to you.

    • Lindsey, there is no shame in this. I have a history of clinical depression and even during the latest relapse refused to believe it was happening. Joanna phrases it so beautifully in her article. Depression is hard to recognize because it’s being caused by depression and not something tangible you can point your finger to. So happy you got the help you needed x

  49. Kendra says...

    For the past few weeks, I have randomly been reading the birth stories of bloggers. I found yours via Google; I’d never read your blog before. I then clicked links to a few of your other posts, including this one. And it was like fate — I feel l’ve been reading all these stories so I could find this one. My daughter is 16 months old. I weaned completely 5 days before her first birthday. I’d planned to nurse a year (but had been supplementing with formula from early on due to a variety of issues), but weaned very abruptly when she developed thrush – something we struggled with a lot in the early months. Recently, I have been feeling on-again-off-again anxiety and depression, something I have never experienced. My husband pinpointed “This started right before her first birthday.” But I had no idea that weaning could cause these feelings until I read your post and some of the links. Even though I was not particularly sad about the end of b’feeding, it seems the hormone changes hit particularly hard. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story and helping me make sense of mine.

  50. Wow, I read through this and thought to myself, how easily depression camouflages itself so that even you, have no idea where to seek help or how to do it! Glad to have found this on your blog. If it interests you, I blogged about a similar thing in my motherhood journey on here : https://ppdisland.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/day-10-angst/

  51. Bre says...

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am feeling that way right now and started to wean a few weeks ago. I started to put a few things together and searched for depression and weaning and found your post. It is very helpful to know that I am not the only one going through this. Everything you expressed in your post I am having those feeling now. I just hope it gets better soon!

  52. Karin says...

    I am about to have my second child in two years and the one thing I am dreading is the breastfeeding. The weaning part was an absolute joy for me, but the breastfeeding……phew! You article inspired me to look into why, i have had my suspicion that like for you it was/is hormone related, and true enough…… i found this: http://www.d-mer.org I dont know how many others go through this but as with your issue its important to talk about, which its not. When ive brought it up with my midwife or psychiatrist, they have both looked like questionmarks. Thank for a good blog. Love k

    • maria francesca says...

      Thank you! I did not know about this: I breastfed my first son (I am now again pregnant….) and made a huge sacrifice, because I always felt very weak, very very sad and angry and very very very thirsty. Moreover, at the beginning my nipples were bleeding, so I thought that my adversion was related to the pain i felt during the first month…. Maybe was this kind of depression. Thank you for sharing: now that i am pregnant again, breastfeeding was/is my main issue of anxiety. Knowing about this is ALREADY helping me…. thanks.

  53. Kendrah says...

    Thank you. I’m struggling with weaning…and have been battling severe depression since my pregnancy with my youngest (born Dec 2013). He’s not a great sleeper. Just an hour ago…hearing him cry while I felt so helpless, nothing was helping to calm him down…I felt the darkness wash over me, thinking how awful I am, how everyone would just be better off without me, how they deserved so much more than me…I know it’s my brain imbalanced…but it is a strong voice. I had to search very far into Google to find this, which helped…again, thank you.

  54. Thank you for sharing this powerful story. This inspired me to write my own story on my travel blog. I researched the top spas in the US for mental wellness and tied it to my article.

    http://www.poshvoyage.com/postpartum-journey

    I hope this gives hope to other women going through tough times.

    It will pass!

  55. Well, I’m glad you are feeling better, and that it only lasted 6 weeks. I’m fairly certain my mental cranks are related to hormonal issues after weaning. I weaned my son at 3 – and ive been a nutcase ever since. 6 months of being a fruitcake hasn’t been fun. A doc put me on antidepressants, which have helped a bit, but don’t deal with the underlying problem.

  56. Laura says...

    Thank you so much for this post. I am weaning my 21 month old and have just dropped the night feeds. I thought I would feel better, more sleepy, more energy. But my mood has dropped like a rock. what you say about depression is so insightful. You don’t say to yourself “oh it’s the depression talking”, you believe the stories about being a useless mother, a boring friend, bad at your job. I have just got my period and it has not shifted my mood but maybe that will only happen when I wean completely? Anyway, thank you so much for your honesty and sincerity.

  57. Sara says...

    I need to share this with my husband. My daughter is 9.5 months and I’m feeling the same way as I’m weaning her (albeit very slowly). In the past month we’ve dropped about 2 feeds per day, and I still haven’t gotten my period yet. I think how I feel is a combination of the weaning and my period coming back. It really is awful though. You’re so right that there’s not enough out there on this topic. Thank you for sharing your experience and I hope you don’t ever have to feel that way again!

  58. Julianna says...

    Thank you so very much for your honest, beautifully written, and informative post. It’s as if someone had telegraphed the thoughts and feelings straight out of my head. I am at the end of a month-long weaning process and came across this because I felt so sad. It helps immensely to know that there is a clear, hormonal link, that many others feel the same way, and that it will end once the hormones have adjusted. Please know that you have made a huge difference. Oh, and P.S.: those photos of you and Toby are gorgeous!

  59. Lana says...

    I am a mental health professional and mother of 3. This is the first time I have experienced post-weaning depression, despite nursing all 3. The difference for me is that this go round, my body is 100 pounds lighter and the circumstances of this baby’s weaning were more abrupt than his older brothers. Due to my career, I knew something was going on for me long before others saw it. I wasn’t sure what the phenomenon was but after examining my own time line of experiences things clicked for me. I am still riding the hormonal, emotional roller coaster but I have found comfort in your blog post. Thank you for sharing so honestly of yourself!

  60. I never would have connected weaning to depression. I’m in the middle of a severe funk right now, and I can’t really tell you when it started. My son is 15 months old now, so it’s probably not post-partum. I quit my job to stay home in December 2014, when he was 7 months old. I stopped breastfeeding altogether in February 2015, and found out I was pregnant with #4. It’s always been difficult for me to figure out my triggers, because I’ve dealt with clinical depression since I was around 12 or 13 (the onset of my period may be connected, idk). It’s a friggin roller coaster for sure. I will have an awesome, amazing year when I just kick ass everyday, followed by a really crappy year.

    Thanks so much for being brave enough to share your experiences. It really helps to know that you’re not alone.

  61. Emily says...

    I can’t thank you enough for this post and such a deep reflection on such a hard time in your life. Your experience is SO similar to what I am going through at the moment and it is comforting to know I am not alone in these feelings. None of my friends, co-workers, etc. who have weened their children ever remember even remotely feeling like this. Some of the looks I’ve gotten and (very well meaning) comments of concern or help come close to helping me through this time. I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband who is doing his best to help me through this time. I feel like its never going to end, although I know that’s not true. Anyways…thank you!

  62. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your site
    on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, excellent blog!

  63. Becca says...

    I just googled “weaning is the hardest thing I’ve been through” and this blog came up. I am going through weaning my 12month old boy he is down to boob just at night and I’m dreading taking that away. No one warns you about the emotions and trials of weaning from bfeeding – it’s hard! I cAnt help but feel guilty like I’m ignoring my little boys cry for boob and you do feel like less of a mum. Thanks for your honesty and I’m glad it’s not just me !

  64. Jennifer says...

    Thank you.

    – jennifer

  65. Raven says...

    Joanna, I’ve been reading your blog since the very beginning, but I’ve never commented before. Thank you for writing about this. The darkness and hopelessness you describe so well is how I have felt most of my life, almost every day. I remember beginning to feel this way when I was 5 or 6 years old. I wish I could snap out of it the way you did one day. I’ve never had a baby, I’ve tried many anti-depressants as well as seen many therapists but nothing has seemed to last. If you know of any natural remedies/supplements/oils that are helpful for depression I’d love to hear. Thank you.

  66. Laura says...

    Thank you so much for this post. I am currently talking to my husband about weaning my 12 month old baby (who nurses to sleep every night and for every nap) and am living with bipolar 2 disorder but haven’t had an issue since my daughter was born. I’ll definitely be aware and sure to wean slowly and keep an eye out for any depression symptoms that may pop up. I so appreciate this post!

    • Amy says...

      Please don’t rush to wean your baby… There are so many benefits for both of you for nursing into the toddler years. I would advise reading “mothering your nursing toddler” for more information. I nursed my girl until she was 3, and she is now a confident, healthy, well-adjusted 6 year old. My son is currently 20 months and nursing strong. Follow your heart.

  67. Thank you so much for posting this and sharing such a personal time in your life in hopes of spreading awareness and helping others!

  68. Dorota says...

    I’m from Poland. I don’t remember how did I feel after weaning. I think it wasn’t very hard for me. Not bad enough to remember it. This year I had another hard time: it was after leaving my bed by my baby. She started sleeping in her own children’s bed. I know it’s very important for the whole family (for her and for her parents as a couple), but I couldn’t fall asleep. I was wakeing up during the night and I was waking up very early in the morning (4-5 o’clock). Nobody understood me. Some people were making fun of me. I was with the problem on my own. My daughter was sleeping very well in her new bed.

  69. Courtney says...

    Oh boy oh boy… As a young lady who also has major baby fever but a long-standing battle with depression/anxiety this really hits home. I’m afraid to take the plunge in case my hormones go so out of wack and i’m not able to provide for my baby as much as I’d like too. Medication helps, therapy helps, but in the end its you who has to take the reigns. I hope one day I can “wake up” and get over this mess of emotions. Bless you and your little family for doing so!

  70. Lila says...

    I am weaning my toddler now and it’s been a super slow process, but now that we are actually finally down to zero boobie all day and night for 4 days… I feel a million things! I feel super guilty cause he has this tiny cough, and I am like.. “I bet boobie milk would soothe that” I feel so relieved that I don’t have to. I feel so sad that he won’t look at me with those super satisfied eyes again. I feel super happy that he isn’t tugging and pulling at me all night. I am just a mess of emotions and I know it will even out, soon but still it’s so hard! Thanks for the article and so glad you feel better.

  71. Katie says...

    I know its been said before but thank you sooooooooo much for this post. I am currently weaning very slowly, just dropping one feed a week or two and I plan to keep feeding at night and in the morning but I am a complete mess. I cry at everything, I snap at people and my anxiety is at an all time high. I’m honestly afraid to keep weaning because I don’t think I can handle it getting worse! It has seriously impacted everything, my work, my home life, etc. I’m not sure what to do.

  72. So, it all just stopped and went back to normal… That’s not how it works if you have clinical depression you have to take pills every day to even you out. You mentioned 20 times how “it’s over” and that “seems so long ago” really… Sounds like you have a case of it right now. I think it’s good to help people going through the same thing try and feel better but this blog isn’t gonna make these people wake up and “boom” that’s over by I read a blog… Sounds like you either have some good drugs or your trying to talk yourself into feeling better not sure but good luck

  73. chelsey says...

    I am going through this right now – unrelated to weaning. I’m getting better slowly (so slowly), and reading about someone else going through the same feelings and getting better is so encouraging. (although I selfishly wish you had gone through it for basically no reason as I have been – and then woke up feeling normal!) :) A few weeks ago I read Dream Work by Mary Oliver and so much of it resonated it with me – how I was/am feeling. Your posting that poem with this post blew my mind!
    Thank you for sharing this.

  74. I’m amazed I stumbled upon this right now. I am going through something very similar with my 2nd. We’ve all been so sick and I (not thinking clearly) abruptly stopped nursing. I felt like it was all becoming too much. Suddenly I felt like I was losing control of everything including my emotions. I’m getting better everyday and couldn’t be more ready for Spring.

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve always heard about postpartum depression after birth, but never after weaning. I also didn’t experience it with my first son.

    My sister and I are going to California for a breather and some much needed sunshine. I was looking at your blog to see if you visited any great places while you were there. Then one post lead to another…

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother in law. I can’t imagine.

  75. I am so glad you shared about scrolling through Instagram. I finally published a post that had been sitting in my drafts about social media and how it affects our outlook on life.

    Wishing you peace of mind and warm, warm wishes as you go through this period in life. I hope it is some comfort to you that this too will pass!
    Bee

  76. I really appreciate this post. I am so so sorry for Alex and your family. I am all too familiar with tragic death. Don’t ever hesitate to write honest posts like this one. I am reaching my limit with the world of styled photos. Perfection is never real in a world where human nature (and toddlers) exist;) You’re in my prayers.

  77. This described me exactly! Except it wasn’t complete weaning, just my baby all of a sudden began sleeping through the night…

    After two months, I was wondering why I had such bad insomnia and was always frustrated whenever anyone acted jealous, like, “you have it good”, whenever I said my baby sleeps through the night now. Only, they don’t know its ME who’s not sleeping though the night, i.e. finally falling asleep at 5 am and then baby wakes up ready to play hard at 7… it can really wear on you!

    Thank you so much for posting this!!!

    I will definitely look out for it when we finally completely wean.

  78. I know I’m very late to post a comment to this thread, but I understand your depression far too well. I did not experience depression after weaning, but experienced it in the form of postpartum depression following my daughter’s birth. The whole world seemed to be covered in a grey shroud. It was horrible and miserable. And sadly, many people battle it their entire lives. Thank you for opening up about your experiences. I know it was not an easy post to write, but I also know you have helped many women!
    -Meredith, http://www.everydayenthusiastic.com

  79. Thank you so much for posting this! I am abruptly weaning my 21 month old as he is an all or nothing sort of kiddo. I have been hit by a truck of sadness, worry and depression. Thank you so much for shining some light into this horribly dark corner I am in. I have a renewed hope that these dark clouds will eventually leave. It is not just me. Thank you!

  80. Hi Jo,

    I just found your blog (how did it take so long!) and I want to thank you for this post.
    I have a 2 yr old and a 8 month old. After this last baby my life got thrown for a loop and I never expected it. I had a really rough post partum recovery after getting a horrible infection and needing to get re admitted for several days. Needless to say , it was a really bad start to life as a mom of 2. Anyway- things got better but I still felt a pretty deep sadness. It wasn’t until after I started weaning my son when things took a bad turn. I started having insomnia, crazy anxiety, feeling scared to be alone episodes of crying and getting super overwhelmed. This is so not me and I was so confused as to why this was all happening. Combine that with a us and who worked crazy hours and it was not good.
    Anyway, I started seeing a therapist who helps post partum women and like you said- she gave me the tools but it was something deeper. I finally switched to a new doctor and she was wonderful. She talked to me about trying a very low dose of medication to just help me get through the hump. At this point, I would try anything to be a good, energetic, fun mom again. Also- I needed to sleep. The sleeplessness was killing me. I’ve been taking the small dose of medication for about 6 weeks now and I can’t even describe how much it has changed my life. I’m back to the old me again. I’m sleeping and having fun with my kids, I don’t feel stressed or sad. It’s wonderful.
    More women need to talk about this. We have such demands put on us and post partum depression can make you feel so alone.
    Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s inspiring and I’m excited to be a new follower of your blog. :)

    • Weezie says...

      Do you mind sharing what meds? I’m currently going through all of this and am terrified of anti-depressants. Thanks in advance.

  81. Your mother was right, and your blog was perfectly timed. I found it shortly after experiencing post-breastfeeding depression, myself. Reading back through your blog again today makes me ache remembering my own depression, and knowing how difficult yours was. I was blessed to have only a week before my period returned. You inspired me to tell my own story on my small blog, and to pressure my OB/GYN into changing their policies to follow up on weaning women.

  82. OMG this was me and my sister! Except we breastfed much longer so we knew what it was causing our feelings. At this time my son was 3yr 8 months he decided to wean. I was only breast feeding once a day (before bedtime). I also had been diagnosed with major depression several times throughout my life so I and postpartum depression. Depression gradually ended when my son was 2 and I was great. Until the weaning.
    My thoughts:
    -Will I have another baby?
    -Do I want another baby?
    -Thinking about my son when he was a baby and how I messed him up with my depression.
    -If I have another baby will I want to breastfeed for so long?
    -I thought I was ready to wean? Why do I feel this way?
    -My baby is officially not a baby.
    -He will never love me this way again. (It’s true)
    -He will never look at me, the way that a breastfeeding child looks at a mother again.
    -Everything will change.
    I probably had many other thoughts but that is what I remember from 2 yrs ago. And you are very right no one tells you or talks about this part. I’m so happy I had my sister!

  83. There was an article about a study that was made on breastfeeding, which said that “the risk of depression more than doubled among women who wanted to, but were not able to, breastfeed”.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28851441

    I think that the hormones drop that come with weaning when you actually don’t want to wean but are kinda forced to, that’s one of the reasons that the risk of depression doubles among these types of women. I know I was one of them, and it was HARD. Thank you for putting words on something so hard to describe. Thanks a million!

  84. I’m right now weaning my 11 month old and although I’m doing it slow I’ve been so sad lately. Just literally on the verge of tears any given moment. It started a week after I stopped two feedings. I actually just googled depression and weaning to see if maybe there was a connection. That’s how I found this post. I’m already a fan but somehow missed this. Thank you thank you for sharing. It’s a relief to know I’m not alone. Xo

  85. Thank you so much for sharing this, Joanna! Lots of love to you and your lovely family :) xo

  86. Wow, I cried as I read this because I just went through something similar when I stopped breast feeding a few weeks ago and I just thought I was losing my mind with the anxiety I was feeling over completely ridiculous thoughts! It is good to know this is a real condition and it makes sense because I only started feeling this way when I stopped breast feeding. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  87. I know this is from years ago, but someone sent me the link today. It made me feel much less alone.

  88. I can’t believe I missed this post since I am reading you for so long but as everyone say it’s good later than never. this post is such an educated one but above all so honest and sensitive. thank you for sharing your knowledge with women that might felt the same and couldn’t figure out the reason or might experience that situation in the future and will know how to react. so kind for sharing. you are doing a great “job” for women everywhere.

  89. Thank you for posting this! I just googled “post partum after weaning” and your post came up!

  90. I can completely relate to this. Everyone told me that the second trimester of pregnancy is the best, but for me, it was absolutely miserable. During that time, we moved out of the apartment that I loved, moved to a more “suburban” neighborhood, bought a house, and bought a car. Once we moved into the new house, I felt like there was a parade of terribles. First, I hated the neighborhood. Then, I hated the actual house. Finally, we had some problems with bugs in the basement and one would have thought that I had found a collection of mutilated human bodies down there by the way that I reacted.

    Every morning, I would walk to the metro hysterically crying on the phone to my mother about how much I hated where I lived and how much I didn’t like being pregnant. I called my husband on several occasions in the middle of a terrible crying fit to let him know how unhappy I was and that I hated my life. At times, I became aware of the fact that I was a really miserable person, and it would just help to make me that much more miserable. But most of the time, I did not even realize how unhappy I had become.

    These feelings went on day after day after day. Then, in the same way that you describe, I woke up one day and felt like a black cloud had been lifted. I think that happened somewhere around 28 weeks and it was the most amazing feeling ever!

    Fortunately, I did not have any of these feelings after my daughter was born, or at least, not to the same extent.

    Hormones can really wreak havoc on a person’s overall well-being. And as someone who dealt with what seemed to be hormone-related depression during pregnancy, but not many physical problems, it would drive me crazy when people would make it sound like being pregnant was a walk in the park for me. It’s totally accepted when people discuss nausea, vomiting, swollen ankles, and so on, but I did not receive much understanding when I explained what I had been going through.

    Bottom line is, “Thanks for sharing.”

  91. My husband found me this post, because I am in the same situation right now. The depression comes in waves as you wrote it and really hard to shake it and go through that day. Thank you for sharing, gives me hope and a better understanding.

  92. I definitely learned something new while I was reading this post. And this post is awesome and everyone knows that!
    Clipping Path

  93. Thank you for your post. I have gradually weaned my son over the past month, but then had a medical emergency and stopped a week and a half ago. Since then I’ve been super irritable and then this morning I just broke down. There is so little information on depression and weaning, your post came up more often than any other resource. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  94. I actually scared to wean completely. Breastfeeding has ended years of the depression you are describing there for me, i have lived like that for a long long time. And when i had my daughter and started breastfeeding, i finally felt normal. My daughter is 4 now. I still make the hormones but i can tell it will be an issue for me sooner or later. Im dreading going back to how things were.

  95. This is so me right now!! I began weaning two weeks ago and I have cried EVERYDAY since and been totally out of control of my emotions and feeling like I was a terrible mother and wife and person…for no reason!!! Thank you for writing this. Glad I’m not alone and it IS hormone-related and will go away. I knew it wasn’t me and you helped confirm this.

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  98. Like so many others have said, thank you for this. It’s funny that you wrote this so long ago, yet I am reading it at this time in my life. I relate to your story in so many ways. All of the feelings that you shared are my feelings. I particularly loved what you said about how we try to blame our intense sadness on different aspects of our lives. But in reality, nothing is wrong with our lives, we are experiencing depression! I have been feeling down and dark for some time, but afraid to mention it to anyone because I thought they would brush it off as nothing, or me being dramatic. I finally spoke with my doctor about it and found that my hormone levels (specifically thyroid) were off. And before reading your post, I had never connected the dots to the fact that I, too, weaned my son recently. It is such a relief to finally know and understand why and what is going on with me. I really appreciate your courage to speak about this and help so many of us who share in your struggles and joys in motherhood!

  99. Thank you so much for posting this! I never had this with my first son after I was done with breastfeeding and am hoping I wont get it with my second son, as I am still breastfeeding. I HAD NO CLUE that this was even possible. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this with us! I am so happy to hear that you are doing ok now. I have had my bout with anxiety over a year ago. I had always had anxiety, but nothing that I could not manage. But all of a suddent, one day, I felt consistent pressure in my head. I almost felt like I was living in a fog. Like you, I would walk around and feel so jelous of others. I was afraid to be around my son on my own since it would all of a sudden bring on more anxiety. I had no idea what was going on, but I felt worse and worse every day. The pressure and the fog just started taking over my life and one day it all escalated into a giant panic attack. Ofcouse I had no idea I was having a panic attack and it was not until I went to ER that I was told that’s what it was. I NEVER WANT to feel this way again! What I learned though shocked me….though I do have background with anxiety, apparently caffeine was the culprit of the “fog”, “pressure”, depression and my panic attack. I would have never guessed this. Coming off of my caffeine overdose was a nightmare, to say the least. It took a good three months for the consistent anxiety attacks / smaller panic attacks to subside and a good six months to feel normal again. So though my story is a bit differnt from yours, it just goes to show how our bodies are fairly fragile to any changes. So thank you so much for sharing your story. Its very helpful to know this could happen, instead of walking around “blindly” trying to figure out what is going on and not getting anywhere. Thank you!

  100. I have to confess that even being aware that it happens doesn’t prepare you for it the next time. I’ve been down for more than a week now, maybe even two. It’s baby number five and I only connected the depression and weaning with baby number four. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that I’m suffering from weaning related imbalances and therefore depression. It makes total sense, these hormones are suddenly not there that were making you feel so happy. And you are losing the close relationship between you and baby. I have found it overwhelming for at least a month every time I have weaned. And here I am, last baby I’ll ever have, and it is happening again and I didn’t even see it. I love your post. You captured the feelings you feel when depressed so well and I’m glad you shared it. It helped me.

  101. A real informative blog like this is an exceptionally cool helping resource for a needy information seeker like me! Thanks a lot
    Shuvo,
    Clipping Path

  102. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed this tonight, as I just completed my nursing wean this week. My sweet friend has followed your blog and told me to check this post out, and it’s so comforting to hear of a light at the end of the tunnel!

  103. Thank you SO SO SO much for your telling your story. I will admit that I too have been critical of people dealing with depression in the past (many of which have been my own family members). Unfortunately karma can be kinda a bitch haha! Your story brought me out of the tail end of my depression, and I was amazed to see the parallels between your story and my life at this point. You have given me HOPE beyond words, and what at gift for someone who has felt hopeless the last few weeks. Thank you darling! Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  104. Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been going mad trying to figure out what’s been wrong with me lately – I’ve been feeling depressed, hopeless, and like I can’t be a mom to my kids. I’m usually very energetic & generally happy. I finally got a clue today when I woke up from a nap, engorged bc we are in the process of weaning, and I pictured my son & the way his sweet little face looks when he nurses & I started sobbing & feeling so sad that he was the last baby I’d ever breastfeed & the last baby I’d ever have. These two milestones were things I was VERY happy about just weeks ago! So I googled “grieving and weaning” and I found your blog post. Your words described my struggles exactly. So today just honoring & recognizing my grief has seemed to relieve the depression & sadness I’ve been feeling. Thank you for your honesty & eloquence in describing something that no one talks about or even recognizes as a potential emotional pitfall.

  105. Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been going mad trying to figure out what’s been wrong with me lately – I’ve been feeling depressed, hopeless, and like I can’t be a mom to my kids. I’m usually very energetic & generally happy. I finally got a clue today when I woke up from a nap, engorged bc we are in the process of weaning, and I pictured my son & the way his sweet little face looks when he nurses & I started sobbing & feeling so sad that he was the last baby I’d ever breastfeed & the last baby I’d ever have. These two milestones were things I was VERY happy about just weeks ago! So I googled “grieving and weaning” and I found your blog post. Your words described my struggles exactly. So today just honoring & recognizing my grief has seemed to relieve the depression & sadness I’ve been feeling. Thank you for your honesty & eloquence in describing something that no one talks about or even recognizes as a potential emotional pitfall.

  106. Jo, this is the first post I’ve ever read that has actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your raw honesty. I’m not a mother myself, it’s a little too early for me. But I feel honored that you would share something so deep and personal with the world. I’ve never had depression, but some of the things you describe that you went through I’ve been there. I know it. I feel it.

    Thank you,
    Elise xo

  107. I’m not a mother, but I have gone through a similar situation. Your descriptions definitely hit close to home for me.

    While working on my senior thesis, I was completely stressed out. My supervisor was extremely hard on me and I felt so frustrated because I wasn’t able to write a thesis as good as she wants it to be. The last month of my last semester was a nightmare. I had nights of no sleep, an oddity for me who is usually an excellent sleeper. My heart was pounding faster than usual. I lost my appetite. And since I was a psychology student, I was always super aware of clinical disorders and have been suspecting depression for a while. I didn’t go to a therapist sadly enough, but I did talk to my student adviser who let me pour my heart out. I’m not the type to cry during conversations, so it was mostly a heartfelt talk with her but it helped a lot. Honestly I felt like all I needed was understanding and the words “it’s okay, everyone goes through hard times in life too”. It’s been a month since I’ve graduated and I’m still my self-doubting self, but I have my appetite and sleep back which is good. I’m not overly anxious as I was those few months which I’m glad. I’m still trying to get my footing back, but I’m at a much better place than I was back then.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Reading others’ experiences on clinical depression is definitely helpful. While I’m not a mom (yet), I’ll keep in mind of your many many posts on motherhood which I’m sure will help me out in the future.

  108. Thank you so much for this post! I abruptly night-weaned my 8-month old a week ago and have been experiencing serious anxiety and depression since then. I had the same experience through the process of weaning my older child, but it still took me a few days to recognize what was causing the problem. It helps to know that other people have experienced the same thing, and that it will get better!

  109. I was googling weaning for reasons completely separate from my recent depression and just happened upon your blog. And thank God I did. I have been so depressed (although I didn’t want to admit it) and just assumed I was sad about other things (much like you mentioned in your post). I’m so glad I found this and really wish there was more information out there or at least some awareness about weaning and depression. It had never for one second occurred to me that my feelings might be caused by weaning and that there actually might be an end to it in sight. It is nearly 2 years later since you posted this, so in case no one has thanked you in a while….THANK YOU! From this sad weaning mama in Massachusetts.

  110. I was googling weaning for reasons completely separate from my recent depression and just happened upon your blog. And thank God I did. I have been so depressed (although I didn’t want to admit it) and just assumed I was sad about other things (much like you mentioned in your post). I’m so glad I found this and really wish there was more information out there or at least some awareness about weaning and depression. It had never for one second occurred to me that my feelings might be caused by weaning and that there actually might be an end to it in sight. It is nearly 2 years later since you posted this, so in case no one has thanked you in a while….THANK YOU! From this mama in Massachusetts.

  111. Joanna
    I don’t usually comment on blog posts – although I read yours frequently. But this one really moved me. I’m not a mother, but I suffered from depression last year, which, thankfully, I overcame with medication and therapy. But it was so hard to identify it… I just felt misplaced. I would catch myself overreacting to something (either good or bad) and not being able to handle my emotions. If I was out with my husband and had a couple of drinks this would just get worst.
    Funny thing is it was a milestone in my relationship with him. He was the one who told me I should talk to a doctor and kept insisting, even while I thought there was nothing medically wrong with me. I used to think of myself as super strong, energetic person, and would secretly judge depressed people. If feels liberating to read your story.

    Thank you for sharing.

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