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. I just came across this post one week into weaning my boy. Googling weaning and how to get through it… Thank you.

  2. When I weaned my son, I started to have repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse surface. Now , my Son is 15 and I have spent the last 11 years in recovery from that and help others heal from it also, so glad you were able to bounce back from that. The blog is wonderful and telling others your story liberates them to do the same..

    xoxo
    Melissa Lee

  3. When I weaned my son, I started to have repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse surface. Now , my Son is 15 and I have spent the last 11 years in recovery from that and help others heal from it also, so glad you were able to bounce back from that. The blog is wonderful and telling others your story liberates them to do the same..

    xoxo
    Melissa Lee

  4. Finding this was a godsend. I am currently feeling exactly how you described. I exclusively pumped for a year & recently stopped. Now my hormones are going nuts & I feel hopeless. I get overwhelmingly sad moments where I miss when my son was a newborn & seeing how big he’s gotten gets me so emotional. Like he will be grown before I know it & out of the house & won’t need me anymore. If I see photos of him as a newborn I start to cry. Feeling so pathetic. Thank you for opening up about your experience. I don’t feel so alone. :)

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  8. You are a good soul Joanna. I read this as a Maternal Health expert, but I have been following you for years. So I guess I re-read this again, as my friend from Brooklyn and I start writing a book for the Postpartum Period. Thank you for bravely sharing this story. I love that more than a year later, we’re still writing comments. Love to you and all those in your tribe.

  9. Thank you for this post. I am going through this right now. I knew I was down, and I knew this was possible; I recall having read about it years ago. I googled it, found your blog post and felt saved…
    So many things you said I related to; “I thought I was just sad because I was lame and going to fail in life,” and “I didn’t want these feelings to bleed into my whole life, so I tried to keep them bottled up as much as possible.” These phrases so perfectly describe how I’ve been feeling, that it seems I could’ve written them myself.
    You have inspired me, moved me and given me hope. Thank you.

  10. I’m currently going through the same thing having JUST weaned my 18 month boy from breastfeeding. I’m prone to depression growing up and am trying to be proactive to avoid going too far down. I am starting to feel ‘withdrawal symptoms’. Thank you for sharing, it meant a lot to me reading your post.

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  12. I came across your post today after searching the terms “weaning” and “postpartum depression”.

    I knew immediately there had to be a link because I had severe postpartum anxiety/depression for several weeks in July after giving birth.

    I’ve never-ever had anxiety or depression in my life and it did feel like someone or something had taken over my brain. I kept telling my husband “I don’t know what’s happening to me- this is not who I am”. Finally, after a few weeks it went away and I was getting back to normal, most days. Then about three days ago I decided wean, due to my baby’s weak suck/not getting enough milk in turn keeping her feeding all day and night. Yesterday, all of the same symptoms/feelings you listed above, which I also had a few days after delivery, came back again so I knew they were linked.

    Thank you for posting this to confirm what I suspected was happening. I wish more people knew and would share information about this.

  13. I came across your post today after searching the terms “weaning” and “postpartum depression”.

    I knew immediately there had to be a link because I had severe postpartum anxiety/depression for several weeks in July after giving birth.

    I’ve never-ever had anxiety or depression in my life and it did feel like someone or something had taken over my brain. I kept telling my husband “I don’t know what’s happening to me- this is not who I am”. Finally, after a few weeks it went away and I was getting back to normal, most days. Then about three days ago I decided wean, due to my baby’s weak suck/not getting enough milk in turn keeping her feeding all day and night. Yesterday, all of the same symptoms/feelings you listed above, which I also had a few days after delivery, came back again so I knew they were linked.

    Thank you for posting this to confirm what I suspected was happening. I wish more people knew and would share information about this.

  14. Thanks for sharing!
    I had a similar experience and it’s really hard to live with it.

  15. Thank you so much for posting this. I found this post a couple of months ago when I decided to stop pumping (I had a preemie and had to exclusively pump) and then went into severe depression. I read hundreds of comments on this post and found so much comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone. After a week, I couldn’t take it anymore and looked into relactation and actually started pumping again. Immediately my depression went away. 8 weeks later, after I stopped taking domperidone (it increases pitocin and is used it to help get a milk supply back up) to see if I could maintain my supply without it, I started to withdraw and become depressed again. Anyways, I just got on some meds and have stopped with the pumping since it’s directly related to my depression. Thank you for sharing your experience. I just posted my experience so far with it on my blog, hoping that I can help at least one person like you have.

    timcia.blogspot.com

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  17. Thanks for your sharing – I am severely depressed since a few weeks – and only yesterday night my husband insisted that its depression related to weaning and I should look it up on the internet. I thought there is no such thing as depression related to weaning but searched on the net just to tell my husband ”I tried”. But now I know the problem, and I will be more sure on how to live with it and its good to know that guilt trips for being a bad mother and having failed career is a temporary phase. Thanks again!!!!

  18. i felt just like you … but i never thought for a minute that something was wrong with me – my husband and i just needed to make some changes. We both took part-time jobs for 3 years (we split care of our son and home duties 50/50) then after 3 years we got our one and only son off to preschool. My husband and I put our baby on the bottle after about a week we decided to live in an apartment in the city in walking distance to our jobs which we love and and school/park etc. NOTE dont buy a big house because it only means more housework for husband and wife … and it removes all romance from a marriage – life is great because I have a partner who is not a part-time parent – he looks after me by cooking meals for us and shopping etc. Just make changes and it works out SO WELL – our son is now 18 and off to college next year and we enjoyed every bit of it – however i do meet mothers who did everything and they seem very angry …. just a thought :)

  19. Joanna, I actually found your blog as I was searching for information regarding postpartum depression relating to weaning, and since I’ve found your blog I cannot stop reading it. THANK YOU for sharing your story, for being so brave and honest. You can see how many women you have helped by all the comments. I see a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and I have an appointment this week to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety setting in as my 10 month old is slowly starting to nurse a little bit less. Sigh …

    I also just HAVE to throw this in here … From what I can tell on your site you are basically as obsessed and in love with breastfeeding as I am, and I just LOVE it!! I feel like the way you write is exactly what I think in my head and I just love seeing someone else so infatuated with one of the most beautiful experiences in the world!

    Thank you so much!!!
    Allisa

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  22. Thank you for posting this. I was looking online for awhile searching for a relation between weaning and PPD.

    I was so happy the first 5 months after my baby arrived. Blissfully happy. Then I started weaning him (I had to due to an operation I had and multiple other things). So I weaned him over the course of 2 weeks or so and then pumped for another 2 weeks to gradually stop. Then I started feeling sad and depressed. Its been 8 weeks and now most days of the week are better than the bad ones. I feel much better on days when I exercise and get out of the house so that has helped. But yesterday and today I just wanted to crawl into a corner of a room, curl up and cry. I did cried last night to my husband who is having difficulty with my moodiness. But he is very understanding now that I’ve showed him your blog post and explained it to him.

    In short, this blog gave me hope that it will pass and hopefully my period will return sooner rather than later and my hormones will level out.

    thanks, Anita

  23. I love that you said this: “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.”” This is EXACTLY what I said after an 8-week bout of depression 2 years ago – triggered by a really bad job experience. It was awful. I lived on the 40th floor, and though I would never have done it, I often fantasized about jumping out of the window. My family and friends helped me get through it, and similar to you, one day I just snapped out of it. Thank God. How awful for those, like my sister with Bipolar Disorder, who suffer with it for life. Wish there was more we could do to help…

  24. So glad I stumbled upon this. This is me right now, spot on. I’m relieved to read I’m not the only one and I’m not to blame. Thank you for sharing your feelings and discoveries.

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  28. Thank you. I weaned my son at 16 months about 5 weeks ago and I am struggling. Thanks for sharing your story.

  29. I know this is an old post, but I just stumbled across it. It was like a light went on when I read it. I went through the same thing when my son weaned last summer, but I chalked it up to a recent move and the general turmoil that was going on in my life. I really worried that I wasn’t up to the task of everyday challenges. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting it! An eye-opener and great information for the future. I adore your blog!

  30. I’m so glad Ifound this, it explains exactly how I have been feeling. I never thought it could be related to this… I am pregnant with my second and my first is only 8 months so my milk has virtually run out and I am weaning before I wanted to. In my head I am matter of fact about this – but I have been feeling so sad and useless the past few weeks. I didn;t link the two things… thank you for sharing

  31. I am so glad I found this blog of yours! This is the only post I have read but I will read more now I know about you – this is exactly how I have been feeling and I have been so confused. Like you, I love my baby girl and am so thrilled she is in my life, but lately, even though she has started sleeping most of the way through the night and she is a delight in the daytime, I dread those wake-ups and having so much time with her in the day. I feel terrible about this… we went through so much to have her (IF treatments). I am pregnant again – almost five months along – and have been wondering if I made a huge mistake, if I am cut out to be mother. I feel isolated from my friends, and the fact that my career is in limbo has been adding to my worries. i wanted to feed her for longer but I am practically out of milk now because of the second pregnancy so effectively she is weaning. And I a a sad puddle. Anyway, this post gives me hope.

  32. I suspect that my hormones have been all over the shop this whole first year of my sons life. I have been triple whammied by grief (5 deaths), post partum PTSD after a prem baby and your good old garden variety post natal depression. Either way it’s been the hardest year of my life and I’m still not out of the woods completely- although the forest is lighter and the trees not so dense. Adjusting to Motherhood is definitely like being hit by a Mack truck for some of is, and I’m learning compassion is thin on the ground. The words “suck it up princess” and “bitter much” have been mentioned by once trusted friends. Motherhood changes everything. I had heard about the issues associated with weaning- one friend had a psychotic break- and frankly I am terrified. I’m hoping to wind down slowly so my body doesn’t go into shock like you experienced which sounds like it was completely bewildering. Glad toy feel better now and thank you for your honesty.

  33. Thank you for sharing this. I know it takes courage. As a new mom and a counselor, I’m aware of postpartum depression. But it’s incredible how I was never taught about the process of weaning and how that affects us. I have stored this post in my mental toolbox. I feel prepared for a potential battle and it gives me courage for it. So thank you!

  34. Thank you so much for sharing this. I wanted you to know that your words are much appreciated.

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  36. I just cried (at work) reading this article. I am not a mother, although I, too, have always had baby fever (I’m 24, a designer at a great company and single… still working toward that whole baby thing).

    I have suffered from generalized anxiety since before I can remember (anxieties in kindergarten and on). I have worries and fears that pop into my head (some so ridiculous/embarrassing) that I obsess over until my head feels like it is going to blow!!

    Over the years, I have become stronger in my ability to cope with anxiety. I am so happy (always have been, even with my anxieties) and have the most amazing support system.

    The past few weeks, I have been experiencing anxieties that I have not had in years. It is scary and stressful, but reading this article has reminded me to take a step back and think about everything that I am grateful for.

    Thank you for your story. Thank you for your strength. Thank you.

  37. Ann,

    I’d recommend the Johnson’s “Baby Relief Kit”. There’s actually a special promotion where you can get it sent to you completely for free if you go to urlcheck.us/babykit

  38. Thank you so much for your post. I have by no means weaned my son yet…he’s only 2 1/2 months old. But every time I have a new gap in the feedings…and especially when he started sleeping through the night, I find myself feeling a lot of anxiety, depression, anger, unsettledness. I don’t remember making a link with dropped feedings with this with my daughter but perhaps it was happening and I just didn’t realize it. I’m struggling with how to cope. I agree that there is not much on the web and until I thought to search for “weaning” and “depression,” I didn’t really find much. In a sense, every dropped feeding is a step toward weaning, so that essentially is what is going on. I need advice on how to cope. I already take Zoloft.:-)

  39. I am so glad I just read this post. I googled “weaning depression” as I have weaned over the last week and I am now so down and crying constantly. My husband feels so helpless and I feel worthless to my baby and 2 preschoolers. I almost feel as if I am grieving a loss. Like, a real loss, like I lost my baby. For me there is no way it’s the loss of the relationship. Hell, I’ve worked my ass off to breastfeed all 3 of mine and have failed 3 times. I tried for 6 months with the first, 6 weeks with the second, and 8 weeks this time. I saw so many lactation consultants and even ENT doctors (they were tongue-tied, had it corrected, but it still didn’t help). So I pumped for them so they would get breastmilk, and nursed some, but none of them ever took a significant amount directly from me. Sure, I’m probably grieving simply not being able to breastfeed. The message “Breast is Best” is pounded into our hormonal heads and hearts from the moment we schedule our first prenatal visit, and many “lactivists” make it shameful to ask for formula. Since no loving mother wants “second best” for their child, those of us that are unable to breastfeed are left feeling inadequate and like we must not be trying hard enough or care for our babies enough. I know that plays a role in my depression. But holy hell, the last 48 hours have been nightmarish for me. Maybe it’s worse this time because I feel like this is my last baby. But I also think it’s because, for some reason, I was a MILK MACHINE this time. With my first I pumped 6 months and the wean was gradual. I introduced formula at 12 weeks and so I very gradually stopped producing milk over a period of 3 months. With #2 I simply never produced much. Probably b/c she spent time in the NICU and I didn’t try quite as hard to nurse her, just decided to give her 6 weeks of breast milk and move on. But I was determined to nurse my last little dude, who will be 9 weeks on Tuesday. So for the first 7-8 weeks I was constantly either attached to him or the pump. I enjoyed nursing him some even though I knew I’d have to pump and bottle feed b/c he wasn’t getting much at all. What that did was make my boobs constantly stimulated and I made, and froze, enough milk to feed twins. Fat twins. So having quit over 1 week was probably not wise. This time last week I was pumping 8 oz in 20 min. Yesterday I pumped 1 oz. I am so glad to read this b/c it helps me take a step back and realize this is hormonal and I will get through it. But oh, I am just so sad not to be nursing. I almost feel like he’s not my baby anymore even though he’s only 9 weeks. Like he’s already a toddler or something. It’s irrational, but that’s what I am right now. Irrational, irritable, impatient with my girls, and sad. I wish there were more research on it so people could be prepared. I seriously want to become a lactation consultant. Sure, to help people breastfeed. But mostly just to help postpartum people. Just to help them. Even if that means handing them a bottle of formula and recommending a psychiatrist that can prescribe Lexapro. Ok, so maybe I should be a therapist, I don’t think LLL would appreciate my sentiments as a LC. Anyway, thank you for this post. Love your blog. Good luck to you with this next baby. Multiple kiddos is a blast. xoxo

  40. Thanks for that post!! I am currently breast feeding and I am so glad I read it before to wean in a couple of month, at least I got to warn my partner and I know that it could happen – fingers crossed that it won’t!! I went through a kind of depression at the beginning of my pregnancy and as you said, you don’t realise you are in the middle of a depression until you come out of it, think about how you were, only then you can say ” yeah.. I actually was having a depression” ..

    Thanks again!!

    xoxo

  41. Thank you for posting this! You are so brave and inspiring! I just mentioned to a friend this evening that after reading your blog all day I wanted to be like you. You seem like a beam of sunshine on this earth and you couldn’t look like a better mother and wife and friend.

  42. Thank you for posting this! You are so brave and inspiring! I just mentioned to a friend this evening that after reading your blog all day I wanted to be like you. You seem like a beam of sunshine on this earth and you couldn’t look like a better mother and wife and friend.

  43. I just went through the exact same thing! Due to some complications with breastfeeding I was down exclusively pumping by the time my daughter was five months old (previously she had still nursed in the night and her first morning feed). I decided to wean because I couldn’t handle all the pumping AND taking proper care of our daughter once my husband went back to work after the Christmas holidays.

    I tried to do it gradually, over about three weeks. The consequences hit me very suddenly. I started having severe insomnia, and on the first night I couldn’t sleep I was very emotional. I got up in the middle of the night and looked through all our old photo albums, gazing teary-eyed at photos of when my husband and I first met and got to know each other. Because of the suddenness of this change and the emotional connection, I suspected right away that it might be hormonal, and related to weaning. The next several days were horrible. I felt super anxious all the time and could not sleep at night. During the day, I was having a hard time feeling connected with our daughter.

    Desperate, like you, I Googled weaning and anxiety/depression. Several links came up, validating how I felt. But I agree with you… I had never heard about this before and it really took me by surprise. If I had known, I would have weaned much more gradually. Thinking back on it, I realized that because I had been pumping I probably weaned more quickly than would have if I had been nursing a baby. I really hope that awareness about this issue can spread. Maybe your post will help, thought it didn’t come up when I searched online. I just came across it while looking up some of your Motherhood posts (I read regularly but do miss some posts).

    The insomnia is mostly gone (just sleep deprivation from caring for a baby now), but the anxiety is still there. I just started my first post partum period today, so I hope things fall into place for me too.

    As always, thank you for sharing your experiences.

  44. Thank you so so much for this, your symptoms are exactly what I ahd been feeling post weaning my 30 month old daughter, we both seem lost and upset but I never made the connection with weaning. The fact you made it through gives me amazing hope we will too given a few weeks and that I need to re-assure her and not be so hard on myself. Thank you xx

  45. Thank you so much for this post and your honesty. I went back to work 8 weeks after giving birth to an extremely demanding job. I worked really hard to keep up with pumping and breastfeeding through month 4 and then pumped a couple of times a day and breastfed for my son’s two night feedings through month 5. By month 6 I was so exhausted – and my son was not really into breastfeeding anymore – so we stopped. But, I didn’t do any research on how to stop – we just one day didn’t bf anymore. I stopped pumping about a week later – that was about a week ago and since then I’ve felt so ’empty’, unmotivated and just sad. I actually did re-start my cycle at about month 5, so do not have that to ‘look forward to’ to help me with the depression. I am seeing a therapist and it is helping, but seeing this post and all of the responses has probably helped the most. I know I’m not alone, crazy or weak because I’m experiencing this!

  46. I’m not surprised there are over 800+ comments on this post.

    You so perfectly describe depression in general – not just postpartum, or weaning. This is seriously the most painfully beautiful, and real, description I’ve ever read.

    And it makes me feel not so alone.

    Thank you.

  47. The topic is remarkable. I actually never think I could have an excellent read by this time until I find out this website. I am thankful for the information. COMBATING DEPRESSION

  48. CH says...

    Thank you for posting this. I started weaning my 19 month old a little while before Christmas. When we got down to one feed a day I crashed 9 days after we went down to 1 feed. It was like my mood was drop-kicked and I was crying constantly over what seemed like nothing really. I just couldn’t “snap out of it”. I tried putting on music, doing my hair and makeup and nothing seemed to help. It was like a dark, black cloud had moved in and I couldn’t see clearly, everything was so awful.
    I was down to 1 feed for 2 weeks and now, 1 week ago I cut out the feeding altogether. Here I am sitting in a cloud of darkness, SO sad for what feels like no reason, and feeling like I am unable to come up for air. After I exercise I feel like my self again and can see clearly but the effects of that only last for a little while. I spoke with my doctor who is not familiar with weaning and depression. I see a direct correlation: I was not like this before I weaned and once I weaned I am now a mess.
    She put me on the birth control pill to try and even out my hormones. I hope it works. I am searching your blog and the comments to see how long this will last. I want it to be over and get back to my happy-go-lucky self again. Your blog post helps me feel like I’m not crazy and that there’s a reason for this sadness. Thank you thank you thank you for writing. Maybe some day when I emerge from this dark place I will write about it on my blog too.

  49. I am so glad to come across this post. I too suffered from depression that also went away when my period returned. I was just so sad and tired and unmotivated and my period returned at nine months and I felt like a light switch turned back on. Literally the day after I started my period, I felt normal again and have been fine since then. So weird how these hormone things work.

    My son is very likely weaned/weaning right now since he hasn’t nursed since Monday. He is 20.5 months old so it is is time, but still bittersweet. I am watching myself closely to make sure the depression doesn’t come back. I plan on linking your post in a blog post I am going to write about depression in the near future.

    http://www.adventureswithcaptaindestruto.com

  50. I’m strangely reassured reading this, though I’m sorry you had to go through it. Just a few days postpartum I had a hormonal crash that almost sunk into full blown PPD. Luckily it tapered off on its own after a few weeks of straight depression and scary thoughts. I think if more women wrote about this, it’d be less scary when it happened. Because women would recognize it as a legitimate problem — not anything THEY did wrong.

    I wrote a little about my own experiences here:
    http://inaritopia.blogspot.com/2012/12/brutal-honesty.html

    I hope weening doesn’t facilitate another such hormone crash, but at least if it does, your post will give me reassurance.

  51. You are a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing this.

  52. What an amazing post. For women who haven’t had babies yet and for moms who may experience something similar in the future, I’m sure this is something they will remember if they find themselves in this situation. Your honesty is affirming and refreshing. http://venusblogs.com/sleeping-beauty-wakes-up-in-her-50s/

  53. What an amazing post. For women who haven’t had babies yet and for moms who may experience something similar in the future, I’m sure this is something they will remember if they find themselves in this situation. Your honesty is affirming and refreshing. http://venusblogs.com/sleeping-beauty-wakes-up-in-her-50s/

  54. Just an advice, please be careful in handling your anxiety and depression. Antidepressants like Zoloft may cause more harm that benefit. Reports have it that Zoloft causes birth defects to newborns whose mother took the drug. Please be informed on this.

  55. Many women experiencing about this. Their is lot of struggles in terms of motherhood.You have to deal with it with your utmost capabilities. Just be positive.

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  56. WOW! Thank God you posted this. I was getting ready to see a psychiatrist because I thought I was absolutley insane. It has been about two months since I weaned my son and I am hoping my “sunshine” is right around the corner. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing. My husband appreciates it too : )

  57. What an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciated the way in which you wrote this – not revealing until the end what the actual cause was – because no matter what the cause depression still feels the same and really hurts.

    I went through a time in my life where I never called it depression but it probably was. I felt the same way: that I had (and have) a wonderful life, great friends, fiance, family etc. but something was wrong. Really wrong, I wasn’t happy despite all the good things in my life. I was in a very unhappy job at the time and blamed it on that which I do think was part of the situation but I also just let it bring me down even further because it gave me an excuse to be sad. I started seeing a therapist and she honestly thought something really bad had happened to me that I blocked out because I was crying everyday and couldn’t explain why – except that I wanted to and I felt like I had to. I don’t know what caused this period in my life but things did begin to turn around and now I am much happier. I feel things creep up every now and then and I’ve tried to learn ways to keep my head in the real world.

    I also wanted to make a point about how you thought that everyone else’s life seemed so great and you thought yours was falling apart. In this day when we look at blogs, facebook, instagram etc. we are always viewing the happy moments in everyone’s life. It’s easy to think “I wish I was like them”. Which first of all as you say doesn’t mean they don’t have their own struggles, but to have this perception that everyone else is doing better than us is a really sad thing, but at the same time I think that it’s natural. 99% of people don’t blast their sad times on the internet, and even if they do it’s a very small percentage of the other stuff. I used to think to myself “my life is so boring, everyone else I know is traveling, married, has a ton of friends, are beautiful etc” and it just made me think that I was lacking, constantly lacking.
    I digress. Thank you again for sharing, it is really nice to know and hear such an honest account of someone going through depression. Thank you!

  58. wow, i just started reading your blog via the pretzel braid hair tutorial-so cute! anyways, just saw this post and this one surprised me. I experienced this exact same thing about 4 years ago. After BFing for 6 months, the very week that I weaned my son, I became a mess. Mostly terrible, terrible anxiety that even drove me to the emergency room over a ridiculous reason ( I bumped my head on a corner of a wall while bathing my son and was convinced I’d meet the same fate as Natasha Richardson.) It was completely ridiculous. I practically had our house tented after seeing 2 cockaroaches, convinced that we had an infestation and one would lay eggs in my baby’s ear. We live in South Florida where large cockroaches are common, btw.

    I tried a nightly glass of wine, socializing, chamomile tea, some sort of natural valium at whole foods. Nothing. Then saw a therapist where I also received an anti anxiety Rx. Thankfully, for all of us, it worked. Slowly but surely, I became normal again.

    For the past 4 years I have been wanting to have another baby, but secretly dreading a possible relapse. I was so scared that it would happen again and wouldn’t go away with the help of Rx. Everyone I consulted with agreed that it was partially post pardem depression and partially a post traumatic stress (as I had a very difficult delivery).

    Well, I just had my 2nd baby, 4 months ago. In an effort to keep everything in check, I started seeing a therapist during the pregnancy and just one month ago she says to me, “You made it! You’re in the clear!” to which I responded, “But what about when I wean the baby from BF b/c that is when the poopie :) hit the fan last time???” She says, “No that was purely coincidental.”

    YOUR post confirmed what I had thought all along. The therapist is a very “decorated” physician who actually specializes in pregnant women! I am going to email this to her!!! THANK YOU AND LOVE YOUR BLOG

  59. thank you! i have been overwhelmingly depressed for weeks now, and we have just begun weaning. i hope that i can get through this with such gusto and find a way to the other side of it without hurting too many feelings on the way.

  60. Thank you for posting this. I’m weaning my 2nd child right now and have been in the blues for about a month and going crazy trying to figure out whats going one. I finally searched for weaning and hormones today and found your blog. It’s encouraging to know it will end and I’m not the only one. Now to see what I can do about it.

  61. Hi,
    My wife Julie is the mother of 3 teen boys!
    Will you please post a link to your important Blog at The Motherhood Community at vorts? Our members will really appreciate it.
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    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you. I hope you consider sharing with us.
    Please feel free to share as often and as much as you like.
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  62. Thank you for this wonderful post. I’m re-reading it as I write for my blog, which is all about postpartum, related to my practice as a postpartum doula. I would love to re-post some of your writing for my readers if that’s OK. Do you have any other favorites you’ve written about your postpartum experience? My goal is to unravel the myths and misconceptions about postpartum using my and other women’s experiences. Getting PPD after either weaning or at the return of your menstrual period is like a big secret and it shouldn’t be!

    Thanks again for writing this.

    My blog: http://abbyjaramillo.com/thoughts/

  63. I just realized last night that this is what I’m going through. I completed the weaning process last month and have just been so tired and get bursts of sadness for no reason. I have no motivation in me to do much, but I’m doing my best to push through it and give my little boy the best days I can as I’m a stay at home mom. It certainly is a struggle, but I know that it could be much worse. Thank you for sharing your story because I don’t feel so trapped in my own world of self doubt and have stepped into the world of all of the moms going through the same thing with me :)

  64. Thank you for sharing this joanna.Was a great read.

  65. I’m experience the very same thing RIGHT NOW.

    Thank you for this post… It definitely made me realize what is going on…AND that I’m NOT ALONE.

    I am so glad I found your blog!

  66. I found your website the other day and after reading a handful of posts, thought I would say thank you for all the great content. Keep it coming! I will try to stop by here more often.

  67. Sara B says...

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU! For your honestly and beautifully written post. I was researching for this exact thing and so thankfully stumbled across your blog. In describing your feelings it felt like you were describing mine. I found many articles about weaning and I love LLL, but I couldn’t relate to the struggles of a mother weaning her baby at 3 years old, when I am weaning mine at 11 months. Touching and beautiful… thank you. It looks like plenty of others have gained hope and help from what you have written, but thank you! Sara

  68. I know there are hundreds of comments on this post so you may not look back at this one, but I just wanted to say how powerful this piece was and I am so happy to hear that you are doing well! I have gone through bouts of depression this year and know EXACTLY the emotions you are describing. It makes it easier in a way to know that there are others who understand those feelings and can be a testament in overcoming them.
    Thank you for your sincerity, it is why people continue to read your blog!
    Leah

  69. Anonymous says...

    It has been a long time since I weaned a baby, but I still remember the way I felt which I now know was depression. Thank you for being so open.

  70. I just stumbled across your blog for the first time after googling “postpartum depression after weaning.” I just weaned my third baby, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with this drama this time around. I weaned him at 12 months, and I was thinking “hey, it’s later, maybe not…?” Nope, got it hardcore this time, just like always. I only figured out what was happening with me after the second weaning. I’ve been able to be a little more proactive with treatment this time, but when I try to explain to people what is going on, they stare at me like I just grew a horn on my nose. Especially my husband, which is difficult because he is in the medical field, and I have a hard time understanding why he can’t understand. I wish the depression we encounter after weaning was more of a “real” thing to the medical field. Some day, right? Anyway, I love, love, love this post. I hope you don’t mind that I posted it on my facebook page. You so eloquently wrote what I can’t at the moment. Hopefully it explains things to those close to me that can’t quite figure me out at the moment. Thanks again.

  71. ohh my…Going through it since Noé was born on the 3rd of June… the horrible part is that I had already had depression some years ago twice for so much time for other reasons that came a huge snow ball; so has it started I thought ” – oh no here we go again…it was spinning and overwelming…when Noé turned 1 month next morning I was ok, it seamed has nothing had passed by me…but still I’m fighting it daily..can’t understand if it is related still with the small amount of breastfeeding I still do or not… And yesterday my period came?!. Thanks for sharing. Huge HUG, Clara from Pt.

  72. Anonymous says...

    Thank you for this post. I am experiencing severe post-weaning depression right now after weanin my 10 month old 6 weeks ago, and am on the Internet tonight looking for support. I can’t tell my husband what’s going on inside my head right now, and I don’t know why. All I can say is, “I’m having a really hard time.”. And that doesn’t really tell him what I’m going through. I’m going to have him read your post instead so that he can understand what it’s really like. Thank you for the support!

  73. Anonymous says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this. This is exactly how I have been feeling for two weeks now after weaning my 7 month old daughter. I miss her so much and I cry alot. I miss our connection in that way, and I feel very “hormonal.” I’m glad I’m not the only mother who has felt this way.:)

  74. Anonymous says...

    bless you for sharing your story with us.

    it’s so hard to talk about depression, it always feels so shaeful. i appreciate your honesty and openness.

    i live in seattle and i suffer seasonal depression (which bleeds across seasons) almost annually. i suspect most of the others in this city do, too.

  75. HS says...

    Thanks for your post! I had been so confused, depressed and moody for the last four weeks and I could not figure out what was wrong with me. I fell and broke my shoulder four weeks ago which forced me to wean my 9 months old daughter immediately. I was not ready at all. Seeing her with a bottle and pacifier just drives me insane. My husband got the worst of it. Still struggling but your post made me feel better. God bless you

  76. I didn’t read all the comments prior so excuse me if I am repeating what someone else posted.
    But there is an estrogen drop that women get when we wean or even drop the amount of breast milk produced such as when we introduce water or solids. It may take a few days to adjust if otherwise healthy.
    The other factors that affect one’s propensity to depression have to do with exercise, sleep and nutrition and we know that moms with babies do not have those basic needs taken care of really well, all the time.
    Incidentally, post-partum depression affects mothers later if they have twins or higher order multiples. I have triplets and the time period that I was most likely to have PPD was after about 18 months. I would guess that this is similar for other moms of multiples because the first few month are euphoric and there are lots of helpers that assist but when they are a bit older, the strain of supervision for mobile multiples and continued high care taking duties makes life difficult for those moms.
    I am so glad you articulated that there is a chemical change in women’s physiology at weaning.

  77. I’m a long time reader of your blog and was glad to read this post back in February. I’m therapist and work with women on a variety of mental health issues and had to share this post in my therapy blog. Like you, I have not seen enough information about weaning and symptoms of depression and anxiety. So your post is one of few that may reach many women dealing with the same feelings.

    http://cherrystherapy.blogspot.com/2012/06/depression-when-weaning.html

  78. Anonymous says...

    Thank you for posting your experience. I am going through this now and it has been amazingly awful.

  79. Thank you for sharing this, Joanna. I’ve been feeling down lately, because my son hasn’t nursed for two weeks. I had been actively weaning him, so I found it so confusing that I was actually wishing he’d nurse again! I’ve been looking back at the past two and half years lately, recalling my fondest moments in breastfeeding my son. Part of me still hurts, the other part is somehow happy. I still don’t understand how I feel, and sometimes feel like I am alone feeling this way. It really is a hormonal thing, and I am glad I am not alone.

  80. I am so grateful to have found this post that explains my feelings to a T. I breastfed both children for a year and a half each and had some depression after weaning the 1st but got pregnant with a second 3 or so months after that. I am not experiencing these symptoms and noticed a similarity of them to the 1st time weaning.These seemed to be slightly more severe possibly do to a death in the family during breastfeeding time and at 3 months postpardum.Or maybe just b/c i have nursed this baby exclusively for the entire time. Different from the first which was in nicu for a couple of days and took a long time re-establishing breastfeeding and only became exclusive after 6 months due to poor milk supply and at the time formula scares. i was fortunate to be able to stay at home to make this possible.

    I am feeling more and tired but when i do sleep I am out cold, but getting to sleep seems difficult and I am woken “or shaken easily” in early sleep stags then leading to severe irritability. and everything is “raking on my nerves.” Its difficult to ask for help b/c many people think that when you have an therapy appt or massage to relax that your instantly healed. It just doesnt work like that it is a mind set that unfortunately your hormones are in control of. Thanks for that body. now that i am catching on to it thanks to a “massive blowout” about a week ago. I have ordered a herb that is supposed to aid in this sort of thing. I’m not real big on prescriptions as I have had headaches related to hormonal imbalance from birth control so I tend to stay away from that rx. the herb is called vitex chaste tree berry. for regulating cycles and hormones. also maybe beneficial taking with fish oil as i’ve heard that is helpful in regulating hormones as well. Thanks again and I hope that the herbal info helps anyone seeking an alternative to prescription aid cuz lets face it who knows how long our family will have to wait it out.

  81. Anonymous says...

    Hi everyone,
    Hello Joanna,

    I just discovered your blog today on a very lazy day at work on a rainy day in Paris. And i went trough all the pages. It was so interesting & refreshing!

    This article in particulary makes me feel all the women somehowe are the same. I am in that kind of mood lately and reading your post makes me feeling better already.

    Thank you so much Jo.

    XOXO from a reader in France :)

  82. Anonymous says...

    Oh my gosh. This is me. I thought I was going crazy. I’m in the middle of weaning, and I am having a very tough time. I shall be making an appointment to see my doc tout suite.

    I’m a fairly regular reader, but I’ve never commented.
    Thank you for this.

  83. thanks so much for this wonderful, personal, honest and important post! i am so glad the sun is shining for you again – the heavy weight finally lifted!

  84. I just happened upon this post, which I had somehow missed when it was first published. Your brave words hit home for me. I’ve been experiencing a form of this weaning depression myself but wasn’t sure that’s what it was until now. I had planned on nursing my son until he was at least a year, with a stretch goal to two, but didn’t even come anywhere close. Nursing had continued to get more and more difficult as he got older and since I work full time, my milk supply just continued to decrease no matter what I tried. Finally, after a few months of gradual weaning I found that he was no longer interested, despite my best efforts. The past few weeks have been tough. I’ve felt almost separated from my son, when I used to always feel our closeness. I’ve questioned my ability to mother, to be a wife, etc. I feel like these feelings are slowly lifting and I am healing. I appreciate this post and want you to know that this helps me. Thank you.

  85. I just happened upon this post, which I had somehow missed when it was first published. Your brave words hit home for me. I’ve been experiencing a form of this weaning depression myself but wasn’t sure that’s what it was until now. I had planned on nursing my son until he was at least a year, with a stretch goal to two, but didn’t even come anywhere close. Nursing had continued to get more and more difficult as he got older and since I work full time, my milk supply just continued to decrease no matter what I tried. Finally, after a few months of gradual weaning I found that he was no longer interested, despite my best efforts. The past few weeks have been tough. I’ve felt almost separated from my son, when I used to always feel our closeness. I’ve questioned my ability to mother, to be a wife, etc. I feel like these feelings are slowly lifting and I am healing. I appreciate this post and want you to know that this helps me. Thank you.

  86. what a beautifully written and courageous post.

  87. I will add my voice to the hundreds – I also experienced weaning-related depression. I, too, weaned my daughter abruptly, at the command of my OB when a case of horribly resistant thrush was threatening me with permanent skin and nerve damage. I felt like such a failure for not being able to breastfeed my baby, but the order to stop actually felt like relief after a battle with thrush that had consumed my life for over three months.

    And then the panic attacks started. I’d have flashes of momentary panic thinking I’d forgotten the baby somewhere as my poor boobs filled to exploding. Even though nursing was excruciatingly painful, I craved it. I made jokes that I was addicted to breastfeeding… only I wasn’t kidding, really. I nursed her in secret after my husband went to work, “just one last time.” And then when it was really, truly over, I cried. For two weeks straight. After that, I cried every time I talked about it, every time I saw some other mom nursing, every time I read a nasty comment about formula or thought I caught someone judging me in the grocery store for putting the box in my cart. Even just seeing a baby on TV could set me off. This lasted for six more weeks! I knew I was depressed, but I thought it was just guilt and sad feelings because of the circumstances related to our weaning. I thought I was just crazy.

    Thank you for writing this, and sharing your story.

  88. Anonymous says...

    This post made me cry! I suffered from depression when I was younger and still have occasional ‘down’ moments, but don’t like to discuss it outside my family and partner. Reading this has been like having someone read my mind! I especially love ‘depression is the reason for your depression’. It’s so hard to see that sometimes. Thank you! x

  89. Hi Joanna,

    I`ve been reading your blog for a little while and love it! I was reading your post today and pressed on the link about your bout with depression. I must say that it was really honest and inspiring. As many of the people who posted a comment, I`ve battled with depression and it is only after finally deciding to take the medication route that I feel better. I find myself reading blogs and seeing moms around me and wondering how they do it all. Everything seems so perfect. Anyway, I just wanted to say that. I`ve started a blog of my own (still a novice though) if you ever want to check it out!

    Vanessa http://prettylittleivy.blogspot.com

  90. I have two children and have long passed this stage of parenting but I wanted to say thank you so much for sharing. This is a really important article and will help so many women.

    God bless you.

    xx

  91. Thank you so much for writing this. I sent it on to my husband as we have also just come around the bend from weening/craziness/depression. It was so unexpected, confusing,and isolating. Reading your descriptions of similar thoughts and feelings is like a victory light in mind yelling “you were NOT crazy! You are NOT nuts!” and that is a wonderful gits so thanks. :)

  92. Thank you so much for writing this. I sent it on to my husband as we have also just come around the bend from weening/craziness/depression. It was so unexpected, confusing,and isolating. Reading your descriptions of similar thoughts and feelings is like a victory light in mind yelling “you were NOT crazy! You are NOT nuts!” and that is a wonderful gits so thanks. :)

  93. Thanks for sharing your story. As I have shared my own story of postpartum depression and psychosis, I realize how many women struggle and somehow feel the need to keep it a secret. When I was in my dark place, I felt so alone and its important to know that there are others out there. If there are women out there reading this who feel like this currently, be courageous and see a doctor about medication and counselling. They help and you can heal from PPD.

  94. Kate says...

    Your words ring so true it brought me to tears. Yes yes yes! Not only depression when weaning my son at 14 months, but at times uncontrollable anger out of nowhere, too. I couldn’t believe how many times our pediatrician asked me “how are you feeling?” within the first 2 months of my son’s life, but there I was, feeling all alone, looking at PPD blogs and not understanding how the onset of these awfully dark feelings came so much later than immediately post-partum. I started questioning myself… maybe I was suffering PPD and I’ve had it all along and now I’m just in a *really* bad place 14 months later! Maybe this is just what it means to be a mother– you give up the incredible job you had, you retreat from your friendships, you no longer love the things you used to love to do…

    Thank you for your bravery and for sharing your story. Now, almost 2 years later, I’ve told all my friends and loved ones, and I warn every new mama I know. And I encourage them to reach out to me when they start feeling that way so they can remember they’re not alone.

  95. I ended up over here from Dutch. British. Love… and I’m absolutely glad that I did. Your honesty in this post is amazing. I’m not a mother, I’m not close to becoming a mother – but just your tone and the authenticity in your voice made me feel like I could somehow relate to your situation, and on top of that, I learned something. So, thanks. Glad to hear things are going well, and those pictures at the end are absolutely adorable!

  96. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve gotten depression after weening with both of my boys (even when weening slowly). I knew to look for it with my second which helped a bit. It was stressful, the doctors didn’t have much to say on it but I knew what was happening and tried to cut myself some slack.
    You are lucky to have bounced back after two months. Mine takes at least 6 and then trickles on just a bit after that. I’ve tried zoloft but not a fan and much more interested in trying to handle things with diet, exercise, therapy and going really easy on yourself. Thanks for speaking up. I had no idea so many others got this at the time of weening, I thought I was perhaps the only “lucky” one. :)

  97. Anonymous says...

    Thank you so much for speaking your truth. I am feeling very similar right now, no baby but just feeling like everything is too much to handle. It sure gets hard and when people say I should just “not worry about it”, it is super frustrating. Even knowing that I have depression took many months and now I am just trying to get through everyday. I feel for everyone who has and is going through this. Love to you all :)

  98. Oh Jo, thank you for touching honesty and openness about this. I’m so very sorry to hear you felt this awful, but thank you for sharing this in the hopes you’ll save a few women go through what you did (I had no idea such a thing existed, and will take care to wean slowly if I’m ever a mother).

    Just proof again why you are my favourite blogger.

    Briony xx

  99. Anonymous says...

    My god, this is me RIGHT NOW. Thank god you wrote this– I sent it to my husband, my parents, my sisters so they get what I’m going through.

    Just got my period, and I feel that the horror is lifting just a little bit now. I am hoping it continues to go. Thank you thank you thank you a million times from my heart for writing this. It makes me feel that there is a light, even if I don’t believe it just yet.

  100. I respect your experience and honesty in sharing, but this really oversimplifies what depression is for so many people. it’s rarely something that comes and goes for six weeks and then the whole thing is all tied up neatly with a bow.

  101. Anonymous says...

    Thank you! Thank you for being so honest and for posting this. I have battled depression off and on for years due to a few traumatic experiences including the passing of my Mom. I had a depression free pregnancy which was INCREDIBLE! My son is now 2 1/2 and the depression goes in and out every few months. You are very brave for putting this out there!

  102. cat says...

    Just a quick note that the other point that PPD is a high risk — other than immediately post-partum and at weaning — is the two weeks before your period returns. It seems like you got hit by a hormonal double-whammy. There’s a book out there called “Mothering the Mother” that discusses this.

  103. I know this is just another comment amongst a million but I had to write. I experienced antepartum depression (during pregnancy depression, typically first trimester). I felt so horrible, low, in a dense fog and as though no one would ever want to be around me or friends with me. I would lose everyone, my baby would hate me because I was too sad to love it and my other daughter would stop being attached to me because I wasn’t as fun, loving, affectionate or present… then it all lifted around 18 weeks when my new baby started to really move. I felt her kick and just… woke up. The heavens opened up and I was in love. I had never heard of antepartum depression before and researched the junk out of it! I was so tired of feeling alone, I posted to a network of Mamas that I run (800+ moms) and found out how just Not alone I was… it was so liberating. I am so glad you wrote this, put this out there and are using your platform for something so good. Thank you, thank you!

  104. Thank you so much for writing this. My baby is 10 months old, and I am debating weaning her at 1 year. I had no idea this could happen, and their is post pardum depression history in my family! I am going to do a lot of research on weaning now… and who knows maybe I will just let her wean when she is ready. Thanks so much!

  105. Just wanted to chime in and say that I totally experienced this. With my first I cut back her feedings around 10 months and all hell broke loose. I was a teary, depressed mess for several weeks. Now I have another baby, she’s just started solids and I’ve already noticed a big dip in my mood. So glad you’re getting the word out about this.

  106. By reading your post , it seemed I was reading my own story . I felt the same Almost 9 months ago and for the same reasons , it was difficult .And I didn’t share it with anybody . I’m happy it is Over now

  107. Anonymous says...

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have a lot of respect for you as a woman, mother and writer after reading it. Having been through one horrible clinical depression, I can relate. You really captured how awful it is and what it feels like. Please bring more of this voice to the blog. I really believe that projecting an image of perfection hurts all of us women who are struggle with the inevitable challenges of life. I wish more bloggers would follow your lead.

  108. Anonymous says...

    Dear Jo,

    i just stumbled across your blog looking for a recipe but went on reading en read your post. From the first lines it was like I read my own experiences from the last couple of months. I haven’t been pregnant or weaning or anything.. i’m just a 19 year old, but my experiences was EXACTLY the same. I felt as if I was useless, everybody would stop loving me, i was so boring my friends had to stop wanting to be around my, i would fail in my studies and end up a lone miserable person.
    And of course everyone around me seemed to live life with so much ease, being perfectly happy and handling everything, whereas I couldn’t.
    After a few sessions of therapy (and mindfulness, sort of yoga like breathing exercises) I started feeling allot better. What might have triggered it? I don’t know, it might have been major life events (I moved out, started a new studie, had to travel over 2 hours everyday to go to a big city) but it must have been hormonal imbalance.
    Anyway.. that’s my story and I felt like I was the only one in the world going through something like this, but clearly I’m not, although my depression and anxiety were not weaning related.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I will never think of people going through a depression the same again. As before I always thought they should just man up and keep going, I know fully realize that that’s not how it works!

    xx

  109. Thank you so much for being honest. I lost interest in the blogs that portray perfection because I know quite well no one’s life is perfect. It’s tough being honest with total strangers and I know why no one blogs about the truth but still, it’s wonderful finding a gem like this where you’re not afraid to just tell it as it is. Depression is something I experienced this winter from early December to, well, I’m still crawling through but I can feel myself getting better. It does tend to happen in winter months so it’s no shock that it could be a seasonal thing. I could write an essay to you but from one anxious person to another, I feel you, even if I’m not a mother yet.

  110. I am not ready for children, but I know I want them. And I have been worrying about whether I might have postpartum depression (and now this) since I get very emotional right before my period. But it was very comforting to read your story. And now I know I will be prepared if the moment ever happens. It is a good feeling to know that you’re not alone. :)

  111. So, soooo brave of you to share this with us — and SO awesome that you will UNDOUBTEDLY be helping women who are dealing with feeling of despair and sadness. Even if their depression is NOT related to weaning, just to let them know that feeling down/depressed is *not* a character defect. That it happens. But that there is light and happiness waiting for them. And you hit the nail on the head when you said that when you are in the throe’s of the utter sadness and despair – it is nearly impossible to realize and/or admit what is actually going on. It’s such a terribly helpless feeling.

    I cannot tell you how much I admire you for having the courage to share this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  112. Anonymous says...

    Thank you for sharing… I wish I could read all the comments too, but there are so many!

    I suffer from dysthymia, so I battle depression from time to time. For example, this days … And I really envy the understanding and support from your family and friends, you are very lucky.
    Thank you for showing what hides a smile sometimes.

  113. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to save this… I went through a similar period of depression when I weaned my first son. I am now breastfeeding my second son and dreading the inevitable weaning process… I’m so scared it’s going to happen again, if it does i’m sure it will help to read this again and feel I am not alone!!

  114. Thanks for sharing! I’m going to save this… I went through a similar period of depression when I weaned my first son. I am now breastfeeding my second son and dreading the inevitable weaning process… I’m so scared it’s going to happen again, if it does i’m sure it will help to read this again and feel I am not alone!!

  115. Katie Brand says...

    Joanna,
    I suffered the exact same thing. It was hard for me to identify too because depression after weaning didn’t happen with my first two children, only this time with my third. I didn’t understand it and it didn’t make sense. Like you I scoured the Internet and came up empty handed. And again, like you, I got my period..a whopper of one too. Mine lasted two weeks, if it had lasted as long as yours did, I’m not sure I would still be here. It was bone crushing and debilitating and AGAIN, like you, it was gone in a flash. I woke up and I was me again. I had never been so happy in my life. Thank you for sharing. Im hoping to share my experience with my pediatrician and OB. They need to be aware and to warn other mothers that this can happen. All the best, Katie

  116. Thank you for posting so openly and honestly about your experience. I don’t have children yet, but I do think about the effects of childbearing and how I would cope with whatever comes my way. It was heartbreaking to hear how you were feeling then. It doesn’t surprise me that you didn’t share that in your blog at the time; when we are in the middle of something we’re usually just doing our best to survive it…only later can we really see what we were going through and reflect on it. I’m so happy that you’re back to your lovely self & I imagine Toby was worth going through most anything:)

  117. Anonymous says...

    I’m taking my wellbutrin and trying to trudge along while waiting for an appointment with a hormonal endocronologist. This is nasty stuff.

  118. I just saw this post referenced in the Huffington Post article – also a link to a KellyMom.com covering the topic. I have been following your blog since I was pregnant & love it so much. THANK YOU for speaking about this topic so openly. I will be weaning my 8 month old in a few months and in my belly I have felt like this was going to be the hardest part of “mothering” since my baby was born. Thank you! Thank you! Knowing you are not alone is half the battle. xoxo

  119. Anonymous says...

    I was either pregnant, breastfeeding or both for 10 years. When my youngest weaned I went down pretty far….finding myself drinking again, moody and sad. Intuitively, I knew it had to do with a shift in my oxytocin levels. I was just so buzzed while breastfeeding. Folks dismissed it. Thanks for this piece.

  120. Tina says...

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Reading your post, it was as though you had given my own swirling sadness a voice. I am currently weaning my 1-year-old daughter – and have been lost as to why I have been feeling so low. Thank you for sharing your personal story. You have helped more than you can possibly know. Thank you.

  121. KAT says...

    Wow. Thank you for your honesty. Although I’m single and motherhood is still a long ways off for me, I am a woman who suffers from depression. Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ll ever be able to be in a relationship or have children – if I can barely take care of myself, how can I care for others? Your courage has given me hope that depression doesn’t have to be my “normal,” and that it IS possible to get better.

  122. Anonymous says...

    Thank You! x

  123. Hannah says...

    An incredible post, thank you so much for it.

    I have a photo of myself and my baby after she was born and the pillow is stained with tears and I look stunned and overwhelmed. No smile, just scared and stripped bare. They were very dark days. I took the picture myself because somehow I realised that it would not always be like this and it would get better…somehow. I don’t know why I decided to photograph the moment but I did and it now serves as a funny reminder that things are okay and when they are not…well, soon they will be..eventually. I love that photo, even though things felt so bleak at the time.

    Hormones are such incredible things. Just another reminder to surrender and realise that we are not perfectly in control all the time!

    Thanks again, good on you for opening up, so impressive. You will help a lot of Mamas with this post. xo

  124. mirka says...

    Loved that you shared this and realized that I feel a little bit like this while the weening process is happening. Gosh. I’m not so depressed but I am feeling some kind of loss. I love that you shared this here.

  125. So…as usual, I am behind on my reader. As a full-time working mom? I am ALWAYS behind on my reader. hahha…I am behind on everything. I just want to applaud you for writing this post. I went through something similar right after having my son. It was like someone came in and turned off the light switch in my head. It was awful. I remember looking at his sweet face and trying to figure out what the hell I had done to make this happen…and that he deserved more…and feeling guilty for feeling this way. My doc did some lab work and it turns out my hormones had completely shut down after having a baby. He was surprised I was even able to breastfeed. I was making nothing…no progesterone, testosterone, estrogen. My adrenal glands were completely anemic. It got worse after I weaned my son at 14 months. I have been on bio-identical hormone therapy and amino acids for 4 years now. Things have improved, but it’s still a work in progress. (acupuncture has helped A LOT!) But I think most women and their docs would turn to anti-depressant medication. And while there is nothing wrong with that, as a therapist, I knew there was something else WRONG. I think it is great to talk about this because women need to rule out hormonal problems FIRST. These problems can truly look like mental health problems. 2 years after having my son, a colleague who is a highly respected psychiatrist committed suicide 6 weeks after having her second child. It was so tragic. We need to talk more with our doctors about hormone imbalance and the effects on our health. It is so much more common than people think.
    Thanks again for writing this!
    Best,
    Tina

  126. Anonymous says...

    Thanks for sharing this. I just weaned my second daughter from her last feeding on Monday. I thought I would feel so good to be done since I was totally flying high when I weaned my first child a couple years ago. However, instead of feeling wonderful and free, I’ve had a cloud hanging over me all week and been telling myself that it’s just because I’m sore or didn’t get enough sleep or the winter weather getting me down. It’s nice to know that even though I feel completely unattractive to my husband and like a horrible mom for making my daughter quit nursing when she loves it so much, that it will all pass. So anyway, thanks, I needed to hear this right now.

  127. Anonymous says...

    I’m just about to dive into the professional world as a midwife, and your post is not only beautiful, but educational for me. Your story is so well written it allows me to have an even more empathetic (as well as efficient) approach to when my future clients, friends, family encounter a similar experience.

    Glad you’re beyond it. Glad you’ve shared your experience.

    Be well.

  128. Anonymous says...

    I breastfeed my daughter (my only child) for two years. Around her second birthday, I figured it was time to drop breastfeeding, but she wasn’t having any of it. She insisted for a while, maybe two more months, before letting it go, little by little. It was only once a day for a long time already anyway, and then it was once every two days, etc. I think that really helped for the hormones, because it wasn’t one day producing and then next nothing.
    On the other hand, I was terribly depressed after her birth. My husband was very jealous of the time the baby demanded, we ended up moving, which entailed quitting my beloved job and losing my circle of friends. I was in an isolated place, with a very dependent baby and husband and it was hell. Luckily, my daughter is much bigger now and she is absolutely the sun that rises in the east for me. I have never known such happiness.

  129. Anonymous says...

    Thank you so much for your post. It had a huge impact on me. I recently went through something similar and I have been amazed in recent months at how little we (women) know about our bodies and the little (um, major) tricks they play on us. My experience was after a miscarriage of triplets after finally getting pregnant through IVF after 1+ years of trying. There is no question that it was heartbreaking and a lot of what I was experiencing was true emotion due to what was happening. But a lot of what I was experiencing — days of not being able to do anything but cry, for example — was heavily influenced by the hormonal surges I was dealing with. Like you, I woke up one day and my head had cleared. Yes, I was still feeling the deep sadness that I still feel, but the hopelessness, the endless tears and the inability to have a clear thought were all gone. Reading your post, I started thinking that you must have weaned or made a significant change to breastfeeding during the time you were experiencing depression. It just made sense to me.

    Having gone through something so similar, I am blown away by your openness. I had such a hard time sharing my experience, even with those closest to me, and I so admire people who can do so. I can tell you that it really does help to hear it, and to know that so many of us go through such similar experiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  130. went through a very similar thing… lasted almost 2 years for me.. and its still tries to get at me.. it was long after having my kiddos, but depression can be hard to talk about because if you havent been there, you have no clue what it really is.. is a battle of the mind..and its severe… i just posted on this, as i am a new blogger.. and so many people were touched, and i recieved lots of emails from friends and such for my honesty and sharing hope and escape.. its always nice to know (even though you wouldnt wish it on anyone in the world..that there are people out there who DO understand)…

  131. Ah, I’ve been there, done that. With my last sweet pea, my anxiety and hypochondria were so bad that I thought for sure that I was dying. I even wrote letters to my three children for when they grew up. The misplaced, incorrect certainty that depression brings with it is so stealthy – especially on the heals of weaning. Good for you for having the courage to address this. You’ve shined a light on darkness that a lot of mommies may be feeling right now. Well done!

  132. Jo… thank you so much for sharing this, I can totally understand why it has been so hard for you to talk about until now. I can hardly believe how well you kept it together on the blog here. As you now know you are a fabulous mother to Toby. It is so reassuring to read things like this, to know that not everyone has the perfect experience when they have a baby, not because I wish for people to have bad experiences, it is just that it is easier knowing you’re not alone.

    I get bouts of depression, but I’m not bipolar or anything, it’s never been that extreme. Most recently was through December. Usually I get excited for Christmas but this year I had no plans as my family are all away, and this year, my brother who I live with, was also away & I work through the Christmas period. It just hit me really hard, and even when I sorted out plans I couldn’t shake the feeling. I could just feel myself plummeting. It’s an awful sensation because when it happens, no matter what, I just can’t stop it. Right now, though, life is good.

  133. I see there are already 755 comments on this post so not sure if you will ever get to this one but I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I felt like it was myself talking. I couldn’t believe the amount of depression I had after having my first baby and now I feel like I’m so much more prepared to handle it the next time (if it comes around). You have such a sweet family! <3

  134. Amazing post! So refreshing and necessary. A topic that should be discussed far more often.

    Thank you!

  135. It makes sense evolutionarily speaking for weaning to have a negative physiological effect on mammals.
    Mammals need to feed their young, primates need to feed their young and humans being the “higher primate” feed their young via breastfeeding too.

    It makes sense that if woman stop feeding when the baby may not be ready for there to be a negative feedback cycle i.e.. hormonal imbalance and depression. Nature has evolved a system where there are more positives in breastfeeding for mother and child than negative thus helping the child survive and the species survive.

    Interestingly primates wean their young when their first molars come and in humans that is much later on when they are 5 or 6.

    I breastfed my son until he was 17 months, he began to feed less and wean himself. I am not sure if I suffered any depression as I can not remember. He is now 4 years old. My daughter is like Toby, 22 months old and still breastfeeding. I am only breastfeeding her as she demands it and there are days when she wants to breastfeed a lot (more times than a new born) and truthfully there are days when I wish she would stop. I will wean her when she is ready, maybe at age two maybe later. I am lucky to have this bond with her and am lucky I do not have to work full time and was able to continue breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong breastfeeding was very hard for both my kids and me, and I suffered a lot, a lot of bouts of mastitis with my daughter but I persevered and I am proud of my achievements breastfeeding my children.

    This is an article on weaning and primates that is interesting
    http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

    Also interestingly enough John Prescott found that in all societies except one, which I think was the Comanche, the more body contact and longer the breastfeeding and more freedom for sexual behaviour in adolescence, the lower the violence. And vice versa.
    So breastfeeding and contact helps lower violence in communities.
    link here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/is-monogamy-unnatural3f/3818274

    Another article on weaning in primates
    http://www.animalsandsociety.org/assets/56_jaws050205.pdf

    Thanks Jo for being so honest!
    if you have another child will you breastfeed for the same amount of time or do things differently?

  136. Love this post! Thank you Joanna! I am newly pregnant and I am dealing with prenatal depression and just trying to ramp up with information on postpartum depression and the like so that I can be prepared and now how to kind of ward it off before it happens, if that is even possible. Your post gives me hope and also I know I’m not alone. I felt and still do sometimes feel exactly how you described your darkest days.

  137. K. says...

    thanks for sharing! i am so glad to hear that you are feeling better now. it is sort of refreshing to know no one is perfect and we all go through struggles at times in life