This month I am announcing loudly – I had postpartum depression! Why? Why not? Statistics show that one in eight women experience postpartum depression after one of their births. A sentence so basic, so clear, but the words are light and empty of content.

What exactly is postpartum depression? Who knows? Some will tell you it’s “baby blues” gone bad. Some will tell you about “the one”, the one who went crazy after giving birth, who went into a deep depression and never got out of it. There are those who will even talk a little about it in a childbirth preparation course (or skip the slide because it is a childbirth preparation course). Some women will hear about it in a hospital on the third day of postpartum hospitalization, in the public address system – “Pay attention, whoever starts to feel a certain depression that does not go away and so on … do not be left to deal with it alone. Immediately contact the relevant resources.” And all this while you are in pain from stitches, crying, tired, frustrated with breastfeeding, and a wide range of other emotions. Beyond that? No one really talks about it.

After a long process of mental rehabilitation I decided I was ready to open up and share my story, the story of my postpartum depression.

After a long and tiring birth, Noam emerged into the world. The three days of hospitalization were good overall. When we were released, we went to Shai’s parents’ house. The first week passed somehow, we were mainly busy preparing for Noam’s Brit. Of course all this was accompanied by difficulties, frustrating breastfeeding, Shai’s frustration, the continuous crying of a helpless baby, my crying, lack of appetite, lack of sleep and of course, feeling down. I would tell myself, do not jump to conclusions, everything is fine with you, it’s just “baby blues”. You are in control. I would tell myself, it’s normal, every woman experiences it. It will pass soon.

Time passed, a week, two weeks and the “baby blues” did not pass, my appetite did not return, sleep did not come, I lay awake at night, trying to fall asleep, unsuccessfully, moving from side to side, scared, confused and frustrated. But wait, it’s still “baby blues,” it’s natural.

I waited and waited and it did not pass. The fear only intensified, those around me flooded me with tips and advice, but mostly I experienced a deep sense of loneliness. I was surrounded by Shai’s family, who pampered us and helped us in whatever way they could and yet I felt alone. So alone. Add in the whole matter of distance between me and Shai, we couldn’t touch each other, because I was in Niddah. Honestly, the last thing I wanted was to have sexual relations. All I wanted was a warm and comforting hug, to feel a sense of closeness, instead I felt lonely and cold.

With time the distress only intensified and I decided to share with other women who had given birth. I went through every one of my contacts hoping to find someone who had experienced what I was experiencing, who knew what I was talking about, maybe it would help me dispel the loneliness. But no, none of the women I spoke to were in my situation. (Of course, each one was going through an emotional and physical crisis, and experiencing glitches after every birth, but that is still not postpartum depression, and it is important for me to note that there is a difference).

Over time the situation only got worse, suicidal thoughts arose in me, I did not want to continue this life, I was physically weak, without energy, barely functioning, not sleeping, crying all the time. At night I would wake Shai, out of fear of being alone. As a self-aware person, I decided that I had to find a solution, and start some treatment because I could no longer continue that way. I was a body without spirit, a body without life.

I started treatment with a therapist. After two sessions I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, and that it was not the right treatment for me. And I stopped. At the same time, I decided to move to my parents, where my kind-hearted mom and amazing sister took care of me 24/7. My heart knew – you’ve reached a safe place you’ll be fine. I said to myself – Yael, you can let yourself fall apart. And so I did, I fell apart, broke down and breathed a bit, close to my mom and sister, and the rest of my family, who held my hand all the way.

I continued the arduous journey of seeking redemption, which would release me from my torment. I tried everything. I really tried.

After a month and a half, it was time, the 6 week checkup with the gynecologist. The gynecologist who was supposed to examine me and see that everything was healed physically, and maybe even mentally, and on the way, give confirmation that I could go back to having sex with my partner. I was excited for the appointment, I thought maybe she had the diagnosis for my problem, after all, this was a gynecologist!

The doctor checked, said that everything was fine, gave me the confirmation “you can have sexual relations” (lol) and gently hinted to me, “Come on, open up, I have another long day ahead of me.” I quickly spoke the words – “I think I have depression, I don’t sleep, I have no appetite, I have anxiety, etc…”

The gynecologist threw out a few words, something like – “It’s baby blues, it will pass … if it doesn’t pass, then call the social worker at Maccabi, she can help.” I left disappointed and desperate, but I did not give up. The social worker contacted me, we talked, she tried to normalize my situation withf words of comfort. She offered to meet. I told her I was interested, but there was a catch – the healthcare provider funds two meetings in total, no more!. I told her I was already in treatment and I moved on.

I went to a family doctor who specializes in gynecology, where I just cried. I cried and tried to explain to her what I was going through. She asked me all kinds of questions and said that she had a suspicion of postpartum depression here, but she was not yet one hundred percent sure. She gave me sleeping pills for a week, (for a week only, out of fear of developing a dependence), hoping I would break the anxiety loop around sleep, and said we would keep in touch. I held the pills in great excitement, I said to myself – “Tonight you will finally sleep”. And so it happened, after a month and a half of sleepless nights, with the help of Shai and his dad, I slept a whole night! (I slept so deeply that I did not remember anything from that night).

I thought to myself, what fun, there is a solution to my problem, maybe I actually do not have depression, maybe I just cannot sleep. And here I can finally get back on track (which track? who knows, any track). As the week went on I started to have huge anxiety about what would happen the day after the pills finished. Indeed, from the moment I stopped taking the sleeping pills, I went back to the familiar and discouraging loop.

I understood from some women that Tipat Halav has a service, I filled out the “questionnaire” (only five questions) and the nurse did not really address the issue. She asked if I was in a supportive environment. I realized salvation would not come from her. I told her I was surrounded by people all the time and moved on. I called various organizations that help women with postpartum depression by phone, but it was not enough for me. I needed a transition. (A one hour call is nice and all, but come on ..). Meanwhile those around me were trying to cheer me up and tell me it wouldl pass. Believe it or not, you are strong (I do not want to be strong, I want to live.)

Every few days I tried to go out for “self-care” breaks like walks, time with friends, to the mall, I tried to act like I was functional, I tried to be a hero. I kept saying to myself, Yael, choose life, choose life, not for you, for Shai and Noam, they need you here, do not leave, do not give up.

I started to find out about acupuncture, homeopathy, and more. I was so desperate for a solution that I no longer knew where to start, what could best help me. On the recommendation of my sister and my mother I decided to focus on one thing – dynamic therapy. After many searches I found a therapist with a respected reputation and decided to try, who knows, maybe she could help.

We met, I told her everything I had gone through until the moment I got to her, and she also thought I might have postpartum depression, but was not one hundred percent sure. I shared with her that I couldn’t function due to lack of sleep and lack of appetite. I did not want to take care of myself, shower and dress,  or even groom my eyebrows, which are the most important thing in my self care routine . She responded by saying we should try to understand the root of the problem. Maybe there was some secret that would help us understand my situation. I did not feel it was the exact right treatment for me, I wanted help to deal with the anxieties, I so wanted to sleep and the very thought of putting my head on the pillow put me under stress. But, she’s the expert. 

Two weeks passed … three … and I did not feel any progress. In the meantime, Shai and I decided it was time to go home,because we needed to get into routine. I’d been with Dad and Mom for a month and a half, and you can’t hold on to them forever, right?. Shai returned to work more regularly, and I was afraid of being alone. I would get up early in the morning, at 6, get organized as fast as I could, organize Noam and run to my parents, until the moment Shai returned. I could not be alone with myself . Afraid I’d do something to myself.

Another week went by and another, and I somehow survived. The climactic moment for me came after a night when I failed to fall asleep. I called my psychologist in the morning to make an urgent appointment, saying “I’m lost.” I went to the appointment and told her I had no hope, that I did not know if I would ever get out of this black hole.  I was in the dark, unable to see how I could get out of it. She was silent, listening and said “Yael, I think your condition is not good, I’m very worried about you“. I tasked her in a scared voice “Do you think I should go to a…..psychiatrist?” She answered yes. And refered me to a psychiatrist (my head exploded with thoughts. OMG, what happened to me ??Do I need a psychiatrist ?? That’s a crude word, he’s a doctor of lunatics, wait … am I crazy ??).


With heavy legs I left the clinic, barely able to get into the car, I drove feeling like I needed someone to hold me, like I couldn’t do this alone. I went to my parents and told them what I needed to do – go to a psychiatrist., My mother did not know how to respond, suddenly she sat down and kept quiet. My lovely sister just hugged me, and I cried.Shai arrived after a few hours. I went out to talk to him and update him on what had happened. He hugged me and I broke down, I told him I needed to go to a psychiatrist, and he kept hugging me, quietly. I have no words to describe this moment. The moment that Shai did not panic, did not run away. He stayed. He gave me a sense that I was fine, that I was normal, that a psychiatrist was a doctor for everything that I needed then. Just as the body sometimes needs external help to heal, so does the mind. We talked at length and I calmed down.

 In the evening I called a psychiatrist and scheduled an urgent appointment for the next morning. (Postpartum depression is considered a life threatening condition.). At the meeting we talked for about an hour, he gave me pills to help me sleep. (They are not addictive, but they should only be taken in conjunction with counseling treatment). He wanted to see if it was anxiety around sleep, or if it was depression. It was hard to diagnose me because I seemed to be functioning externally and I loved Noam.

 After a week of taking the sleeping tablets I finally started sleeping, but the depressed feelings were still present. I talked to the psychiatrist, who said it was depression and decided to start medication. That’s it, I was finally diagnosed! After two and a half months of suffering and searching for answers, I had a diagnosis! I had depression! Now we could start treating it. He gave me a prescription for an antidepressant and anxiety pill, which can be taken while breastfeeding and during pregnancy. At the same time, he told me to meditate three times a day (to calm the nervous system) and go to a psychologist who specializes in behavioral disorders, anxiety and more. I was a little hesitant because I was already going to a therapist, and felt like I did not have the strength to start over. After much thought, I decided to switch to the psychologist that he recommended.

From here it’s all history, after two weeks the medication started to take effect. With the help of the medicines he prescribed and the behavioral therapy, I began to feel better, my appetite returned, my anxiety decreased, the desire to fix my eyebrows returned, and most importantly – the desire to live returned.

All this time I was just looking for answers to questions, am I normal? Are there other women who experience or have experienced what I experienced? I wanted to feel supported, surrounded by a circle of women who went through what I was going through, who would just tell me I was not alone, who would encourage me to persevere, to believe in myself and my powers, that I would come out of the darkness into the light. And what a light, such a strong and powerful light. A warm light that fills every cell and compartment in my body, a light full of motherly love for a child.

I decided to publish my personal story to increase awareness of the concept of “postpartum depression”. To normalize the concept of “psychiatrist”. Normalize taking medication and doing psychological treatment, to let women find solace in my story, to give women hope. And to say “If you take medication, it does not really mean that you are weak, on the contrary, you are strong. You are attentive to yourself and your needs. You come before everyone else. Sit up straight and raise your head, because you are the best mother there is.”

If you know a friend, sister, aunt, neighbor, or any other woman (or man, yes, men can also have postpartum depression) who is going through something similar, do not hesitate: bother them, be there, ask questions, do not let her remain alone.