"I want to shatter the stigma associated with postpartum depression," rapper, designer, TV star and mom Rasheeda Frost writes in a new blog for PEOPLE
Please welcome our guest blogger Rasheeda Frost!
Known to many of her fans as simply “Rasheeda,” the rapper, fashion designer, businesswoman and actress has starred on Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta since its inception in 2012.
Through husband Kirk Frost‘s company D-Lo Entertainment, she has released six albums, including Boss Chick Music. She was nominated for best female hip-hop artist BET Awards in 2010 and 2013.
Aside from her impressive music and television careers, Rasheeda, 36, is CEO of PressedATL.com apparel and accessories and Poiz Cosmetics. She married Frost in 2002, and the couple are parents to two sons: 3½-year old Karter and 16-year-old Ky.
I’ve always been a very strong, hardworking and passionate woman. When I gave birth to my perfect angel, Karter, he looked so precious and I loved him immediately.
However, things took a turn for the worst when I began to shake uncontrollably after giving birth, and it turned out that I was suffering from pneumonia. The doctors immediately began to medicate me to get me back healthy. The only bad thing was that I could not breastfeed due to the medication I was on. Not breastfeeding Karter took away that bonding experience I treasure the most, which is the same bonding experience I had with my first son, Ky.
When I was finally released from the hospital, a few days went by and I began to realize that something wasn’t exactly normal with me. I wasn’t that fierce, strong, happy Rasheeda that I used to be. My mind was cloudy. I was tired. I felt down and lost, and would cry all the time. It came to a point that I would retreat away from my family and avoid my friends.
As a woman, I was trying to cope and be a great mom and wife. I didn’t look or feel my best. I was over 200 pounds and there were days I would tell Kirk, “Listen, you need to take care of Karter,” and I would just lie around. I was in such a weird space and he didn’t understand what was going on with me.
My husband became collateral damage. He was left confused and feeling alone. He could not figure out what happened to his wife. In 20 years, he had never witnessed me in distress, and I had never been in such turmoil.
All of a sudden, there was a significant reduction in the quality and frequency of couple time. I was in complete social isolation, and withdrew from personal interaction. My husband did not know how to handle what I was going through, and I did not understand what was happening with me enough to tell him what I needed or even know what I needed.
I knew something was wrong, but I really didn’t want to believe something was wrong with ME. I’m RASHEEDA: a tough cookie!
When I was growing up, my mom was always strong, and I believe I’ve seen her cry one time. I inherited that strong surface, not allowing anyone to see me sweat. However, I knew that I needed to heal, because I was thinking I was an unfit mother and didn’t realize that sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and stress after giving birth had a drastic impact on my brain chemistry.
When I looked in the mirror, I did not resemble myself whatsoever. I felt worthless, and would get horrible headaches and bad anxiety. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I spoke to my doctor and found out I had postpartum depression.
For me, the discovery was RELIEF to finally be able to put a name to what was happening with me — something that had been affecting every area of my life. It was time to figure out my next course of action.
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I have never been big on taking medication, and after researching anti-depressants and what they can do to you, I decided to try natural remedies for my postpartum before considering medication.
Now let me be clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking anti-depressants or any other medication prescribed by your doctor for postpartum depression or any other illness. And just like there is no one-size-fits all postpartum-depression diagnosis, there is no one-size-fits-all cure. Each woman must do her due diligence to determine her best treatment option for her personal road to recovery. For me, it happened to be natural.
Choosing natural remedies meant a lifestyle change; I had to become more aware of both my triggers and the activities that helped stabilize my mood. I learned to set boundaries, both personally and professionally. Paying attention to my moods forced me to recognize my need for spiritual growth; I found myself in constant prayer, and even established a habit of mediation.
Developing a routine was extremely helpful for me to create balance. Being outside became essential; I learned to take in nature’s beauty, and even the sun against my skin gave me peace of mind. Diet and exercise were a significant part of my recovery. To help regulate my hormones and support my neurotransmitters, I changed my eating habits to healthier choices. I was a known gymnast, having trained with Bela Karolyi as a young girl, and took it upon myself to take a few classes to shed the weight and would walk five miles.
Finding out that I had postpartum depression and understanding what that meant became more freeing than I realized. I learned what was going on with me and knew remaining isolated would only make matters worse for me mentally, so I began to communicate with my family and close friends.
My mom and Kirk immediately stepped in, and not only did they take care of baby Karter, they allowed me to get the rest I needed through the night. I was able to create the routine I needed to balance life so I could do everything I desired, to feel like the Rasheeda I recognized.
I want to speak out for those who cannot speak up for themselves, and give them hope so they are comforted in knowing they are not alone and can take their life back. I want to shatter the stigma associated with postpartum depression, helping to raise awareness and educate women about what is really going on with them and shedding light on the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and treatment options.
You can find success during tough times, and I am sharing my experience with postpartum depression because it’s a global problem for many women. And it does not discriminate.