‘The world needs you’ Postpartum depression survivor shares journey

Laura Benefield is sharing her journey of overcoming postpartum depression to bring the conversation to the table and let other mothers know they are not alone.
Laura Benefield is sharing her journey of overcoming postpartum depression to bring the conversation to the table and let other mothers know they are not alone.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 2:18 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - One in eight women experience postpartum depression after giving birth, that’s according to the CDC.

Some of those new mothers are right here in the Wiregrass, one of them being Laura Benefield who was diagnosed in 2017.

“There is support out there and the world needs you,” Benefield, a mental health advocate, said.

A meaningful message she has been spreading for years, while breaking the stigma against mental health disorders.

“I have always suffered from anxiety, I think since I was a child,” Benefield said.

It’s a lifelong battle she did not always realize she was fighting.

“It wasn’t as talked about and discussed until recently and so I don’t think I ever really realized what was going on,” Benefield said.

That battle was brought to the forefront after the birth of her first child six years ago, Benefield began to feel isolated, one of the signs of postpartum depression.

“That’s when it all came to a halt,” Benefield said. “That was my lowest time and such a happy time, but also very low time for me, and so that’s when I had to really step in and get help for my anxiety.”

Before Benefield was diagnosed with postpartum depression and generalized anxiety disorder, she went undiagnosed for about a year and it was difficult.

“The worst days, I did not want to be here,” Benefield said. “I would look at my beautiful child and be like, ‘I am so lucky to have a baby, to be in this spot. She’s healthy, and we’re all healthy, and so many people would kill to have that,’ but I just did not want to be here, and I felt like every day it was hard to get out of bed. I had extreme anxiety.”

Those feelings progressed and started to alter her vision.

“To the point where I wouldn’t even see her in the car seat,” Benefield said. “When someone was riding with me it would be fine, but if it was just me and her, we would basically go nowhere in the first few months because I would turn around and physically would not see her, and then I thought I was going absolutely crazy.”

Benefield began to spiral in feeling anxious and stopped taking care of herself.

“I completely, I would say, like lost myself during that time…” Benefield said, “…I just turned inwards.”

But hope was on the horizon, and one year later she began the uphill battle to recovery. But, she did not accomplish conquering postpartum depression alone.

“With the help of family, friends, a doctor, God, of course, and medicine that has helped me,” Benefield said.

However, after the birth of her second child she was hit with another wave of postpartum depression.

Today, Benefield continues to work on strengthening her mental health and prioritizes self-care for her and her family while being an advocate and bringing the conversation to the table to let other mothers know they are not alone.

Whether it is spending time at the beach for brighter days or something as simple as fresh flowers in the foyer, she said she is proud of how far she has come.

“It makes me feel very strong and when I see pictures looking back at that time, or when I think of certain things. It also kind of breaks my heart, because I wish I would have just said, ‘Help me,’” Benefield said.

Postpartum depression can surface in the 12-months after delivery. A lot of times, symptoms can happen even before the baby is born.

Doctor Leah McKnight-Haas is a doctor at Southern Clinic. She said it can be difficult to identify, but here are some signs.

“When you’re having a hard time getting out of bed, like you’re requiring encouragement just to get up, you feel as if you’re not bonding or you’re not engaged with your child, like those are signs and symptoms that we really need to be talking about you can talk about it with your primary care doctor or your OBGYN, but that’s when I really encourage moms to do it,” Dr. McKnight-Haas said. “The other thing is you can be overly anxious about the health of your child, about the wellbeing of your child.”

McKnight-Haas urges anyone struggling with postpartum depression or their mental health to ask for help.

The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. That number is 988.

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