I’ve been debating whether or not to write about what […]
I’ve been debating whether or not to write about what you’re about to read for quite some time. But I decided to be honest and authentic to myself and to motherhood and mothers everywhere. This is “Adventures in Motherhood,” isn’t it? So (deep breath) here goes: I have postpartum depression.
I realized I had it when Akira was about 4 months old; my emotions were all over the place, I couldn’t find relief in anything even when help was given, and no matter how hard I tried to calm the storm that I felt was brewing inside, nothing worked. I reached out to my midwife. I reached out to my doula. I researched as much as I could. I had all the symptoms, and all signs were pointing in one direction but I refused to admit it because it was so heavy and I was deeply humiliated. I struggled with the admission to myself but even more so with Jesse. I felt alone and isolated. I felt a huge weight that wouldn’t let up and a stigma that embarrassed me to my core. I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t want to be that mom. I didn’t and couldn’t understand that this was actually happening to me when those closest to me who had also had children didn’t possess what felt like an emotional shortcoming. How could I have PPD? I had a beautiful baby boy just a few short months ago who’s happy and healthy. I was nursing successfully and looked like I had this whole two-kid business down to an art. But, oh my god, there were days when I just felt like I was drowning.
It seems like such a cliché, doesn’t it? I knew that I wasn’t the only one suffering through this. Some of you guys probably have gone through, or are going through this, too. But it’s not such an easy thing to talk about. It’s an imbalance, both chemically and mentally that wrecks your entire being leaving you feeling like a shell of someone you used to know. Mix in lack of sleep, a 4-year old daughter and general exhaustion from daily life’s demands, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
It feels a lot like an uncontrollable wave of negativity. Despite the facts—knowing I’m doing the best I can, knowing I’m trying my hardest, knowing my kids and husband are loved and cared for—my postpartum depression leaves me feeling less than a lot of the time. It feels like there was always something more I could have done. Or that I could have done something differently or better. It is mom/parent guilt magnified ten times over, maybe more. It is a bullying feeling and worst of all, that bully is myself. Sure, perhaps that feeling of “less than” can fall under the umbrella of “general mom sentiments,” but imagine that feeling nearly all the time. I’m constantly struggling to find balance and cut myself slack on the days that I just can’t do everything. I’m also finally opening up about it. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it, but how could I not feel that way? Although PPD affects so many women, it’s still not seen as “normal” to most people. And that feeling of being abnormal is what makes this so isolating.
Akira is now 9-and-a-half months old, and I’m still fighting the fight because I know that the end is right there. To be clear, I’m not talking about this now so that you feel sorry or sad for me. The reason I’ve opened up this part of myself to all of you is so that this is something that we can all feel comfortable talking about. In talking about it and putting it all out there, I’m hoping to take away the stigma and, in some ways, normalize what’s seen as so taboo. I’ve taken measures to ensure that I don’t continue feel this way forever. I don’t like even saying that I’m “suffering” through this because it victimizes and weakens who I am. The truth is that this is out of my control, and that’s something I’ve had to face head on. I thought that regular exercise and some time away from the kids throughout the week would enable me to start feeling more like my old self. And yes, those things have helped to some degree, but if I’m being honest, they’re not enough. After trying to “fix” this on my own, I’m finally starting to talk to a therapist, and it is making all the difference in the world. I’ve reached out to other moms who have gone through this and have come out on the other side. I know it’s something that will pass; this will be something I recover from. I’m not there yet. But I’m trying. And that’s good enough for now.