I’m sharing today.
I’m sharing to combat the numerous stigmas our society associates with postpartum depression. Let me just say I’m not crazy, haven’t lost my mind, I’m not going to hurt myself and I love my little ones very much. It so happens to be that growing a precious baby and experiencing birth, has created deficiencies in my body and a chemical imbalance in my brain that require treatment.
I’m sharing because many new mothers choose to internalize their struggles with postpartum depression and instead, opt to “ride it out”. Left untreated, postpartum depression can ruin so much time. It can take the most special time, particularly that first year when there are so many amazing milestones to savour.
I’m sharing because I realized that postpartum depression was stronger than I was. And I wanted to win. I wanted to look back at this time as a warrior victorious. I wanted to feel better so I could enjoy moments with my little ones and so I could be proud of the mother I am.
I wanted to share because I craved the confirmation of knowing I wasn’t alone. I shared because I was tired of trying to keep my life glued together in an intricate façade while the most precious moments of motherhood passed me by.
I wanted to share, because I knew in my mind that one day my experience would be history. And though this experience was very painful it was valuable, significant and very important to share.
Six to eight weeks after my baby arrived, postpartum depression also arrived. An unwelcome visitor that came with an influx of thoughts and emotions that persistently had me occupied. Being struck by PPD was shocking. I thought I was too strong, independent and motivated to be “touched”. I’d been around individuals with postpartum depression before and I just never understood why it was so crippling. I realize now.
I was constantly assessing thoughts, fighting emotions, working to make sense of it all and trying to keep calm. My thoughts suddenly felt like an enormous “traffic jam”.
Suddenly, any outside pressure or problems seemed more than I could handle. If you’re a mom, you would know how many silly, ridiculous things happen in a single day of tending to little ones. Spilt milk or snacks, messy crafts or naughty adventures I would find my little ones in the middle of…you get the drift. Anything small tipped me over the edge and I found myself losing patience and crying, often for insignificant reasons that seemed colossal in the moment. I found myself flustered and overwhelmed in the simplest situations and I frequently felt a great deal of challenging emotions for no reason at all.
These made me react to problems and situations in ways that I’m not proud of. Although I knew better, PPD made me believe my little ones were better off and happier with someone else. I have never felt such strong feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem and inability to raise my little ones.
No matter how inadequate I felt, I had no choice but to continue caring for my loved ones. I spent my days filling bellies, wiping noses, breaking up fights, cleaning little hands, folding laundry, tidying typical kid messes and trying to keep them content. In my emotional state it felt like an undefeatable stream of never ending needs that wouldn’t subside. I felt like I was failing my family on all fronts. The pressure was more than I could bear, and the resulting guilt was just another contribution to the mountain of emotional stress I was dealing with.
On rare occasions my emotions felt like a physical weight, bearing me down. The pain was so heavy emotionally that it felt physically debilitating. I felt completely incapacitated. To cope, I focussed on the bare minimum. I took care of my kids. I limited housework, stopped business work and didn’t engage in any social interactions with others. On these days I was unable to reach out to sisters as I sometimes did for a dose of positivity. Although these times were few, I was always left worrying when the next time would come.
Increased stress came from trying to fulfill my own expectations. I felt like I was losing myself slowly and couldn’t understand why I was feeling so emotionally out of control and why I had lost my motivation.
I felt ashamed to show my tears and weakness to anyone. I was ashamed that in the midst of a blissfully perfect life, I was struggling. I was embarrassed and scolded myself inwardly for not being more optimistic and content with the many blessings I was granted. I was worried I wasn’t meeting other’s expectations just as I wasn’t meeting my own.
During my struggle with PPD I noted, that my worst critic was myself. Being a perfectionist, it was shocking to suddenly find myself incapable of completing simple tasks I believed I should be able to complete. I wanted to take perfect care of my two toddlers, breastfeed the new baby, look presentable, take care of my husband and tend to my household. I found myself frustrated and humbled; realizing I just couldn’t do it all. Being fiercely independent, it was difficult to step back and acknowledge my postpartum depression and accept help. It was a turning point and essential to my wellbeing.
I’ve shared today because, as mothers we need to be more open about the challenges we face. Motherhood is wonderful and amazing and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but motherhood is also much harder than I ever thought it would be. I believe that as mothers, we owe it to other moms, especially new mothers, to be authentic and real about our experiences; the good as well as the bad so that others can be equipped with realistic expectations.
I’ve shared today because postpartum depression is not a condition to be ashamed of. It’s common, treatable and short-term if treated correctly. If left untreated it can develop into a lifelong, chronic mental disorder. It’s not necessary to suffer in silence.
Since seeking help and treatment I’ve started seeing the light. Although extremely difficult, this journey has made me realize more than ever, how blessed I am. I’ve been surrounded in love by my husband who’s held my hand and patiently waited for me understand myself and my experiences.
I’m surrounded by an amazing family and a wonderful support network. Although I’m still dealing with PPD symptoms, my family has been pivotal in helping me in my recovery up to this point.
My life is amazing, and I’m looking forward to returning to it.
Most of all, I look forward to finding myself again.
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