It seems fitting for me that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. At 36 years old I had always been healthy mentally. Some anxiety here and there but always in control, and certainly never depressed. I cannot believe it has been a year. A year since I was in deep with postpartum depression. A year since my world changed and my mental health was a daily battle. May of 2018 when I became a mom. During pregnancy I knew it was possible, I knew people who battled it, and I never once thought “it won’t happen to me”. I knew it could, and I knew right away that it did. Even knowing there was a chance this was the common “baby blues”, I still had an instinct that what I was feeling was deep sadness. Sadness overwhelmed me. Here I was, a new mom with this perfect baby girl and all I felt was deep sadness. I knew I loved her and I knew my role as a mom was to care for her, but I grieved my pre-baby life more than I could have imagined. I didn’t have this euphoric overwhelming feeling that everything was complete now that she was here. I was tired, scared, doubtful, panicky, anxious, and sad.
I am one of the lucky ones. In therapy, which I started almost immediately, I was told I had my feet on the ground. That even though I felt this way I was able to do everything. I was able to feed my baby, get out of bed, eat, shower…although these may seem like small tasks, for some battling depression the get out of bed part is impossible. Every day I would feel a little bit better. Every day it felt like a little less of a struggle. Cautiously I started to even think I was better. But as soon as I even thought that, depression would do what it always does…come out of nowhere and remind you that you actually aren’t in control. Although comparatively I was suffering from mild PPD, I had never experienced anything like this so even mild symptoms felt overwhelming.
And now here we are. A year later and I cannot believe how much better I feel. I feel like I am starting to really love motherhood. I feel like I still miss my pre-baby life but I really love where I am right now. I feel like myself again even in this new role as mom. But even though I feel better, I am still filled with guilt. Guilt for ever feeling the way that I did. Guilt for not possibly enjoying every moment in a way that I think I should have. Guilt that I somehow missed out on something or did something wrong because of how I was feeling. The guilt is now my battle. Telling myself I don’t have to feel this way. That this was our journey. That I cannot go back. Even having to tell myself it wasn’t as bad as I perceive it be.
One thing that got me through this year was this online community. Knowing I was not alone in how I was feeling. There can be a stigma attached to even admitting that you aren’t just over the moon happy when you bring that baby home. Should I feel different? Is there something wrong with me? I hope we can foster a place where talking about the hardships doesn’t mean we have to feel guilt or shame. I have postpartum depression and saying it out loud is hard, but we should still say it. We should be able to talk about it so we feel less alone. That what we are feeling is part of this journey. So to the new mom who is sad, anxious, tired and filled with doubt. I see you…