This series is dedicated to discussing some of my more challenging experiences in motherhood. In the first installment of this series, I talked about the first of my 3 D’s: [Gender] Disappointment. In the second, I address the emotional experience of Drying Up. Which leads me to the final installment: on Postpartum Depression.
I have to be honest with you. This is probably one of the most difficult and most vulnerable blog posts I’ve EVER written. It’s hard enough to tell your struggles to those who are closest to you, let alone put it out there in the universe, where anyone can read it and know these super personal aspects of your life. But I know I’m not the only one, and I also know hearing, “me too,” is the most healing thing when it comes to struggles like these.
In my opinion, if we’re not honest and vulnerable with each other, we’ll end up alone on sinking islands, having no clue that there are others on identical islands just beyond the fog we don’t allow anyone to see into.
I know PPD has become a little more talked about as of late, with celebrity moms coming out and sharing their struggles, and I’m so glad. Because it’s real, and it’s hard, and it’s not something that women like to talk about.
It almost feels like there’s a mentality around PPD that it should be anonymous, unspoken and shameful.
But it shouldn’t be that way.
It’s real life. And more moms than we realize struggle with it, whether or not they’ve sought treatment for it, or even realize they struggle with it.
I can still clearly remember the day, about a year and a half ago, when I called my sister-in-law, Annie, [who’s more like a ‘normal’ sister to me] and broke down while I told her I thought I was depressed. I had no clue why, because I was so incredibly in love with my new baby boy, my marriage was really strong, my husband was loving me well and I had been working out regularly. I couldn’t point at something specific and say that it was causing my feelings of discouragement and sadness. But I just knew something was off, and it was clear in the way I was treating my husband, and the inner dialogue I found myself speaking. Annie was so reassuring, so encouraging, and simply told me that sometimes our brains need a little extra help, and that’s ok.
With the support of both my doctor and my husband, I started taking low dose anti-depressants. It was another one of those emotional moments in life when I had to let go of my expectations of what motherhood SHOULD be like, and instead allow myself the grace to accept that motherhood, like life, won’t be perfect. But that didn’t mean that I was doing something wrong. A few months later, I knew I had made the right decision, when I heard my husband say, “you seem happier today.”
I, unfortunately, had to go off my medication cold turkey [which you’re NOT supposed to do!] due to unexpectedly getting pregnant with my second son, but a few months after having him, I decided to go back on them. I love my boys [and husband] with my whole entire heart, but motherhood can be lonely, difficult and unpredictable. I don’t know how long I’ll be on them, hopefully only a little while, but they help me deal with some of my “baby blues” and overwhelming moments, and I’m thankful for that.
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that being a mom is TOUGH. It’s exhausting, emotional, and amazing all wrapped together. We all need help, and sometimes, that help comes in the form of medication.** But we need to remember that needing medication does not mean we can’t handle being a mom, or that we’re a lesser mom than one who doesn’t need anti-depressants. It just means that our brain’s serotonin levels need a little extra boost, especially in a season when we aren’t getting enough sleep, are experiencing more stress, and are dealing with the unpredictable nature of young children.
So if you think you’re struggling with PPD, or are struggling with telling someone about your PPD, take heart. You’ll be surprised with how many other women have previously or are currently struggling with it, and they too are just too afraid or ashamed to admit it. Hearing “me too” is one of the most encouraging things to hear, but sometimes it takes the courage to share it, in order to hear it. And even if the friend you tell doesn’t struggle with it, most women will be more understanding than you expect, especially if they’re a mom.
And heck, if you don’t have anyone to share with, comment below or email me! I’ll always be a listening ear to anyone walking through this journey we call motherhood 🙂 [[email protected]]
**[Note: I’m obviously not suggesting any type of illegal or unprescribed use of medication or drugs…only that which is prescribed by a doctor.]