This is the third blog post in a 5 part series called, The War. I invite you to read, empathize, understand, and share my story with others: new moms, especially. I am not ashamed of what you are about to read, but the stigma of post partum depression is very real and polarizing. Start the discussion with others. Join it if someone shares theirs with you. You are not alone.
I can’t say that the sun shone for me in full force that first day I started feeling better. In fact, I was wary of it because of how dark I felt just twenty four hours before. About two weeks after beginning my medication, I started to get my mojo back. I was being creative and laughing at the nuances of life again. All of these things that I had forgotten were a part of my soul were starting to emerge again. Color returned to my face and people commented that I looked better. Happy, even.
During my time off, I had tried to be gentle with myself. I rested when I felt tired, and I went on walks with Lo around the neighborhood, and I ate what I wanted, and I took every single appointment with a therapist I could book. Because I needed accountability and reassurance. I needed to be told that I was going to be able to handle life again, even when I didn’t believe it to be true.
I asked for help from friends. I indulged in retail therapy. I cuddled my fat dog in bed, for lazy afternoon naps. I gave my mind a much-needed break. And what I found from this time was that I hadn’t been ready to go back to work at 9 weeks postpartum. I relished the time with Baby Lo now, 5 months old, smiling and laughing and cooing “mama”, napping on my chest, smiling at me with her beautiful blue eyes. She was much more therapy to my soul than anything else I encountered. She got me through it.
And for weeks of soulful rest and carb-eating and sunshine and fresh air, I started to feel incrementally better. I had energy! I could take on the day when I woke up in the morning. I looked forward to going back to work. I could make logical plans without feeling utterly exhausted or overwhelmed; I believed that I could complete everything that I set out to do. I didn’t dread the night anymore. When Lo cried, I felt calm, rational and I could hold her and comfort her and tell her that it would be okay- because for the first time since she was born, I didn’t want to join her in crying hysterics.
And I shared my story. I told everyone who asked- friends, family and people on Facebook. I wasn’t looking for pity- I was looking for camaraderie. I knew I couldn’t have been the only one going through it: and I was right! So many people messaged me and commented and told me that they, too had dealt with perinatal mood disorders- anxiety, depression. Many had stories so close to mine- and they even said that they were afraid to talk about it out loud, just like me! I found a tribe of people, who I didn’t even know, who wrapped their arms around me in my time of need- who, in some ways, know my struggles better than my friends and family. Thank you, MLPC, for being there for me when I shared my story with you. Listening to your stories and hearing your words of encouragement helped me more than you’d ever know- and encouraged me to write this blog entry with such candor.
I still have days where the darkness seeps in, and I have to be kind to myself on those days. I have to know that not every day is going to be like it was before I became a mama; I’m not the person that I was before. And hopefully, someday I’ll be able to be better than I ever was.