This week, as we celebrate our Little Lady hitting the 1 month milestone (and my grampa turning 94!), I wanted to bring up something I haven’t mentioned since giving birth last month:
A few people have reached out to check in on me, knowing my history of postpartum depression and for that I’m truly grateful. My family, unfortunately, has taken the stance of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and though this is hurtful to me, I also understand that this isn’t a topic readily discussed. I wish it were different but accepting that I need to be the proactive one is part of my healing process. Thankfully, I know how to access the resources available to me and can recognize the signs and symptoms that would trigger me to (hopefully) seek help.
So how am I doing? Pretty good actually. I’ve definitely had moments of feeling overwhelmed. I’ve woken up a couple of times having trouble breathing, signaling a panic attack but I’ve never felt out of control, never felt so overwhelmed that I couldn’t handle my emotions or the tasks at hand. My thoughts haven’t shifted to irrational and I’ve had zero indications or worries of self-harm. Life is busy… but good. Part of my ability to move forward is accepting that as much as I advocate for change in how we approach and talk about postpartum depression, it’s not an easy societal fix. My life is perfect evidence of that. If we can’t talk openly and freely about it behind closed doors, where can we?
My hope and prayer is that these resources will become available to every parent who needs them. Mom’s for the support, whether in a group or clinical setting, partners, family and friends to help them recognize when a mom may be in trouble. I further hope that we can open up about this disease and take away the stigma and shame that often accompanies it. And finally, I hope families will never be ashamed or afraid to have these discussions. Yes, you may get yelled at or lashed out at but ultimately, I think any mom who is having a hard time coping will appreciate that you cared enough to ask and that you were brave enough to take her hand and cry alongside her. I know I do, even if it isn’t obvious on the outside or in my reaction. Feeling the safety of being vulnerable and honest with someone you trust is crucial.
For now, I’m relishing every moment with my baby girl and my two boys. My heart is swelling in amazement, admiration and gratitude that I didn’t follow through with the overwhelming instinct to run away all those years ago. My kids challenge me, defy me and sometimes drive me bonkers but there is absolutely no regret, no sorrow and no other place I’d rather be than in their lives, cleaning up their toys, washing their clothes and hugging and kissing them until they run away screaming.
I’m very lucky that I’ve managed to pull through the worst of this disease and live a life, though not without many challenges, that is rewarding and fulfilling. But by the Grace of God, I found the strength I needed to ask for help. I pray that every mom, spouse, friend and family member is able to do the same.
Local Resources for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Warmline (phone support): 204-391-5983