Let's be honest, shall we? We had this baby, went through all the trauma of birthing this perfect little bundle of joy, are completely sleep deprived and looking like a crazy person, and we're sitting here (possibly some of us are more so rocking in the fetal position...) wondering, "what happened to me... Where did I go?" Does this sound all too familiar? It sure does to me. I was that woman, that mom lost in the world of postpartum craziness.
In reality, postpartum depression is more common than we all think and as a society we need to accept this. As new mothers we try so hard to keep up our faces, pretending to our friends, family members, neighbors, husbands/partner, children, and really to ourselves that everything is great. We know who we are... The Instagram posting, Facebook writing mamas who are putting up pictures of happy faces, smiling babies, and our beautifully put together selves for everyone in the world of social media to see. Let's face it, we all do it! We sometimes do it for others, but I think that most of the time we do it to try and convince ourselves that, "Hey, look, I am a happy mommy... See, it's right there on Facebook... Me, smiling with my new baby." We try to mask our postpartum depression to ourselves in hopes that maybe, just maybe, it will slip away as quickly as it came barreling in.
Okay, so let's get real. It doesn't just go away. Sure we might get used to it, just like that ever annoying friend that we learn to live with because they are always there. But here's the good news, the news that we all need to hear. WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT. That's right, we need to learn how to kick that old friend out, that unwanted friend we call postpartum depression.
First, we need to learn that it is okay to experience these feelings. They are not your fault. The guilt that comes along with postpartum depression can be even more burdensome, so let's drop it. You are doing an amazing job taking care of this new life, give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate all of your hard work, effort, and patience, because you deserve it. The sadness you're feeling is okay, too. Give yourself the freedom to sit with those feelings and observe them. Talk back to them. Tell them it is okay they are there, but they are no longer welcome. Accept that they are there and know that they will not be there forever. It does get better and so will you.
Then, try talking to other moms going through similar situations. This always helps! Knowing that you are not alone can make all the difference in the world. That other mom you may know is probably hiding some feelings, too, and I bet she would feel a huge weight lifted off of her shoulders if someone broke the ice and opened up about their battle with postpartum depression. Another mamma will never think you are any less of a mom if you do this. If anything, we think you are stronger because of your honesty. Trust me. If you don't know any mom's in your area (as was the case for me when I had my little one) turn to social media or look for a local mommy group. to join. Many are free and available when you are. You can contact the church down the street or look up different blogs online (just make sure they are helpful, comfortable, supportive ones... Don't be afraid to try out a few before committing to reading them...). Try out a few and see what feels good. I think you'll be surprised at how helpful this is.
Next, get help. Soon. Don't be afraid, don't wait until it gets to be too much to handle, don't wait until you feel like there is no other place to go. Get that help now. I know, it's expensive and takes up more time than we have in our already busy day. But, think of it this way. If your child, your husband, your mother or sister needed some kind of medical treatment you would bend over backwards making time, finding that extra money, doing whatever you could to make it happen. You would go the extra mile to get them the help they need, so why not do the same for you? You know how the saying goes, "You can't take care of someone else unless you are taking care of yourself first." Yes, cliché as this is, it is the truth. And deep down you believe it, too. Call your OB, call your doctor, look up contacts in your local parenting magazine, seek out help from a women's center in your area, or a local therapist. They are all there to help and they have been training all their career for your call, to help mommies just like you. They are ready and they know exactly how to make you feel better, quickly.
The final take away: You can and you will feel better. You deserve it. Get the help you need and feel good about doing it.
Here's to you and to feeling better :)