For years I have struggled with mild anxiety and depression, but 2020 hit my mental health hard.
I’ll start by saying that this is hard for me to share and admit out loud and in writing, but I hope that by doing so, it will help other mamas out there who are struggling.
Welcoming a Baby During The Pandemic
I had my baby boy in July, which would have been enough to send me into a wave of postpartum depression, as I’m prone to it. But bringing a new life into the world in the middle of a pandemic, a few weeks before the derecho, and with constant election chaos everywhere made the postpartum journey extra challenging. There was minimal in-person support, and when we did have people see us in person, all parties were plagued with a little bit of anxiety due to the fear of Covid.
A lot of the joy of celebrating a new life had been taken away. That joy and support is what got me through my postpartum depression when I had my daughter four years ago. This time around, my journey was a lot more isolated and much harder to get through.
During the first three months of my son’s life, everything got to be too much.
I knew my postpartum depression was settling in when my son was about one month old. I was confused by it because though I felt immense gratitude for my healthy and relatively easy baby boy, at the same time I noticed an increased numbness and sadness.
At this time, we were just happy to get through the delivery and first few weeks without being sidetracked by a positive COVID test. That was all that was on our minds: staying safe from COVID.
I did nothing about the impending depression. My thoughts were, “This too shall pass”.
A month went by and my sad thoughts turned into seclusion.
I would go into my bedroom and shut my door as early as I could in the evening to escape from interacting with anyone. All I wanted to do was be alone. I angered very easily and it took next to nothing to overwhelm me. I knew it was postpartum depression. I continued to just wait for it to pass. I mean, it eventually did when I had my daughter.
I began exercising and focusing on self-care to combat this mental state I was stuck in. I turned off the news and traded in my anxiety-filled mind for ignorance. I was doing everything I knew how to do to make myself feel happy again, like myself again.
You see, through this time I still felt that gratitude and happiness that my family gave me, but I couldn’t actually be happy. Most people in my life would have never known I was struggling because I could easily put on a happy face or channel in some positivity. But it was draining. It’s really hard to explain, but if you’ve ever been there, you know.
Month three came and I was at my lowest.
I had intrusive thoughts every day about how the world would be better if I was not in it, that my family would be just fine without me. I don’t know if this is what it feels like to be suicidal or if my mind was just playing tricks on me, but that’s the thing about depression. It makes your mind not yours.
If I was the slightest bit overwhelmed or upset, I would spiral and immediately retreat to my room so I could be alone and wallow in my sad thoughts.
I felt like I didn’t matter. Nobody was concerned for me; there were too many other more important things going on in the world and little me was nothing.
That’s when I knew it was time to get help.
I was scared of my thoughts. I was horrified that I didn’t recognize myself and my behavior. I desperately wanted to be that happy person again, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get there on my own–especially without the anxiety-free, in-person support I was once able to count on.
I called and set up a therapy appointment and I was happy that they could get me in early and in-person.
Talking with my therapist has been absolutely key to getting out of the fog that is postpartum depression.
Each time I go, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I leave equipped with tools that can help me progress in my recovery. I have been going consistently for four months now and I am happy to report that I am not only back to my healthy and happy self, but I am better than I have ever been.
Finding a therapist that I liked and felt comfortable with helped me get through postpartum depression during a pandemic without any medication. Now she’s helping me get through other areas of my life and helping me improve myself as a human. I feel more in control of my life and empowered to live my best life than I ever have before.
This is an extremely hard time.
The isolation from not being able to see family and friends, the overwhelmingly negative narrative that the world currently possesses, and the uncertainty of just about everything is enough to make anyone depressed. While I have so much hope that this is the beginning of the end of this challenging chapter, I urge you, as someone who has been there, go get the help you need.
Therapy is not talked about enough but it has the ability to change your life. I don’t think I’ll ever stop going.
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