“Save this chocolate for when you need to hide on a dark day. Eat it while you cry, then shave your legs.”
It’s a message I wrote in a card a few years back, to a friend and first-time mom. Later, she told me how much she loved that part of her shower gift. It felt important.
Then more recently, speaking with another new mom friend on the phone. We talked about the baby; how the little one was doing. Then, I asked, “But how are YOU doing?”
She replied, “I’m fine, you know, tired. But I’m good.”
Only her voice shook as she said it.
Instantly I empathized, because man, have I been down that road.
Postpartum depression was the reality that I suffered in silence.
Completely overwhelmed and exhausted, I cried endless amounts during my baby’s first year. A fit of rage would explode at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I felt that I was trapped in someone else’s life. My body was unrecognizable to me. Everything was so new and foreign. Anxiety swelled up within me while my colic-y, inconsolable baby screamed for hours on end. Days without meals, sleep, or showers would come and go.
I wanted to escape. Leave the baby behind, leave everything behind. I remember feeling like I couldn’t take one more second of rocking a baby. One morning, I sat up and begged my S.O. not to leave for work. “Please don’t leave me alone here, I can’t take anymore.” I urged. My desperation was mistaken for plain exhaustion.
I called the doctor to get help, but feared they would take my baby from me if I was truthful with them, so I cancelled. Unconvinced that even one person would relate or not exude judgement, I kept silent and stood alone atop a mountain of isolation.
Then, to my friend I said, “It is okay if you aren’t good, though. And if you aren’t, you can tell me. You don’t have to feel ashamed. No judgement. I understand.” A short pause of silence followed and was broken by the sound of tears. Then she opened up to me.
The message in that circumstance felt so important. Looking back now, I realize those are the exact words I wish someone would have spoken to me. Maybe if I had heard those words, I would have sought after the help that I needed and deserved.
Mamas, whether you are preparing for baby or deep in the trenches of life with an infant, you NEED to know this:
There may be dark days, where you need to hide and eat chocolate while you cry. You might experience feelings of indescribable sadness. Moments will arise where you feel lonesome. Somedays you could feel that you’ve been swallowed whole by a dense fog. But…
You are not alone.
From experience, I know the feeling of isolation that can surround you. But a quick Google search states there are over 900,000 cases of postpartum depression or anxiety in the U.S. each year. Thousands of women feel the same depression, sadness, isolation, and rage that you do.
Motherhood can have many blissful, joyful, meaningful moments. Being a mommy can also have plenty of stressful, worrisome, intense moments. If you feel yourself being weighed down by the darker scenarios, it’s okay. There is nothing wrong with you. It is hard to have your life flipped upside down, to see less of your friends and less of yourself. Not to mention that you are sleep deprived and super hormonal. Who wouldn’t be overwhelmed?
It is okay if you aren’t good. And if you aren’t, you can tell someone. You do not have to feel ashamed. No judgement. Someone WILL understand.
Please do not suffer in silence, like I did. Things will get better! But there is no time like the present to reach out. You don’t want to look back with regret 20 years later. Join a mommy support group, call a help line, or schedule an appointment with your health care provider. There is no benefit in waiting.
Local Support Groups
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
Healthy Families Line 1-800-369-2229
Worried about a friend or family member? Here are some suggestions on how to get involved!
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