There is so much focus and helpful pieces of literature when it comes to diagnosing Postpartum Depression in mothers. However, I found there is little discussion about living with PPD while juggling motherhood. I’m sharing my story of being diagnosed with PPD so other mothers may realize we are not alone. Am I scared of sharing my journey and being translucent to others? I am terrified, but I am not going to let that fear define my life and my future…I am dominating it!
After the birth of my second daughter, I was constantly tired and fatigued. I thought it was related to the usual, temperamental sleep habits of a newborn. Daily tasks that were considered normal were soon becoming overwhelming: dressing my kids, making wholesome meals for my family, laundry, my career, cleaning, etc.…the list goes on and on for mothers!
I soon began to dread the start of my days and nights with my children. I became impatient with them, not wanting to spend time with my precious angels and then being consumed with guilt for feeling the way I felt. Slowly my personality drifted away to that of an unhappy one. Things were no longer funny and I could not find happiness in any scenario. I felt as if I were caught in a very deep hole.
I was afraid to tell people how I felt because there are many stigmas regarding Postpartum Depression. Sometimes relating PPD to unhappy marriages, traumatic birth experiences, and thoughts of hurting themselves or children. I was afraid to tell anyone about my feelings. Even though I had none of those issues, I did not want to face the judgment affiliated with those stigmas. I never wanted to hurt my babies. I had a happy home life, and my births with both of my children were incredible. So I thought to myself, “What is wrong with me? I should be grateful…right?”
The first step I took was to SEEK HELP. My way of seeking help was finding a counselor that specialized in assisting postpartum mothers. She consoled me that postpartum depression affects everyone in different ways. This is why it’s such a challenge to diagnose without professional help. She repeated to me there is no judgment in dealing with this, and how the desire to seek help made me “wonder woman.”
I began to see her weekly, and we started what I like to call my “Postpartum Depression Hostile Takeover.” After a month of sessions, it finally occurred to me that the best way to be a good mother was to take care of myself. I did not have to try to be superwoman and handle everything by myself. There is nothing wrong asking for help when I became overwhelmed and never be too proud to ask for some extra sets of hands with the kids when needed. This is where my life changed for the better….
You would think taking time for yourself sounds easy, but with two kids and a family that depends on you, it’s not always a piece of cake. However, every day I strived to find things that brought me happiness and incorporated them into my day. It started with drinking a cup of coffee early in the morning ALONE to starting exercise regiments. I found it very beneficial to not only take care of my mind but my body as well. Honestly, I did struggle with the guilt of needing time alone away from my girls. However, seeking that help from family and my counselor reassured me a happy mama makes a happy home!
I joined different groups with mothers that incorporated our kids into our activities. Fit4Mom was the fitness group that started my day with my children and other mothers while incorporating exercise together. The support I received from these women was reassuring and made me at ease to see I wasn’t alone.
After joining fitness groups, I changed my diet to a more wholesome one. (Except for those delicious pieces of dark chocolate I keep stashed away from my toddler). It slowly but surely proved to be true. This process was not only making me happier but my children as well. I found myself drinking up moments with them and appreciating the small things in life. I quit worrying about dinner being on the table with organic veggies and just ordered that pizza occasionally. This filled our dining table with more memories. I discovered I was setting a positive example to my girls that taking care of ourselves emotionally and physically is important to sustain a happy and well-lived life.
To bring even more light in a situation that can feel dark, I am the emotionally the healthiest I have ever been. Yes, I still face good days and bad days. This is the challenge of PPD. But I feel relief because I am overcoming this. I try to remember God gave me a life I was designed to handle, and I am destined to overcome.
I want this story to reach other mothers so they know how real postpartum depression is and know they are not alone, and there is no need to suffer. Also, to realize this does not define a lifetime of mothering. You are the most incredible mother for striving to be the best. Mothers, start throwing out that guilt and take time for yourself! Take every day, one day at a time. There is nothing wrong with you and your abilities as a mom. There shouldn’t be judgment when seeking help, and there should not be judgment when diagnosed with PPD.
Being a mom is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and we are designed to do it because we are the only ones that can handle it. So raise those glasses of wine while sitting in our pajama pants and cheers! Repeat after me: You are not alone and never will be; you can get through this every day, and always, you are incredible. We got this, ladies!