Susan Del Broccolo is a wife, mother of two girls, and a Fit4Mom instructor. Having supported many expecting and new mothers as a birth doula in the past, Susan believes that pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period are sacred times that should be cherished and protected.
There is so much focus and helpful pieces of literature when it comes to diagnosing Postpartum Depression in mothers. However, I found there is very little discussion about living with PPD while juggling motherhood. I am sharing what it is like for me 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 constantly became tired and fatigued (thinking that to be related to the normal, 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, I could not find happiness in any scenario and found myself feeling as if I were caught in a very deep hole. I was afraid to tell people of how I felt because there are many stigmas when it comes to Postpartum Depression. I remember hearing people relating it to unhappy marriages, traumatic birth experiences, and thoughts of hurting themselves or children. I was afraid to tell anyone my feelings because 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 personal way of seeking help was finding a counselor that specialized assisting postpartum mothers. She simply consoled me that postpartum depression affects everyone in different ways, which is why it’s such a challenge to diagnose it without professional help. She repeated to me there is no judgment in dealing with this and the desire to seek help made me “wonder woman”. I began to see her weekly and we began 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, everyday 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. To be honest, I did struggle with 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 at Briargrove and Tanglewood was a 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 (with the exception of those delicious pieces of dark chocolate I keep stashed away from my toddler). It slowly but surely proved to be true that 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 constantly worrying about dinner being on the table with organic veggies and just ordered that pizza occasionally which 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 healthiest I have ever been emotionally. Yes, I still face good days and bad days which 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 out to other mothers and to know how real postpartum depression can be for families. I want mothers to know they are not alone and there is no need to suffer. I want them to realize this does not define a lifetime of mothering and you are the most incredible mother wanting to strive to be the best. Mothers, start throwing out that guilt and utilize time for yourself! Take everyday 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 toughest jobs in the world and we are designed to do it because we are the only ones that can handle it. So raise up 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 everyday and always; you are incredible. We got this, ladies!
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