Dear Mom Fighting Postpartum Depression and Anxiety,
We know what you’re going through. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been there. Many of us have felt what you’re feeling.
We all got better. We know. You’re thinking, “but you all must be different! I’m actually untreatable. There’s no way I’ll ever get better. This is all life is. My life is over.”
We thought that too.
We felt the hopelessness. We couldn’t see that our life would change and get better with each new stage of our baby’s life. The depression lied. It told us we’d always feel this way. It told us change was impossible.
We felt the fatigue. We felt how it cloaked every aspect of us and hung over us, like a heavy, damp blanket. We remember sitting on the couch and seriously wondering how we were going to get through the day. We remember lying in bed while our partner took care of the baby and wondering if we had the strength to get up, take a shower and go to work (or take care of our baby). The depression acted like a heavy duty narcotic; some of us felt hungover in the morning despite having slept for 12 hours while our partner took care of the night shift. And yet others of us couldn’t sleep and felt the fatigue in every action during the day.
We remember the fear about going on medication. We remember thinking it wasn’t even going to help us and it might hurt our baby. We felt weak – why couldn’t we do this without the aid of medication? We felt feeble minded. We didn’t realize that we were actually being strong in seeking out help.
We felt the anxiety. The fear of being alone with our child. The fear of leaving the house with our child. The fear of getting in the car or going to the grocery store with our child. We remember not being able to sleep because we were so anxious about the next day’s tasks and how insurmountable they seemed.
We felt the anger. Hot, irrational anger at everyone. Anger at people who were trying to help. Anger at ourselves for not being the moms that we thought we would be. Anger at society for selling us this lie that motherhood would be the best thing that ever happened to us.
We felt the detachment. Both to our child and to our lives.We remember what it felt like to stop looking forward to anything. We remember not caring what anyone thought because why did that matter? We remember the scary lack of love or bonding for that tiny helpless bundle we were supposed to guide through life. Some of us felt regret. Some of us didn’t. Some of us remember feeling like it didn’t matter if we lived or died. Some of us remember feeling like our family would be better off without us.
We felt the alienation. We felt isolated in our motherhood experience. We felt that everyone else was doing this thing and doing it well. Even the moms who never claimed to have their shit together were able to deal with the basics of having a child. We watched moms with multiple babies and thought, “how can they do it with 2, 3, 4…etc. kids and I can barely keep it together with 1?”
But we got better. We got treatment. We leaned on our families, on our friends, on our doctors and on our support groups and communities. We forged a path through the rocky and treacherous journey back to our normal selves. With therapy, support and care, we built ourselves up again. We gained our strength and our hope through good treatment. Our anxiety, anger, alienation and detachment slowly melted away as we fought the beast of depression. We got to the other side and when we stood there, in the bright beautiful light of recovery, we saw how we had pulled ourselves out of the dark, false life that depression creates.
Then – and only then – we saw the goodness. We saw the hope.
You’re not alone. You WILL get better.
We are all right here, ready to lend a hand up that rocky slope so that you too can stand in the glorious goodness of recovery.
The Postpartum Depression Survivors