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Getting Real: I Have Postpartum Depression

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“This is not extreme.
It’s a girl thing.
What we would all be
if the big door inside us flew open.
Don’t tell me not to cry.
To calm it down
Not to be so extreme
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It’s how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don’t tell the Atlantic ocean to behave.”

  Excerpt from “I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE: The Secret Life of Girls around the World” by Eve Ensler

It’s time I admit something to all of you lovely women in my audience. I’m suffering from postpartum depression.  I got the diagnosis last week.

Now before I begin, I must admit that I worry about the irony that my website is called “Happy New Mamas” and yet I, myself, am struggling to hold onto the happiness that I know is somewhere inside of me.

But honestly, I created this website as a way to search for the tools and answers that I sought during pregnancy and continue to seek now that my baby is 5 months old. Through my own struggle, I plan to find the tools that can help other women face similar challenges.

I’ve pretended for months that I was ok, not admitting to myself or to others that I’m struggling. And by ignoring my feelings, I only deepened my postpartum depression.

I hope through my confession that I will allow other women to see that it’s ok, and in fact therapeutic to admit you’re having trouble. Whether you are pregnant or have entered motherhood, you do not have to be super woman. You are not built that way.

We are emotional creatures and we are allowed to ask for support, or for time to rest, to process, to heal, and to adjust to this crazy transition into motherhood.

So here goes…

I feel like a cloud has moved in over my head. It follows me around. It’s not me. Sometimes I feel possessed.

I imagined that postpartum depression would mean constant crying. But that’s not what’s happening. I haven’t even been crying as much as I did during the first three months. But sometimes I feel like I sit on the cliff of crying for prolonged periods, as if someone could push me off into a meltdown with only a feather.

Then sometimes I feel completely numb, like I am detached. I’m different. I’m not like everyone else.

Sometimes I feel like I have lost me.

I still feel an incredible bond to my baby. That hasn’t changed. But that bond has overwhelmed my entirety.  I worry about her constantly. The other day she slept in for 20 minutes and I ran downstairs, convinced that she wasn’t breathing. Last night I had a vivid dream that she fell out of her crib.

I hate leaving her, even for a second, and feel like I must be with her at all times, entertaining her.  I sometimes wonder if she thinks I’m not good enough at playing with her, and whether she likes our nanny better.

At night, once she is asleep, the despair moves in like a fog overtaking all of my senses. Thoughts enter my head like unwelcome intruders, whispering that I may never be happy again, that I may never find joy again. I look forward to the future with dread. I get the urge to drink wine, or to take a shower, to do something to make myself feel better, but the voice asks me…what is the point? So I remain mired in despair.

I’m terrified that some disease or accident will take me away from my daughter or forever alter this life that I love so much. I have convinced myself over the past few weeks that I have everything from colon cancer to multiple sclerosis.

The truth is that I love being a mother. I love the joy that my daughter brings me. I love my husband and our life. These thoughts are not mine and that scares me.

I worry that I should not be confessing this. Part of me feels ashamed about it. I feel that I need to appear as if everything is ok, like I’m super-mom, handling this all beautifully.

But I know that the first step to healing any emotional struggle is to admit that you are struggling and to stand up and say that you are not ashamed of your emotions. Then, and only then can you start to take care of yourself just as deeply as you care for your baby.

So here I am, confessing it all. I’m done hiding my struggles. I’m done pretending that I’m not emotional.

The transition into motherhood seems to be unbelievably bumpy for most women. I’ve spent the past 15 years studying every major self-help and spiritual guru. Growth and transformation are my passion. I thought I could handle it. I was ready!

But becoming a mother is sort of like riding a mechanical bull. In the beginning you feel in control, but after a few spins you realize you’re hanging on for dear life just like everyone else.

I confess all of this not to have you feel sorry for me, but to shine a light into what many women hide during pregnancy and postpartum months – the truth about what they are feeling.

I will be sharing my journey and recovery from postpartum depression in real time in this blog.  My goal is to highlight the struggles that many women feel ashamed of and hide.  I hope that my story can help to remove some of the stigma attached to these emotional struggles and inspire women to open up and ask for support.

 

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