Open Letter to Women Having Postpartum Emotions From a Mom
Is Postpartum Depression a real thing? I mean what's the big deal? Congratulations on your new baby. Shouldn't you be happy now? So many questions and so little answers for you right?
Postpartum emotions are a real thing and it's something you might not realize you have. I wanted to share a conversation I had with my wife and a letter she wrote for you. I could speak about my own experiences with my wife, but I thought it would be more impactful if you could hear it from her.
If you're suffering from Postpartum Depression please get help or talk with someone who understands what you might be going through. The women I've talked to are at the end. They don't know what's happening or how to explain what's going on with them. Follow the link for more help. I am gathering up as much local information as I can this week.
This is from my amazing wife to you.
There is such a vast landscape when it comes to postpartum emotions, and though I haven't experienced all of them, I'm going to touch on my own experiences with a few of the struggles and challenges that I faced in the months and even years after becoming a mom.
Through the journey of becoming a new mom, we experience every emotion and range of feelings that I think the human soul can experience in this life, and then some that we can't even entirely give a name to. There is the instant love that is bigger than anything you have ever known, it just wholly overtakes you. The joy, the gratitude, and all of the exciting, fluttery feelings of beginning this new adventure. However, there are also the emotions and challenges that, though just as important, unfortunately, aren't discussed nearly enough. Exhaustion, frustration, helplessness, fear, anxiety, trying to navigate the learning curve, feeling like you are messing up all the time, that you are not good enough, and that you aren't living up to the expectations that you held for yourself as a mother. I think it would be safe to say that as moms, we can all relate to experiencing at least some degree of all of these in the beginning. But, for some, the severity is much more significant and long-lasting.
For myself, the challenges started to really amplify after we had dealt with our son's health struggles in his first year. There were a handful of months there, where we faced the possibility of losing him more times than I'm comfortable going back to, even today. As a mom, I didn't deal with my fear and anxiety and sadness in the moment. Instead, I kind of shoved it all to the back of my mind to come back to later, because I was only focused on him and his health. We're moms. That's what we do, right? We aren't always the best at taking care of ourselves. We run on empty and give everything we have to our children. We come last. I'd sort through those feelings later, right? He was the most important thing.
After months had passed, and things were finally beginning to feel more stable as far as our son was concerned, those emotions that I hadn't completely dealt with began to creep up, and I had no idea where to even begin. Here they were, manifesting themselves as physical symptoms. I couldn't explain how I was feeling. I couldn't put into words the crippling and debilitating anxiety and fear I was dealing with on a daily basis. How was I supposed to sift through and compartmentalize all that was happening to me? Mentally. Emotionally. Even physically. Some days, I couldn't even start my day or get out of bed without having panic attacks. Add to all of it the massive guilt we put on ourselves as moms, and I just could not tread water anymore. I was without a doubt sinking, and feeling terrible about myself in the process. "My son deserves better than this," I would think. "My husband shouldn't have to deal with all of this," I told myself. I was at the point where I would have to call my husband and ask him to please come home early from work if it was possible because I just didn't want to be alone. The worst part? I couldn't even give a clear explanation as to why, to him, or even to myself. I was lost.
I went on like this for at least a few months before I realized, or wanted to admit and deal with what was happening. My husband, my parents, my sisters...everyone I had reached out to was urging me to talk to a professional. I was insistent about doing it by myself. I could do this, right? I was strong enough to navigate this. Just look at everything we had just been through. Why was this so hard for me? I was wrong. And you know what? That was ok.
Fast forward to the day I reached out for help. I was home alone with my son. The day wasn't particularly overwhelming, but I could not get hold over a severe panic attack that had me lying on the bathroom floor, trying to hold it together for my son. It was the third day that week that I reached out to my husband for help. "Just stay on the phone with me until I can get through this," I asked him. "I'm ok, I just need to talk to you. I don't feel comfortable being here alone with our son. Do you think you could come home?" It was in this moment that I heard myself and saw myself struggling. Even the most supportive partner and husband couldn't help me. I couldn't give him a clear answer or explanation when he would ask, "What is this? What can I do? What is wrong?" This was my white flag. This was the day that I realized and accepted that any transformation that I was going to have would come on the other side of surrender. And so I did. Today, I know that surrendering should actually be seen as an act of strength, rather than weakness. I was choosing to get help for myself, to better myself, so that I could be the mom that I was before and the mom that I'd always wanted for my child. I got ahold of a local therapist here in Boise that night and had several sessions scheduled out for the next few weeks.
You aren't weak, Mama. If you're reading this, and your struggling right now, just know that there is absolutely no shame to be found in needing help. Life can get so heavy and overwhelming at times. Becoming a mother is one of the heaviest, in my opinion. Heavy with goodness, and growth and love and sometimes, heavy with more challenging moments than we thought we'd ever have to face. Talk to someone. Ask for help. You aren't failing. We all need help sometimes. You are doing the best thing that you can for yourself and your family. Be selfish. Take an inventory every now and then of how you are. Not as a mother. Not as a wife. Just you, as a woman.
Give yourself a little grace and surround yourself with a support system and people who will love you through it, even if they can't understand it. Gain the knowledge and the tools you need to deal with the big emotions and big feelings as they come. Learn to be able to acknowledge them, recognize them and then release them. You are a mom, after all. Look at what you have accomplished. You can handle anything that is thrown your way, I promise. Remember the life that has been created through you and never forget your unmatched strength. We wear countless hats, as mothers and the journey is full of ups and downs, good days and bad, joys and struggles. The road isn't always smooth and we can't clearly see what might be waiting around the next corner, but I will say this: Of all the paths I have taken, the journey back to finding myself was the most significant.