I began to read the many stories shared by other moms, and I asked myself, “What would I tell Iris about postpartum depression and anxiety?” The idea that she may suffer, the same darkness that has plagued my mind for ten years, shatters my soul. I am her protector, no matter her age. I am her mother. There’s a huge possibility that I will not be able to protect her. So, what can I tell her?
It doesn’t happen overnight. The feelings of sorrow, disgust, anguish, hopelessness, and invisibility take over your mind and body. You might push these emotions off because you’re telling yourself that your body is adjusting to the hormones of pregnancy or giving birth. But, in the pit of your stomach, you know, something isn’t right.
You put on a brave face and smile. A mother is strong. We show no weakness or vulnerability. But, as you fed your baby, tears fall down your face. Unpleasant and unwanted thoughts intrude your mind. Happiness is gone.
At night time, you tremble with fear at the thought of tomorrow. You pray that the baby doesn’t wake up until morning. Anger fills your heart because you believe that you’re selfish. You’re selfish for needing a nap. You’re selfish for needing space. You’re selfish for not wanting to be needed or touched. A mother should be able to put aside her needs, for her child.
Resentment wraps around your heart. How could a mother resent her baby? But, you do. The baby needs you too much. She has taken away your freedom and sanity. You don’t want to do this anymore.
And, that’s okay. It’s okay to step away, and need more. But, when your mind can’t stop forcing negative thoughts, it’s time to reach out for help. Talk to me, your mother, that pushed through my darkness to love you.
When you can no longer hold your baby, call your doctor. When you can no longer brush your hair, call your doctor. When you can no longer step outside from fear, call your doctor.
Postpartum Depression is not a weakness. It does not mark you as a failure.