You Are Not Alone
Life is tough, motherhood is tough, managing your mental health is tough, but so are you.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have been battling depression for the last 6 years, and for the last 2.5 years, I have been trying to manage my Postpartum Depression. I write this post to get these feelings off my chest. I write these as a 27-year-old mom who, to this day, doesn't fully understand my illness. I am choosing to share my story because I know I am not alone and because it soothes my soul to talk about! - Do what makes YOU feel good, what makes YOUR soul happy, what helps YOU manage life while fighting mental illness.
Here's my story...
Becoming a mom was something I have wanted for so long. It is my human nature to be a nurturer. Having a tiny human to love on & care for, to raise with inclusive morals, and a kind soul was exactly what I was looking forward to. August 28th, 2017 I gave birth to Charlotte James, and my world was forever changed. I was confident my love for my daughter would be enough to overtake my depression without medication, I was wrong. I had taken myself off my depression medication 3 months before her birth. 4 weeks after Charlotte was born I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and put back on depression medication along with a sleep medication.
The first-year Charlotte cried A LOT and I cried A LOT MORE. We were in a constantly changing environment with no stability, raising our daughter in and out of our parent's house, hotels, and empty apartments. Brian was only around about 50% off the time because baseball was in full swing from February - September. I felt as if I were a single parent. This was completely unfair to Brian because he was providing for us financially the entire time. He would come home from games at 11 pm and stay up all night with Charlotte trying to console her never-ending cries only to get a few hours of sleep before he was up at the crack of dawn heating her milk, rubbing her tummy, cleaning up projectile spit-up after almost every bottle. Everything I thought was going to be smooth and easy about motherhood wasn't but that's okay, because no one has it all figured out.
I remember crying to my husband night after night when we couldn't get Charlotte to sleep without bouncing her for hours upon hours for her to only sleep in 20-30 minute intervals between her colicky screaming. Everything that I thought I would be great at, everything I thought was my human nature, seemed to be missing and inaccurate, I would constantly relay to my husband that I didn't understand how I couldn't soothe my child, how my cradling arms, gentle touch, and off-tune lullabies weren't enough to stop her crying. I felt so guilty. The worst part? I refused to give her to anyone for help. As much as I struggled, a break from her wasn't an option. This was part of my controlling tendencies. I wasn't going to give up. If someone was going to soothe her, it was going to be me. During this time, I did everything I could to bond with my daughter, I spent every waking minute with her, she was never away from me for more than a few hours, and even that was rare. Throughout this time, I cried more than I thought possible, I stopped taking care of myself, stopped eating, and ultimately dropped below my pre-baby weight by almost 30 pounds within a year. To be honest, I felt like s***.
To continue to be transparent about this, things would get better, and then they would get worse. As days went by things would settle followed by becoming difficult again. Charlotte is 2.5 and I am still dealing with these thoughts. I still cry a couple of times a week, I still occasionally fall asleep early just to get to the next day a little quicker & because mental illness is exhausting. I still get angry at myself for habits Charlotte's created, I still let the suggestions of family and friends get to me in regards to my parenting techniques, but I am medicating for these anxious feelings and depressive moods and I am making positive conscious changes. Seeing how far we've come as a family and how far we can go is extremely liberating. I have committed myself to live day by day, take a breath & walk away when I get frustrated or upset and find things that make me happy and do them each day.
I know it's tough mama's, but fight this illness like your life depends on it, because trust me, your kid deserves an amazing mama like you. Don't let anyone tell you differently, you rock!
Mental illness comes in so many different forms and it doesn't discriminate. Find your power points, bring out your strength, and let's fight this together.
You are not alone.
If talking about your mental illness empowers you, gives you strength, or gives you hope, send us a DM or comment on this post, we're here for you <3 If you don't want to leave your name, feel free to leave an anonymous comment.