Shelby’s Story – Recovering Beautifully.
How postpartum depression and anxiety wrecked my world…
First off, let me start this by saying I know Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are two different things. However, in the case of my life… they came together.
Both PPD and PPA sucked the joy out my children’s baby years like an evil little leech. They filled my head with so many lies, drained my soul, and constantly made me feel like I was failing.
Some days it seemed impossible to accomplish even the smallest of tasks, others were filled with so much fear and anxiety that I struggled to leave the house. Staying in the house, however, only made the depression worse. Subsequently, making the anxiety worse.
I constantly felt as though I was on this never-ending tilt-a-whirl.
My postpartum anxiety made me feel like asking for help was not an option. That if I did, people would judge me. That if I was honest, they would tell me that I needed to suck it up. Or worse, they would think I was an unfit mother who didn’t deserve to have her kids in the first place.
This fear consumed me, and kept me from seeking help. It wrecked my world, while also making it feel like it would never get better.
In some ways, the postpartum depression was worse. On top of feeling terrified to ask for help, the depression made me feel like I didn’t deserve the help. That I was not worthy enough for people to help me, because people aren’t supposed to feel like this.
It fed me lie after lie; “There is no way other moms feel like this”, “You are alone”, “Your kids deserve better than you”, “You are awful at this, what is wrong with you?” and “Why can’t you just snap out of this? A good mom would snap right out of this.”.
My PPD robbed me of so many beautiful moments. Although I was physically present and trying my best to enjoy every moment, the negative thoughts would steal the joy.
For the longest time, I believed it was my fault. That somehow, I caused this simply by being me, and that it was only me who had ever felt like this. I knew about both PPD and PPA, yet I allowed fear to convince me that it wasn’t that, it was just that I was broken.
So, I hid it, I would give the “I’m fine”, or do the stereotypical mom rave, anytime someone asked. Where you just talk about how “amazing your baby is”, leaving out all the real, hard, and raw parts of early motherhood. Further giving into that fear that I was alone.
Since then, both PPD and PPA have gained some spotlight. Thanks to other moms and celebrities who have chosen to share about their struggles. I hope that trend continues.
To this day, I remember the first time I spoke with another mom who was honest with me. She laid out all her “ugly”, with absolutely no sugar coating. She cried, I cried, it was a giant sob fest. For the first time ever, I realized I was not alone. That other moms really did feel like this too.
That discovery helped me start to climb my way out. I wish I could tell you I woke up the next day and everything was all sunshine and perfection. But it wasn’t, it was still hard, and it stayed hard for a long time. It truly was one little baby step at a time.
I didn’t have some major life-changing moment, where I realized the cloud had lifted. In hindsight, I can see the little moments where I truly felt joy, contentment, and happiness. How slowly but surely, I began to take care of myself, ask for help, and find small doses of patience.
All of those things very slowly compounded, until I was able to have more good days than bad. I can look back at photos now, and I see these beautiful baby girls, with adorable chubby cheeks, soft hair, and the biggest smiles on their faces. However, those pictures also tug at my heart, because sometimes I can remember exactly how I really felt on the inside when it was taken.
I wish so desperately, I could have enjoyed them more in those days. That I would have been honest with someone just a little bit sooner. But that is the thing about looking back, you are doing exactly that, looking back. It is easy to have clarity when you are not in the middle of the storm.
I cannot change my past, but I hope that by sharing this I can help someone change their present. If you are struggling with motherhood, you are not alone. There are SO MANY other moms out there that feel exactly like you do. They are struggling but putting on a good face, so you just can’t tell.
They are posting that perfect picture on social media, but crying themselves to sleep at night, feeling like a failure. They want to run away too, they wonder what the heck they were thinking becoming a mom.
Motherhood is a journey, and it is not one that we can do alone. It’s time that we as moms, start being honest with each other about all the real and ugly parts of motherhood and everything that comes with it. It is our duty to reach out to each other, lift each other up, and quit being so damn judgmental. Judgmental of other moms, and more importantly of ourselves.
It is time for us to admit we are not “perfect” and quit trying to be. Ultimately, providing an opportunity for the moms around us to reach out, not feel so alone, and feel safe enough to admit they need help.
So, I am going to do exactly that.
I am not a perfect mother. My house isn’t perfectly clean. To be honest, I am somewhat of a domestic failure. I have not had a picture hung on the wall, since I lived with my parents. The only printed out pictures I have of my children, are one that other people have printed for me. I can be impatient and grumpy. Being a mother is so much harder, than I ever imagined it to be. I have screwed up more times than I would even care to count. But at the end of the day, my daughters are loved, they know it to be true, and they are generally happy. Today that is enough for me…
PS: If you are struggling with PPD/PPA please reach out. Like I said above, you are not alone, you are not broken, and it doesn’t make you an unfit mother. It is okay to need help, I know it is hard and scary. But please, don’t let PPD/PPA wreck your world the way it wrecked mine. Ask that friend to come hold your screaming child and go for a walk. Get some fresh air and clear your brain. If you need it, go to your doctor. I hated the idea of being on medication, that somehow it made me weak. It doesn’t me weak, it helps me work through struggles of the day to day. So that I can truly enjoy all of the good that is actually there.
Shelby’s Blog: https://mamastillhasnofilter.blogspot.com/
To read more stories of people overcoming adversity, check out the entire Recovering Beautifully series HERE.
I wrote a book about my own struggles and overcoming addiction, it is available on AMAZON.
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