I am not sharing part of my story to gain your approval. I don’t want your pity. I don’t need you to tell me that I’m a good mother. I’m not looking for worldly validation. And I’m most certainly not seeking attention. I’m simply laying my story at the feet of Jesus and giving it to Him. I’m giving Him my pain, my bad thoughts, my insecurities so that He can make me whole again. I know who I am as a mother because of whose I am. I am a child of God and I know He will see me through the valley of the shadow of death. He has overcome the world, so I can overcome my postpartum depression.
I was in the kitchen giving my five month old a bottle when it happened. It was the day after Thanksgiving – I had had a particularly bad string of days, mentally, and hadn’t expressed to anyone how I was really feeling. My sweet innocent baby boy was playing with his bottle instead of actually drinking it and I was at my breaking point. I set the bottle down with tears welling up in my eyes and I said “I can’t do this” to my mom who was standing next to me. I quickly ran upstairs like a heart broken teenager, flung myself onto the bed and just cried. And I continued to cry until I fell asleep.
You would think at five months postpartum that I would be past the “baby blues” but I most certainly am not. I’m actually still struggling and it’s getting harder and harder to hide. I have good days and bad days and sometimes a long period of both good and bad days. I have days when I get all the laundry done and dinner on the table by 5 pm. I also have days when I’m doing good to remember to brush my teeth. I hope I’m not alone in this.
But I need you to know, Mama, that it’s okay. It’s okay if your baby isn’t a baby anymore and you’re still crying. I know you still love your children, you just need a break.
Here are three ways that I’m helping myself overcome postpartum depression (or trying to, at least):
1. Ask for (and accept) all the help
This has been so tough for me. I’m the type of person that feels like a failure if I have to ask for help. Especially being a stay at home mom – I measure my success based on what I can accomplish while my husband is at work. I want to do it all and I want to do it well. But the truth is Mama, you simply cannot do it all. You just can’t. And that’s okay.
- Give the nighttime routine to your hubby (and I mean really give it to him – don’t hover) so that you can enjoy a glass of wine in the bathtub or whatever it is you like to do to relax. If you can’t do that, at least tell him what you need from him – like a hug and a shoulder to cry on.
- Ask the Grandparents to babysit. Just do it. Quit thinking that you’re imposing. Quit worry about being away from your baby. Quit obsessing over your kids routine and pass the baton. You need a clean break from your children sometimes. And your children need a clean break from you. Let the MiMis and the PawPaws spoil ya chirren and go get you a daggum coffee and walk around Target for a few hours. Or, for the love, take. a. nap.
- Say YES to your village who keeps offering to watch the baby so you and your hubby can have a date night or so that you can have a break. Now. Right now. If they are truly in your circle, they would love to watch your babies so that you can feel like a normal human. One of my best friends said she would take my daughter to Chick Fil A so that I could rest (I had mastitis at the time) and daggumit it was the best 15 min of my life – my daughter freaked and wanted to come back home. BUT YALL, my friend drove all the way from Tuscaloosa to do that for me. THATS when you know you’ve got a village.
2. Write down how you’re feeling
My goal is to be an avid writer – I don’t plan on writing a book because I actually hate the logistics of writing and sometimes my grammar freaking sucks, but writing has done wonders for my mental health. I follow a blogger, Brighton Keller (ugh love her) and she does this thing called a “brain dump”. Basically, go get yourself a cute notebook and some of your favorite pens and just dump your brain onto the lines.
Sister, I know you got some thoughts in your head that you’ve been holding on to since the 7th grade. It’s time to release it. It’s time to let go and give Jesus any and everything that is clogging that beautiful brain of yours.
This form of release, if you will, is how I pray to God as well. It’s how I lay down at His feet and give Him the glory and trust in my life. It’s how I check my heart. It’s how I “fight” with my husband. It’s how I forgive. It’s how I reflect. It’s how I better myself.
For me, I do this when I’m feeling down about my circumstances, overwhelmed with things I need to do, anxious about something, and most importantly when my heart is bitter. Ya know, like when it’s 3am and the baby is awake wanting YOUR nipples and not your husbands useless ones? Yeah that would be a great time to write.
3. Talk to someone
This is going to be hard for me to admit, but I’m doing it in hopes that it will help you to see that you’re not alone.
I have struggled in silence with my postpartum depression since the moment my daughter was born. It took 2 years and another baby to admit to myself and to my husband that I was having horrific thoughts and that I needed help and some good ‘ole medication. I didn’t want to be here anymore. The moment those words left my mouth I crumbled. I was embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, and I wanted to take back the words immediately. But they were true. Ugh they were so true. But at the same time, I knew I could never do that to my family. Ever.
Hormones after childbirth are insane you guys.
After my son was born I knew immediately that I would need medicine to help combat my PPD. So I was started on a low dose Lexapro. Amazing. Did wonders. Until it didn’t. Until I had that bad thought. And that’s when I knew I was going to have to do more than pop a happy pill each morning to shake this nasty devil inside of me. That’s when I knew my focus needed to shift. I needed to talk. I needed a break. I needed Jesus.
My sweet husband, oh I love him so much. But for some reason I doubted his ability to still love me once those words left my mouth. But you know what? He’s loved me harder because of it. He doesn’t shy away from letting me share my dark thoughts. He doesn’t turn his back on me when I’m having a string of bad days. He does his absolute best to support me no matter what. He asks me almost daily if I’m okay, like really okay. He has encouraged me to even talk to others about it to gain their wisdom. I’m so thankful that God pushed me to speak up.
So, Mama, if you’re struggling in silence please talk to someone. Reach out. Call your best friend. Call your Mama. Call someone. Talk to someone. Talk to me! I’m an open book and we can fight this ugly demon together. You do not have to be alone in this.
Please hear me when I say this – I love my children with every bone in my body. If you scroll through my Instagram or Facebook they are literally all you will see. It’s borderline obsessive, but they’re so dang cute that I don’t care if I over share. They. are. my. everything.
But PPD is freaking real and Mama, I don’t want anyone making you feel like you’re a bad mother because of it.
You can struggle with depression and still be able to slap a smile on your face and belly laugh at Uncle Randy’s jokes.
You can struggle with depression and still be able to go out with a group of friends and have a seriously good time.
You can struggle with depression and still be able to go to church and worship Jesus.
You can struggle with depression and still be able to do those cute Pinterest crafts with your toddler.
You can struggle with depression and still get on the floor and play with your kids.
You can struggle with depression and. still. love. your. family.
It’s what you do to overcome your depression that matters. Don’t ignore it. Suit up, with Jesus being the Goose to your Maverick, and fight for your mental health. It matters. You matter. And I want you to know that it’s going to be okay.