Coping with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety is an intense experience of opposition. It’s wanting for something, while pushing it away, picking the wrong battles, wanting to fight but feeling frozen. Feeling so open, vulnerable and exposed that attempts to conceal these feelings are futile at best. It’s late nights, early mornings and confusion over which is which.
It’s feeling hopeless and desperate for sleep while having no choice but to keep going. Not for myself, but because without me, the beautiful being I chose to welcome into existence would be unable to survive. It’s my heart pounding out of my chest, the overwhelming need to have everything and everyone around me just stop. It’s wanting the world to freeze and time to hold still until I am ready to reengage.
It’s this feeling of never being “off”, that every moment of every day now involves life or death decision making. Even the most mundane of choices feel heavy. No matter what I choose, my mind has questions, doubt and guilt. I find myself wondering if the choice to cook and serve puréed frozen peas rather than the home grown variety will mean the difference between high school drop out and valedictorian.
It’s knowing that my body is capable of creating magic, both in the sweet baby girl I can’t live without & the perfectly balanced, nutritious food I am able to provide for her. Yet, I do not recognize this body, this body is not my own. I have no idea how to dress this body, feed this body or where to start so I can change this body. This is not a body I am proud to wear, more a body to be settled for as the sacrifice I gave to become a mother.
It’s feeling like a failure for struggling to breastfeed, like having my dreams crushed. It’s overcoming that hurdle by pushing through the pain and trying to make it work over and over again. It’s feeling that I just want to stop and give her formula despite having an abundance of liquid gold. It’s feeling wrong for wanting to put my wants first.
It’s craving my old self, my old coping strategies, my “go to’s” in life; but knowing those days have passed and I must now recreate every part of who I am from scratch. It’s accepting, welcoming and fearing this change all at once. It’s trying to make sense of my new place in this world. It’s feeling conflicted about the space I deserve to take up in this world.
It’s wanting to call, see and spend time with my friends, but not wanting to be a downer. It’s getting so overwhelmed and anxious about the process to leave the house, that I would rather skip it entirely. It’s piles of laundry, dirty dishes and feeling like there’s no point in doing anything at all. It’s resigning myself to the fact that the comfort of a tidy home is no longer an option.
It’s becoming one with my couch, so I can sleep the day away. To simply count the hours until the day is over, hoping that I might just sleep forever. It’s feeling like if morning does come again, I need to throw on my armor and brace myself for battle. It’s choosing to skip the armor and instead crumble into a million pieces and watch it shrink into a pile on the floor.
It’s wanting to be the wife my husband deserves but feeling unable to do the work. It’s seeing the love of my life as an enemy while knowing he’s the only one who can truly make a difference. It’s needing help and not knowing how to ask for it. It’s wanting a break but not feeling like I deserve it. It’s the overwhelming desire for an uninterrupted hot shower or to be able to brush my teeth without hearing crying in the background.
It’s experiencing guilt, shame, and doubt on such a deep level, that it feels as if it will swallow me whole and leave me with nothing more than the memories of the mistakes I’ve made. It feels like emptiness. Like possibility and hope for the future are now reserved only for my baby girl. That my sole purpose is now to ensure she has every opportunity to live the life of her dreams and there is no more space for my own.
It’s feeling such intense love that I try to push it away because I fear if I try to hold on to it too tightly it will disappear. It’s feeling like the beautiful, innocent, perfect being I see looking back at me with the purest of hearts and complete trust will somehow expose the imperfect and unworthy woman she idolizes.
It’s knowing that one day I will fail miserably, that I will no longer be able to protect her and wanting to do anything I can to keep that from happening. It’s a longing to keep the silent moments of pure love forever. It’s my wish for her to never experience the inevitable disappointment of knowing I’ve fallen short of what she once believed me to be. It’s feeling like a fraud.
Its reliving trauma and replaying events in my mind. It’s remembering when I first saw my own mother differently. Remembering seeing the heartbreak in her eyes, like she knew that I finally knew who she really was. It’s wishing now that my mother could see the new look in my eyes. The look of compassion, the overwhelming desire to have her near & the unconditional love I only know because it was she who taught me. It’s feeling powerful sadness, emptiness, and grief for her loss all over again.
It’s knowing that I must take each day one at a time and try my best to make decisions that will help give my daughter the best possible chances to thrive in this world. It’s knowing that the job she may one day have doesn’t even exist yet. That the life that is set to unfold for her is open, boundless and filled with hope. It’s wanting her to live a beautiful life not in spite of me, but because of me.
It’s finding my way out of the darkness. It’s allowing my heart to be fully open. It’s fighting to find the strength and motivation to become the healthiest, happiest and most amazing version of myself possible. It’s letting go of that which doesn’t serve me and embracing what is to come.
And so it is…