I did so well this time. Six months. Six months I flourished. I was so careful, so aware of my needs. My nutrition, exercise, water, rest, all of it. I was so careful. And in the last two weeks it’s crept up on me. Slowly, silently taking hold.
Postpartum Depression doesn’t discriminate. And it’s close friend, anxiety, is just as ruthless. When they’re together it’s a combination that leaves you constantly fighting to stay afloat.
It’s different this time. The fight is the same but this time I am not the same. I’m talking. Exposing their secrets. Shining light into the darkness. My hubby, my mom, even an acquaintance that God told me to tell, and you. I’m telling you.
We don’t talk about this much and that’s really part of the problem. Depression never tells you to reach out or speak up, it tells you to sit quietly, you’re the only one. No one will understand. And truly, unless you have lived it or loved someone that has you probably won’t. But none of us are alone. Not one.
Prayer is my fiercest tool in battling the dark blanket that falls. Nutrition is also key. Talking, exposing the ugliest of it, that changes everything. But it’s also the hardest thing. It’s hard to make sense of it all. There aren’t words that clearly describe it. No way to explain the way it feels. The way you seem to be drowning slowly and silently and your brain stops working for you and becomes detached. It’s weight. Heaviness falling over everything.
You won’t recognize the face of depression (anxiety) itself. It doesn’t look any different. It looks like me.
It looks like a wife wildly in love, a joyful, happy mother who adores her baby. It looks like one who pushes through and keeps showing up for her family. It looks like blessings and hope. It looks like beauty.
It also looks like exhaustion that feels heavy like death. It looks like battling through a constant fog to stay present and show up. To work hard at listening and hearing and being where you are. It looks like the sudden need to clean something with irrational urgency. It looks like utter panic that something will happen to your baby and feeling the terror of that when all is well. It looks like nightmares and deep anxiety over the reality of how fragile life is. It looks like so many different things for every different woman.
I have amazing support. I’m using it. And I am struggling but also so so good.
Writing these words feels cathartic and yet terrifying. Anyone with depression (anxiety) knows the hardest thing is this. Talking about it. It’s impossible to explain, and yet makes just enough sense to sound crazy. That’s exactly why it’s an epidemic. We need to be exposing it. Fighting it. Coming alongside each other.
Someone with depression (anxiety), postpartum or not, doesn’t reach out. That’s the very nature of the disease. And never mistake it for anything other than a disease. It isolates, suffocates, and steals life.
But there is so much hope. So much.
First, talking. It’s the hardest thing. Something I have to physically force myself to do. But it’s critical. Nutrition, feeding your brain and balancing your hormones is a must. Hydration is another big thing, especially as a nursing mom. Exercise, which is also monumentally hard, is so important. It produces endorphins and releases tension and provides energy. And rest, allowing yourself to rest is so crucial.
For me, prayer is the biggest thing. Staying present with Him minute by minute. It’s the only thing that anchors me in the fog. That shines joy into the darkness. The one way I can keep fighting on one step at a time.
Yesterday my teenager was talking to me in the kitchen. I was making dinner. Fighting to stay present. Praying through each second. I realized suddenly I hadn’t heard anything he was saying. I stopped. Turned and looked at him, and said quietly, “I didn’t hear you, I’m struggling today, can you tell me again?” And he did. In that moment I made a choice, a choice to be vulnerable and to expose my weakness. A choice to fight to be present when showing up was hard. I don’t get it right every time. But when I do I win a little of me back. It exposes the disease and leaves more room for my heart. It’s taken me five pregnancies, five rounds of this battle, to get to where I can do that. I’m so so grateful.
I’m sharing because I know that speaking my truth will empower my healing. I also know I’m not the only one.
There is hope. There is help. You are not alone. You are loved. You have purpose. You have a future.
Just like me.