A postpartum depression and anxiety story...
Today I finally decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. It took me two years to get to this point, and it has given me a renewed strength and hope I haven't felt in a long time. I'm not sure why today was the day, I just kind of blurted it out loud on my drive to work (it kind of helped listening to Beyonce too, I mean who doesn't feel powerful while listening to her music?)
When you are in what feels like a deep, dark hole that you cannot seem to climb yourself out of, it seems pretty impossible not to feel stuck. I have known this feeling all too well.
Self-sabotage, low self-esteem and self-pity seemed to be hanging on me like an outdated fashion trend that would. just. not. let. go. I was not taking care of myself like I used to and making it out of the house to do normal day things was a HUGE effort. I suffered in silence, convincing myself I just had too much on my plate (what mom doesn't?). I fell into the destination trap, that happiness and health was just around the corner if I did this or started eating that.
Yes, I became a new mom and it was a huge shift for me. I love this little human more than life itself, he is an extension of me and has shown me how much more my heart could expand and love. But I lost myself in motherhood, in every possible way you could lose yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. It took a long time to heal after labor/delivery. Sleepless nights and learning a whole new body, a whole new life. I held on so tightly to the person I was and life I used to have. I tried to be everything to everyone, and I tried to be my past and present self. I vividly remember my appointment with my amazing, wise, and inspiring lactation consultant, Jenn, and she was stunned as to how I was even keeping up (mind you a very successful business woman and mom!). So, eventually, I crashed over and over again.
One day, I was driving to work like every other day (at that time baby in tow) and had a mild panic attack on the highway. I felt the lanes getting narrower, the cars getting closer, and my breath getting shorter. I pulled off the next exit and turned around and went home slowly (the long way mind you, off the highway). After that episode, I went to my midwife and took the postpartum depression questionnaire. I was "slightly" over by a few points that would technically diagnose me with postpartum depression. I was given a list of recommended therapists to go to. I still didn't believe or admit it to myself that it was anything serious and just had spread myself too thin (which was true but not the whole picture). It took about a year after that to actually admit I had to speak with someone.
The generation, community and television shows I was exposed to growing up set me up for failure as a mom. And no one is at fault for this. I am not angry. But I learned fast becoming a mother for the first time that you cannot have it all and do it all. You need help. You need a village.
Call it postpartum depression, or postpartum anxiety, or a chemical or hormonal imbalance. I also had way more going on than just the "new mommy blues" but I won't bore you with the details. Don't judge or compare yourself to anyone else's struggles. Life gets crappy sometimes. Plain and simple.
So how do you get yourself out of the rabbit hole either life or you dug yourself into? And how do you do it naturally, without toxic chemicals, foods or drugs? Well - that is the billion dollar question isn't it? Everyone seems to have the answer - but for a price or a subscription or a magic pill. Trust me, there is no magic pill.
No matter what your method of healing (eastern or western medicine, mainstream or alternative healthcare) I fully believe in you do what works for you. Get yourself out of the dark. That is more important. I am in the holistic health field so, yes, of course I believe natural is better long term. But so is your sanity. Get out of the dark - find yourself again - then detox if you need to. Or combine forces of east and west. Again, do what works for YOU. Women are strong and intuitive, we know deep down what we need. If we just sit with ourselves in peace and stillness long enough, we know.
A reminder: You are beautiful. You have a purpose. You have a gift to share with this world. Maybe that gift and purpose is meant to touch millions of lives. Maybe it is just to make a difference in ONE person's life. Or to raise a child to be the best he or she can be. Maybe your child will make a huge difference in the world, or just your hometown. Maybe it is just to show someone what true love means unconditionally.
The first step I believe in healing is to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be you, unapologetically. Speak your truth (even if it starts out in front of a mirror to yourself or singing along to Beyonce in your car). Don't be sorry for who you are right now, even at your darkest moment. Love your flaws and imperfections and have the courage to commit some time to self-care.
And it is COMPLETELY okay to feel the emotions you feel, but you need to let them go. It is okay to feel sad, depressed, anxious - all of it. But then LET IT GO. Get angry, bitter and frustrated. It's normal to feel this way. Trust me. How can you feel love and joy without knowing sadness and pain? The most important thing is to let those feelings go, do not sit with self-pity for too long or it gets way too comfortable to be the victim. Seek help from loved ones, friends or a professional if necessary.
You are worthy. You are important. You are valued. You are acknowledged. And, finally, you are loved.
Nourish yourself inside and out with love and gratitude for who you WERE, who you ARE and who YOU WILL BE.