To all the other mama bears struggling with postpartum mood disorders, I want to let you know that it really, truly, absolutely is OK to NOT be OK.

You know what I’m talking about—a concerned mother-in-law gives you the side eye as she walks into your house taking in the full-blown scene of a baby screaming, a sink overloaded, and muddy dog prints leading from the door to the couch to the counter and asks “Are you OK?”

Your husband texts you on his lunch break “Everyone doing OK?” but you won’t see if for at least another hour because you’ve misplaced your phone and simply cannot remember where it might be . . . until you open the fridge and find it sitting next to your wallet in the butter door. And when you switch it out with the sticks of butter in your purse, you reply, “Yup, yup.”

Even Mrs. Jones from down the street who spots you in the grocery store and does a once over—pausing just a little too long while assessing your greasy hair, spit-up covered shirt, and mismatched socks peeking through slippers you were hoping to pass off as shoes—as you respond to her greeting with, “I’m doing OK”.

But, my fellow mama bear, you are not OK.

You cried this morning while you took a two-minute shower as you noticed your hair, falling out due to a combination of hormones, stress, and the baby’s newfound tugging infatuation, clogging the drain.

You stomped your feet, slammed the door, and cussed under your breath (or in my case, a little too not under your breath so the toddler heard and promptly repeated it) as you walked past a pile of bills you forgot about on your way out the door.

You tried not to stumble as your pounding heart, tingling arms, and rapid breath joined in with the dizziness from your panic attack over realizing the jar of pickles you just ate out of for breakfast had rust on the lid and expired 18 months ago.

We live in a world where people expect perfection, and nothing is perfect.

We wake up in the morning dreaming of greatness, achieving subsistence.

We lie about our feelings, fake a smile, and pretend to be happy around our family and friends, the very people who should accept us for the hormonal, disheveled mess of a roller coaster we are. 

Because, mama bear, you are not OK. And it’s OK to NOT be OK. So embrace the emotions, reach out to a friend, and when people ask the obligatory “How are you doing?” don’t just mumble OK and change the subject.

Except to Mrs. Jones in the grocery store, because you’ve got to be getting home to your babies. For her, you’re OK.

But tell your husband, tell your mother, tell your friends that you’re not OK. Tell them you need a hug, a shower, a meal. Tell them you need a babysitter to go meet with your OB/GYN, your counselor, your psychiatrist, or the neighbor’s new puppy.  

Tell them you’re not OK—and that it’s OK.

OK?

You might also want to read:

I Can’t Have Postpartum Depression, Right?

Why Tired Mothers Stay Up So Late

New Mom Takes Her Own Life After Silent Battle With Postpartum Depression: Why All Of Us Must Share Her Friend’s Plea

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Katelyn Stoll

Katelyn Stoll is a mother to three young boys and lives on a farm in rural NY. She navigates the rough waters of postpartum mood disorders using humor, support from her family, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.