I sat in the bathtub and cried. I wasn’t sure why, but it was something I had done frequently as of late. Everything felt so dark. Nothing could pull me out this hole. I was living life, but just going through the motions.
As a mental health professional, I knew the signs. I was well aware of the high incidence of postpartum depression. I knew the high likelihood I had of experiencing depression with our struggles in the early days of my son’s life. But I never knew how hard it would be to ask for help.
I didn’t want to tell my husband that I thought about running away. Driving away and never coming back. These thoughts confused me. We had a healthy and beautiful baby boy, we were financially stable, our marriage was in great shape, I loved my job, and we had a lovely, cozy home. My feelings defied all logic. What the hell was wrong with me?
I didn’t want to admit to the doctor that all I did was eat and sleep. That I cried all the time. That the feeling of hope that usually prevailed in my soul even during dark times was gone.
Most of all, I didn’t want to admit that I had thoughts of hurting my baby. Thoughts that I would never act on in a million years, but thoughts that terrified me. I didn’t want to admit that sometimes I wasn’t sure who this little person was that lived in my house. I knew he was my child, and but sometimes I didn’t feel any attachment toward him. It made me feel like a terrible person and a failure as a mother. This is something I don’t like to admit even now, something I’m incredibly hesitant to share here today. But it needs to be talked about.
I was afraid of judgment. Afraid of admitting I couldn’t do it all. Scared to admit that we weren’t succeeding at breastfeeding, and that it was dragging me down further. Exclusive breastfeeding was something I wanted more than anything else, and we couldn’t achieve it. My body couldn’t provide what my baby needed. My body had failed me, and that broke my already broken heart.
I finally realized that this wasn’t normal. It’s normal to have bad days. It’s normal to cry. It’s normal to feel hopeless and discouraged from time to time. However, it is not normal to feel that way for weeks at a time. I kept expecting the sun to come from behind the clouds in my soul, and it continued to hide.
That night I decided I was tired of feeling this way. I talked to my husband. He agreed that I needed help. I talked to my mom. She also agreed that the way I was feeling was not normal. The next morning I picked up the phone and called the doctor. They scheduled an appointment for the very next day.
I took the steps I needed, and I got help. I started taking an antidepressant. I practiced self-care. We stopped breastfeeding. I scaled back on hours at work. I allowed myself to just do the bare minimum for a while. I gave my body the rest it needed. I stopped judging myself so harshly. My husband did everything and never said a word about how I needed to do more. I slowly began to heal, began to get back to who I was before.
A few months ago I was out for a run, and I realized that everything was going to be ok. I realized I felt like myself again. I felt elation, and more importantly I felt peace.
You can heal. If you are feeling depressed and hopeless, you can get through this. It’s a tough road, but you aren’t alone. And it won’t last forever. There are people who want to help you. Let them.
If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
Both resources are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.