Dear postpartum depression,
You’re brilliant. No really, you are. You let me make it through my first pregnancy completely unscathed, with nothing more than a few days of the baby blues, so that the second time around my guard would be completely down. I never saw you coming. You weren’t even on my radar, but I was obviously on yours.
You’re sly. You crept up on me slowly, an occasional bad day turning into a bad week. Those weeks turned into months until the good days were something of the past. You even managed to convince me that the way I felt was my fault. Deep down, I believed if I was a better person, if I prayed more often, filled my body with healthier foods, exercised more or lost the baby weight, that somehow my depression would just magically disappear. I believed I was the problem.
So I hid in shame.
You made me believe I was alone, except I wasn’t. You were there. You became my constant companion, reminding me I wasn’t good enough . . . that I would never be good enough. It was just the two of us for weeks and weeks and with each glance in the mirror, I barely recognized the woman looking back at me. I wore you like a set of heavy chains. Your claws were clenched so tightly that I was almost paralyzed. My heart was numb and my body became just a shell. My soul felt lifeless, except for the rage. It was there, building up inside of me, almost uncontrollable, and there were many days it was the only thing I could feel.
But then it happened.
I was lying in bed, surrounded by darkness, with only a faint hint of light trickling through the closed curtains. I heard the laughter of my sons in the next room. You told me that they deserved better, that they deserved more, and something inside of me snapped. Everything inside of me screamed, “I want to be BETTER! I want to be MORE!”
And I realized that I could.
That thought, that one glimmer of hope, was like a light piercing the darkness and I held onto it for dear life. I clung to that hope as I shared with my husband the battle that had been raging inside of me and as I walked into the doctor’s office, shaking with fear, and told her I was there because of my kids. Because they deserved more.
Words poured out and tears flowed. You were still there, but my blinders were slowly coming off. It was then that I saw you for what you truly are.
You’re a liar.
Every lie you told me, I believed. You had me living in confusion, in a world where lies became the truth and my perception of reality was an illusion. But as I sort through the truths and lies, there’s one emotion I’m sure of.
Furious at what you’ve taken.
From my husband.
From my kids.
From my family.
You’ve stolen from me. Stolen from us.
You’ve stolen time, precious time, that I’ll never be able to get back. When my three-year-old begged me to build a LEGO house with him or to play with him outside, and when my baby just wanted to be held in the comfort of my arms because he was teething, but I couldn’t move. I didn’t have the strength to stand.
You’ve stolen memories. Hundreds of smiles, belly laughs, bear hugs, butterfly kisses, and even tears. I missed them all because I was hiding away in the darkness, believing your lies.
But not anymore.
While I know I can’t just will myself to get better, can’t snap my fingers and make you go away, I can fight and I can choose to build an army of people around me who will fight beside me when I’m strong and fight for me when I’m weak. I’ve learned there’s no shame in admitting I need help, in taking medication, in being brutally honest about my feelings and in sharing my story because I didn’t choose you. You chose me.
These are the things that give me the strength to overcome and I’ve overcome a lot in my life. You’re next on my list.
Tomorrow I may wake up feeling defeated again. And the next day. And the next. But now I know I’m not alone like you told me I was. Now I know that I can get better.
Now I know that you’re a liar.
And I no longer have to believe your lies.
So as we’re in the middle of this battle, not really knowing when it’s going to end, I should probably let you in on one thing:
This is one battle I’m not planning on losing.
One Infuriated Momma
Originally published on Sammiches & Psych Meds