I am so glad that you’re looking radiant, though I don’t know what that means. Here’s what I care about: How are you feeling? Are you ready to be public with this battle? Are you ready to be the poster child for this disease?
Let me tell you, we aren’t all radiant. I may never be radiant again. And it’s okay if, deep down, you don’t feel radiant. I need you to know this: We civilian women battle this disorder every single day. We lay in bed, dull-skinned and in our week old sweatpants and convince ourselves to be the mothers that society says we are supposed to be.
We are the lucky ones in a way. We can emerge from our homes with no cameras flashing. We strap our babies to the front of our bodies and go through the motions of this new life that we have stumbled upon. No one cares what we look like. No one writes headlines about the clarity of our skin or the shininess of our hair.
What treatment are you getting, Hayden? Are they being kind to you? Are they allowing you adequate bonding time with your baby girl? Are they allowing your partner to be a part of your recovery?
I think you are brave, Hayden. I think you are brave to put a face to this disorder; to this disease. However, I care more about how you are healing, how you are feeling, than how you are looking.
Postpartum depression has many faces. Some women simply go through their life, unchecked and undiagnosed. They put on their makeup, their fancy clothes. They smile when people take pictures with their babies and everyone envies them for the perfect little life they have created.
Other women cannot ignore the darkness. They walk around, shells of the women they once were. They are angry, confused, afraid. They want to know where the life they were promised is hiding, where this blissful maternal feeling can be found or bought or stolen.
Hayden, I just want you to know that if you aren’t feeling radiant, that is okay. We aren’t expecting you to look perfect. If you’re not feeling up to it, don’t let people slab makeup on you and walk you in front of cameras to smile like you are a 100% cured woman. There is no cure. There is only acceptance and growth, and that will take a long time to master. Motherhood isn’t easy and it’s damn near impossible when you are weighed down with postpartum depression. The absolute last thing, dear Hayden, that you should be worried about is how you look. You must heal yourself, as you know since you actively sought out help; it’s so hard to ask for help and we’re so proud of you for doing so. You must heal your heart, and that takes time. You must heal your family; that takes time, too.
When you’re ready, step in front of those cameras. Stand there for a bit. Then, tell them your story; tell them our story. Tell them the hell that we fight through and the obstacles our brains set for us to overcome. Tell them how brave each and every woman is who deals with this disease.
Tell them that it’s an unforgiving disease; it doesn’t care if you’re famous, normal, rich, poor. It doesn’t care how badly you wanted to be a mother or how prepared you thought you were for this phase in your life.
Tell them the story, Hayden.
That is where your true radiance will come from.