Ages ago, an online friend and fellow Warrior Mom Yael Saar invited me to write a Rainy Day Letter – a letter to myself written on a good day that I could read on a not-so-good day. I jumped at the chance because the most important thing I’ve learned about depression and anxiety is that they manipulate the truth. They twist your reality until you find yourself filled with self-doubt and the very things you know to be suddenly seem darkened and maligned. On my worst days, I wondered if I loved my husband, my children, and whether I was worth fighting for.
I have turned back to this letter on so many occasions since writing it and I hope it will inspire you to write your own. Whether you publish it or merely tuck it into the back of a beloved book, only to be seen by your eyes on the rainiest of days, it’s so worth it. And if today is your rainy day? Have hope. You will be better. You are not alone.
You are amazing.
Think back to before DB was born. Remember the self-doubt, the anxiety, and the perfectionism. And as painful as it is, think back to DB’s newborn days. I know you can still vividly recall the panic, the tears, and the rage. You took all of that …that wretched ugliness … and created something beautiful. It was you who put the time and energy (and honesty) into therapy to climb out of the despair. You chose to fight. And because of it, you have found a life of deeper meaning, complete with balance and joy, not just for yourself, but for your husband and your daughter. You are amazing.
Life is good, and you have proof. Search your memory. Remember cradling an infant DB in your arms and playing her like a banjo while music played in the background. The day DB took her first steps. Watching your brother defy gravity on his wakeboard. The magic of your husband’s first real Christmas tree. Reconnecting with old friends. Crying by the fountains in Vegas with your husband. “Ah-ha” moments with your students. Zucchini carrot muffins. The perfect mix of green and brown in her eyes. Taking DB trick-or-treating in her cowgirl costume. Making neighboring tables uncomfortable during dinner dates with your bestie. Hosting an amazing piano recital and seeing the pride on the faces of each family as their child created music. Feeling Baby #2 kick. Teaching your daughter about death. Standing in Harvard Yard, watching DB try to “fix” the tree by putting fallen branches and sticks into holes in the bark. Yoga class. Chipotle shrimp and fried avocado. The sound of your trees swaying in the wind. Dancing in the living room. Watching your husband light up. Life is good. Because of you.
There may come a day when yet again, your days are darkened with fear and anxiety, and everything you know to be true seems like a series of elaborately conceived lies. Don’t believe them or listen to the self-doubt. Seek out the truth. Believe your friends and family. Believe yourself – everything you’ve written is a testament to your journey. Though you never knew you could be so brave, so self-aware, or so resilient, you have come back from hell not once, but twice, and have created a life for yourself and your family filled with hope and love. And if you need to, you can do it again. You are amazing.
Special thanks to Yael Saar for inspiring me to write my Rainy Day Letter and for allowing me to share it here on Postpartum Progress. You can find Yael directing Mama’s Comfort Camp on Facebook, an online peer-to-peer support community just for moms.