As a contributing writer to the Postpartum Progress blog, I can tell you that I often find it overwhelming, the amount of people I am reaching. I remember when I was in the depths of postpartum depression, and I would find myself up at three o’clock in the morning with a screaming baby, scouring the internet for stories of other women who went through what I was going through and, most importantly, survived it.
I marveled at their bravery, their openness, their boldness to share and to let all the mess come out in an articulated and helpful manner.
They seemed like secret super heroes, hiding underground helping a silent group of suffering women.
I remember the day that I looked at my laptop, went to WordPress.com, and started writing my own stories.
They were innocent enough—merely relaying what my pregnancy and labor had been. I didn’t go into too much grotesque detail, because I was raised in a family where we do not share the bad. We acknowledge that we are battling something and then we swallow it, deal with it quietly, and then move on.
I was ashamed to push myself, my story any further.
I still recall the first post I made on my personal blog about postpartum depression. It went something along these lines:
So. Does anyone want to talk about postpartum depression? No? Just me? Alright.
Actually, no. I am not ready for this either. I get it now.
That was it. That was my post. I would stare at that page for hours, trying to organize the right words to portray my pain, my despair, my loneliness.
It took about two more years for me to really start getting into the meat of my struggles. I opened up about my postpartum depression. I spoke about being a mother with bipolar disorder. I cut open the wounds that I was so afraid to touch—and I know I am not alone in this.
I know out there are people who are aching to tell their story, to get it off their chest, out of their head, banished from their heart.
You must forget what other people will think; your family, your friends, strangers on the internet. There will always be silent people when you talk about something that should also be silent but you find yourself giving a voice to.
My own father has admitted he is afraid to read my pieces on my personal blog and here. My mother reads occasionally and will usually call me in tears feeling guilt over not having known I was hurting so very bad.
But there are also friends who will read what you write, relate to it, share it, and suddenly you have created a web of understanding.
I find that when talking about the real scary stuff, the stuff that no one wants to touch with a ten foot pole, start by free writing fragmented sentences describing how you felt. What did you do? What didn’t you do? What did it feel like?
Do not simply say, “I was sad for months.”
Do not be afraid to paint the screen with tragic but encouraging stories of each and every little thing that has happened to you up until this point.
I find that writing about my mental disorders is the equivalent as screaming into a pillow. Instead of centering myself calmly, or taking a pill, or having a quiet little cry in the bathroom, I release the bigger emotions. The emotions that latch onto our backs and have us carry them around until you shout, loudly and publicly, “THAT IS ENOUGH.”
My father used to tell me that people are only afraid of things they do not understand. Tell your story. Read other people’s stories. Ask questions. Answer questions. None of us are experts or doctors. All we have are our stories and the more we talk about it, the more we understand, and the less afraid we become.
If you have the strength to walk around every day, afraid to let your story out because of what might happen, imagine the kind of strength you will garner by sharing it. You will no longer be alone. You will be a member of our tribe. You will become a warrior.
If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to Postpartum Progress, please email editor Jenna Hatfield at email@example.com with “Submission” in the subject.
Thank you so much for writing this post. I’m also a mom with bipolar disorder – childbirth triggered bipolar one/mania when my second baby was born.
I first shared my story here at Postpartum Progress! It was an honor.
Encouraged by my editor Cristi Comes, I continued writing on my blog about postpartum bipolar (bipolar, peripartum onset), and I blogged for the International Bipolar Foundation. I just started blogging about being a mom with postpartum bipolar for The Huffington Post.
Telling my story and reading other stories helps me immensely, especially in the blogosphere. There are so many other people with bipolar disorder sharing their stories, and it’s healing to connect with them.
I wish you the best and thanks again for sharing *your* story!
Hi — I am one of those people aching to tell my story. I am less scared now than I was in the past, but I still cannot seem to organize my thoughts in a way that I’d be comfortable attaching me name to. So I write. Writing has helped me so much, and now reading stories about other women who have had similar experiences.