As if adjusting to life with a new baby and dealing with painful postpartum physical healing wasn’t difficult enough, I’m sorry to hear that you’re also among the many mothers who are battling a peri-/postpartum mood disorder.
I’ve been there, sister, and I know how crippling and debilitating it can be.
I’d like to share with you the four words that kept me going – and quite possibly kept me alive – on my darkest days. But first, let me provide a little background.
Following the births of both of my children (daughter in 2011 and son in 2014), I was immediately hit with severe postpartum depression.
It was like a poison had taken over my brain. I was completely numb. I constantly felt as if I was suffocating under layers and layers of heavy, soaked blankets. Even though my babies were champion sleepers, I’d stay awake for many days in a row without one minute of sleep.
I don’t remember much from their first years, as such a dark fog enveloped me, but I can still hear in my head the four words that kept me going.
“Just keep showing up.”
I’d repeat this phrase numerous times throughout the day. It became my mantra, my life-saving mantra.
When I didn’t have the physical strength to walk down the stairs in the morning, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”
When I was barely functioning enough to make the kids’ meals, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”
When I’d go to bed in tears because I didn’t know how I could possibly survive another day, I’d tell myself, “Just keep showing up.”
Following a year of medical help and therapy, I am now in a much, much better place.
Sure, motherhood still has its trying days, as it always will, but I am once again present and part of life. I am so appreciative of every day, belting out songs with the kids in the car, repeatedly laughing at the same clunky knock-knock jokes, cheering on my daughter when she rides her bike, and even while having to pick up the remnants of a full box of cereal that my toddler son once again dumped on the floor.
And then at the end of each crazy day, my husband and I crash onto the couch after the kids go to bed. We hold hands, exhale, and deliriously smile at the chaos that surrounds us but also fills our hearts.
It is a beautiful life.
I’m glad I kept showing up.
Mama, I’m sending you love and light – today and always. Your babies are lucky to have you. The world is a better place because you’re in it. You may not see this now, which I understand, but you will once again. There is help available, and it will get better.
Just keep showing up.
The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit http://postpartumprogress.org/community/.