postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthDear Mama,

Hi. How are you today? Stop looking around to figure out who I am addressing – I’m talking to you. Yes, you, right there, on the other side of the screen. I know why you’re here. You’ve been in the same place I have – or maybe you’re still there. Or hoping like hell you won’t ever have to visit it. But you’re my audience today and I have a few things to say. I hope, deeply, you let them sink in to the very depths of your soul.

Now that I’ve digressed a bit, I’ll ask that first question again. First, though… tea? Coffee? Spritzer? Have a seat. Let’s chat like we’re girlfriends meeting up at Starbucks.

How are you today? Don’t give me the standard “okay” or “fine” answer you give everyone else. Don’t tell me how busy you are or how you’ve managed to do ALL OF THE THINGS despite facing insurmountable odds. I don’t care about that. I care about your heart. About your mind. About YOU. So. How are YOU.

Mmmhhhmmm. I know. Oh, I know. *hands you a Kleenex* It’s okay. Let it out. I understand. We all do. Yes. Oh, yes. Curling up in bed, your body aching because all the emotions pour out of you all at once? That lump in your throat when you have to do something all alone with the baby or the panic you feel when your little one naps even 15 minutes longer than they did the day before… oh yes. Or the anger you find yourself filled with because well, um.. uh.. why AM I ANGRY?

And now today. Mother’s Day. The day when all mothers are celebrated for being perfect and angelic and capable. The irrational fear and anxiety and anger ball in the pit of your stomach because this isn’t what you are – this isn’t YOUR day. You’d rather be under a rock somewhere, rolling in mud, hiding from all the cheery things.

*leans in and whispers* Can I tell you a secret? I hated Mother’s Day too. HATED IT. Despised it. But then I’d get upset if I didn’t get cards or things. Makes a whole lotta sense, right?

That’s the thing about what you’re going through right now – about what a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder does to you – it’s like a giant hand that reaches down from the sky and spins you around until you don’t know which way is north, south, east, or west. Remember that R.E.M. song – “Stand”?

“Stand in the place where you live

Now face north

Think about direction

Wonder why you haven’t before”

Until now, you’ve not had to think about the direction of your brain or your life. But now, you’re sitting in the middle of a spinning compass, holding on for dear life, unsure of whether or not it’s going to fling you off into the wild unknown.

We are your unknown. We are the fierce citizens of the far flung wild. It’s tough here. But we’re fighters and we’ll teach you how to fight too. We were worth it. We are still worth it. You are absolutely worth it and you will always be worth it.

I know you’re tired. I know you don’t want to celebrate. I know you want to curl up in bed and hug a pillow. It’s okay to do that. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s selfless. We must fill our own pitchers before we can pour someone a glass of water, right?

Tomorrow is a new day and the best thing about it? You and this brand new army of Warrior Mamas who will wake up right beside you and carry you when you can’t walk, speak for you when you can’t talk, and listen even when you’re silent.

If you’re reading this right now and you feel all alone, you’re not. We are here. Find me on Twitter @unxpctdblessing or leave a comment here for me. I’ll be happy to keep you company because no mama should ever fight this battle alone in the dark.

We are your light.

~ Lauren

Lauren Hale is a tough, two-time survivor of Postpartum OCD and even managed to kick Antepartum Depression to the curb along her bumpy Mama road. She also has an unhealthy passion for bacon, coffee, F1, football, and MotoGP. Lauren blogs at My Postpartum Voice and can be found on Twitter @unxpctdblessing

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Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!