Dear New Mom,
I’ve been there. And I’m here to tell you that no matter how it feels right now, how all -consuming the darkness or anxiety or sadness or despair is, there is light that will soon be found. It isn’t a switch that you flick on and suddenly are flooded with joy, light and happiness, but a dimmer – a tiny control that is slowly but surely nudged upwards until your days brighten, your edges soften and you return. Because this isn’t you – it feels like it, which is the biggest and worst lie depression tells. That this is the new you and who you will forever be. But it is not. I know because I’ve been there.
I’ve struggled. I’ve thought about just walking out on my family. I’ve thought about shaking my baby. On my worst day, I thought about stepping out in front of a bus while pushing my baby in her stroller. I’ve been so depressed that there are days I didn’t eat, and we didn’t change out of our pajamas or turn off the TV, let alone leave our 1,100 square foot apartment. I’ve been so anxious that I’ve brought on panic attacks that I’ve had to work through, crying and trembling and breathing while my daughter watched. I’ve been so full of rage that I’ve said things I’ve regretted to my daughters and grabbed their tiny arms just a little too hard, or tugged their hands a little too sharply as we’re rushing places, likely because we’re late and it’s my fault.
See, I’ve been there. And now I’m here. I’m back to a newer, brighter, and dare I say better version of myself. A more aware, more appreciative, more emotional and cautious version of myself. The mom version. And for the record? I am a GOOD mom. My kids love me, and we have a blast together. We sing, dance, hug and kiss each other. We laugh (almost) constantly. I’m a HOT MESS mom, to be sure, still rushing around late, but I’m their hot mess mom, and their good mom, and the best mom I can be. I try my best most of the time, and other times, cut myself some slack and know that my best some days isn’t as good as others. And that’s okay.
You, too, will get here. With time, treatment and support, l promise, your dimmer switch will start to work – will let the brightness slowly but surely increase – until you realize your room, home and heart are full of light and joy once again, as they used to be. Just hold on – and take today, your first Mother’s Day, to celebrate any small victory you can – it is the start of your light being turned back on. You’ve got this.
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/.