Our dear Hayden returned to work recently after entering recovery for postpartum depression.
Everyone is talking about how wonderful she looks. How brave she is to talk about her disease. How it’s great to see that she has gotten better—how she has recovered from this debilitating disease.
I don’t know Hayden. I may pretend that she has read my original letter to her, but we aren’t pals.
However, I can guess that Hayden is not 100% “better.” Hayden has done her best, just as we all can do with the resources available to us. Recovery is possible, but the way the media is portraying it right now might make moms feel like they’re somehow “doing it wrong” because they aren’t “cured” as quickly as Hayden. But you’re going to be okay, too; we’re all going to make it through this beast of postpartum depression.
It just takes time.
We recognized that there is, in fact, a problem. We reach out for help. We make appointments. We take pills. We go to therapy.
We take long, hard looks at ourselves in the mirror and wonder where we went wrong. We blame ourselves, our husbands, our genetics.
We wonder why the first round of pills doesn’t work; or the second, or the 12th.
We wonder why we feel no connection with our therapist.
We wonder when we will feel that lightness of heart that we were promised when we hold our babies. We wonder when that feeling will supplant the feeling of dread or, worse, numbness.
There is no quick fix to this disease, but one day you will be back.
Hayden, most likely, entered a private in-patient program where her medications were easily monitored and adjusted on a daily basis depending on how she felt. She probably had group therapy, one-on-one therapy, yoga, art therapy. She probably wondered if this was all worth the effort.
As we all do. We sit on our couches, in our beds, on our bathroom floors with tears streaming down our faces. We might not have access to the same types of facilities, but mother with postpartum depression and other postpartum mood and anxiety disorders feel and experience similar things. And they can all heal. In time.
We all—every single one of us, famous or no—must come to that crossroads of whether or not we think we deserve to get better in the first place. Once you convince yourself that, yes, you are being attacked from the inside and it is time to do something about it, then the healing may begin.
You must tuck your chin to your chest and walk against the wind. You must be willing to try different medications if the first few don’t work. You must be brave enough to fire your therapist and find a new one. You must love yourself enough to realize you are worth saving.
Recovery in postpartum depression is not just about getting better. You can’t just take a blue pill for six months and forget it ever happened. Mood disorders leave deep wounds on your soul. You can bandage them quickly, but they won’t heal. You can stitch them up, but they will scar. That scar will always be there, to remind you to guard yourself.
Just like all scars, you can either choose to hide them or bear them proudly for the world to see what you survived.
That’s exactly what Hayden is doing. “Look and see what I have done. I have gone to war with myself and I am still alive. I have been given the weapons to defend myself. I am doing my best.” We are so proud of her her voice right now.
When you are diagnosed with postpartum depression, it should never be about just “getting better.” It shouldn’t be about comparing the length of your recovery, your battle, your acceptance of your scars with another mother. Even Hayden.
It should always, always, always be about arming yourself to the teeth—with knowledge, with support, with treatment, with self-love.
The faster you realize this, the faster you will start to FEEL better.
Have courage, dear hearts.
“You must love yourself enough to know you’re worth saving.” So true. And when the depression lies to you, everyone around you must remind you how wonderful you are and that you are worth saving!
4 year long battle for me. Is that even possible? I swear there are days I think this is going to kill me. Thank you for this article. Hard for me to believe there is any better than this for me at this point. What do you do when your baby isn’t a baby anymore? When you aren’t even technically postpartum? This is a beast. I’m so tired. Hugs and thank you for another beautiful article.
I can relate to so much of this. Healing takes a long time and, in the process, you have to advocate for yourself in a complicated system.