Dear New Moms:
We all receive a number of gifts and well wishes at the time of our child's birth. Gifts are received with excitement and anticipation, with joy and sentiment, with appreciation and wonder. A postpartum mood disorder, whatever the type, is the antithesis of all those things. Your world turns upside down, you cry in the doctor's office for an hour, your heart pounds, the tears could flood your bathroom, the days and nights cannot pass quickly enough, and the world you once knew no longer seems familiar. You hear the word "diagnosis" or "disorder" and feel fear and anxiety, sadness and anger, never mind feeling disenfranchised and out of control.
But here is the deal, my fellow mom survivors. If you can accept your diagnosis and your pain like you would receive a gift, a number of things will happen sooner rather than later. You will seek treatment for yourself, get real with yourself about what you are going through and feel better more quickly.
It has been almost a decade since my world turned upside down. It often feels like a lifetime ago and some days it is right in front of me. But no matter how I feel about the experience on any given day, the experience, in the end, was the best gift I could have received. I have learned a lot about setting limits, forgiving myself and parenting in more effective ways. I have come to understanding my own family and I can treat my own mother with more forgiveness and understanding. I see motherhood as a marathon and not a spring, and I recognize there is no "right" way to be a mother. And it made me a better social worker, a better wife and a better friend.
My warmest regards during your recovery,
Meeka Centimano, LCSW
Meeka Centimano is a clinical social worker in private practice. She is also the founder of the Postpartum Resource Center of Kansas and the midwest regional coordinator for Postpartum Support International.
Thank you for everything you have done for the moms of Kansas and beyond. You are a true leader and we are lucky to have you. So glad you were a part of this day.
This is so true. It seems like an oxymoron, at first, to consider PPD a gift, but I completely agree. I, too, am a social worker, and my experience has definitely changed the way I interact with my postpartum patients. I can see very clearly now that speaking about my experience with PPD has helped other women, so yes, now I can count it as a gift.
While you'll see in my Rally post that I consider motherhood, and recovery from PPD especially, a journey and not a destination, I do believe that the final step in that upward climb out of the deep, dark hellish hole of PPD is to accept and then celebrate the good (however small) that has come from your experience. At the very least, you have survived a harrowing experience and if that is all you have to celebrate about your PPD then that is enough- pat yourself on the back, Survivor Mama! Not every cloud is completely lined in precious silver, but I do believe every cloud has at least a silver charm dangling from it…reach out and grab it!
Motherhood is definitely a marathon and having run marathons, I can say they are full of ups and downs; sometimes you want to quit (and even sit on the side of the road as I did briefly during my second one), sometimes you think you could just run forever, there are tears, there are smiles, you stumble, you fly…so many feelings, physical sensations and emotions. Yep. Motherhood is just like that.