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.