My son was born 15 years ago today. My first child, the one with whom I had postpartum anxiety/OCD, the experience that eventually led me to start Postpartum Progress. I find it kind of magical that his birthday is occurring during National Suicide Prevention Week. I remember having suicidal thoughts when I was struggling with maternal mental illness after his birth.
To be clear, I didn’t want to die. It’s not that I didn’t want to be alive. Or to be my kid’s mom. I was just so scared. So terrified I might hurt him. I was worried I might ruin his life. That I was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad mom. And I was in so much pain. This super dark place that I was convinced I’d never be able to leave again – I’d be locked in there forever.
It’s very easy to become convinced — or at least toy with the idea — that the only way out is to stop existing. I’m sure this is beyond hard to understand for people who have never been in the dark place. It’s not logical. Yes, we are fortunate. We may have very wonderful and loving people around us. Yes, there is help. No, we’re not alone. It’s just that when you are in a pain that you can’t see living with for another second you can come to believe that leaving this earth is the answer.
I know this. I’m so grateful I got to hug and kiss my boy this morning on his birthday and tell him how proud I am to have become his mama 15 years ago. It turns out I’m actually a pretty good mom. I did leave that dark place thanks to the help of others. Even though my career as a mother had a really crappy start, it has rocketed upward ever since. I have experienced so much joy. Parenting is still hard, of course. I’m not perfect and neither is life. There have been moments of pain. Frustration. Self-doubt. But the moments of joy have outweighed all of it.
It’s very special to me that Jack knows he’s the baby in the Warrior Mom logo and he’s proud of it. PROUD, y’all. He’s not ashamed that I had postpartum anxiety/OCD. He doesn’t question whether I loved him as a baby. He KNOWS I did and he knows what I had was a very common illness and that it wasn’t his fault or mine.
He loves me and I love him, and that’s the biggest “F— YOU” to postpartum depression that I know of. We win, PPD. We. Win.
I want you to know that if you are a pregnant or new mom struggling mightily right now and you have had suicidal thoughts, you aren’t alone. The Warrior Moms of Postpartum Progress are here with you, and many of us have had the same exact thoughts. We’ve been in that place where it felt like there was no way out. We understand, and we love you. There is help. If you don’t believe me, you need to know that no one could convince me there was help either, and yet THERE WAS. I didn’t believe I’d get better either, and yet I DID. Postpartum depression and related illnesses are still an awful experience. I know that. I just ask you to please be willing to accept the help that is out there. It’s worth it.
What To Do If You Or Someone You Love Is Having Suicidal Thoughts
As the American Federation for Suicide Prevention explains, suicide often occurs when stressors exceed the current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition, like depression. There are people who understand and know how to help you, no matter what you are going through or why. If you are in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, PLEASE call 1-800-273-TALK (1-888-628-9454 en espanol).