The greatest resource we have to help us in our journey through motherhood is the knowledge other mothers share with us. But nowadays it seems scarier than ever to open and share with others because we are afraid of being judged.
This can be even harder if you’re dealing with postpartum depression. You’re probably wondering, will people judge me? Not trust me? The one thing that is most important for us to do if we have depression after a baby is to reach out, but sometimes that’s the toughest thing.
So, how do actually do it, and foster an environment where we can share our stories? How do we share information as mothers without getting defensive and feeling judgment? How do we stop judging each other? The best way is to own our story and listen to some great advice from Brené Brown:
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”
The key to this for me is to own my story and to be as authentic as possible while being able to feel empathy for others. I can’t do that without allowing myself to be vulnerable. It is a little scary. Starting this blog is a little scary, but my goal here is to share my story in a way that could help other moms not feel alone. So I want to open up and share something that brings out a lot of shame for many moms.
I’m on Zoloft.
There is one thing that I could never have prepared myself for. The crazy roller coaster of hormones that comes after you have a baby, and the depression after a baby that I felt. I’m lucky in that I never felt disconnected from my baby. I am very thankful for breastfeeding for helping me create an amazing bond with my girl, but I also had some incredible anxiety postpartum.
For weeks after giving birth, as soon as the sun went down I would just feel like my skin was crawling and I couldn’t settle myself. All I could do was try to breathe and relax. I was taking vitamins and yes I’m one of those crazy moms who ate her placenta… But it was really just time that helped ease that anxiety.
What replaced it though was a terrifying shift in how I saw the world. I was afraid for my baby all the time. Was she breathing? Was she in her car seat right? I would fight with my husband about the placement of the car seat in the car, convinced she wasn’t safe. I thought about death a lot. Not that I wanted to die or hurt myself, but having brought life into this world somehow made me confront the terrifying fact that we will all be dead someday.
This also faded, but after months I was still left with mood swings and some depression. Eventually, I called my midwife. I went on Zoloft and the first few days it just gave me more anxiety. I didn’t feel like myself. But as I was on it for a few weeks, things got better.
My biggest regret is not making that call sooner. I thought I was tough or could get through, but now looking back I wish I wouldn’t have made myself struggle so hard for no reason. I don’t know how long I will stay on the meds but for now, they are helping.
Honestly, I do feel some shame because of this. Like I am taking the easy way out or something. My brain tells me that’s stupid but in my heart, I sometimes feel like I’m faulty or weak. How many of you feel like that? Whether it’s a struggle with PPD or not having a good milk supply or not being able to calm a colicky baby, don’t we all have something that makes us feel like we aren’t good enough?
I’m not sure there’s a magical way to make us all feel better about these things, but for me, the step in the right direction is owning it and sharing it. Brené is right. Through sharing our vulnerabilities with each other we can find kinship and belonging and love. In fact, it’s the ONLY way we can find those things. So I know it’s scary, but if you are going through depression after a baby, please own that and find help.