I woke up this morning and I had this nagging thought that I needed to get my story out there. As a newer mom, and maybe even those that have babies that are now in their 20s and 30s, you have probably heard about the normalize breastfeeding movement. I’m all for that, I’ve been breastfeeding for 18.5 months now. More importantly, in my opinion, is normalizing mental health. And, that is mental health in general, but most importantly that of a new mom.
Every day remains to be a struggle with ups and downs. I mean that’s life. Some days are easier, some are harder. I feel like mentally I have made some improvement, mostly in part thanks to Zoloft. Now instead of the ever dreading fear of all the bad happening, I’m numb. I still have PPD/A, but the delusional moments don’t happen as often as they used to come. I’m usually able to rationalize things away. I’m still crippled from the effects of PPD/A and I fear that it will be a struggle for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that I’m strong enough to always identify my triggers, and when I need to go to someone for help. Awhile back I found that a major trigger for me is when I become overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because I’m slightly overwhelmed at the moment that this whole idea even popped into my head. While I might be strong enough to get through my more manic episodes, not every mom will be. The more we normalize mental health the more that the help will be there to get people through the times when they are going through the pits of hell. I still feel like I don’t have anybody to talk to because nobody wants to talk about it. I have reached out to several people in my life in hopes of support, and I feel like a lot of those people now avoid me like the plague.
Let me tell you something now…that doesn’t help. Your avoidance doesn’t make me sane again. If I don’t have you, or anyone for that matter, to go to when I need help…then what? People are so quick to judge, but don’t even think for a moment of what they would need or want if they were to be in the shoes of someone else. That is just the sad truth with our society. I’m not condoning it, or saying it’s acceptable, but I can see how moms or dads can go off the deep end and do crazy things. When I first went to my OB with my struggles, I even told her that I was going BAT SHIT CRAZY. Because…I was. I would envision really horrible things happening to my son. Horrible things that I could do that would pop into my head. Luckily the thoughts disappeared as quickly as they came. Sometimes these intrusive thoughts still come about. When they do, I have an agreement with my husband to discuss with him at the moment that they occur. I will say that his response (or lack thereof) has never been one that I like, but what is he to do? How does one respond when they are told about the crazy thoughts running through their loved ones brain?
It was hard reaching out to loved ones that I was afraid would judge me. I knew that I needed to so that I wouldn’t become another statistic. Another mom that harms herself, or her children. I can’t be that person. There have been times that I thought that everyone would be better off without me. I haven’t been to the point of planning anything, but the thought has occurred to me. It’s also just hard to live this way. To look in the mirror and not recognize the image looking back at me. To feel so out of my mind all the time.
Over the course of the last 18ish months I have been on the most wild roller coaster ride that I would ever imagine. From the obvious moments of overjoy and extreme love for my little one to the not wanting to do a damn thing moments. It’s a little bit of a catch 22 here that my reason for living is also in a way my reason for not wanting to exist. Obviously it’s not because of my son, but you know what I mean. Luckily my reason for living has been reason enough to not contemplate my life, or departure from, any further.
Lately the anxiety is less and the depression is more. When I look at my life from the outside looking in, I don’t know how I could feel anything but utter elatement. Maybe it’s because I gained 65 pounds during pregnancy and I still remain overweight. Despite diet and exercise, I fluctuate between needing to lose another 30-50 pounds, maybe more. It’s definitely contributed to my depressive state since I never want to get outside my home to do things…because what would I wear? I have finally accepted that it’s probably not going to happen until I stop nursing, and hopefully it will at that point. That I’m one of the unlucky ones that breastfeeding doesn’t make you shed all the baby weight and then some. I’m also hopeful that after I stop breastfeeding that my hormones will work themselves out a bit. It would probably be better for my family if I had stopped awhile back. I wanted to do what was best for my son, and of course I had guilt over that with either direction I would have chosen. On one hand, there are the health benefits from breastmilk and what that might mean for the future. On the other hand, our familial unit might be quite different had I not been nursing. I learned very early on that parenting has a pro/con to every freaking decision. From trying to do it all to not doing a damn thing, there is no happy medium with me.
And then, there is trying to learn what really is important and letting go of all of the rest. From a complete Type A personality, it’s tough. That is probably one of the biggest battles throughout this whole thing. Learning that not everything can be done the way you want it in life and especially in parenthood. There is no black and white road map to take, it’s all full of twist and turns and ups and downs. Another form of anxiety for me is how quickly time seems to be slipping through my fingers, and how I hope that I’m doing what I should be to help with my sons development. I remember thinking how I’m supposed to teach this little being everything he knows, and how much that scared me…because let’s be honest, when I’m in the state that I’ve been in, how am I supposed to mold something into that of beauty and not of disarray? That’s all on me. I think that if he were to be able to tell you now that he most likely wouldn’t have a clue that I’m battling the things that I am right now. That I’m able to hide behind that smile and keep my craziness on the down low to the point that he can’t see it. I hope and pray that’s the case anyway.
I pray every day that I won’t be another statistic. My hope is that by sharing my story that a mom might share with her loved ones that she is struggling, and those that she reaches out to will actually be a support system for her.