Warrior Mom Jill, who has been struggling with postpartum anxiety, wrote a letter to her son to give to him on his 18th birthday. She is our guest contributor today.
I finally feel like I’ll be able to be the mom you deserve to have.
You see, for the past 9 months or so, I was facing the biggest challenge in my life: postpartum anxiety disorder. Before there was you, I didn’t worry. And then when you came, something went haywire inside me that made me begin to suffer a debilitating mental illness. My brain changed and I became someone else. I could not leave the house due to the onset of agoraphobia that came shortly after the intrusive terrifying thoughts and the obsessive hypochondria. One day you’ll know what this means.
But, little man, I fought this as hard as I could even when it seemed like there was no way I’d ever be me again. Even when it seemed like it almost might not have been worth it. Your dad helped. Your grandparents helped. Everybody pulled together to make sure I made it out of that horrible place.
Soon I could go to work. Then a few weeks later I could go to the stores. Now I can go anywhere. I can take good care of you. I can be me, the new version.
There are a few reasons I’m telling you all this. I want you to know that I am so glad I came out on the other side of postpartum anxiety to see you growing and happy and smart. You made me laugh all day yesterday, hiding your broccoli down in your high chair cushion and taking all the dishes out of the kitchen cabinets. I want you to know that I fought hard and made it and it was all worth it.
I want you to know that there’s no shame in mental illness. It could be in your genes like it must be in mine. But if it ever happens to you, know that there are treatments and you will be well. If it happens, I want you to remember everything is going to be okay.
Remember that your dad and I love you so much, and we’ve already been through a lot together. We will always be here for you when it’s your turn to deal with the tough times. Hopefully they are few and far between.