I see you.
I see your hurt.
I see you going through the motions, holding on with every fiber of your being to your sanity.
I hear you.
I hear you choking back tears as you bite your lip to try to keep your breaking from escaping past your lips.
I hear you trying to quiet your baby—“shhhh…it’s okay. It’s okay. Shhhh”—through gritted teeth because the sound of her cry grates harshly against your skin.
I hear you shakily taking in a deep breath as you try to steady your nerves, calm your racing and sometimes scary thoughts, and tell yourself, “I just need to get through this moment.”
I feel you.
I feel the heaviness in your chest when you’re overwhelmed and fighting for air to lift and expand your rib cage so you can breathe.
I feel the rage that courses through you unexpectedly, burning white hot in your chest and bursting from you before you even know it has even escaped.
I feel the guilt that presses in on you and the shame that cloaks you in silence, placing its fingers on your lips as fear whispers lies about unworthiness, softly and menacingly in your mind.
I see you breaking, bowing under the pressure to hold it all together, to keep from unraveling.
I hear you asking what happened to the woman you were.
I see you searching for where she’s hiding.
I feel the vacantness that meanders slowly behind your eyes as you fail to recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.
I feel your despair, the aching, the reaching, the yearning, how your thoughts and swinging moods leave your mind spinning and you just.want.everything.to.stop. So you can think. So you can catch your breath. So you can take that split second to decide to keep on living even if it means you’re just surviving until the next moment.
I see you grasping for hope with each breath.
And I’m here, giving you an oxygen mask so you can take that next breath.
I’m here, reaching for you, grabbing you by the forearm and pulling you up out of the darkness that’s mercilessly swallowing you whole, threatening to devour all of you until there’s no you left.
I’m here, turning your ears so that you can’t hear the whispered lies of unworthiness. I’m here standing next to you as you look at yourself in the mirror and saying, “Yes. She’s still there. YOU are still there. YOU will return.”
Yes, mama. You will return to yourself. And your homecoming will be glorious. It will be mighty. And you will be stronger. You will be whole. You will be just as loved as you were before you left and most certainly more. You will rise from the ashes of what was and go on to BE.
So much stronger.
I’m here telling you that this isn’t all there is. Your story, your life, YOU are.not.over. There is more.
More life to live.
More you to be.
I was you.
You aren’t alone.
There is hope.
Don’t give up.
We need you.
~ A’Driane Nieves
A’Driane Nieves is a writer and artist best known for her love of Prince. She writes about navigating the nuances of motherhood and bipolar disorder type 2 along with her thoughts on various social justice issues on her blog Butterfly-Confessions.com. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and three boys.
The 6th Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit 501c3 that raises awareness & advocates for more and better services for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Please consider making a donation today, on Mother’s Day, to help us continue to spread the word and support the mental health of new mothers.