[Editor’s Note: Today we have an inspiring guest post from Melissa Anderson. She shares her story and some hope for other Warrior Moms. -Jenna]
My pregnancy wasn’t “normal.”
I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum the first few months. Those months were spent in a very dehydrated state, excessive vomiting, IVs for fluids, and rotating so many medicines. I thought the worst was over when that went away, but I developed Gestational Hypertension at 25 weeks and remained on bed rest the remainder of pregnancy, battling the development of Preeclampsia until I was induced at 37 weeks. I also lost my oldest brother during this time. It was hard.
I then truly thought the worst would be over after that. But, no. Life had more in store for me; struggles with breastfeeding, baby developing severe jaundice and was admitted to the hospital, lip and tongue ties, more breast feeding issues, severe back problems from atrophied muscles due to bed rest.
Then, the worst.
The most heartbreaking.
The most painful.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
So often I hear that women who have struggled with PPD/A waited a long time before getting help because they were ashamed.
I was ashamed.
I’ve asked myself that question, and decided it was because I felt ashamed that I wasn’t this “perfect” mother. I already didn’t have a “perfect” pregnancy and didn’t want to trouble anyone or talk about how “imperfect” I still was.
Guess what I had to remind myself:
No one is perfect.
What helps me is just reminding myself that it’s not a choice to feel this way. I can’t just magically decide to be happy and “poof” I am. But I can make the choice to seek treatment and to strive to get better.
Not too long ago I was trying to think of a way I could explain what it feels like to my husband who has never experienced depression.
I told him it’s like waking up in a huge dark room and you don’t even know how you got there. It’s so dark; you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. It’s so dark; you aren’t really even sure you’re there. Because how can it possibly be that dark? Is this really real?
You’re trying to feel all along the walls of this huge, massive dark room to find a light switch (the light switch is a metaphor for the medicine, counseling, support group, and any other treatment). You finally find the switch, but it’s not a flip on/off switch. It’s a dimmer. It will only let you turn it up a little bit at a time. It’s really hard to turn too, so you get exhausted from trying so hard and you need lots of breaks.
Then from out of nowhere objects start hitting the switch (symbolic of the things life throws at you, phrases people say that may hurt your feelings, and so on). And you can’t stop or control these things. Sometimes things hit the switch just right that it dims it down some. It’s a long, exhausting battle between the objects hitting the dimmer and you finding the energy and strength to get up and try with all your might to turn the lights brighter.
Eventually it should be bright enough to where you can make out the door in this huge room and finally get out.
That really helped him to understand what I’m going through and it helps me realize even if I’ve only done one small, good thing that day, it is helping to make it brighter in the room.
Every little bit counts.
Don’t let PPD/A rob you of enjoying Motherhood, of being happy, of being the best Mom you can be.
Don’t be ashamed.
Talk about it.
Seek help and treatment.
We are Warriors and this is our battle; it’s happening right now.
Let’s fight together.
The bigger the number, the better the fight.
We will win.
We will overpower this darkness.
We will survive this together.
Melissa Anderson blogs at Finding Joy in This Journey, is a Mom to three=month-old Annabelle and wife to Nick. She currently lives in Utah but is a Southern girl at heart. She has a new passion to help other women understand and recognize perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, to encourage them to get the help they need, and to reduce stigma.