Motherhood can be so isolating. Minutes blur into hours, which blur into days. I felt like I was in a version of Groundhog’s Day. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety alternately weighted me down and revved me up into a state of high alert. Anxiety vibrated through my whole body. Noises startled me. My anxiety grew until it began to morph into rage and panic attacks. I did not even recognize myself anymore. I felt like I had lost myself. I berated myself constantly about my inability to do anything well. From the outside, I looked like I was all put together. I got up every day, and I went to work. I showered, and I put on makeup. I had put on the cape of super mom to hide from the world how depressed and anxious I was.
This year on Mother’s Day, I am celebrating my three-year anniversary of recovery. Mother’s Day of 2011 was the day I decided to reach out for help. I found Postpartum Progress, and I found an online community of Warrior Mamas. I read blogs of other mamas who had overcome postpartum depression. For the first time in seven months, I felt a tiny glimmer of hope. These women had been through hell and back fighting with the demons of depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts. If they could do it, I could too.
My sweet friend, take my hand and let me lead you out of the darkness. I know it seems so bleak and dark, but there is light and hope out there. You are a wonderful mama. The depression and anxiety twist your thoughts against you. Depression whispers, “You are a bad mother.” As a fellow Warrior Mama, I reply that you are a fantastic mother. Anxiety whispers, “You are a failure.” I see you struggling with this heavy weight. I see you getting up each day and fighting for your health, your happiness and your family. You are so strong and so resilient. See yourself as I see you – a woman who is being reborn from this experience. You will emerge on the other side. Keep reaching out. Keep talking. I am here because I remember exactly what it felt like. I don’t want you to feel alone. There is help, and there is hope. Please know this. You are not alone. You will get better. Never give up hope.
Sending you so much love,
Jen Gaskell is a wife and mother of two girls. She can be found online at her blog, Tranquila Mama. Jen is a member of the editorial team of Postpartum Progress, and she is the co-producer of Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee.
Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!