When people ask me what I do or what I am, I hesitate. I’m never really sure quite how to answer that question. Not because I don’t know who I am, not because I suffer from a lack of self-identity, and not because I’m ashamed of who or what I am, but because there is no short and simple answer that clearly and completely defines me, the sum of Esther.
You see, I am not just one label, I am many things. I am a wife, a mother, a college student, a Christian, a Protestant-turned Catholic-turned Mormon, a blogger, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a US Army veteran, a former volunteer firefighter, a woman, a human being, and so much more. I am a multi-faceted creature who is not easily summed up. I don’t really fit into any one neat and tidy box. Even politically I’m never really sure what to call myself since I’m liberal on some issues, conservative on others, and middle of the road on a few more.
There’s one more thing that I am, though: I am a Warrior Mom, a Postpartum Depression survivor, and I’m not ashamed of that fact.
There was a time when I didn’t want people to know that last little bit. There was a time when all I wanted was to be “normal.” I thought that if people knew about my PPD, they would see me differently. And it’s true, there are people out there in the world who, when they hear about someone struggling with PPD or any other Antenatal or Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder, start to think disapproving and judgmental thoughts about that person. No joke, those people are a big part of why I was scared to ask for help when I was suffering after the birth of my first baby. They’re a big part of why I was scared to go to my family and friends after I got out of the hospital and say “Look, I’m having a rough time. I need extra patience and understanding and maybe a little help with the baby.”
Those same people are why I’m outspoken now about my struggles. Yes, a very big part of why I’m so open about my PPD is because I want other women to know they’re not alone and that there is someone there for them to talk to, someone who will understand and just love and accept them while helping and supporting them in whatever way they need it. But I also speak up for those people who are misinformed, the people who think that having PPD just means you have a bad attitude, need to pray more, should think more positive thoughts, and any of the many other unfortunate misconceptions and myths that surround PPD and it’s undesirable bedfellows. I speak out so that they know what I have learned: that PPD is not your fault. PPD is not something you need to be ashamed of.
All of us who have fought or are fighting Postpartum Depression et. al., are many things. We are a varied group with many different identities and characteristics. I can’t possibly tell you everything that we are but I can tell you what we are not.
WE ARE NOT failures. We are not weak. We are not bad moms. We are not lazy. We are not monsters. We are not broken. We are not crazy. We are not bad influences.
WE ARE strong. We are stronger than you know. We are stronger than we know. We are warm, loving, caring, kind individuals. We are smart. We are ourselves. We are unique and complicated individuals, constantly opening up new layers of petals to reveal fresh new mysteries and aspects of ourselves. We are what we are. We are who we are. We are enough. We simply are.
~ Esther Dale
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