I know at Postpartum Progress we use a lot of battle imagery. We have the Warrior Mom. We talk about fighting back, not giving up and “kicking PPD’s ass”. This imagery has a purpose: I believe it helps us reframe ourselves and feel more empowered, recognizing that we have a say in what happens to us and we can get the help we need and triumph over our illnesses.
At the same time, I want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be a hero during postpartum depression. You don’t have to “win” every day by doing all the right things to help yourself, or taking each hit with a smile. You don’t have to be Wonder Woman, with bulletproof bracelets and an invisible plane.
It’s easy to forget that. I forget that all the time.
It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to be mad or disappointed that you’re going through this.
It’s okay to have five great days in a row and then two horrible ones. (Or seven bad days in a row and one good one.)
I fought postpartum OCD and in the end I won, but the battle wasn’t pretty. I didn’t always handle it well. I wasn’t always good at telling people what I needed, or explaining what I was going through, or being patient with those who were trying to help me. I didn’t face every single day with courage. Initially I didn’t always follow my treatment plan as I should have. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch a videotape of me during that time, as I imagine it’s very wince-worthy.
I wouldn’t have won any Medal of Valor, because I wasn’t always valiant. Some days I won. Some days I succumbed. That’s okay.
It’s not about how you look or behave every day of the fight during postpartum depression, it’s that you make it through to the end the best you can that matters.