As a parent, you get used to hearing an infinite amount of questions about everything.
“Why is the sky blue? Was the TV always in color? Why can’t I wear shorts today? Can I eat M&M’s for breakfast? Why do I have to go to school? Where’s my lovey? Why do I have to sleep?”
Those are the easy questions.
Then, there are harder questions. Questions about life, nightmares, and all that is not good in the world.
As a parent, when our children ask about hard things, we cringe before we answer, hoping we will give them the best answer without traumatizing them for life (and if we do, well, there’s another dollar for the therapy jar).
I do the same with postpartum advocacy.
There are easy questions:
“How do I talk to my doctor about this? Where do I find support? What are Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders?”
Then, there are the questions which make me cringe. Questions about when they’ll get better, when the postpartum disorder will finally lift and they’ll be back to the self they were before the baby and before fighting back against this horrible beast.
I can’t answer those questions fully. I won’t ever be able to do so, either. And it kills me inside.
It kills me when I can’t address properly the primary question that brings people to my blog, rephrased in so many ways as shown in the graphic here. “Will Postpartum OCD go away?”
When I see this question, because I struggled with Postpartum OCD, I know where they are in their process. I know they’re tired. They’re on that muddy road, stuck, covered in dirt, and longing to see the sunshine through the rain, their clothes stuck to them, a screaming infant on their hip. All they want is a nice warm bed, a shower, a hot meal, and to be able to get through the day without thinking something horrific about themselves or their very loved little one.
That road sucks. No one seems to live on it. The isolation is chilling, even more so than the pelting cold rain full of intrusive thoughts. The road ends. It does. Eventually, there’s pavement. There’s a house with a warm bed, helpful people, a warm meal, and yes, a hot shower awaits.
This is the part I hate to add – just because the road ends, doesn’t mean the thoughts do. What happens to the thoughts is that they fade into the background for most of us. For some of us, they will continue in one form or another, but they aren’t as loud or prominent as they were right after we gave birth. You see, we’ve learned to recognize the landscape. We’ve learned to understand the signs of a coming storm. A brisk breeze, the off-kilter pitter patter of the heart and the darkening of the distant sky. We’ve learned how to reach out and ask for help without feeling guilty. We’ve learned that this makes us stronger, not weaker. We’ve learned that it’s okay to take care of ourselves in addition to those around us. That self-care is selfless, not selfish.
Postpartum OCD is very real. It absolutely can be scary. But in reaching out to those who have been through it and to professional caregivers, this too, will pass. It may always leave a cloud or two over our lives but eventually, they weaken. Some days will bring more clouds than others but on those days?
Grab an umbrella. The rain won’t hurt you. For life is not about waiting for the storm to pass … it is about learning how to dance in the rain.
Lauren Hale is a sassy, outspoken, laughing, football, coffee, F1, MotoGP, and bacon addicted Mama blogging about Postpartum Mood Disorders at My Postpartum Voice as she tries to figure out her new place in this world. C’mon along for the ride, won’t ya? Follow her on Twitter at @unxpctdblessing.
* * *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!