here i sit on my kitchen floor, while my baby boy naps the afternoon away. this is the first moment this month where i have felt like writing. where i’ve felt like elaborating, in an honest fashion. i could not take another step-not even to land on the couch. i needed to physically stop myself from being enticed by another distraction, and letting the opportunity to be transparent escape me yet again.
i have a bachelors degree in psychology. the human mind and it’s inner workings have always fascinated me. from an early age i have always wanted to listen and observe; to fix something or help someone meant that i was in control. my type-a personality proves beneficial in many areas of my life, but in others it has caused much strife and turmoil. i imagine that my experience after having a child is unique to me, however it may be similar in a lot of ways to those who also have this “take-charge”, “always-in-control” mentality.
the first few months of welcoming a child into the world were surreal. i suppressed many emotions because i was in survival mode: i’m talking the basics like eating, sleeping and showering. i was overwhelmed with the transition into motherhood due hormonal imbalance and major fatigue after a severe post-partum hemorrhage. these physical changes, in addition to being in such high demand (all you mamas out there can give me an AMEN!), led to me >>turning off<< my emotions in order to cope and be strong for my baby.
this is where i wen’t horribly wrong.
by suppressing my feelings (stress of a colicky baby, fatigue, post traumatic stress disorder) i started to slowly change in a way where i could no longer recognize myself: i was brash, unsympathetic and closed off). the ginger people know and love is none of those things. i would usually describe myself as outgoing, nurturing and social. even though these changes may have been fairly subtle, they should have been something i recognized sooner.
i knew myself enough to know that i was experiencing more anxiety than normal, however i did not think of myself as a sad or depressed person. this is a common misconception, in my opinion: post partum depression means that you are sad, and unhappy with having a child. well yes, for some it does manifest in this way. for me, however it looked a bit different. because i failed to acknowledge the shift in my personality, my overall lack of energy, and how isolated i was becoming in the first few months of my child’s life, i continued down the road for another three months. i wasn’t unhappy with my choice to have a child so i must not be depressed then, right?
i slowly became weighted down by everything i was suppressing and overtime i was not acting like myself. it took hitting rock bottom in order to recognize that my mental and emotional state were in a dangerous spot.
after i concluded that i was in fact experiencing post partum depression, i felt embarrassed. i would never want to appear mentally unwell, or unable to care for my child. however by letting go of concerns of appearance, and identifying the abnormalities in my mental health was where i could finally turn the page. by honoring the fact that i struggled with PPD, and being honest with those i could trust, i could finally begin to overcome the things i had been sweeping under the rug.
today am more aware of the fact that i am highly emotional after having a baby, that my husband and i experienced a very traumatic afterbirth and that something like that will require months and months for me to process, and that i am not in control. in that recognition alone i continue to heal, and maintain a healthy mental focus. the next go-around, i will be hyper-aware of my mental state, and invite people that I trust to check up on me and point out abnormalities. i will have an understanding that mental health is fragile, and it is essential that i honor it.