It’s hard not to love my little girl. She is ridiculously happy and smiley, so much so that her daycare categorized a day that she cried a lot as unusual behavior. She has also reached the really fun interactive stage. She reacts to the funny faces I make, and she smiles and coos when she sees me and her dad. And, while she has yet to do it at home for us, she is apparently rolling over at daycare. So yes, loving her and spending time with her is easy. What isn’t easy, I’ve finally had to admit, is fitting myself back in with the rest of the world.
Since I returned to work I’ve continuously kept myself busy in my free time. I do spend as much time as I can with my family, but I’ve also allowed myself to take on as many commitments as possible, only turning down ones that directly conflict with something else. In essence, I haven’t been able to say no. Take last weekend for example, I had two, two hour, photo sessions scheduled for Saturday, and a 10 mile race set for Sunday. Then I got an inquiry for a third photo session, which I actually considered accepting and scheduling for Sunday afternoon. It was at this point my husband made me really sit down and figure out what was going on. I’m exhausted, stressed, and running on empty, and yet I keep piling more onto my plate. After some introspection, and some tears that desperately needed to be shed, I realized that keeping myself busy and in motion has been the only thing keeping me from truly acknowledging much deeper emotions.
I am so happy and in love with being a mother that I could easily lose myself in the role and shut out the rest of the world. So of course, to ensure I didn’t do this I went to the other extreme, leaving myself overworked and overwhelmed. I was trying to do everything, and in the end I wasn’t doing any one thing very well. This of course started a spiral effect of frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
For the past month and a half I’ve been denying my actual feelings to everyone, including myself. I’ve been suppressing the truth, which is this, all I want is to hold my baby and hide away from everyone and everything else. Keeping myself engaged in activities is the only thing preventing me from constantly breaking down into tears, still and quiet moments are dangerous for this reason. And all of this adds up to one thing that for some is reason is so hard to admit, I have post partum depression.
I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit this. It is very common and very treatable, but for some reason I can’t completely shake the feeling of failure. And this is exactly why I am seeking help. I want to be the best mother I possibly can, which means I need to be healthy, both physically and mentally. I also want Ramona to grow up knowing that it is ok to admit feelings like these. I want to help break down stigmas surrounding mental illness, so that she never feels like she has to hide if she experiences one.
I have an amazing support network, so I have no doubt that with help I will work through this, and I will ultimately come out the other side a stronger, happier, and healthier mamma and person. I hope other new moms realize, like I now do, that it is not a failure to admit to having post partum depression. It does not mean you don’t love your child, your husband, your family, or your friends. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, or friend. All it means is that your body is having difficulty adjusting to drastic changes in hormones, and your mind needs help acclimating to a new perception of self and a new role in life.
Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it comes with an adjustment period, and having the strength to admit a need for help with this adjustment should be praised.