My Postpartum Story - #MMHWeek2020
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
This was not an easy post to write, but I know it's important. Today is the first day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and I'd like to share my story as part of The Blue Dot Project campaign.
When I look at this picture, I can feel those sweet sleeping baby snuggles. There was nothing I wanted more during the first six months of my son's life than for him to fall asleep on me. Yes, feeling his warmth as his breath rose and fell was blissful, but more than anything, it was about the relief I felt from my postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. My son sleeping on my chest was my safe place.
While trapped under his tiny body, I could pretend that the dishes and laundry and floor crumbs didn't exist. I could feel connected to him in ways that felt otherwise impossible as his heart beat so close to mine, just as it had for the nine months he grew inside me. The deep and numbing sadness I felt the other 22 hours of the day somehow melted away. The rage that filled me whenever he cried was quieted, at least for now, as he breathed softly and peacefully, needing nothing from me except a solid place to rest.
When he slept on my chest, it forced me to do exactly what I needed to do: just be.
Somehow then I was safe from the depression, anxiety, rage, and OCD that was wreaking havoc on my heart and my mind and my life.
Those naps began to become fewer and farther in between as he got older, and that's when I finally recognized I needed professional help. Without that forced quiet time to recharge and rest, I hit rock bottom.
I am so privileged to have had a support system and the resources to get professional care. And it shouldn't have been so hard. I knew how to advocate for myself and find help because of past mental health issues before, but if I hadn't... it scares me to say I don't know how this story would have ended.
Mothers and parents and families deserve better mental health support. We need to normalize perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and provide mental healthcare to parents across the board. This is a matter of life and death and we are failing families everywhere when we don't treat it as such.