“My name is Ashley. I’m a 25 year old phlebotomist/mama bear. I used to go out a lot with my friends, mostly to drink, sometimes to smoke pot. I always had fun but I never felt like I was living or doing enough. I grew up in a fairly normal home surrounded by so many supportive people. I had my parents, step parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, everybody. But I still struggled with depression, anxiety and bipolar II disorder. I began self harming around 13 and I continued until I got pregnant. I was a guinea pig on different medications and nothing seemed to work for me.
I met my son’s dad in the summer of 2016 and things moved pretty quickly. February of 2017 we moved in together in our first apartment. We stayed in a tiny studio for a year before moving into our second home in 2018. Shortly after moving in we found out we were expecting. Despite my bipolar issues I longed for my own family and my wish came true; everything changed.
My pregnancy was rough. I lost 25 lbs from throwing up and I was sick 8-10 times a day the whole nine months. My husband and I began to grow apart. He wanted love and I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to go to work, see my friends, or leave the house at all really. I just wanted to stay home, cry and hug the toilet. I didn’t realize I was depressed during my pregnancy and that kills me knowing I didn’t enjoy it the way I wished I could have. Our relationship started falling apart, I was off my bipolar meds and couldn’t control any emotions. We got in fights constantly over nothing.
The day our son was born was the happiest day of my life. My son’s dad was so supportive at the hospital and he stayed up all night with me during labor. At 6:25 a.m., September 22, 2018 baby Mason changed my life. I didn’t sleep at all the first three days.
We left the hospital and went home. The first week was great, his dad was home, my family and friends visited every day and I loved being a mom. By the time Mason’s dad went back to work the novelty of a baby had worn off. Everybody was back in their normal routines and I was alone with this human I had no idea how to take care of. I constantly thought to myself ‘Ashley what the f*ck are you doing? You have no business being a mother.’ I felt like a failure. I didn’t want to ask for help, women have had babies for thousands of years and don’t ask for help, why should I need help? My partner noticed and he spent so much time trying to get me to open up but I shut him out. I didn’t want to believe there was anything wrong with me and I took his attempts at help as criticism and I handled every word negatively. My family lived about 40 minutes away, and my dad out of state, so for the most part we talked on the phone and I acted like everything was just peachy. I put on a smile when I’d visit my mom and act like my life was something out of a fairy tale.
At around six weeks postpartum depression hit me like a freight train. I couldn’t ask for help without feeling guilty, I didn’t want to leave the house, and I stopped cooking and taking care of my family. My friends would make plans with me to come over and hangout with me and the baby but every week something would fall through and I wouldn’t hear from them, they’d cancel, or my anxiety would get the best of me and I’d blow them off and make up excuses. I had no idea how to balance everything and give myself a break to take time for myself. I told my doctors I was okay. I told my family I was okay. I couldn’t let anybody know I was drowning. I let it fully consume me. I wanted to die. I genuinely believed my son was better off with anybody else besides me. I thought about taking my own life often.
When my son was three months old I tried to commit suicide. My relationship was over, I felt like a failure as a mother and I lost it. I was so overwhelmed and focused on dying that my anxiety took over and I blacked out. Nothing mattered more to me in that moment than ending my life. I remember very clearly coming to, seeing my son’s picture and thinking ‘go home. go get help.’ My son’s dad and I were split up at this point so the help I received was from my parents, my best friend, Allie and her mother. They got me to the hospital.
I spent five days in a psych ward away from my son. I was honestly relieved to be in the hospital. I was sad being away from my son but beyond happy to finally be getting the help I needed. I met some of the most supportive people there, I figured out it’s okay to talk about your problems, and it’s OKAY to ask for help. I got put on medications that actually work for me and I’m thriving now. I’m truly happy. I have a six month old that is the absolute light of my life and I genuinely enjoy being a mom. I make time for myself and I allow myself to ask for help without feeling guilty. Being a mother is my greatest accomplishment in life and I’m glad I finally see and appreciate it fully. People have messaged me from my blog and have thanked me for being able to speak about PPD and dealing with mental illness while parenting and honestly it’s really nice knowing I can help run a blog as my outlet and If I can help at least one person struggling with PPD, I’m happy. Know you are never alone.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Mendes. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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