“People always ask what compelled me to share my story about my struggle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Having a mental illness, in general, is typically not something people share as openly as I have with my journey. It took me about three years to completely open up about my postpartum experience. Of course, my close friends and family new about my struggles. But it was not until I met a young lady in the labor and delivery room, I realized how important sharing my story could be for other families.
I was caring for a patient who was about to have her first baby. She was young and scared. We talked about Molly, and my love for being a mother, and how she was soon going to have a little girl of her own to love. I’d spent nearly 8 hours with this patient when she said to me, ‘You sound like such a great super mom. It seems to just come natural for you. You’re the mom I want to become.’ She then went on to say, ‘I just want to be a normal mom who loves her baby like you love yours.’
This hit home for me. I thought to myself that was the furthest thing from the truth. At this point, I hadn’t shared my story with her. It was not something I had openly admitted to anyone outside of my close network of friends. But at that moment, I realized how important it could be to other families to hear things aren’t always what they seem to be. I ended up talking to the patient somewhat about my experience with postpartum, but I held a lot back. I didn’t know how much to share, or even if I could share it without breaking down into tears.
Social media and movies often portray motherhood as such a wonderful experience that brings instant love and bond between a mother and child. We don’t typically hear about the struggles some moms face after having a child. We don’t talk about the moms who don’t bond with their babies, or even have thoughts about hurting them. We don’t talk about the difficulties of motherhood and how it can impact other relationships. We don’t talk about the stress of having to care for a child 24/7 on little to no sleep. We don’t talk about the anxieties that can overtake our minds all day, every day. We don’t talk about the fears some moms have, or the constant struggle it is to not only care for their baby but to care for themselves. We don’t talk about how difficult just getting out of bed can be. We don’t talk about the scary or depressing, intrusive thoughts that swarm our minds. Why? Why don’t we talk about this?
I kept my story a secret for so long because I was scared. Scared of what others would think of me, scared someone would come and take Molly away from my family. Scared I would be judged in my abilities to be a mom. Scared I wouldn’t be able to work in the healthcare setting any longer. Scared my husband and my family would be judged. Scared of how my family would react once I told them the bitter truth. Scared other moms wouldn’t let daughters be friends with Molly. Scared people would always think of me as ‘the crazy chick that wanted to hurt her baby.’ Then I realized those fears didn’t matter. What mattered the most was helping others who may be going through what I did, and how if more and more people hear my story then more and more moms would reach out for help.
To this day, people often see my photos on Facebook of Molly and I when she was a newborn. They say how happy I look, and how it looks like I am in love and bonding with my new baby. Well, here’s a photo of myself and Molly. From the outside it looks like things are great, but what people don’t know is there is so much more to this picture than a new mom loving on her new baby. This photo, to me, brings back a flood of emotions.
This was a terrible day for me. This was a day I was so hopeless and so depressed I wanted to end my life. This day I was forced out of the house to go and ‘enjoy my time with Molly.’ The constant thought of, ‘I should just crash my car into a tree,’ kept playing in my mind as we were driving. I was thinking of every way possible to leave Molly and go back to the way my life once was.
In this photo, it looks like I am so in love with Molly. You probably would never guess, at this moment in her life, I was unable to look at her and tell her, ‘I loved her.’ Instead, I felt constant regret, shame, and guilt. Every time she would cry, I would immediately become nauseous and vomit. People never would guess I was dying on the inside. I was scared — scared to be alone and scared to be left alone with Molly. I didn’t trust myself, and I was scared to admit it to anyone.
At the same time, this photo reminds me of what I survived and that I am capable of so much. I have come such a long way since this photo. I have come to fully believe IT IS OKAY to have lived through a perinatal mood disorder, and IT IS OKAY it took me longer to bond with Molly than what I had anticipated.
I have accepted this was my postpartum journey, and now I have the opportunity to help other moms. Always remember everything may not be as it appears on the outside. To all the moms out there who may be struggling, please remember there is hope and you will get better. You just need to speak up and reach out! There IS light at the end of YOUR tunnel!
You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you will be well!
Emotionally- I’M IN PAIN
Mentally- I’M DEPRESSED
Spiritually- I’M STRESSED
Physically- I SMILE”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Brown, 32, of Hope for Maine Moms and Families. Follow her on Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Amanda here:
‘What if I never love my child? I hate being a mom.’ The day she was born, I became a different person.’: New mother suffers severe postpartum depression, ‘I was on the brink of suicide’
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