. . . continued from My PPD Story . . .
The truth is I don’t know how this story is going to end. I can pinpoint the exact therapy sessions during which I finally chose to release the pain of my past and how glorious it felt as the ugliness physically left my body, releasing through my feet and leaving me with what can only be described as pure lightness.
I can tell you where I was when I realized that I am not alone in this world, but in fact, surrounded by amazing people filled with good hearts, great intentions and loving support.
I can describe with elation the trip I took with my mom that finally healed my little girl’s heart from festering childhood wounds.
But my story continues. I can’t yet claim to be cured of my illness, this postpartum demon. Some days are better than others; most are better than the last. It’s a process. One I am still learning – every day a new lesson.
I’m learning that through it all and despite self-talk to the contrary, I am a good mom. I am that “Other Mother,” who enjoys taking her kids on walks through the woods and chasing them until they’re breathless at the park; who worries about their health, happiness and futures; who wonders if she’s giving them enough love, a good balance of comfort, structure and independence.
I’m learning that there are a million ways to be a good mom and among these is recognizing that motherhood is stressful. Every day we strive to balance self-care, relationships, parenting, house management, careers and other life stressors – the good and the bad; I’m learning to relieve this stress just as frequently as I encounter it.
I’m learning to take care of myself; to spend time and money on myself once in a while, so I can recharge and prevent Mommy-Burnout. I’m learning to ask for help when I need it and to be thankful when I get it. That Daddy will not always do things the way I would (in fact, I can guarantee that 95% of the time he will do them differently) but that he loves those kids, and tirelessly aims to keep us safe and happy. For that I am truly grateful and blessed. We are all imperfect beings and this means my partner has his own struggles; he needs my love, not my judgment.
I’m learning to love and accept myself as the person I am, complete with imperfections of my own. I’m also learning that I best demonstrate this love and acceptance to my children when I take care of myself and when I share my love with others.
I’m learning that it takes a lot of patience to be an adult, to remain a grown-up when you feel like stomping your feet and joining the kids’ wails. I’m learning how to deal with those childhood issues I naïvely thought I could leave in the past; to face them and not fear them, like all obstacles in life.
I’m learning how to spend more time living in the moment, embracing who I am and where I am here and now. That it’s important to plan and anticipate the future with open arms, but it is more important to inhabit this minute, to cherish life at this moment for the next has not been promised.
Coping with PPD is not easy, but it is possible. I’ve learned that until we release our pain and suffering, until we bring our darkness to the light, we can never truly know peace or happiness. It is with this wisdom that I share my story with you and encourage you to do the same.
First of all, ask for help. Trust me, it’s out there; you just have to find it. Seek professional help, talk to a trusted pastor, confide in a friend… Please, reach out. Connect with someone and share your story: your triumphs, your lessons, your fears. Make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Understand that you are not alone. When it comes to motherhood, we’ve all been there!
My experience has taught me that utilizing the mental health system takes patience, persistence and perception, but the help is available. Stay in control of your body, your mind and your health by being proactive in every aspect of your life, including making the choice to switch to a mental health provider with whom you feel comfortable and connected, no matter how many times it takes. The same can be said about medicine.
Medication is a tool that can be incredibly helpful in helping you maintain homeostasis, providing you the time and space you need to learn, grow and heal. However, it should be only considered as part of your treatment, as should any other therapies you choose to endeavor. True health requires a lifestyle change – there is no drug or therapy or treatment that will magically dissipate your life’s problems. But, medication and therapy can be useful tools in helping you change how you think, how you respond to life’s problems and in turn, how you feel about life.
Ultimately, it’s on you. You have to make up your mind and take action, put forth the effort and open yourself to learning from your mistakes along the way. But I assure you, you can do it. It’s all about perspective. Change your thoughts; your words and actions will follow, your circumstances will shift. You will see results.
Please remember to be gentle on yourself. Give yourself a break. Often. Slow down and enjoy the life you’ve been given, for the good of yourself, your relationship, your family and your community. Soak up the good stuff, release the bad stuff to the wind. Find your passion, your mission, your reason for being and let the chips fall where they may. You can’t control the rest of it anyway.
Like you, I’m still discovering that I have control of my life, that I create my own destiny. I’m learning that the pen is in my hand and that each day is a fresh page. I’ve realized that I determine where my tale goes from here: the woman and the mother I will choose to become, the life that I will decide to lead. I know that I’m writing in ink and I can’t erase my mistakes, but if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be… every day writing my story, every day living my dream.
January 1, 2015