There are a whole bunch of prenatal classes that are created to prepare you for the birthing process. To help your mind and body get ready for the intense pain that is coming but, not what follows. No, I’m not talking about mommy and baby yoga classes that I’m excited to start next week. I’m talking about the classes and support groups to help the new mothers going through postpartum mood disorders. It somehow gets swept under the rug. If you look up postpartum you will see a plethora of posts about how to get your body back, how to make padsicles and fast track the healing process but, almost nothing is found on how to fast track the mental healing process. Leaving us new mothers with to grin and bare the anxiety when we are too scared to speak up. I was given all kinds of tips, tricks and advice for the birthing process and taking care of my new born, but no one came with advice on how to take care of myself and my mind. No one prepared me for the mental after math, no one warned me that I might suffer from depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety and intense mood swings.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are beyond a doubt a real issue. An issue I didn’t realize was actually affecting me. Until recently when I looked in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw and how I felt about mothering stopped feeling like a task and more of a choice. Depression and other mental illnesses are still a taboo in our society. Only once things have reached an extreme level does the severity of the issue get vocalized. Most people don’t want to deal with the person who is showing symptoms of depression because it’s uncomfortable. When I first tried to speak out about how I was feeling I would be told “It will get better, just stay positive”. I heard it so often that I stopped vocalizing my emotions. Instead, I kept it in because that was my problem, I didn’t see any positives.
I can’t speak for all mothers, but I can speak on my own experience. Damn, is it ever hard to take care of your child when you’re not having that whimsical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Instead, everything annoys you. You feel resentment, disconnection, confusion and uncontrollable sadness. You feel that you should be handling new motherhood better than this and worst of all that your baby deserves better. Its challenging because you don’t actually know how long it will last. Studies say that 1 in 10 women suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. I am not ashamed to say I was one of them. I am 7 months postpartum and finally starting to feel like myself again. I am exercising, eating well, taking my vitamins and I am feeling like a queen again. I am trying to find my passions and balance everything out. I want that whimsical mommy bliss, and I question if it is even real or, just like romantic relationships motherhood is dramatized on television for our entertainment.
Freelance writer, Dara Mathis worded it beautifully on one of my favourite blogs Baby&Blog when she said:
I also believe that motherhood is wrestling. The state of motherhood is centered on the child in the womb; but the raw, sloughing work of *mothering* is an evolving effort made over time. Children are born. But mothers must make and remake and remake themselves. The shifting of women into mothers rarely happens without constant internal dialogue about who we are to ourselves once we become “mommy” to others. It’s a fallacy to believe that mothers of (young) children should slide seamlessly into the role when we have lived with our bodies and minds longer than we have lived with our children.
Why should we be expected to automatically transform into these perfect, baking, craft making, mini van driving mothers? When not too long ago you were living for just yourself and embracing the spontaneity of childlessness. I still struggle accepting that my life is no longer able to be as it once was before. There are so many misconceptions to postpartum that it is bizarre that this postpartum mental struggle isn’t spoken about more openly. If i feel this way, and I have read about other women feeling this way, there has to be a whole community of us questioning and wondering how the f#$* we are going to manage this new lifestyle.
So, to all expecting mothers and new mothers reading this, please know you are not alone.
Know that you are powerful beyond belief.
You are a super human being that just brought new life into this world and that what you you feel is normal for new mothers.
Please know that the questions you have, we have all had them.
Please know that you are not alone and the fear you feel will fade.
There are people that can help you.
There are people who are willing to listen.
You will get better at this, and most importantly YOU ARE NOT A HORRIBLE MOTHER.