What I Needed to Hear in My Darkest Moments With Postpartum Depression

I’ve been thinking these past few weeks about what I would tell my “pre-son, pregnant-self” if I could go back in time. The phrase that sticks in my mind is simple and not at all profound, but I think I needed to hear it over and over again:

“You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

If I could turn back the clock, to my first scan at six weeks when all the trouble began, I would put my arms around myself, giving the biggest and tightest squeeze I could manage, and say, “It’s going to be OK, I promise!” I’d whisper – “I know you are fearful you’re not going to be able to carry this baby all the way, but you’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

As the months went on and I was off work with awful morning sickness, I’d stroke my hair as my head hung over the toilet bowl, and sooth myself with the words, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

As I struggled to eat, afraid of weight gain and my eating issues returning, feeling powerless to overcome them, I’d sit silently for company. As I forced myself to eat a sandwich, I’d nod my head in reassurance: “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

With every weekly scan that seemed to bring no good news, I’d hold my hand tightly, as if to absorb the fear, encouraging my heart with, “You’ll make it through this –it’s going to be OK!” 

As people commented on my lack of pregnancy growth and asked insensitive questions about the health of the baby, I’d give myself grace to be angry but strength not to rise to it, all the while assuring my wrestling mind, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

As Reuben was pulled from my tummy and I looked at him with terror and uncertainty, I’d tell myself I’d had done a great job carrying him safely and getting through the C-section, so no matter how I might feel in these first moments, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

When everyone left the hospital on the first night and I wanted to die with shame, fear and hate for myself and my “non-feelings” towards my little son, I’d allow myself time to explore those emotions without blame, all the while repeating, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

When I wanted to run out the door and leave my baby, my family and my life behind; when I truly wondered if I could “get out of this world” any time soon; when I wished someone would confirm my belief that my son was not mine, I would rub my weary shoulders, dry my tears, make myself a cup of tea and provide myself the luxury of falling asleep in peace, with the comfort blanket and safety of the promise, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

When I felt like a failure at breastfeeding, mom’s groups and every other “mom task” I believed I could not do, I would give myself a break and re-educate my mind and heart on what being a mom is really all about. In doing so, I’d hopefully discover that “you’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

When the anxiety was so bad I could not eat, sleep, answer the door or leave the house, I would give myself time to understand the illness and armed with the facts help to accept “you’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

And when I was terrified of facing a diagnosis of postpartum depression, taking the antidepressants and going to the mental health center, I would remind myself I do not believe I walk through life alone, and that God and those around me could believe for me for now. “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

It’s been a hard journey and a road I am still walking. I have been in treatment for four months and I know I am beginning to heal. There are still days I weep for all that has gone before, and wonder what lies ahead. But in those moments, or hours, I allow the words “you’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” to hug around me like a soft blanket and warm my heart like a sweet cup of tea. At this point, I have truly come to trust and rely on them.

I don’t know what stage of life or journey with postpartum depression, anxiety or struggles you are at. But if I could come and join you right now, I’d put my arms around you and repeat the words, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” over and over again. I can’t promise there are not still dark and difficult days ahead. I know, only too well, that the past cannot be changed and that memories take time to heal. But I also know there is help and hope available and people who want you to find it. I am one of them — feel free to get in touch. Do not deal with this on your own. Please reach out to someone, so that you can hear the words, “You’ll make it through this — it’s going to be OK!” 

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