The Hidden Face of Postpartum Depression
Waking up each morning should be the simplest of tasks. I vaguely remember a time when getting out of bed was easy. Since postpartum depression came into my life, rising from my pit is the first battle of many to kick off what will inevitably be a very long day.
With a weary mind and an aching body, I spend a moment applying my “game face.” This is the face that my children know and love. This is the face that strangers in the street wish “Good morning,” and the one from which they get a cheery reply. That’s the best bit about being a parent, isn’t it? Our ability to shake ourselves into action. We wade through each day acting like the pinnacle of strength for our children, who get us through.
My “game face” is my favorite face. It portrays the person I strive to be, the person who I used to be. I struggle with the knowledge I must psych myself up to be that person when before it came so naturally. The old, pre-child me was never perfect, but looking back I didn’t appreciate being that person enough.
Most of the time, under the surface of my façade I take life minute by minute. I keep a constant eye out for lurking triggers and if I see one coming, I run like the wind as I seek to circumvent it. On those days when I simply cannot face the world, my children and I laugh and play in our own four walls. I read to them and we craft. I seek to educate them and stimulate their minds. On these days, I have perfected letting my tears fall only when my back is turned. Only when it is safe to do so, do I dwell on the demons in my mind.
Like most others, I find being a parent exhausting. I’m not afraid to admit that bedtime is my favorite time of day. On particularly bad days, when I have been plagued with anxiety, I use this time to collapse into a heap. Sometimes I wallow, often I cry and occasionally I let out the panic attack I’ve been trying to hold back for hours. Sometimes it’s impossible to shake the feeling of sickness and dread. A lot of the time my concentration fails me, as I search for answers to a question I haven’t even been asked. Every night I crawl into bed, only to worry about waking up.
Parents far and wide are good at pushing those hidden faces to the back of their minds. We will always carry on for our children, we will never let this thing win. I can’t help but wonder, though, what would happen if we let others into our secret? If we stood tall and put our hidden faces on show for all to see, we could rid postpartum depression from the stigma that far too often makes it taboo. We could unite and make a difference not only to our lives but to others who may be suffering from this illness.
I believe that raising awareness around mental health is key to making a change, in a world that is too easy to judge. Talking is educating and that is a perfect place to start. Join in and put your hidden faces of depression on show — let the world know that it’s OK not to be OK.
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Thinkstock photo via Taws13