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To the Mom Deciding to Seek Help for Her Postpartum Mood Disorder

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Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Dear me who has been struggling with postpartum mood disorder,

As a mother who loves her kids more than anything, you might have been disappointed in yourself for having any sort of negative emotions after they were born. You kept shoving it under the rug hoping it would all disappear on its own. You’re so lucky — you have the most amazing husband and children you could ask for, so why on earth were you experiencing this?

Every ear infection and cold, you felt personally responsible for. Each day you got up and did your best on little sleep, but couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t enough. Your kids were happy, fed and clothed, but if they needed you at the same time you were only one person. Logically, you knew that and got everything done — yet you still felt inadequate, anxious and sad.

Sure, being a mom is busy. There isn’t a ton of time for you. Even if there was, you had no interest in doing much of anything. You were too mentally exhausted and would rather be in your safe place — home. If there were chores left undone, you felt too guilty doing anything else first.

You overanalyzed little things and always assumed everyone was mad at you. If someone didn’t text you back, you jumped to conclusions and wondered if you did something wrong. Even though you were the one who was famous for forgetting to reply when things got busy. Overthinking became a nasty habit you couldn’t shake.

When you were younger, you might have experienced some issues as well, but it was very manageable. Self-care was something you were on top of and you could usually keep your anxiety under control. Everything changed though. Your emotions started to spiral out of control and you felt like you were a shell of your former self.

You tried natural supplements, meditation, working out and soaking in lavender baths, but something still wasn’t quite right. When the nurse suggested medication during your checkup, you shot the idea down instantly. No! Antidepressants? No way! You have everything in the world to be happy about. How could you possibly need to go on antidepressants?

There were good and bad days for you, as any new mother has, but there was still that lingering feeling, that imbalance pulling you down in the wrong direction. Your mind raced with anxiety and irrationality. It took you nine months. Nine long months to find the courage to speak up about it and go back to the doctors.

The fear of being judged and thought of as a bad mother stopped you from seeking help for nearly a year. You always thought of yourself as a strong person. Someone who was able to help others, not someone who sought out help. You didn’t feel as if anyone would understand because you have so much to be grateful for.

When you told your doctor what was going on, he was nothing but understanding. You were not meant to feel like a bad mother, strange or weak. He explained that it’s actually very common and nothing to be ashamed of. So many people go through this, but don’t always speak up because of the stigma attached to it.

The way he described it is that most people who suffer from anxiety or depression experience both. They may experience more of one than the other, but they are closely related. You could call them the ugly stepsisters from “Cinderella.” In your situation, anxiety was the dominant one.

The idea of being on medication still wasn’t attractive to you, but something had to be done. Your family deserved the happier, healthier version of you. You swallowed your pride and forgot everything you thought you knew about anxiety/depression medication.

Medication isn’t for everyone. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and if does help, it’ll take time. In your situation, you opted to give it a shot. You don’t have the time in the world for relaxation techniques you need to naturally treat it. One day you may and things won’t always be so crazy, but here and now, your family needs you. The better version of you.

It’s helped a great deal. You still have your days and it isn’t a magical cure, but it’s given you some motivation back. You’re less on edge, more patient and ready to take on challenges as they come.

This was very hard for you to post. You went back and forth on it for days and deleted your post. You retrieved it from your recently deleted files and decided that it’s worth the vulnerability. If you can help even one person that is going through postpartum mood disorders, or any mental health issues for that matter, then it’s worth it. It took so much courage for you to get help and that shows strength, not weakness.

If you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression or other postpartum disorders and need help, you can call Postpartum Support International‘s hotline at 1-800-944-4773.

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Thinkstock photo via lukas_zb

Originally published: August 8, 2017
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