I am NOT Okay, and THAT’S Okay

by Mama Queenly on October 15, 2012

One of the most (out of many) horrible things about having post-partum depression (PPD) is the silent battle you are constantly fighting, against yourself, alone, while at the same time hoping like crazy that nobody notices that you might be unhappy/stressed/overwhelmed/anxious/you name it. I’m always nervous for people to randomly drop by my house for a visit should they happen to notice the puffiness of my face from crying “for no reason,” or how dirty my hair might look from being in my third day of a “rut” where I just don’t care to wash it, or the unclean dishes piling up in my sink; a sure sign that I’m obviously failing as a mother.

Not every person who has PPD gets it to the same degree; nor does that beast rear its ugly head in the same regard to each woman. With my first born, I mainly dealt with severe crying fits, feelings of failure, and overpowering hopelessness. Whereas with my second child, I have major anxiety, feelings of intense anger, and a loss of self-worth – on top of the crying and feeling overwhelmed.

Found via Pinterest

With my first child, I did not bond with my baby at all when he was first born. It was not until he was around five months old that I finally realized how incredibly in love I finally was with my little person. I didn’t dislike my baby, I just felt like someone had suddenly stuck me with this tiny, little stranger whom I had expected to immediately fall in love with and understand the solution for each and every whimper. And I think I had a slight grudge against him for it, like he wasn’t really doing his part either. “Come on, baby, make me love you!!”

On top of that, I was constantly hopping from one foot to the other, trying my damnedest to make it look like I had everything under control. In reality, things couldn’t have been farther from the truth. And my inability to admit that I was struggling and craving to appear like “The Perfect Mother” was making it far worse. Looking back on those days, especially in old pictures, I can tell how insane that idea was making me. My house was spotless!

Let me make this perfectly clear: I am not judging anyone on how often or not one might tidy up, but a brand new mama, with a tiny, new baby, should be doing nothing more than eating, drinking, and tending to their new little person. She should not be scurrying around the house all day long, bouncing from one task to another and making herself exhausted.

But I couldn’t do that. I felt like every dirty dish had to be washed right away and every dinner should still be homemade and on the table by five. I wanted everyone to believe that I had my shit 100% together and to be amazed by my natural ability. On the inside I was hollow. I wouldn’t understand wholly the reasons why, but my birth had left me feeling like a total failure. Lacking, somehow.

I felt even worse when I thought about how I “should” be happy. “You should be happy. WHY aren’t you happy??” I had a loving and supportive family, a wonderful and devoted spouse, and an adorably perfect new little boy.  But I just wasn’t, and it wasn’t until around six months post-partum, at the urging from my husband, that I would finally ask someone for help. It was very difficult for him to watch me go through this, and my random outbursts were draining on our relationship.

After seven months of jumping from one antidepressant to the next, I discovered that diet and exercise worked best for me, and I started feeling better and better each day. It was as if someone was slowly lifting a veil away from my eyes and I started to find more and more joys in my daily life. My son was about 18 months old by then and we had grown much more accustomed to our routine. So this mothering business was not beyond my grasp! I CAN do this!

When I ended up getting PPD again with my second child, I couldn’t help but wonder if there really was something wrong with me. Even with all my learning and understanding that the surge of hormones can make the situation nearly unavoidable, I felt like, “if only I had handled xyz differently” maybe things wouldn’t have ended up back here. I was in a dark spot for about eight months before finally deciding to handle this round of PPD with a new approach. Instead of keeping everything to myself, I was going to tell people that I wasn’t “fine,”  I wasn’t going to keep my life under the veil of “The Perfect Mother, “ and I wasn’t going to pretend like I didn’t need anyone’s help.

When people would ask me how things were going with the new baby and ask if they could help, I would tell them the truth, even if it made them uncomfortable, “He’s very healthy, but he’s not sleeping well and I could really use a nap if you’ve got time,” or, “I’m not able to pay enough attention to his older brother and am overwhelmed, would you mind taking him to the park for me, please?” I’m overwhelmed, I’m stressed, I’m tired, I need a shower but would rather sleep. I’m not going to bother cooking a whole meal today, and yeah, my three-year-old is just going to eat Wendy’s for dinner tonight.

Instead of pretending that I wasn’t drowning, I was up front with everyone about what was happening. “These tears? They’re inevitable these days. Yeah, it’s my post-partum depression, but it isn’t all the time or every day. I have good days and bad days with it. It’d be great to have a kid-free day if you have time to take them to the zoo for me.” Being open about my PPD hasn’t cured it, by any means, but at least those close to me can better understand why my laundry might be piling up or why I look like a hobo that day (no offense to any hobos…). It’s because I’m overwhelmed by everything in my life at the moment, and you know what’s truly liberating? IT. IS. OKAY. It really is, I promise.

When things get really tough for me, I try my best to reason with myself. I ask myself three basic questions:

1.)    Are my kids happy?

2.)    Are my kids healthy?

3.)    Do they know that I love them?

As long as I can answer “yes” to those three questions, I feel like we can make it work. Years from now, when my PPD is gone and they look back on their childhood will they remember all the times I might have cried while making mashed potatoes or will they (hopefully) remember all of the times we laughed? Will they focus on the times where I might have gotten more upset than necessary with them and had to apologize? Or will they remember the times we took, each day, to snuggle?

FAMILY is important, not this sickness or the circumstances it might find you in. And having to deal with this sickness is NOT MY FAULT. I am NOT okay and THAT is okay… because eventually we will BE okay! The most important thing is admitting that you are having a tough time and getting the help that you need. Regardless of how little you hear about it or how that one mom friend you have on Facebook might be making herself look like she’s got it all together (honestly, how often does anyone advertise their day to day “failings” on their Facebook wall?), you are NOT alone! You aren’t. All mothers will go through a bout of baby blues at some point post-partum, despite how small or large it might be. And if you are having a tougher time than another mom, IT’S OKAY! It does not make you a bad mother, nor does it make you a failure for admitting it.

We need to end this stigma of immediately being able to gracefully, flawlessly enter a new situation when having our first, second, third, and so forth, babies. Why are we expected to all of a sudden know exactly what to do and how to handle it when we’ve never done any of it before? Parenting is NOT easy and anyone who tells you otherwise either needs to cut the bullshit or put out a damn manual!

Listen, mamas, do yourselves a favor; If you’re reading this post and nodding and thinking, “Yes, that’s me, I am having a tough time!” Go into your bathroom, look yourself in the mirror and say, “Things are tough right now and that is okay! I am a good Mommy!” Say it a couple times. Say it until you can believe it. Then, say it to your partner or a family member, or to a trusted friend. The more you say it the more you will believe it and the less those tough times will add to your stress. And remember that I am sooo right there with you.

If you find yourself in my boat, don’t lose hope. Take things one day at a time. Find things to make you laugh and laugh out loud. Ask for help and don’t be afraid to do so. Don’t hide behind the “I’m fine/everything’s fine” veil. Get a shower (at least) every other day – it FEELS GREAT! Force it if you need to. Eat good food and stay hydrated. It helps, it really does. Maybe if we all stop pretending that everything is okay, the pressure to be “perfect” will take a hike!

 

*Mama Queenly is a wife to her best friend of 15 years and SAHM to two young boys in Midwest, USA. Her passions include, but are not limited to:  writing, cooking, baking, and all kinds of music (both recorded and live).  Having had both an induced, med free vaginal birth in a hospital and a birth center transfer turn emergency cesarean, she has very strong interests in pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. She shares the belief that knowledge is our best defense when fighting for our basic rights and feels that she has much to share with other women about her own experiences. “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.*

Share/Bookmark

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

iulia October 15, 2012 at 9:56 am

I cannot thank you enough. My only son is 2 1/2 now; I have experienced PPD to the point where hospitalization was needed (event though I did not accept it) and I still cannot completely open up and talk about it. This helped, and you are right with many of the things you said. Thank you.

Reply

Cassidy October 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

Thank you for sharing your story! I didn’t realize I had PPD until it was gone. I was extremely overwhelmed and I felt like such a failure. In top if that I had a MIL who judged me and called me names to no end and was never happy with anything. She demanded (not asked) to be I the room when my daughter was born and I refused so she ignored me completely when she came to visit and said some pretty nasty things to my husband. That was just the beginning. I love people and I am not one to blame but I truly feel that my PPD would have been easier to deal with if it wasn’t for her. Thanks for giving me the chance to vent :).

Reply

Kristi January 24, 2013 at 11:38 pm

My mother in law is pretty much the same way…..when my fiance called her and told her that I was in labor, and that I didn’t want her there, she cried to him for 30 minutes….then when she came and my mom came back(I WANTED MY mom there) she glared at her the entire time she held my son…I know how it goes with a MIL that acts like a 3 year old. :)

Reply

Amber wolfe October 15, 2012 at 10:21 am

Reading this post is like reading a biography of myself after my lil one. It took me about 5 months really bond with him and still to this day as a full time student, even the littlest situations cause me the greatest anxiety. Thank you so much for sharing! You are a beautiful, brave, and strong mommy :)

Reply

Tasha October 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

Thank you.

Reply

Rachelle October 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

thank you

Reply

Tricia October 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thank you so much for this. I thought it was just me…but so many of her points hit the nail on the head for me. In particular, being overwhelmed and never getting it all done plus I have anger issues. I didn’t put all this together as PPD. I have let go of so much but there is still so much more bottled up inside of me.

Reply

Caitlyn October 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Wow. Thank you so, so much for this post. I’ve got 2 under 2, my youngest being only 6 weeks old and I am totally in the thick of it right now.

Reply

Sheri October 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I had postpartum depression with my first. I didn’t bond well with her until around 3-4 months. I felt very overwhelmed with breastfeeding and that caused me to feel much like a failure. I was anxious a lot of the time and I felt like my homemaker duties were so much more important than they actually were. With my next baby I learned that for the first several weeks I should just let someone else take care of my house be-it my husband, mother ect. I also took a birthing class which introduced me to placenta encapsulation. If you don’t know what it is you should google it and read the overwhelmingly good things about it’s benefits. I did this with my son and it helped tremendously. By doing the placenta encapsulation I had so much more engery, I started exercising 3 weeks postpartum. I was cooking and cleaning and not feeling overwhelmed and I’m still breastfeeding nearly 100% of the time and he’s almost 13 weeks old. I felt my bond with him was instant and things felt smoother than with my first. When we have a baby we lose those hormones with the placenta, but with placenta encapsulation you replace those hormones with your own hormones. For any mother who has a tough time with PPD I highly recommend it!

Reply

Alicia December 19, 2012 at 12:22 am

I agree 100% with the placenta encapsulation!!! I had a baby last week and am currently taking my pills :)
I knew it was definitely right for me -this is my third baby and I’ve always had trouble balancing my hormones after birth. I wish I would have known about placenta encapsulation sooner! I recommend it to anyone who is worried about PPD.
When I first read about it, I thought it was crazy-talk, but the more studying I did and the more I learned about the amazing benefits it offered, the less crazy it sounded! If you’ve ever been through PPD, you are pretty much willing to do ANYTHING to never have to go through it again if you don’t have to.
If I’m blessed to have any more babies, I will definitely do it again!

Reply

Loraine October 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thank you for posting this! I feel like this is me still even though I am 4 months pregnant.

Reply

Heather Waddington October 16, 2012 at 3:50 am

Love this story! I can totally relate, glad you foundthe strength and courage to ask for help. :) HUGS to Mamas everywhere!!!

Reply

Hannah October 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I admire you so much for your honesty. If someone I know said they were struggling and needed help I’d be very impressed and hop to it! I wish I had been so honest.

Reply

victoria Leith October 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

Thank you so much for having the courage to post this. You are amazing

Reply

Anne October 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m a doula and will share it on fb to pass on your knowledge and to encourage the conversation to continue. Like depression in general, it’s difficult in our society to talk about and accept it, yet it’s so common. I also like the photos!

Reply

Ann K. November 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I finally admitted there was something wrong when my baby was about 6 months old. I was always unhappy, always crying. I had convinced myself that I was a bad Mom for feeling the way I do about myself. I don’t feel like I’m “good enough” for her. My husband finally brought it to my attention that I needed help. A few weeks ago I finally opened up to my family about. I feel so much better now, now I know I’m not alone. One of my sisters went through it, my mom went through it. It’s not going to go away overnight, there’s no easy fix, but at least I’m trying, I’m not going to let it weigh me down anymore.

Reply

Nicollette December 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

thank you for sharing, im terrified that I will get PPD for the 4th time (im currently 25weeks)

Reply

Tiffy December 19, 2012 at 2:18 am

Have you considered having your placenta encapsulated? It has been known to improve more than just your mood:0)

Reply

Ashley January 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Thank you so much. My daughter’s almost 2 and my husband is in his initial entry training for the National Guard. I battled with PPD when our daughter was newborn until she was a year old. It was awful…. the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness were overwhelming to the point I would fantasize about taking my own life. After my husband left for training, I began to feel the “drowning” again. I had never done a budget or been responsible for the bills. I was the breadwinner…. I brought home the pay while he divided it up and kept up with our daughter and the house. Switching roles has me feeling like I can’t keep up. I consider myself to be doing well if I shower once every three days. Our daughter is healthy and happy and we snuggle constantly, but I can’t seem to get the money or the house right. Dishes from two weeks ago sit in my sink and I promise myself every night that I’ll do them tomorrow. I won’t let my own mother over to help because I’m so humiliated by my inability to run a home. I want to seek help, but I’m getting ready to leave for my initial entry training in under a year and can’t have any mental health problems on record anywhere. Reading that there are other moms out there experiencing the same thing makes me feel less alone, less like a failure. Thank you.

Reply

Kate February 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I have a 2 1/2 year old and the story that you just told describes me. I didn’t know that I had PPD until after it was over. It was horrible. I was telling people that I was not ok. I was telling EVERYONE that I was not ok and was told over and over that “you’ll get through it, it’s just hard” and “it gets better” and “this is just how it is”. They were wrong. I’m 12 weeks pregnant and terrified. I have a new doctor, a lactation consultant that I will be meeting with in the next few weeks and and I’m afraid. At least this time, I know that it’s not just me and that other mom’s can relate. I will also not have fantasy expectations to bond right away but will understand it takes work. Thank you so much for a perfectly written post.

Reply

Tommie Lynn February 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thank you so much.

Reply

Amy February 23, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Do you ever feel like there are no coincidences? Just today I admitted I need help. I so needed to read this. Thank you so much.

Reply

Mama Queenly February 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

A recent comment asked if I believed things happened by coincidence… and no, I think sometimes it’s absolutely for a reason! My youngest is 19 months old now and I am just finally starting to get back to some form of normal. Our new normal, anyway! But I still have dreadful days too… somehow those are days where January re-shares this post and it lifts my heart so so much to read your comments. I guess even I need this reminder some days; We are NOT alone! (((HUGS))) mamas!

Reply

Stella March 24, 2013 at 12:18 am

Thanks for sharing this. I learned that I had one of the worst PPDs after I was much better, but it took me about or even more than 2 years to heal… I didn’t have any support from anyone, unfortunately in my country where I delivered and lived first year after it is not ok not to be ok, it is not normal to admit you have a PPD and many normal things are not normal… After many doctors and finally getting pregnant via artificial insemination because of problems with my husband’s sperm, I had a very tough pregnancy (had a septum in uterus). Was told I can’t deliver myself and may lose my possibly only baby (how doctors can say that?)… I had my baby via a c-section and didn’t see my baby after delivery, though I needed that, I clearly needed that… After that because of reaction to a vaccine (my fault, I didn’t know anything about vaccines at that point, but the UNICEF propaganda) we had sleepless nights and days with my son in the hospital, though I was told, it’s my fault my son was crying and I still didn’t have any milk (again how they could say that?)… We had to move to a neonatal care hospital because of the reaction to vaccine, though no doctor ever agreed to say officially that it was because of vaccination. After that my son had a two-sided herniation surgery when he was only 40 days old… All this with MIL, husband and others blaming me, I wasn’t a good mom and a terrible PPD (if it should be mentioned at all)… I survived… I am more educated now and hope to have more kids and less issues then… but I wish no woman ever to go through that anywhere in the world… I hope I can forget this or at least remember without shaking and crying… Thank you for making me to speak up!!!!

Reply

Virginia March 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Thank you for this. It made me reach out and ask for help

Reply

kt in az June 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Beautiful! I’ve been there. I have 4 kids- wanted to be the perfect wife and made myself sick in the process. My generation wanted to be like our Mother’s generation with the ‘perfect house’- such a facade. The good stuff comes when we accept ourselves (and others) for where they are at. Faith in God helps too. He is the only one that matters and He doesn’t care if there is a square meal on the table every night…Do you love your family and try to do the right thing everyday?

Reply

Kelsi July 1, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Thank you so much for this. This popped up in my newsfeed at the exact time I needed it. Your honesty and openness are exactly what I needed today!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: