Some people suggested you shouldn’t have children:
You need to get a grip on yourself before you think about having a family.
What if you forget to take your medicine one day?
Your disorder could be hereditary…
Will you be able to afford therapy once the baby’s here?
Whether you considered the advice, or muttered choice words in reply, if you’re reading this, you’re now a mom, a woman responsible for the health and well-being of an innocent, tiny tike. And whether you feel prepared for this role or fear you made the biggest mistake of your life, each of us is incapable of navigating this duty perfectly, mental health disorder or not.
However, for moms who have a psychiatric medical record, an acronym scribbled on prescription paper labeling them inept, disabled, and lightyears behind other more capable moms, the pressure can be soul-crushing.
It has been for me, but I know I’m not meant to bear this burden alone, nor are you.
Here are some golden mantras that have carried me through my first few weeks of motherhood, when my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) met Post-Partum Depression (PPD) and nearly crippled any faith that I could keep my boy alive, well, and healthy – everything opposite of what I felt (and still feel today):
1. Bravery Is Found In Your Everyday Burdens
At one point or another, every mom feels overwhelmed and ill-equipped, thinking to herself, What did I get myself into? I can’t do this–especially not for eighteen years!
Showing up for the art of motherhood each day might not seem like slaying the dragons or facing the giants, but bravery is found in subtle, simple, everyday burdens like:
- Singing “You Are My Sunshine” with tears in your eyes when 3am feeds offer no source of lighthearted melody…
- Forgiving yourself when you let your little one sit in a wet diaper for an extra thirty minutes because you simply want to finish your cup of half-caf coffee…
- Or being honest when someone asks how you are.
Bravery is doubling therapy sessions, taking your medicine as prescribed, and telling others that PPD is real, even normal.
It’s in this authenticity that a mom can own her mental health diagnosis to pave the path to bravery.
2. Your Child Will Know Your Strength Not Despite Your Diagnosis, But Because Of It
When I was growing up, my mom would tell my little sister and me, “I need five ‘Mommy Minutes,’ and if you talk, the time starts all over.” She was a military wife, often balancing the roles of both mom and dad, yet she was willing to admit that her mind and soul occasionally needed reprieve, a short break–even from her children.
Owning hard circumstances takes strength.
My mom was strong, is strong, and I’m reminded that my son will know my strength not despite my OCD, but because of it. He will see strength when I am vulnerable with the diagnosis, offer myself grace, and extend that same grace and empathy to other weary women battling mental demons and weary seasons.
He will know that strength isn’t glamor but grit, not birthed from silence but catalyzed by a healthy community, and he will have my pre-blazed trail as proof.
3. My Diagnosis Won’t Stop Me From Loving Others
If I let OCD keep me from motherhood, love doesn’t win.
Love unfolds in the hard times when we surrender ourselves to the uphill battle of giving another our best – no matter what we already endure.
This is the bedrock of motherhood. It’s giving the first quiet moments of my day to a baby screaming for my attention and giving the last ounce of my energy to the little one who leaves me sweating in soured milk and sporting spit-up–all while my war against OCD wages.
If I allow OCD to keep me from having babies, making friends, joining a church, or loving my neighbor because it’s hard, the diagnosis wins.
And I refuse to be a mom who raises the white flag because of a few acronyms scribbled on paper.
So I love my baby anyway.
It’s a messy, imperfect, not-always-mentally-fortified love.
But that’s the only kind I can give.
It’s the only kind any of us can give.
You’ve got this, mama. No matter what your medical chart says.
Peyton Garland is an author and Tennessee farm mama sharing her heart on OCD, church trauma, and failed mom moments. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, to discover Jesus’ hope in life’s simplest moments.