Then I thought about how I saw a quote earlier in the day that said, “Somebody needs the part of your story that you’re ashamed of.”
And, well, here we are.
I didn’t realize I suffered with anxiety most of my life until after I had my son. I thought the way I worried and constantly over-analyzed everything was completely normal. Now I’m glad I know it’s not and I’m grateful I have the knowledge to help combat those thoughts.
Six weeks after I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, we packed up and moved 10 hours away from almost everyone and everything I knew. It was a breaking point (but now I view it more so as a turning point) in my life. Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t know how to cope.
I didn’t want to get out of bed every day. I had a little boy who’s life literally depended on me, so I did the things I was supposed to do to help him and then I slept any other chance I had. Sleeping helped me forget about my loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and questioning my every move I made with my son. My son kept my head afloat though, absolutely.
He was counting on me.
It took a good heart-to-heart, actually it took a few of them, with my husband for me to realize that the way I was feeling wasn’t normal. It wasn’t the way people are supposed to feel after they welcome their first child into the world and embark on the adventure that grows and supports their family. My husband helped me see where I was and where I wanted to be. He’s always there beside me, nudging me forward when I need it.
I made myself go outside. I truly think that sunshine is a natural remedy for almost any illness, both seen and unseen. Fresh air helped wake me up and made me feel more like myself. Even now when I have a bad day, I head to the front porch for a swing in the breeze and I can feel myself become lighter.
I found ways to stay busy. I still do this now; I think it became a habit of sorts. An idle mind is the devil’s playground, as they say. Instead of binge watching TV or scrolling aimlessly on my phone I would journal, read a book, clean the house, organize closets, or maybe even cook. I find something that gives my mind a much-needed break – aimless tasks are my personal favorite.
Family was key for me when I was struggling. None of them knew I was carrying around mounds of extra weight (and most of them probably didn’t even know that until reading this now – hi!), but they carried me through my hard times. Even though we still live far from most of our family, they consistently bring me joy. FaceTime, phone calls, text messages, Facebook comments, and Snapchat videos – those are the things that could (and always can) turn a bad day around. Family is important now more than ever for me because I see the love that my son has for all the people in his corner. I see joy in the purest form when he sees family or when he gets to talk to them. A random video call carries his spirit until the next time he gets to see them, and sometimes it carries me too.
Joy is love in its purest form. I found it then, and still find it now, in the simplest parts of life.
If you are struggling postpartum, I promise you are not alone. Postpartum depression and anxiety are real and they can be monumental to get over.