I am not alone
One of the biggest triggers for my postpartum depression was being away from my baby. Leaving the house alone for grocery shopping, for medical check-ups were incredibly difficult in the first few months and these were the only occasions when my desire to never leave him bowed to my thinking mind and surrendered to the idea of taking care of myself and my family.
Later the thought of going back to work and leaving him for half, then full days became paralysing. I just wanted to be around. I did not want to miss out on anything about him. A smile, a giggle, a new discovery… I just wanted to be near in case he needed me. But the truth is, I was the one who needed help.
I didn’t know who I was when I was not a mum. Being away from him I felt naked, I did not recognise the body I was carrying around, I did not know what to do with my hands without carrying him and without the army of baby accessories. One day I decided to give almost all of my clothes away, because I did not feel my personality was reflected in them anymore.
I simply stopped caring about my own needs cause some of them would have meant leaving the baby for an hour or so. I just couldn’t strike a deal with myself, the voice of my mum guilt ended up being louder than my craving for finding me.
I felt disconnected, yet happy, because all I wanted for years to be a mum. The fear of missing out on anything on this long-desired journey was devastating. At the same time, I was afraid to admit how difficult it was to live the mum life. I felt like the most ungrateful person in the world when all I wanted was to curl up in a corner and cry. “How could I feel lost and miserable while holding the most beautiful little creature in my hands?“ - I asked myself regularly.
Because I had a history with anxiety and depression pre-baby, I felt I was conscious about the signs. Though when I read the list of symptoms at different occasions, I didn’t feel any of them applied to how I was feeling. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to admit if something was wrong. But I was ashamed. Sometimes I even tried to force myself into situations which then would prove to me and the people around me that I was okay. But I was not.
My house of cards built on those false self-convincing thoughts started to fall down bit by bit: as I got closer to going back to work; when my dad had to go to the hospital; as 1 year of continuous sleep deprivation started to take its toll; as we were struggling with the transition from maternity to paternity leave; when friendships got endangered by me isolating from the world outside of my baby bubble; when I was told by multiple people that my attachment to my baby might not be healthy; when I felt I had disappeared completely… and when my dad passed.
I just couldn’t run anymore from the truth, I just couldn’t keep burying my head into the sand. Having no energy to create those by-passing thoughts, I was forced to sit with what I had inside me, I had to listen to what I needed. I needed help from a professional, I needed more support and love from my family and friends than ever before, I needed time to process what had happened, I needed honest conversations, I needed to grieve my dad and also my old self, I needed to create space so that my new me can be born.
And here I am. In progress. On a never ending journey. My new me is fighting with anxiety and fears by opening up and being vulnerable. My new me is learning to say no, to ask for help and to create boundaries. My new me is trying to rediscover roots, values and anchors. My new me is in the process of healing to feel stronger and blossom further. My new me is grateful for life, for the challenges and for the fresh start. My new me would love to hug my old me and tell her that she is not alone in all this.